Hip hip hooray, it’s Dottie’s first birthday!

Can you believe our little granddaughter Dottie is turning 1?

Dottie Smiles 🙂

This time last year was very difficult with so many emotions – happiness, fear, love, worry!

But, as bad as it was back then, I’m just glad it happened in 2019 and not 2020!

Dottie arrived early…very early – like 15 weeks early!

I can still clearly remember getting the phone call that Monday night (Australian time). I was at a Rotary meeting, with the District Governor as our guest speaker. He had just finished his talk to the group and we were chatting away when my phone rang. It flashed up as Melanie calling, but instead of her voice, it was Craig telling me she had gone into early labour and was most likely going to have the baby that day.

I must admit I couldn’t take it all in at the time. She was only 25 weeks pregnant and to my knowledge that was far too early to have a baby. I handed the phone to my husband to try and get him to understand the situation as I was very upset. It really ruined the whole Rotary meeting with everyone soon knowing that something was very wrong. But they were all concerned for our family and offered support in many ways.

After talking to many people that night and being very confused I drove home via my book club meeting (which I had planned to do all along) and basically collapsed into the arms of my friends. They were brilliant with their soothing, calming messages of hope and love, and I tried to relax before continuing on home. I had trouble sleeping until I finally got a message that Dottie had arrived safely weighing a mere 845grams (1lb 13oz).

She started her life fighting and we were all willing her on. Even now I can’t go anywhere without people asking how Dottie is getting on!

Dottie was immediately taken from Taunton Hospital to the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Southmead at Bristol. Melanie didn’t get to go with Dottie until the next day and this was very hard for her.

Photo of little Dottie holding her mummy’s finger – used with permission

And so Dottie became our little star. And her parents adapted as best they could to this new world. She had ups and downs and you can only imagine the worry we had as we were on the other side of the world.

I managed to fly to England and was there within a week of Dottie being born. I really wanted to support my daughter and Craig, and to meet my newest, tiniest little granddaughter Dottie. It was a long long flight, which I did alone, but I’m so glad I did it. Melanie, being Australian, has no family of her own nearby so I knew I had to be there with her.

I was able to stay with them for a month and learnt so much about premature babies, their brave parents, NICU – it was like entering a whole new world I never knew existed before. I found strength and hope in watching the staff work with Dottie and seeing her fight and grow.

While I was with Dottie my first granddaughter Emilia, turned one back in Australia, and I wasn’t there to celebrate – again so many emotions.

Can you imagine if that had happened this year, with Covid on the rampage? I probably wouldn’t have been able to leave Australia as very few flights are available and permission has to be granted to leave the country. It really doesn’t bear thinking about.

Dottie comes home

Dottie had 14 weeks in NICU, coming home from hospital 98 days after being born, a week before her due date. We were there to welcome her home, which was a fantastic but a nerve wracking feeling. She was on oxygen at home for the first few months and has gone from strength to strength. Can you believe I had to wait nearly 14 weeks for a cuddle? It was awesome when it finally happened.

When COVID struck, she had to be ‘shielded’ due to her vulnerability having been born so early. It’s been incredibly hard on Melanie and Craig but their love and unwavering belief in her has carried them through.

I am beyond proud of the amazing job Melanie and Craig have done, with getting through all of this and bringing Dottie up the way they have. She is the brightest little girl, with a smile and laugh that is contagious. She loves her food, her Ozzy dog and life in general!

Dottie smile
Dottie smile

Dottie turns 1

It hasn’t been an easy 12 months in lots of ways but here she is now turning 1! I have to say she has grown up into the sweetest little poppet, she’s still tiny but feisty. She gives us all so much joy to see her smiles, her eating methods, her giggles, her growth and her happy beautiful personality shining through.

I’m so glad we were able to spend 3 months with them late last year, as given the conditions at the moment, I can’t say when we will be able to travel to England to see them all again.

It’s also been good how Melanie has been willing to share Dottie’s progress, as everyone we know will ask after her. They have followed along and taken nearly as much delight in seeing her develop as we have. She has had so much love during her first year, and so has our family – many thanks to you all!

These are some words I’ve attributed to Dottie.

D: Determined

O: One-of-a-kind

T: Tenacious

T: Tiny

I: Incredible

E: Energetic

Dottie will make you smile

Just try watching this short video of Dottie on the swing (one of our birthday presents to her), with Ozzy helping push her, without breaking into delighted smiles. The giggles make me smile every time!

If I can’t actually be there with her for her birthday (as I’d been planning), then this is almost the next best thing!

Our family has been through a lot in the last few years and we continue to help each other time after time. I’m so lucky!

Thanks for your support during this time. It’s been so lovely having readers leave comments and follow Dottie’s story when I’ve shared bits and pieces on my blog. You’ve all played a huge part in getting Dottie, and us, through this first year.

I’m a proud mother and a very proud Granny.

Happy first birthday Dottie! Here’s hoping I can make it over there for your second!

Granny Debs xx

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88 Replies to “Hip hip hooray, it’s Dottie’s first birthday!”

    1. Thanks Sue, she really is a one of kind and an inspiration. I am so happy to share her progress on her first birthday. She really has a following from all over the world.


  1. Happy 1st birthday to gorgeous Dottie! What a wonderful fighter she is, and so cute, too. Congrats to your daughter and her hubby on all the hard work, the emotions and struggles they must surely have gone through over the last year.

    My twin boys were born prem, but not as prem as Dottie. They were born at 34 weeks. I had to leave hospital without them, as they stayed in Special Care Nursery for two weeks. Incredibly hard as a first-time mum!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much Linda, she is a real little fighter (thank goodness for that). I can only imagine how hard it was for them but they’ve come through the first year so that’s a start! Your premature twins must have been a worry for you especially as a first time mum! It’s amazing what we can get through when we have to isn’t it?


  2. Happy Birthday to Dotti, and hasn’t she blossomed into a beautiful little girl. I felt so happy reading your blog today with this fabulous news. I do remember the early worrying days so it’s lovely to see Dottie looking so well and happy today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jennifer, she really has blossomed and although she’s still tiny she’s doing really well. I’m much happier about her progress these days too!


  3. OMG – That final video of Dottie laughing joyfully on her swing, with her dog, just warmed my heart. I cannot believe that she is one-year-old already. Congratulations to her parents, her proud grandparents and the full community that have supported her during her difficult times. Big hugs to you all! #MLSTL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Donna, the video is pure joy isn’t it? Time has flown by but I remember those early days well. You’re right, it’s been a huge community following that has helped us all get through this time. Thanks to everyone out there!


  4. Dottie is one cute bundle of joy…she looks amazing. She will emerge really strong physically and emotionally as she has gone through a lot. Her pics really heartwarming to see her doing well. God bless her with best of health, cheer and love of all. Happy birthday to dear Dottie.🎊🎉👑🎂🍰🍡🍭

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy Birthday Dottie! Wishing you good health, growing in strength daily and blossoming to being a beautiful person. I am so happy for you Debbie. I am sure you are relieved now. Blessings and much Garfield love and hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Deb, Dottie’s story started out so scarily and has gradually morphed into such a happy ending – that giggling little girl on the swing says it all. Thank goodness for modern medicine and resilient little babies who fight to stay with us. She has a great future ahead of her. #MLSTL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Leanne, it was scary back then and gradually the load has lightened. She is a delight and growing so well, although she’ll be tiny for a while yet. Thanks goodness for modern medicine and her fighting spirit.


  7. I just saw you’d shared this on Twitter & it really shocked me – I follow Dottie’s story from a distance and even to me this year has gone super duper quickly!

    This is a wonderful tribute to her in honour of what a tenacious, determined and incredible little lady she is. 🎉🎉🎉 HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DOTTIE!! 🎉🎉🎉

    Caz xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Caz, it’s been a huge year for us all. I’m so happy to be able to share her story with everyone as many have followed along right from the start! Thanks for your lovely comment and for taking an interest. xx


    1. I appreciate your hugs Miriam. Dottie is just so precious to us all and continues to astound me with her strength. Her personality is developing and she is a happy little girl most of the time. I’m so glad I could share this update with you all. x

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Happy Birthday Dottie! Was that really a year ago? Time really does fly, even though we’ve been on standstill for the past five months. Hope you get to see her again soon 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Clive, it’s been a whole year! I’m hoping I can get over there sometime next year, but we will wait and see what’s happening in the world by then. Who knows?? Thanks for birthday message to Dottie.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. It seems like yesterday that she was born, but I know you and her parents must have felt like each day was agonizingly long as she grew healthier and strong enough to leave the hospital. That video is adorable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it is adorable too Jennifer and just had to share it, after getting my daughter’s permission first! It has been a hard first year but I’m happy to be this side of it now. Thanks for following along!


    1. Thanks Gemma, she is definitely a little cutie-pie. The year has gone pretty fast but I can still remember the feelings on anxiety this time last year when I had to decide if I was going over there or not. I’m really glad I did!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Denyse, it’s certainly been a huge few years and watching her laugh and play makes me so happy! Yes Miss E will be turning 2 next month and this year I’ll be here to celebrate with her.


  10. What an adorable little giggle! Gosh this last year has certainly been emotional for you and your family in so many ways – thank goodness she was a 2019 baby and you could spend so much time with them. Happy Birthday Dottie!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Deb, it has been a tough few years in lots of ways. Seeing Dottie laugh brings joy to my heart, she is such a bright spark! I’m so glad we got to spend time with them last year, as not sure when we will be able to fly from Australia again!


  11. Happy Birthday Dottie. Crazy that it’s a year ago Deb, doesn’t seem that long. You are so right about being lucky it was 2019 and not this year as there wouldn’t have been a hope of travelling over. Hopefully you will be able to come and see her very soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know Jonno, where has that time gone? I’m hoping we can travel for her second birthday at least – surely things will have settled down by then?? Thanks for the birthday greetings 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Deb, First birthdays are always special. Especially for Dottie and the entire family. She really is a miracle baby. She obviously has a fighting spirit and she is surrounded by a great deal of love. Until you mentioned the 2019 versus 2020, I had not thought about all of the changes that may have affected Dottie’s care.

    I am goosebumpy and teary as you relay the story about getting that initial phone call. The holy sh___ on her birth weight. The older I get and the more I see, so much is not in our control. Certain spirits are meant to enter our Earth and stay for a period of time. (Deb, you just inspired me for a topic for a possible future meeting – something I would not put in writing because of privacy)

    Gratitude is not a big enough word to describe all and everything in NICU – angels on Earth. Dottie’s smile is infectious – likely not the first time you have heard this. You are right about tiny and feisty. The giggles on the swing…….happy tears from me. xx ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Erica, I’ve shed some happy tears during the year believe me!! I’m also learning that so much is out of our control no matter how hard we want it to be different. You’re right gratitude isn’t a big enough word to describe all that the medical staff do. I just love her laugh, it makes my world fill with joy. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Happy birthday Dottie, such a happy laugh. My granddaughter Harriet was only sick 3 weeks and that was heart breaking as a grandparent/mother wanting to protect and make things better. So for your family to endure all you have with Dottie , and to see her smile and laugh is such a joy. Grand children snuggle into our hearts and take up a lot of space

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Leanne, she has the most gorgeous laugh and smile on her face most of the time. She is pure joy! I just want to snuggle her all the time but seeing her on the screen has to be good enough for now. I hope your granddaughter is feeling better and I can relate to you wanting to make things better for her, I’ve never wanted anything so bad during this past year. xx


  14. such a joy to have watched Dottie grow from the wee sweet pea to his vibrant one year old. As you say Debbie thank goodness she wasn’t born in the time of COVID! Thank you and Melanie for sharing her journey. It really has been inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sue, she has done so well and I’m so proud of my daughter and son-in-law for all they’ve done throughout the year. It couldn’t have been easy on them. I just wish I lived closer to them xx

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks for all your support over the past year Leslie. I can’t believe Dottie is now 1 in some ways, but I’m so happy with how things have turned out during that year. She is just adorable and bring such joy to us all.


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