My Best Christmas Present Ever

Thirty years ago, on Christmas Eve, I went into labor with my daughter Stephanie. My husband Barry wasn’t feeling well and jokingly (more or less) said, “Please don’t have the baby tonight.”

Around midnight, I had no choice but to wake up my poor sick boy. I was in labor and he was my support team. My timekeeper. My ride to the hospital. I needed him.

We worked hard together all through the night and early morning. The labor pains waxed and waned with no clear pattern. Sometimes they were minutes apart and sometimes the gaps were much greater. We really didn’t think birth was imminent. At 9 am we left for Maine Medical Center, not because we thought we should, but because we found out our doctor was on call until noon and wanted to get there before he left. I insisted on taking a shower first. The fact that I couldn’t easily lift my leg over the edge (only a few inches) made me worry that maybe we had actually waited too long. That and my inability to dress myself. Barry helped me into my clothes, managing to get my overalls on backwards, which I discovered at the hospital when I was trying to get out of them. He took a picture of me having a contraction just before we left the house.

Christmas Eve 1983 Labor has begun!

Christmas Eve 1983 Labor has begun!

I crawled into the back seat of the car because it was uncomfortable to sit and we started off on our 1/2-hour trip to Portland. It was zero degrees and icy. Thankfully, no one else was on the road. My husband deserves a lot of credit for getting us to the hospital safely, especially because somewhere along the way, I began exclaiming that I had an incredible urge to push! We arrived a little after 10 and were whisked off to maternity. Two hours later — 12:06 pm on December 25, 1983 — Stephanie Lane Atwood was born.

Stephanie Atwood birth day

Welcome Stephanie!

Being born on Christmas Day may seem special, but can be a challenge when it comes to birthday celebrations. From the beginning, we were diligent about making sure Stephanie’s birthday didn’t get lost in Christmas.

Stephanie's first birthday

Stephanie’s first birthday

Stephanie Atwood 5-years-old

Stephanie turns 5

In 2005, our family took a bold step and decided to rename Christmas. As you can see from the holiday card we mailed that year, we got special permission.

Merry Stephmas

Image courtesy Katharine Atwood and PhotoShop

MERRY STEPHMAS everyone! May your blessings be as great as mine have been since that Christmas day in 1983.

PS Yup, this is a big birthday for Steph. She turns 30. It’s going to be a wonderful year. Hint: there’s going to be a wedding.


Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. She now hosts and produces the Catching Health podcast and writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.