by Sylvia Ashby
Family is where life begins.
And what better time to spend with your family than Christmas week?
Ashley and Giacomo go to Upper Swainswick, a postcard village ten minutes’ drive from Bath, to stay with Ashley’s mum and stepdad. It’s their last visit before the arrival of their first child.
But babies have a habit of being unpredictable.
So when Ashley goes into labour on Christmas Eve, three weeks ahead of schedule, it takes everyone by surprise.
She’s not ready! Her perfect Birth Plan is packed away in her hospital bag two hundred miles away, she has no going home outfit, and she has a live event planned for New Year’s Eve for her YouTube channel, The Sinking Chef. People have been signing up for it for weeks. She can’t possibly disappoint them on the last day of the year. What is she to do?
The tinsel gets even more tangled when Giacomo’s parents decide to fly from Italy to meet their first grandchild. Hotels are fully booked, so everyone has to stay under the same roof.
Would eleven people in the house, not counting the baby, turn out to be simply too much for Ashley?
It’s dark outside but I’m awake.
It’s normal. Nothing to worry about. Everyone has little things that keep them awake at night with their stomachs knotted, right? I’m no different to anybody else.
For me those things are Eatwell and bad curry.
And the curry last night must’ve been really bad because it’s giving me awful cramps.
At dawn I tiptoe to Mum’s kitchen to make myself a cup of hot chocolate. I drop a few giant marshmallows on top and watch them melt into the dark liquid. It reminds me of snow softening into the ground. I love snow. It’s a pity we hardly ever get it in England.
There’s only frost outside now as far as I can see.
In the fluffy dawn light, Mum’s garden looks stunning in a quaint, English-village sort of way. With it’s perfectly trimmed hedges that are currently covered in curtain light strings and Christmas icicle lights.
Mum’s even bought a mummy and baby penguin for the patio. The baby is looking up and the mummy is doting down on it. They are made out of metal framing and glittery strands and illuminate the darkness around them with cool spark.
I glide a hand over my stomach in which my own baby is growing.
‘A few more weeks to go, little one.’ I whisper in the dark. ‘I can’t wait to meet you!’
My tummy tightens and I feel the baby turn. It’s too big to move now, I’m in my thirty-seventh week, but it manages to roll a bit and slam into my bladder.
I totter towards the toilet. That’s another thing I can’t wait for – to regain control over my own bladder. This baby has been keeping me as fidgety as a popcorn in a frying pan.
Another cramp grips me as I’m washing my hands.
‘Aw, aw, aw, aw!’ I double over the sink. ‘Bloody curry.’
I’m surprised everyone else isn’t up and queuing for the loos, considering we all ate—’
And that’s when it hits me – it’s not the curry.
I’m in labour!
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Sylvia Ashby is fond of the written word: books, blog posts, recipes, even an explanation to the HM Revenue & Customs as to why she thinks skirts should be exempt from VAT - she's written it all!
She likes travelling and has lived all over Europe - London, Brussels, Amsterdam and Sofia, Bulgaria. Currently, she lives in Leuven, Belgium with her husband, daughter, son and a sparrow called Jack, who comes occasionally to peck the seeds she leaves for him on top of the garden shed.