Passport, flip flops, swimming cossie… I ticked my holiday essentials off my list as I packed them into my suitcase.
‘Just think, this time tomorrow we’ll be sunbathing by the pool,’ I sighed to my boyfriend, Jordan, 21, day-dreaming about the sun, sea and sand.
‘The calm before the storm,’ he joked.
‘Don’t say that,’ I scorned, playfully giving him a swipe.
At 28 weeks pregnant, Jordan suggested we have one last getaway ‘just the two of us’ before our little one arrived.
‘We won’t have the chance to relax when the baby is here,’ he said.
He was right. Soon our little one would be keeping us on our toes with night feeds, dirty nappies and crying. A babymoon did seem like a fantastic idea.
We hadn’t planned on adding to our family. I already had a daughter, Charlie, eight, from a previous relationship.
Instead we enjoyed our freedom, now that Charlie was older, with weekends away and long-haul luxury holidays.
But when we found out I was expecting, in October 2014, we were both over-the-moon.
‘Guess what?’ I said, calling my parents, June, 54, and Charlie, 62. ‘I’m pregnant.’
Gasping, they both squealed with excitement down the phone.
We told Charlie when she got home from school and made her promise not to tell a soul. Jordan confided in his mum, Vicky, 40, and I let my sisters, Wendy, 36, and Keeley, 28, in on the secret too.
Keeping it from everyone until I was 12 weeks gone was torture. After our first scan we uploaded a picture of the ultrasound to Facebook to let the rest of our family and friends in on our big news.
Convinced I was having another little girl, I nipped out and bought a pair of pretty shoes in preparation for her arrival.
But Jordan thought we were having a boy. He couldn’t wait to teach him to play football, take on fishing trips and play FIFA with.
At 20 weeks we discovered Jordan’s guess was right.
We decided to call our son Freddie after Jordan’s grandad. A little girl would have been named Annie after my gran who recently passed away.
Charlie had been named after my dad, so I was keen to continue the tradition.
We had been planning a trip to Cancun before I fell pregnant.
‘We should still have a holiday,’ Jordan said. ‘It’ll be our last chance to for a few years.’
‘What about Tunisia?’ I suggested.
‘It’s too far away,’ he said, thinking sensibly. ‘We need to stay in Europe, just in case.’
The airline reassured me that at 28 weeks I was safe to fly, but to be on the safe side I checked with the midwife.
I had been to Tenerife when I was five months gone with Charlie, but I just wanted to be sure.
‘You’ll be fine to fly,’ she told me.
At the travel agent we booked a week in Benidorm, Spain, for April.
Wendy said she’d look after Charlie and she only lived down the road in our home Bolton, Greater Manchester.
Her son, Taylor, and Charlie were only eight weeks apart in age and the two of them were in the same class at school and inseparable.
Charlie took her scooter and bike down to play with Taylor.
While Jordan sorted out travel insurance, made sure I had my European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and packed my doctors notes.
‘Better to be safe than sorry,’ he said.
On 15th April we flew from Manchester Airport to Alicante Airport, Spain.
Stepping off the plane, I could instantly feel the sun on my skin.
‘It’s beautiful,’ I smiled at Jordan.
At our hotel, we lounged by the pool reading magazines and listening to music before taking a stroll along the beach.
My mum and dad decided at the last-minute to jet out and spend a few days with us too.
On our third day, we had a lazy morning by the pool, while we waited for them to land.
Perching on the edge of water, I stroked my bulging bump as I dangled my feet in.
‘It’s freezing!’ I cried, as Jordan laughed at me from his sunbed.
Suddenly I felt a gushing sensation between my legs.
‘Jordan!’ I screamed. ‘My waters have just broken.’
‘Are you serious?’ he cried, leaping up and rushing over.
‘Yes!’ I shouted, bursting into tears.
‘It’s too early,’ I sobbed.
Jordan helped me to stand up and walked me over to the hotel reception.
‘It’s alright,’ he reassured. ‘Don’t panic.’
‘The baby’s coming,’ he tried to explain to the manager, while I lay on the couch in the lobby.
‘Ah, ok,’ he said, nodding his head in understanding before frantically picking up the phone to call for an ambulance.
Jordan dashed up to our room to get my health card and doctors notes.
My mobile started ringing and my dad’s name flashed up on the screen.
‘We’re here!’ my dad chirped on the other end of the line.
‘My waters have gone,’ I cried, handing the phone to Jordan. He explained what was going on.
Still in my swimming costume, I was rushed to a hospital nearby where I was checked over.
The doctor spoke good English and explained: ‘You’re 2cm dilated, we need to get you to San Juan Hospital straight away.’
It was an hour away but it had a neo-natal unit to care for premature babies.
Within ten minutes, I was back in an ambulance being transferred. While Jordan had to follow behind in a taxi.
Writhing about in agony, my contractions started.
As soon as I arrived I was wheeled into a room and medics surrounded me – talking in Spanish.
I didn’t understand a word.
‘Is he coming?’ I cried.
The doctor nodded and said: ‘Yes.’
The placenta was over the neck of my womb which meant with every contraction blood was pouring out.
The baby’s heartbeat stopped each time.
He wasn’t strong enough for me to push him out naturally, but he needed to come out straight away.
My body was shaking, teeth clattering and arms flapping about.
I couldn’t breathe, it felt as if someone was sitting on my chest. I thought I was going to die.
I was whisked into theatre for an emergency caesarean.
Jordan paced up and down in a waiting room for four hours. He called my mum and dad and let them know I was in labour. They came straight to the hospital.
Jordan also rang our insurance company and contacted the British embassy.
In surgery, I caught a glimpse of a tiny figure – a bundle of arms and legs – being plucked from my stomach and he let out a little cry.
Tears streamed down my cheeks.
At 5.45pm on 18th April Freddie arrived weighing 2lbs.
I must have passed out, as the next thing I remember is waking up alone in a hospital room.
A nurse came in and I asked: ‘Where is Jordan?’
She didn’t understand, so I pointed to my ring finger. ‘Husband?’ I said.
‘Sí,’ she nodded, before she went and got Jordan and bought him in.
Clueless, I hadn’t been told how much our little boy weighed or if he was healthy.
As I recovered on the ward, unable to move, Jordan was able to go and visit our son with my mum.
‘Please take a picture of him for me,’ I begged, desperate to see him.
Later Jordan came back, his eyes red from where he had been crying.
‘He looks so poorly,’ he told me. ‘Do you want to see?’
‘Just show me,’ I said, preparing myself for the worst.
I looked at his phone. Freddie was tiny, but he was perfect.
‘He’s fine,’ I tried to reassure Jordan. ‘Look at him.’
That night Jordan stayed in hospital with me and got 40 winks on a chair.
Neither of us got much sleep, too worried about our little boy.
I called Charlie and told her: ‘I’ve had your baby brother. He’s a bit poorly, I’m going to have to stay in Spain for a long time. I’m in hospital because I’m not very well too.’
She was devastated, but I knew she was being well looked after by my family back at home.
The next night Jordan moved into the hotel mum and dad were in.
As soon as I was able to move, I could visit Freddie.
Two days after having him, my dad wheeled me up to intensive care.
Gazing at my baby in the incubator, I couldn’t help but cry.
I wasn’t allowed to hold him or touch him at all.
Dad tried to lighten the mood.
‘Look at his full head of hair,’ he laughed. ‘He’s got more than me.’
Sniffing, I managed a smile.
After four days I was discharged from hospital, but Jordan still needed to look after me.
He had called our insurance company and we rented an apartment nearby. Our balcony even looked out on to the hospital.
I couldn’t walk so we hired a wheelchair.
Jordan changed the dressings covering my C-section wound twice a day.
Every day we went to sit with Freddie.
We didn’t know what the future held so we flew Charlie and her dad’s mum over from 20th to the 24th April, but the hospital refused to let them see Freddie.
I was so ill I only saw Charlie for 15 minutes and spent the rest of the time in hospital.
When it was time for my parents to go home on 25th April, Wendy flew over for four days on 30th while Charlie stayed with her dad’s mum.
Feeling tired and achy, I couldn’t stop shivering even though my temperature was a sky-high 38.
I had fainted the day before and I couldn’t eat a thing.
Sat having dinner, I pushed the food around my plate, unable to stomach anything.
Wendy said to Jordan: ‘You finish your meal, I’ll change Karla’s dressing.’
In the bedroom, she removed the dressing and started wiping it.
Looking down I noticed a green spec on the scab.
As Wendy dabbed it with a cotton pad, it came away and pus poured out of it.
‘Jordan!’ Wendy shouted. ‘You need to come up to the room, quick!’
They wheeled me over to hospital.
I was rushed into a room, while Jordan and Wendy were told to wait outside.
Medics held my stomach and pushed down until all of the gunk had oozed out.
With no pain relief, I screamed in agony.
Jordan burst through the door and refused to leave my side, despite medics trying to usher him out.
After I was admitted again, hooked up to a drip and given antibiotics.
The scar from my C-section had opened up and left a gaping hole.
Nurses showed us how to clean it properly and stocked us up with sterile bottles of water and dressing.
Five days later, I was able to leave hospital again.
Over the coming weeks, Jordan and I were able to see Freddie in between 9am and 9pm.
As he gained strength, we were able to hold him and have skin-to-skin cuddles.
We picked up words in Spanish for ‘grams’ ‘gramos’, ‘dummy’ ‘maniquí’ and nappy ‘pañal’.
Jordan and I worried how we’d afford to stay in Spain, but our friends at home set up a fundraising page and the local community helped to raise £6,000.
After six weeks, Jordan flew home for a few days to sort out a car and new tumble drier as ours had broken just before we left.
He bought a built a cot and put together a chest of draws and wardrobe for all of Freddie’s clothes.
It meant when we were able to return we wouldn’t need to do a thing.
One night while he was away, I was tucked up in bed, when I rolled over I spotted a lizard out of the corner of my eye.
Leaping out of bed, I shrieked all the way to reception, before the chef came and removed it for me.
After two months, doctors told us Freddie was fit to fly.
Jordan and I had to go to the embassy to get Freddie an emergency passport.
Our insurance company arranged for a special team of medics to collect us in a private plane and transport us back to England.
On 8th June an ambulance escorted Freddie and I to the airport, where the aircraft was waiting to take us home.
Jordan caught an earlier flight and met us at the other end.
When we landed back on British soil an ambulance was waiting to take us to the Royal Bolton Hospital.
We got Freddie settled, before going home to get some sleep.
The next morning, Jordan and I popped over to Wendy’s house.
As I waited in the garden, Jordan walked in to surprise Charlie.
‘Where’s my mum?’ she cried, excitedly.
‘Sorry, she’s not home yet,’ he told her. ‘Why don’t we go outside? It’s lovely and sunny.’
Charlie’s face was a picture as she stepped out of the front door and spotted me.
She ran over and I swept her up into my arms.
Jordan and I dropped her off at school, although she was reluctant to go.
After her lessons we took her to the hospital to meet Freddie for the first time.
From the moment she held him, she was smitten.
Every day, after class, Charlie comes to the hospital to help bath and change Freddie.
Freddie is due home tomorrow.
We can’t wait for him to leave hospital and for us to finally all be living under one roof as a family.
In a couple of weeks we will hold a welcome home party with face painting, a bouncy castle and karaoke, for Freddie for everyone who has supported us to come and meet our little man.
I never dreamed I’d give birth 12 weeks early, while on holiday, 1,400 miles away from home. It certainly wasn’t the relaxing babymoon I had in mind.
But my little boy is here now and I wouldn’t change him for the world.