You were jaundiced, your head was misshapen and your right ear was squashed but you were absolutely perfect. You stared out from the perspex box by the side of my bed with dark eyes which seemed to say, 'I'm here now and everything is going to be alright.'
Life changed again, deeply and irrevocably so, with the arrival of R's girls. They landed in Mombasa when the city was labouring under a simmering, sweltering heat. R's youngest daughter came running when she saw us. R held it together better than I did.
I have an 8 year old son. He's handsome, funny, smart, caring, with a zest for life that would make most kids' TV presenters jealous. But in recent months I've become increasingly aware of the difficult conversations I'm going to have to have with him. One of them being race.
All those disappointments and resentments that you can squash down and forget when you keep your distance, all the longing for love and affection and finding coldness or bad temper, come sharply to the fore, and dreams of happy holidays which will bring everyone together are shattered in a miserable vacation that becomes a metaphor for the marriage itself.
So what makes us so resilient? How do we keep bouncing back? Well, the great news is that the things we have been doing as a family are really simple and easy to replicate. You can do them, too, and I promise you, they will make it easier to bear the challenges life throws at you.
I now realise that there is a huge difference between no longer being essential and no longer being needed. When you are no longer essential, you still get a platform to voice your views, when you are no longer needed, that platform does not exist.
What I needed were a few strategies that would allow me to still be present with the kids and somehow navigate a whole new world and incorporate it without everyone feeling as though I was permanently preoccupied or abandoning them!
With this in mind, and as we prepare for the new school year, I've included some tips to help ensure your kids can stay safe online, and use the internet as the great resource that it is to help them learn:
I am a strong advocate in communal parenting because of two reasons: (1) Two adults - the parents - could not possibly meet all the myriad needs of the growing new person, and every positive influence, sharing of values and contribution of perspectives can only enrich a child and (2) we do not own our children
I admit, I miss the income I once had. I would like to make a greater contribution to the household budget. This, however, is partly down to the age of our children. Our youngest daughter starts school next year and I see light at the end of the tunnel. Until that time, I am quite happy with how things are. My wife is free to concentrate on her career while I have taken on the main responsibility for looking after the children.
Today is our 17th wedding anniversary. However, Isabelle and I won't be celebrating, because it also marks the first anniversary of our autistic son being sectioned, and disappearing into a 12-month spiral of Kafkaesque confusion, misinformation, wrong turns and dead ends within the UK mental health system.
This week social media is alive with pictures of little children smiling at the school gate, clutching brand new book bags and sporting shiny shoes. Tips for parents on how to cope with their child's first day, tales of parents who couldn't wait for this moment and of those who are dreading it fill my news-feed on an hourly basis.
Earlier in the summer, a middle aged husband, lets call him Mr X, wrote an anonymous letter to The Guardian lamenting his wife for refusing to entertain the possibility of a return to work even though both their children have been at full-time school for some time. Indeed, the eldest is about to start college.
I've always been told that parenting is putting the kid's needs before your own, I know I'm going to miss so much about living in Hove; the beach, the coffee shops, the unlimited types of club or activities you can try. I'm actually quite sad to leave but before I know it their childhood is going to go by in a flash so my focus has to be on what they need right now.
I've always been a traditionalist, my friends at school used to laugh at my 'old fashioned ways'. As a parent the educational path of your child is pretty traditional and easy to follow, you have lots of messy fun with them and then off to school until, well pretty much until they leave home. So off we both went on to another stage of our lives.
Working from home is both a privilege and a challenge. When you add two young daughters into the mix, it can be a nightmare. But, thankfully, I'm not the first to travel down this road. There are key habits I've adopted over the past few years that have proven instrumental in my success.