After our meal at Chi Kitchen, we wandered around Birmingham while we waited for check in time at the apartment.
This is some of the "Paradise Birmingham" regeneration work I mentioned in the last post- lots of changes are being made.
As always, Birmingham brought back many memories for us. It was very close to these steps that Danny had his first ice cream after his third open heart surgery. He ended up covered top to toe in melted ice cream.
We laughed and were so glad to see him doing everyday child like things.
This is the Selfridges Silver Disc Wall that the "Birmingham Spiderman" climbed up during our last long stay at BCH.
St Martin's Church of the Bullring, the Mother Church of Birmingham.
Overlooking St Martin's Church is a bronze statue of Admiral Lord Nelson. It was first made by Richard Westmacott after Nelson visited Birmingham in 1802. In our own local town, Milford Haven, Nelson visited the same year and a local pub, The New Inn was renamed the Lord Nelson in his honour and is still known at that today. It overlooks Milford Marina which Nelson described as one of the finest harbours he's ever seen.
A more modern statue, The Bull at the Bullring. This was made by Laurence Broderick and officially revealed in September 2003.
The kids enjoyed the street entertainment. I love Danny's face after the piano playing horse man gave him a "whinny". It said on his placard that he was saving for wedding rings. The kids kept asking me lots of questions about him after so I'd love to know more so I could answer them.
Then the floating Yoda (have you seen how they do this? It still doesn't look very comfortable to me!).
We then walked back to the carpark. I initially parked in Paradise Circus Carpark (B1 2NB). The StayCity Newhall Square Aparthotels (B3 1PW) do have their own carpark which you can pay for at the time of booking. As my car was needed near the hospital from the Monday onwards it didn't make sense for me to book to park for the whole week. As we walked to the accommodation we noticed that there was also a small Euro Car park next to our StayCity so that would have been better for us for the first night (we live and learn).
I meant to take lots of photos of the StayCity reception as it was very modern and design focussed but real life got in the way. We checked in, the staff were friendly and helpful. They asked if we were planning anything nice on our stay we had to explain that we were here for our son's operation at Birmingham Children's Hospital. They said they hoped it went well.
We went up to our accommodation which consisted of a bedroom, bathroom, hall, living room with bed settee, kitchenette and dining room. It was such a useful space for a stay like this and I'll definitely try and book an Aparthotel again in the future.
Staycity Aparthotels have a free fitness room but more importantly to me also a free laundry room. We'd already been away for a weekend and I'd tried to travel as light as I could so I already had some laundry to do. I popped to the Co-op next door (that was handy too) and picked up some laundry liquid. Free laundry tokens can be picked up at Reception.
While we were outside we saw Ceri and Lexy arriving so we waited to see them. This part felt quite exciting and like we were on a big family holiday (if only we were!).
When they checked in, the receptionist also asked why they were visiting and Lexy replied, "Well, it's a long story." which made me laugh. Once everyone was all settled, I went to get the washing started.
This room was so convenient. I put the wash on, then could pop back an hour later to move the clothes to the dryer and then an hour later come down for our clean clothes. Dave and I took it in turns usually. Some rooms have washing machines within them. These must be in the 6 bed or long stay rooms.
We could see Ceri, Lexy and Rebecca's room from our room, so a lot of waving went on. If we'd stayed longer I'm sure there would have been some Morse code and sliding snacks on a wire action going on too! We had planned to go out for a meal to celebrate Dan's "last night of freedom".
Instead he asked could we stay in the hotel and have a takeaway instead (pre op nerves had defintely kicked in). We ordered pizzas (a lot of pizza!) from the Caspian Grill. Dave and Danny went down to collect it. It looked like Danny had a new career as a pizza delivery boy! I think it just looked like more food than usual as we ordered individual pizzas and a couple of sides instead of sharing as we used to. When we're away we find JUST EAT so handy for those times when we arrive late at the hotel or we just fancy take out.
Birthday pizza as it was Danny's Birthday Eve.
The not at all awkward moment when everyone sings Happy Birthday to you.
Then we left Rebecca to stay with Ceri and Lexy and headed back to our room.
The next day was Monday 18th April, Danny's birthday and also his admittance to hospital day. He woke up, had his cards and presents, then we packed up to make the drive to Birmingham Children's Hospital (a short distance but full of diversions).
Once there, after parking the car, we were still too early so we popped into town to pick up our copy of Star Wars The Force Awakens.
We also gave Danny the chance to buy something to keep him amused at hopsital. He went straight to the Nerf Gun section but we steered him away from that idea!
I love this Big Bang Theory LEGO. Danny chose some new mini skateboards in the end. Then it was hospital time.
We parked at the NCP Royal Angus Car Park (B4 6HY). They offer a discount to visitors of the Children's Hospital. Take a ticket from the machine as usual then make sure you get it validated at the Welcome Desk before your final day of stay when you want to exit the car park. This discount is very helpful, especially in the past when my car has been parked up here for a month. Confusingly for us, the car park has actually been rebuilt opposite where it used to be. This means you can no longer get into the hospital through the car park as you could before when staying at the parent accommodation.
Birmingham Children's Hospital is found on Steelhouse Lane (B4 6NH) opposite the police station (if you see lots of ambulances and police cars then you've arrived at the right place).
An old building with very modern equipment inside!
We walked in and headed straight to Ward 12. We had to have a little wait in the ward waiting area and then we were taken to Danny's bed.
We unpacked his things. put his blanket and monkey on the bed (monkey always comes to hospital and has had many procedures of his own in the past too bless him!). We filled in forms and answered lots of questions. Danny was very quiet and concerned. The thing he was most dreading was having the cannula inserted. After a few bad experiences (his veins are often hard to find) he isn't keen. The nurse put magic cream on and left it to work. Once he was ready, they took him to the treatment room and inserted the cannula fairly easily which was a huge relief to Danny.
Even better, he came back to his bed to find that the lovely Play Specialist had set up an XBox for him during his stay. It was nice to see him smiling again and to take his mind off the procedure. We really appreciated this kind gesture.
Next Danny agreed to take part in the RAPID Research Study looking at the use of wireless technology and wearable sensors to monitor children during their hospital stay.
This will mean children will have faster, continuous monitoring without the usual restrictions.
We were then told that we could take Danny out for a birthday meal, so we told Ceri, Lexy and Rebecca the good news and arranged to meet at The Square Peg, Wetherspoons as it's close to the hospital.
Dave fooled around a bit to cheer the birthday boy up! It's so good to see the boy smile.
I was pleased to see that Wetherspoons do serve a vegan menu. I chose the Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Spinach Curry. Ask for it with an extra poppadom instead of a naan bread and this makes it a great vegan option.
We enjoyed our food (but completely forgot to make a birthday to Danny- I think our mind was on the op by this point) then Danny said his goodbyes to Ceri and Lexy and we went to settle him back at the hospital.
It felt quite strange for me "dropping him off" and knowing I was going back to the apartment without him. I knew he was has happy with Dave and I could see him first thing in the morning but I couldn't help but feel sad. I was also feeling irrationally worried that I'd oversleep and not get to see him before he was put to sleep on Tuesday.
Rebecca and me said our goodbyes to both the boys and then walked back to our apartment with Ceri and Lexy. I'm very grateful for them coming to Birmingham and being there with us for times like that (thank you, my lovelies!) as it made the whole experience easier. I think I'd have cried all the way back if I'd been on my own.
We then realised that I would of course be sleeping in my apartment on my own. Rebecca very sweetly asked me if I'd like to stay in their apartment but I had things to do in ours and I knew I'd be "pottering" a lot of the night and didn't want to keep everyone awake. I suggested that she stayed in my apartment as we were both getting up early to see Danny the next day but she wanted to stay in the bed she had made her own and where all her things were so we agreed to stay separately and that I would come and pick her up from her room in the morning.
At least I got to wave to her from my apartment, then went to bed thinking about the day ahead that would follow...