When C was 5 months pregnant the Big Dog thought it would be a good idea to book a trip to Orlando for the whole family – the baby was going to be 6 weeks old. After the Big Dog was taken from us we made a family decision to still go on the holiday as that’s what he would have wanted.

Unfortunately, two days before we were due to travel the Big Dog’s sister passed away suddenly. This pushed our trip back and Gray was 12 weeks old when set off for Orlando.

Bags packed to include the car seat, travel cot, microwave sterilizer and 110 bottles of Aptamil baby milk and away we went. The Big Dog liked us to travel in style so we were booked to fly Business Class with AerLingus. This made the 9-hour flight less daunting knowing we had extra room to cope with such a young infant. From the moment, we got on the plane the air hostess was besotted with Gray and made us feel really comfortable. Sitting down, strapped in with a glass of bubbly in my hand not knowing what was ahead for the next 9 hours. We need not have worried as Gray slept for 8 of the 9 hours only to wake for his bottle and a cuddly from the air hostess.

 We stayed in the Sheraton Apartments just off International Drive. We had a 2-bed apartment and it worked out really well as we needed to sterilize bottles and we had our own washer/dryer for the little guys clothes.

We managed to get a lot into our 2 ½ weeks considering the restraints of having such a small baby. We got out for dinner every night. We got to sunbath numerous days, we got to shop. I got to play golf. My personal highlight was when Gray met a talking Mickey Mouse in the Magic Kingdom. However just as we got outside Gray’s Nanny produced a massive Mickey Mouse teddy bear and said “this is from me and Grandad “. Needless to say, there wasn’t a dry eye to be seen as C and myself were a mess. I really found the Magic Kingdom to be very emotional as the Big Dog had brought C there when she was just 5 years old and all he wanted to do was take his Grandson there. Every time I heard that famous Disney music I would literally get goose bumps. Even now when I hear it, it kinda throws me.

People told us we were absolutely crazy taking such a young baby away on holidays but I can honestly say it was pretty easy. Gray was in a routine where he fed every 4 hours and he slept in between. We didn’t have to worry about jetlag or entertaining him anywhere near as much as we do now.

My advice to anybody taking a baby away in the first 6 months – go for it and don’t look back. We had an amazing time celebrating Gray’s first holiday, just how his Grandad intended.

Grays next holiday came 6 weeks later but this time daddy stayed at home to work, this was way tougher than one would think.

Troubled times

Gray was only 9 weeks old when we experienced kids A&E for the first time.  It was a Friday evening when we were with the photographer to look at the photo’s she took of him when he was two weeks old. All was going well until we loaded him back into the car when he just started screaming crying for no reason. This was very unusual for him as he is not really a crier. We took him out of his seat but he just wouldn’t stop crying. It took us a good twenty minutes to calm him down and eventually head for home.

 A few hours had passed and Gray seemed to perk up a little bit. I brought him into his nursery to change his nappy when I noticed there was mucus in the front of his nappy and the tip of his willy was red and sore looking. I called C to take a look and she was just as surprised as I was and we decided we would check the nappy again in a few minutes. Ten minutes went by and I decided to check the nappy again – there was even more mucus and that was enough for us to decide we needed to head for the hospital.

 We arrived at the hospital and we were straight into triage. The nurse took Gray’s temperature and checked his blood pressure and asked us to get a urine sample from him. I sat on a chair with Gray’s nappy open while C was holding the cup by his willy waiting for him to have a wee. After a half hour he eventually went and C managed to catch enough of it so they could run some tests. They sent us into a cubicle while we waited for the doctor and the results.

 We managed to get the little man to sleep as it was now the early hours of the morning. An hour passed and we were asked to move to a cubicle directly across from the nurses’ station and I started to get worried. The doctor arrived in to talk to us and within a minute she confirmed our little man had a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) and he would be staying in for the weekend.  The doctor then handed me a little syringe with a sugary mix and said it will distract him when I’m putting the line in“. It was tough to watch but the doctor was brilliant and the “Freddie“ was in so quick. Shortly after that we were brought upstairs and shown our room little did we know it was for the next 3 nights.

 Gray was on a drip all day Saturday and he slept on and off for the whole day. My heart sank for the second time when the nurse told me they had to put a Freddie in Gray’s other hand at 3am when the latest antibiotic was finished. The nurse arrived in just after 3am. I got the little syringe with the sugary mix once more and waited anxiously for the doctor. He arrived a few minutes later and I was surprised how young he looked so I asked him had he done this before to which he replied “ only a few times “ he didn’t fill me with confidence although he assured me he would do his best. After the 3rd attempt and 10 minutes gone by I was at breaking point. Gray was screaming the place down in pain and through the tears in my eyes I asked the doctor could he get someone else to help him so we could just get this done. He apologized and went to find a more experienced doctor on call. They both came back together and a few minutes later and Freddie was sorted in less than 20 seconds.

Gray drifted off to sleep while I lay there in an absolute mess for hours. Thankfully that was the worst of the situation and I did make it my business to find the doctor the next morning to say sorry for my meltdown. We finally got discharged on the Monday evening and it was straight home for a bath for all 3 of us.

It really was a tough few days but it does give you perspective and I can only imagine how tough it is on parents when they have a seriously sick child. Your world gets flipped upside down and it’s into survival mode. Thankfully Gray got the all clear back in August and we have no more concerns about his kidneys.

I really struggled to write this one and I must have started and stopped 20 times over the last few weeks. What comes next is way more fun


Why didn't anybody tell me?

Apologies for the radio silence of late, Gray DJ has teeth coming out of everywhere and sleep has gone well and truly out the window. To add to it all it was C’s Dad’s first anniversary, I still can’t believe the big dog is gone and it just doesn’t get any easier.

So back to the basics. We went to antenatal classes, learned all about what was to come during labor, we packed our hospital bag and we were good to go. All sorted got released from hospital we got home with our little boy for the first time and we just looked at each other and said “what do we do now “. Why does nobody prepare you for the dramatic lack of sleep. I remember people telling me before Gray arrived enjoy your sleep now as things are about to change and I just laughed it off. Oh, what a fool I was. Most nights we might get 2 or 3 hours sleep and it really does take its toll on your body and mind. I play golf every Sunday morning and for weeks I would rock up looking like I was awake but I was a million miles away dreaming of big fluffy clouds that I could just have a little nap on. Needless to say, my standard of golf was rubbish but I was just happy to be out in the fresh air. I did consider more than once just driving to the golf course and going to sleep in the back of the car for four hours. We really did walk around like two zombies for months and I personally really struggled with the lack of sleep.  

Let’s discuss the shit bomb as I like to call it.  This is where the poo escapes the nappy and ends up half way up Gray’s back or sometimes it comes out the side of the nappy and the poo is down his leg. We were in the doctor’s office when he was only a few weeks old and decided to leave him in the car seat as we would be quick. He was wearing a romper as it was a lovely day and out of the corner of my eye I see a look of terror on C’s face as she gives me the eye to look down. I look towards the car seat and I see this poo flowing out the side of Gray’s nappy and down his leg. Then like a thunder bolt… The smell… Say no more. Q outfit and nappy change in the doctor’s office. I couldn’t help feel bad for the person in after us. While I am talking about endless shit bombs, let’s talk about vests… Why does nobody tell you to buy 9000 vests? I remember my wife telling me early on about the two slits at the top of the vest. If a shit bomb occurred do not pull that vest up over Gray’s head, the two slits are for pulling the vest down in these times of utter chaos. To date I have discarded 4312 vests but who is counting. I tried my best to save those vests but there was nothing I could do.

We were told leaving the hospital Gray would need to feed every 3 hours. Did nobody think to tell me it was going to take a cycle of two hours to feed, change and wind Gray. That left an hour to sleep then the process would start all over again. By sleep I mean he was sleeping, I was busy with the Vanish trying to save the poor little vests. Post 5 – there is trouble ahead…

Week 1

Gray DJ was 10 minutes old when the nurse asked me to follow her to the recovery room while C was being put back together and I don’t use that term loosely. The nurse instructed me to sit on a chair, she then handed me Gray and it was the first time I had held him. I just couldn’t get over how small and perfect he was but then reality kicked in when the nurse asked me how we were feeding him. I remember C telling me we were going to start Gray on Aptamil and see how he goes. The nurse came back with a little bottle of Aptamil (75ml) and said here you go. I had a look of terror on my face as I had never fed a baby before and with the risk of sounding extremely silly I hadn’t a clue what to do. The nurse was brilliant and told me just keep moving the bottle around and he will eventually start to feed. Indeed, she was correct but he was very slow and took about 10ml. A half hour had passed and C was eventually wheeled into the recovery room and she looked amazing. I was so happy to see her and I just wanted her to get a hold of our new little man. She was numbed from the boobs down but I honestly didn’t hear her complain once. We were a good hour in the recovery room and I used this time to cuddle my little boy, feed him and take photos of him with his mummy. I rang C’s Mam as soon as we got out of recovery and she was with us 10 minutes later. Finally, we had a happy moment in the family after 4 months of hell and Nanny J was over the moon and besotted instantly. We had a few visitors that day but by 8pm everyone had gone for the night and it was just the 3 of us. Gray DJ had been as good as gold but he wasn’t really feeding, the little lad just wanted to sleep. We were given a feed chart and it was dismal to be fair, the most we could get into him was 25ml. I stayed until 2am and I remember driving home tired but I couldn’t stop smiling. I was up the next morning early and it was straight back into the hospital with a few supplies. One of the nurses had taken Gray for a few hours during the night so C could get some sleep. We had another day of Gray not really feeding and the nurse told us if he doesn’t start feeding soon they will have to put him into an incubator. I remember fighting back the tears thinking please feed for us, I couldn’t bear the thought of him in an incubator. We gave him a little pep talk and the next feed went up to 35ml, after that he went to 45ml and we were in the safe zone. The days went so fast for me in the hospital as we had plenty of visitors but I really did hate going home on my own. I was wishing the days away so I could get C and Gray home on the Friday. The Doctor came on the Thursday night to give Gray the once over and once he got the nod we were good to go on Friday morning. I got in to the hospital early and we just had to wait for the nurse to discharge us and to cut Gray’s tags off. I had the car seat at the ready and we planned on putting Gray into a beautiful Mamas and Papas blue snow suit that C’s Dad had bought for the little man’s first adventure into the outside world. Unfortunately, Gray never got the memo and stopped growing so the suit was huge on him. We reverted to plan B and it was 20 layers up to his eyes instead. I proceeded to drive home in the lashing rain C crying in the back holding the side of Grays car seat, him asleep oblivious to the world, me driving at the slowest speed possible but I couldn’t have been happier with him but worried about C. Stay tuned for the lack of sleep and reality setting in. Kel

The arrival

Hello and thanks for tuning in for round 2 of my blog. I want to talk about the scariest thing I have ever seen and that was the day Gray DJ rocked into this world. As I said in my previous blog we had agreed with Prof Daly that Gray would be born on Monday
January 30th by Cesarean. We spent the day before doing the last few bits and generally trying to distract ourselves from the thoughts of what lay in store, for those of you that don’t know me I am absolutely terrified of blood and I turn into a wreck at just the sight of it. To say I was nervous was an understatement but in front of C I was all singing and dancing and making sure I was coming across like a bullet proof husband. We got to bed late as usual and when the alarm went off at 6:15am we both crawled out of the bed knackered as we hadn’t slept great but today was the day our little man arrived. The traffic going down the long mile road was rubbish as usual so we got to the Coombe just after 7am and we go to check in. We finally get our room at 9:15am and C is struggling at this point as she has to fast, she can’t even take her magic tablet which has got her through the last 6 months. We are number 4 on the list for Prof Daly so we are in no immediate rush. A nurse comes in to check C out and takes her vitals and gave C some meds to take, again she tells us we are going nowhere until at least 11am. So, we kicked back and just chatted when the nurse reappears 5 minutes later with a gown for C and says “Right Corinne change of plan let’s get you into this gown and get you upstairs “. C got ready pretty quick and off we marched up the stairs to the operating theatre. We were sat in a little waiting room for a few minutes when C declared “I am going to vomit “We moved to the corridor as it was a little cooler out there and then she just pointed to one of the kidney trays on the window cell so I grabbed it and next thing I know she is throwing up this foamy stuff. She really did suffer to the very end the poor thing. She had no sooner finished vomiting when the nurse came out to take her in and get me gowned up. I saw this as an opportunity to take some selfies as I thought I looked like George Clooney, probably not the best idea but hey ho I looked dapper in the scrubs. I gave C a kiss and told her how much I loved her and I would be in as soon as they allowed me. So, I sat there for what seemed a life time and I am getting more and more nervous about what is about to happen and all these thoughts are going through my head…. I hope C is going to be ok. I wonder who the baby will look like? I hope he hasn’t got my nose. It would be great if he looked like C as she is a stunner. I wonder will he like football? I could keep going but eventually the nurse interrupted me and asked me to follow her to the operating theatre and on the walk she asked me to stay to the right of the room and she reassured me I wouldn’t see anything I didn’t want to. So, in I stroll keeping to the right but my head had to look left and there was Corinne’s stomach opened staring back at me, I did a bit of a speed wobble and almost passed out but I knewd I had to get my composure back before I got to C. I get passed the screen that separates C in 2, I can see her from her head to her boobs and then the screen kicks in so we can’t see what’s going on. I give her a kiss on the forehead and tell her she is doing amazing but in my head, I’m thinking don’t get sick look what your wife is going through. I am sitting on a little stool holding C’s hand and talking absolute waffle just to distract her. Occasionally, she gets yanked and her whole body moves. my brain is just working overtime now and I just want our little boy and C to be safe and for this to be all over. Finally, at 11.11am Prof Daly lifts our little man over the screen and says congrats to the both of us and tells C how well she did. The guy is just amazing at his job and he is coolness personified. One of the nurses takes Gray over to a little table, she cleans him up and then weighs him. We were told he would probably 7 or 8 pounds but he turned out to be 5lb 12oz and tiny. I know I am biased but he was just the most gorgeous thing I had ever seen with the darkest head of hair. The nurse put him straight onto C’s chest to do skin to skin and I will never forget the emotion that came over me. It was a mixture of pride and love and I couldn’t stop smiling and crying. I remember saying to C a few days after the event I couldn’t have done what she did and if babies were left up to men the world would have died out years ago. C did amazingly well and I was just so proud of her. So that is the story of how Gray DJ arrived into this world, it’s nothing like they show on TV – unless you watch One Born Every Minute. The Doctors and nurses are incredible and the ladies who do all the work I take my hat off to each and every one of you. What happened next was even more interesting….. Kel

First timer..

Hello and welcome to my first blog post. I decided to create a blog to share my experiences and thoughts on becoming a Dad for the first time. My wife Corinne gave birth to our little baby boy Gray DJ on January 30th and he weighed in at the size of a smartie just 5lbs 12oz, to say our lives changed that day forever is an understatement!! I will get to Mr Gray Bear in a later post but for my first time out I want to write about my trooper of a wife Corinne or as I like to call her “C”. We were just coming up on a year being married when we decided to try for a baby and it was just my luck that we hit gold pretty much the first time – I was thrilled we were pregnant but gutted the “ trying “ was over. I will never forget the moment when I looked at the test and saw “ pregnant 1-2 “ it was as close to feeling like I had just scored the winning goal for Arsenal in the Champions League Final. I jumped around the bedroom while C was in shock and then the reality set in – we are going to have a baby. The first few weeks were pretty quiet, we got some pregnancy books, decided on a Gynecologists and waited patiently for our first scan. All was going swimmingly until we hit week 6 weeks when C started to feel really rubbish and she started to vomit a ridiculous amount. After a few days of nonstop vomiting we took a trip to the Doc and C was diagnosed with Hyperemesis gravidarum, for those of you that haven’t heard of this pregnancy complication it’s characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss and possible dehydration. C described it as being hungover every day for months on end. Hyperemesis is considered more severe than morning sickness and it really did knock C for six. We spent the next 16 weeks going to and from the hospital. C was kept in for a few nights three times, she was given fluids and initially it seemed to work and got her back on her feet but within 3 days we were back to constant vomiting and feeling dreadful. We got to week 22 and things finally got back to normal with a little help from a magic tablet every morning (the tablet she had to take was the tablet they give pregnant ladies who have to go through chemo) well as normal as one can be with a human growing inside them. At week 26 the world threw another curve ball at us, Corinne’s dad passed away while he was on a business trip in China. He was only 56 and had a massive heart attack in his sleep. This really knocked us for 6 and to make matters worse it took almost 2 weeks to get him repatriated. C didn’t get much sleep through all this as you can imagine and it really was a horrible time for all of us as Derek (Corinne’s Dad is also called Derek hence we have Gray DJ – DJ is Derek Junior after C’s Dad) was the rock of the family. The main man or as I called him the big dog see below. We attended the Coombe and Prof. Sean Daly was amazing throughout the pregnancy but he really went above and beyond when we got the news about C’s Dad, he scanned her 2 days after we got the news just to check that everything was ok and continued to monitor her all the way to the end. I will speak more about Prof Daly and in a later post. I would like to say it was plain sailing from here but C ended up with a chest infection Christmas week and it was another stay in hospital, she was allowed go home Christmas Eve but she was told she had to come back in the 27th and it was the 30th before she was home again. We agreed the date January 30th with Prof Daly for our new arrival and he would be entering the world via cesarean section. We told C’s Mam the news but decided to keep it from everybody else until our little boy was safely with us. We didn’t sleep much the night before and we had to be in the Coombe at 7am on the Monday morning, I can remember lying in bed and it was nervous excitement but the fear of not being in control was the hardest thing, you literally put all your faith in these amazing doctors and hope everything goes as it’s supposed to. I am normally a light hearted guy but I went full on serious for this post considering the tough time C had and the sad passing of my hero Derek Wickham the big dog”. If I am a tenth the Dad he was to C and her 2 brothers to Gray DJ I will have done an amazing job with my little man. I will finish this post with a shout out to my wifey C, I don’t know how she got through those 10 months considering the horrific time she had and she is definitely the toughest lady I know. As I said to her only the other day “ thank you for giving me a best friend “ as now I have 2 – Corinne and Gray DJ.
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