For us, the prospect of a week at Center Parcs was as exciting as a month in paradise! A break. A change of scenery. A family holiday.
We have had a handful of little breaks at the caravan, weekends, beach days, but the decision to book a week at Center Parcs, was the result of Mummy and Daddy being on their knees and needing something to look forward to. Turns out it was worth the meltdowns that forced the booking, because it was an absolutely fantastic week away!
Monday 11th June 2018
Austin went to nursery and I went to play at nannies whilst Mummy cleaned the house through (its always nice to come home to a sparkly clean home isn’t it – even if it does make packing and going on holiday a little bit more stressful) and packed all of our things ready. Well – that was the plan! except half way through the 2 hours which Mummy had between dropping Austin at nursery and leaving to pick him back up, Nannie rang. My suction machine was no longer suctioning and it was barely clearing out my airway! Panic! Of all the times for a life saving piece of machinery to break! The day we go on holiday!
Mummy grabbed a new canister and new tube and drove to Nannies to try and fix it in the hope it was just something easily changed, except it wasn’t and so Mummy spent the remaining time that she had to clean and pack, on the phone to the customer service arranging for it to be collected and fixed and a temporary one sent out. Mummy & Daddy bought me a new suction machine not long after I got my Trachy, a smaller, quieter one as opposed to the giant NHS one that sounds like an aeroplane taking off in the bedroom every time I was suctioned, and not only waking Austin, but next door could hear it too. Luckily the customer service at Clario are amazing and were quick to send out a new machine the very next morning, so we took the NHS one and coped until it arrived.
Daddy had been working in Hull and wasn’t expected to be back until evening and so Mummy had planned to take us and check in by herself before Daddy arrived, although she hadn’t managed to get everything done and was running behind schedule, and luckily Daddy finished earlier than expected and so it all fell into place and off we went, car packed to the rafters, on our way to Center Parcs – with a GIANT suction machine on board.
Honestly, talk about timing!
We unpacked and settled in just as we gave in and went to bed. We were running around excited, watching the wildlife out of the window and genuinely just elated to be somewhere new.
Even Mummy was giddy, she kept ringing Nannie & Grandad telling them how great everything was.
Tuesday 12th June 2018
We shared breakfast with the wildlife, it was fascinating to watch them.
We went to the Baby Dolphins session in the subtropical paradise, it was a chance for under 3’s to access the pool before opening when it was less busy, to get used to the surroundings and it was just perfect for us. Especially given the risks for me and my trachy. Whilst I have been swimming before Mummy and Daddy have always held me and just paddled my feet. Mummy had spoken to some of the other trachy mummys asking for advice and one mummy recommended some mum2mum bibs and a hobble-de-hoo harness and so Mummy bought all of these things and went in prepared. We only spent about 30 minutes there, and whilst Austin loved it and went in splashing and enjoying himself (like he had never done before – a new experience) I was happy just walking around the pool side, splashing in the little puddles, which suited a very anxious mummy. We told the lifeguards about Rorys trachy and they were all very aware of him, radioing around to make sure everyone knew and they took it in turns to stay by his side to ensure his safety. It was not only really welcoming but reassuring and made mummy and daddy feel lots better about managing the risks so that I didn’t miss out.
Following Baby Dolphins, we had a little nap whilst mummy and Daddy walked miles around the forest. We had some snack at Costa Coffee and then went to a Sensory Play session that Mummy had booked us onto. We had lots of fun, I walked in a tray of rasberry goo (in my socks) and mummy had to rescue me and turn them inside out quickly to avoid a very sticky messy situation.
We had a walk round and went to play in the adventure playground. Austin met a friend, he tried to kiss her and sat with her in the playhouse.
We went to Mucky Pups, another session that Mummy had booked us onto, she wanted to make the most of having Daddy there and give us as many different experiences as possible, although the sessions were expensive at around £20 each for the both of us, for a 30-45 minute session. Mucky Pups was a messy play session, with sand, water, paint, playdough etc. We weren’t really bothered about it to be honest and most of the children enrolled on the session left within the first 15 minutes. We don’t have the concentration levels to last 45 minutes doing arts and crafts.
We went to the Sports Bar for our tea and then had a walk to the beach before making it home for bed!
A super busy day with lots of activities, lots of fun.
Wednesday 13th June 2018
Mummy and Daddy woke up in the early hours to find me lay on the table in the living room. Me and Austin were sharing the twin room and were in big boy beds, whereas we normally have a cot at home. Mummy wants to get rid of the cots but whilst I have my tracheostomy it isn’t safe whilst I share a room with Austin. On this occasion it wasn’t safe because I learned quickly that I can wake up and go for a wander and chill out on the table in the living room.
We spent another morning eating our breakfast with the wildlife, recording all of the different types that had visited us in Oak 158 when suddenly Nannie appeared to surprise us, followed shortly by Grandad. They snook in last night to surprise us and had been sleeping in the other bedroom all this time. Cheeky monkeys!
Grandad was still off work recovering from his arm operation and so Mummy encouraged him and Nannie to come to Center Parcs to aid his recovery but also so that when we are asleep at night, they can sit in with us and Mummy & Daddy could go to the spa or the swimming pool to relax.
Mummy has always struggled when making decisions that mean we don’t have the same opportunities. Sending Austin to nursery before me for example, was something she found very difficult. Austin has never had swimming lessons, because it is something that I cant access and she struggled with the mumm guilt, she is either giving one an opportunity the other can’t have or holding the other back because one cant do it. It really is difficult and so on this one particular ocassion Mummy booked Austin into Swim Pups swimming lesson and me onto a sensory play session instead. We split up, Nannie coming with me and Mummy and Grandad sitting besides the pool watching Austins swimming lesson with Daddy.
Austin did very well in his swimming lesson, he got a certificate and a badge…
I on the other hand, wasn’t interested in the circle time, the group songs, the bouncing donkeys or the arts and crafts and instead enjoyed the soft play in the corner, the bricks, the sand, the frozen toys in the water tray and caused a drama when I fell into the fence and bruised my face causing the Center Parcs staff to panic because, as a trachy child, when I cry, it isn’t like when other chidren cry and it appears much worse. I really did go with a bang but Mummy kept calm and we sat outside whilst everyone completed circle time and I calmed down.
Me, Mummy and Nannie joined Austin and Daddy and Grandad in the swimming pool and we all had pool snacks before enjoying splashing around on the slides and in the pool. I was so excited to be able to join in. I was frustrated at times because Mummy or Daddy were always holding onto my harness and lifting me out of the water, and Austin was able to wander around, go on the big slides, in the big pool and splash around, but I know that I am not allowed to do that. I really enjoyed myself going on the little slides, it was such an experience and I feel very lucky that Mummy and Daddy were brave enough to manage the risks and go against the norm for trachy life. It made Mummy and Daddy overwhelmed with emotion, both of absolute awe in watching me take part, and of Daddy and how patient and strong and clever he is helping me in the water, but also in sadness that it has to be this way.
Grandad was really frustrated sat on the side in his clothes, watching, with his arm in a sling, but he really enjoyed watching us. Nannie hates water and doesn’t particularly like swimming but hats off to her, she got stuck in and helped with Austin. Mummy and Daddy wouldn’t let her look after me because it is such a big responsibility, if Mummy and Daddy chose to break the rules and let me go in the water, it is only fair that it is them who are responsible for me.
Whilst we were in our high chairs having a snack, Daddy snook off for a go on the slides, and then when he came back, mummy took Nannie. Mummy persuaded Nannie to go outside and in the plunge pool and then the rapids, which is completely out of character for both Mummy and Nannie, but they were in fits of laughter, and so was Daddy and grandad when they both returned like drowned rats, Nannie coughing with all the water she had swallowed.
We all had so much fun. To some, just an average day at the pool. To us, such a magical day of new experiences, such an emotional memory, an opportunity that is certainly not taken for granted. We all LOVED it!
After swimming, we had a walk and went in the maze…
Then we went home for a BBQ (Grandad slept – his pain relief tablets make him sleepy) and to bed after another busy day.
Mummy and Daddy snook off to the spa once we were sleeping.
Thursday 14th June 2018
Mummy found me on the table again in the early hours! I giggled when they caught me. Even though my giggle is silent, mummy can tell with my breathing and couldn’t help but smile at me. Good job she thinks i’m cute!
We had lots more wildlife…
We joined Grandads ‘brush your teeth club’…
It was very windy outside so our plans to go on the beach and hire a boat were cancelled – both were a managed risk for me, and with the added complication of flying sand in the wind and choppy waters – it wasn’t worth it.
We went to the soft play instead and then outdoor adventure play…
Nannie & Daddy went on the high ropes. Daddy really wanted to do it but didn’t want to be selfish and have us all waiting around for him. Mummy would NEVER do anything like that and so nannie volunteered herself – given that grandad was out of action. Everybody thought Nannie had underestimated the challenge, and watching the grown men go before her and Daddy, even we worried she would be able to do it.
She absolutely walked it! as did Daddy! They worked together as a team, Daddy leading, We watched them up high in the trees like little people we could hardly see and then we waited for them by the beach whilst the did the big zip wire in the sky across the beach and the lake. It was awesome.
We went home for a pizza party and did some exploring in the forest, collecting things and looking at them under the microscope before bed!
Mummy & Daddy snook out to the pool to go on the slides and do the waves and the rapids where they didn’t have to worry about us. They deserve it!
Friday 15th June 2018
Our last day! We packed up (you always think you have less to take home but can never really squeeze it all in the same can you) and went to the pancake house. We had a decorate our own gingerbread man, however I slept through the majority of it and im glad because Austin made an awful mess where he lost his t-shirt to chocolate sauce and icing.
Nannie & Grandad went home and we all braved swimming for one more time, because it was such a novelty and we had so much fun.
Mummy was really nervous as we had less hands, but actually – we managed just fine.
We set off home, had a Mcd’s on the way back and arrived home to see Beau!
We had an absolutely awesome time and feel so lucky that we were able to do it.
We can’t wait to go back!