Toward the end of my second pregnancy, my doctor offered to make things easy on me and schedule an induction.
“Wait. Make it easy? I thought inductions were a prescription for a C-section. I was able to push my son out in 40 minutes the first time. Why would I want to set myself up for failure the second time?” I asked, with my legs in the stirrups as he examined me. I’m always amazed by how easily I chit chat during these moments.
My doctor explained that an induction with subsequent pregnancies could actually help to make the whole delivery less hectic. It also could make it quicker.
“But there’s a catch,” he said as he removed his latex gloves, all finished checking me.
“Yes?” I asked, happy to be sitting up with my legs crossed.
“The earliest I’ll induce is 39 weeks. And I’ll only do it on my hospital day, which is a Tuesday,” he informed me.
I pulled out my Blackberry. (Did I mention it was 2006?) Checking my calendar, I quickly discovered that would mean I could have my baby on October 31, a week before the due date, so check the box on the 39 weeks part. But Halloween? Did I really want my baby to share his or her birthday with the holiday I’d rather ignore?
“Let me think about it, “ I told my doctor.
As a former theater geek, you would think I would jump at the opportunity to don a costume and pretend to be someone else for a night. But that whole dress up thing wore off around middle school. In college, my friends encouraged group ensembles, and since I’m a team player, so I liked joining in. But after graduating, I could never relate to my fellow 20-somethings roaming the streets of New York on Halloween weekend, decked out in the spookiest or sexiest or most irreverent costumes imaginable.
Growing up, my family carved Jack O’ Lanterns every year. I loved roasting pumpkin seeds, devouring them, and then licking the salt off my fingers. My mom allowed me to invite friends for trick or treating, even though our rabbi denounced it. Still, the bah-humbug attitude I eventually developed about Halloween was never really a Jewish thing. My Scrooge-like feelings were more personal and superficial. I had no desire to wear a costume, and I missed the coziness the holiday had before turning into a billion-dollar industry.
Yet for all my nay-saying, there was one part of the holiday that I couldn’t resist: The little trick or treaters. In New York City high rises, a list goes out every Halloween where you can sign up to give away candy to the kids. I made sure we were always on it. I loved seeing the creativity behind the children’s get ups and their adorable grateful faces, as they procured their treats from my overflowing bowl.
So it’s no surprise that motherhood snapped me out of my Halloween funk. For my oldest son’s first foray into trick or treating, I dressed him up as Superman, complete with detachable cape and red booties. We joined friends on a Halloween stroll, finishing up with a party at their apartment. For the first time since college, I got my Halloween groove back on.
It didn’t last.
A year later, faced with the prospect of having a baby on Halloween, I struggled with how that could make the holiday a central force in our family life. My inner Halloween Scrooge started creeping back up on me. But he faced a strong opponent against my practical side, which liked the idea of being induced. I went into full on obsessive mode, wrestling with myself, unable to make a decision as the end of October quickly approached.
Finally, I called upon two of my friends who claim Halloween as their favorite holiday. That did the trick. After all, they both pointed out, what could be bad about having your birthday on a holiday that’s all about candy? My husband and I both agreed it could be cool to have a birthday on a day when everyone is up for a fun night out. It certainly beats my own birthday’s timing, which tends to fall during the serious high holidays.
At my next appointment, I told my doctor I was game for induction on Halloween. “That’s great,” he told me, “We’ll just need to make sure your body is game too. I’ll only do it if you’re showing signs of being labor ready.” These were not words this very pregnant mama wanted to hear after all the energy spent making my decision. Luckily, my body cooperated. On October 31, 2006, I was blessed to welcome my first daughter and second child into this world.
Now that she’s a little bit older, I’ve grown accustomed to the hoopla in our home surrounding Halloween. Each year, my daughter gets to pick out whatever costume she desires. I’m grateful that she prefers the autumnal side of the holiday, as opposed to the spooky side. We decorate the house with fresh pumpkins and gourds, and we’ve started a collection of decorative pumpkins as well. In a nod to the Traditional Jewish upbringing we provide for our kids, we place uncarved pumpkins onto our front stoop. I miss the Jack O’ Lanterns, but it’s a line my husband and I both agree to draw, and our kids have yet to protest.
I love the pride my daughter takes in sharing her birthday with what has now become a national holiday of sorts. And I’m glad my Halloween Scrooge retired. Celebrating Halloween for me now means celebrating my girl, and that is the best treat of all.