The 12 days of Local Pressmasness: Fortunate festive parents



You find out you’re pregnant. You’re very excited. You find out the due date. It’s near Christmas. “Oooh, it could be a Christmas baby,” you think, while the organised amongst you start planning when to have it’s pretend birthday so the two aren’t too close together.

Fast forward to December 25. Hours of painful labour, most probably with a midwife who is doing all she can to deny you the drugs you know you need to see you through ‘because it’s better this way.’ Out comes your bundle of joy. Catch your breath, share a smile, a rustle at the curtains and the nurse says: “The Bugle are here for Christmas Day babies. Want to be in the paper?”

Surprisingly, many mother say yes, despite the fact mum has just been through the sort of pain that not even years of NCT or pre-birth midwife sessions can prepare you for. I’d tell you what the blokes have been through to, but I never seem to get a receptive ear to this point, so perhaps best I’ll move on.

I often opted to work Christmas Day as a reporter a) because it was one of the few times of the year the paper paid double time and b) because I always preferred to have New Year off. Therefore, for several years, I did Christmas Day baby duty. As an early 20-something male reporter not familiar with babies, it was an awkward experience all round, and that’s even before having to gently enquire as to whether the religious beliefs of the mother meant that son being born on December 25th wasn’t that special at all.

Fortunately, the already over-stretched nurses on maternity wards I visited had normally lined up the ones interested in being in the paper first, so religious sensitivities were normally resolved before I arrived and, in the words of one forthright midwife one year, ‘all in yer head you fool’ anyway.

But the 12 Days of Local Pressmasness – celebrating Christmas through the lens of local newspapers and websites – wouldn’t be the 12 Days of Local Pressmasness if we didn’t include the time-honoured tradition that is Christmas Day babies.

And for all the doom-mongers who believe the decline of print and rise of online (or ‘New Media’ as the NUJ insist on calling it) will mean the end of various local Press traditions and skills, I say: look at the Christmas Day babies! Woman gives birth isn’t really news of interest to anyone other than the people who know the woman in question, and the woman herself. Woman gives birth on Christmas Day doesn’t really go much further than that group of interested people either, unless there’s an interesting story attached (see below). But to survive in an online world, we need to be there, celebrating and sharing the news which is only of interest to small communities of people but which is of passing interest to wider groups of people too. And Christmas Day babies is a perfect example of that.

So kudos to the many reporters around the country who got Christmas Day babies online on Christmas Day, and a little less kudos to those newspapers which only got the Christmas Day babies in on the 27th, probably because of a desire to get as much of the paper done on Christmas Eve with a Christmas Day overnight deadline. You’re almost giving Steve Dyson the ammunition to suggest overnight printing damages newspapers (see here for why it shouldn’t!)

Looking at traffic on Christmas Day to the websites I work with, it wasn’t as quiet as you might expect. Who’d have thunk the explosion of tablets and mobiles would provide people with the ideal excuse to ignore others in their festive living rooms?

Anyway, four Christmas baby stories which stood out:

1. The Big One:

Here’s a Christmas Day baby story which will make many mothers cry – and not just joyfully.

The Liverpool Echo – under the brilliant headline of ‘Cute Gallery Alert’, covered the Christmas Day birth of Finlay Frank Townson, landing on earth at a whopping 13lbs – the biggest baby to be born on the Wirral in over eight years! And yes, it was a natural birth!

2. The Santa Baby:

 This one has to be every reporter’s dream – a Christmas Day baby with a Christmas name. Quite how Jessica Santa Abrahall, born on Christmas Day in Basildon Hospital, will feel about her middle name when it’s read out during her wedding in a couple of decade’s time is anyone’s else. Still, it provided  a great top line for the Echo down that neck of the woods.

Mum Dawn said: “We thought about ‘Holly’ or ‘Mary’ – but they were too obvious.

“We checked and it’s a proper name.”

The same article also has a baby called Faith – a name chosen by the parents after a grandmother … and a tattoo.

3. The ones with a Mum called Santa: 


Now, where would you expect Santa to go when he was due to become a proud father? That’s right,  I thought Kettering General Hospital too.

Top marks to the Northamptonshire Telegraph for stumbling across Santa giving birth in their local hospital.

Santa is from Latvia (you can almost hear UKIP starting up, can’t you?) and is, er, a woman. So Santa went to Kettering to become a Mum. To Twins. She lives in Corby with husband Matthew.

Santa, 41, originally from Latvia, and whose name means saint, said: “They are perfect and just amazing. It’s a wonderful Christmas story.

“I was feeling tired after the birth but I’ll have plenty of help when I get home.”

If only she’d said she’d been ho-ho-hoping for a Christmas Day delivery!

4. The baby who was nearly called Jesus

So near, yet so far for the Nottingham Post which managed to find a Christmas Day baby which was nearly called Jesus:

Akramul Hoque, manager of the Anoki restaurant in Barker Gate, and his partner Ferdous Kakoli eventually settled on the name Aidful for the baby, which he says means ‘heritage’ in his native language Bengali.

Little Aidful Hoque was the first baby born in the city on Christmas Day, arriving at 12.26am weighing 7lbs 8oz at the Queen’s Medical Centre.

Father Akramul, 39, said: “It was so exciting – everyone was checking their watches to see if it would be born on Christmas Day.

“He is happy and healthy and we are so pleased. Because it was born on Christmas Day, I wanted to call the baby Jesus, but we settled for a family name Aidful instead.”

One reporter’s loss is, in this case, a little baby’s gain for years to come!

Read the rest of the 12 days of Local Pressmasness here


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