Sir Chris Hoy and his wife Sarra reveal their son, 5, is the tallest in his class and is thriving after being born 11 weeks premature and needing two years of post-birth care

  • Olympian, 43, said seeing their son, now five, in intensive care, was 'terrifying'
  • Sarra said that the first time she saw Callum he reminded her of a 'new born bird' 
  • The couple, who spoke exclusively to FEMAIL said that despite his 'tough start' Callum is thriving and has started school

Sir Chris Hoy and wife Sarra have revealed the heartache they had to endure when their son, Callum, was born 11 weeks premature, weighing just 2lbs 2oz.

The Olympian, 43, from Edinburgh, and his wife, said that seeing their son, now five, in intensive care, was 'terrifying'.

Talking about their ordeal, in conjunction with World prematurity day next week, and to highlight Pampers new Preemie Protection nappies, Sarra said that the first time she saw Callum he reminded her of a 'newborn bird, who had just fallen from his nest - as he was so small and fragile.'

Meanwhile, Chris said that he was scared he would crush him, when he finally got to hold him after four days.

The couple, who spoke exclusively to FEMAIL said that despite his 'tough start' Callum is thriving and has started school.

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The Olympian (left) 43, and his wife (right) said that the two months which their son, now five, was in hospital for was 'terrifying'

The Olympian (left) 43, and his wife (right) said that the two months which their son, now five, was in hospital for was 'terrifying'

Sir Chris Hoy with his hand on his premature son's head as he sleeps with 'wires' and machines attached to him

Sir Chris Hoy with his hand on his premature son's head as he sleeps with 'wires' and machines attached to him 

On October 15th 2014 Sarra Hoy gave birth by c-section to a baby boy, but they weren't expecting him for another 11 weeks.

Speaking to Femail Chris said: 'It is a surprise to any family, we were still 11 weeks off the due date and there were so many things yet to be done.'

'You think you’ve got lots of time and Sarra had been really healthy throughout her pregnancy so it was a big shock - its just a very difficult start to the journey and you can never think too far ahead because you know your baby is in a critical potion.' 

In fact Sarra had yet to even form a bump, but she had developed pre-eclampsia and doctors decided that it would be better for both her and their baby if she gave birth.

The couple revealed that Callum (pictured)  two years of care post birth, but now their five-year old is thriving

The couple revealed that Callum (pictured)  two years of care post birth, but now their five-year old is thriving

Seeing their newborn in intensive care was an emotional time for both of them

 Seeing their newborn in intensive care was an emotional time for both of them

Sarra went on to admit: 'My first instinct was to get up and run away (from the situation) it’s the last thing you want to hear – at the time I didn’t know babies could be born that early. 

'But actually you learn an awful lot when you have a premature baby and babies are born a lot earlier than - up to even 23 weeks and born a lot smaller than Callum – which is why these nappies for Pampers are so significant.'  

Premature babies: the facts  

  • 1 in 13 babies, more than 60,000, are born prematurely in the UK each year, and need specialist care to support their early development – including a nappy made specially for them 
  • Sleep is crucial to supporting physical and emotional development in premature babies, so Pampers launched smallest ever nappy to help minimise disruption to avoid disturbing them 
  • Since 2017, Pampers has donated hundreds of thousands of its Preemie Protection nappies to premature babies via UK hospitals, and now wants to spread the word further and increase the number of nappies donated

Seeing their newborn in intensive care was an emotional time for both of them. Sarra admitted: 'It’s a really difficult experience and I would not wish it on my worst enemy – to see your baby that unwell and needing that much support its hard.

'It’s a very noisy environment as there are so many machines and lots of beeps and alarms - all going on at the same time – some telling you that the babies are okay or that they need more help – and it’s an intense and scary environment.

'The first thing you're taught to do is change a nappy in the incubator – it’s a task in its self as your baby is surrounded by lots of monitors and wires and things going into their body to keep them alive. I was terrified of dislodging something or hurting him further.'

As Callum went straight into intensive care the new parents weren't allowed to hold him for the first four days. 

Talking about when he was able to hold him, Chris said: ‘It was scary as he was so small and you are worried about hurting or crushing him. The skin-to-skin care is an amazing feeling but you have mixed emotions – you are delighted that you child is still alive but it’s also a terrifying experience.'

While he went on to say that he felt helpless at times: 'The other times you are just sitting there watching them through the incubator window and staring at screen with numbers and beeps.'

The couple, who spoke exclusively to FEMAIL said that despite his 'tough start' Callum (second left) is thriving and has started school. (pictured with their daughter Chloe)

The couple, who spoke exclusively to FEMAIL said that despite his 'tough start' Callum (second left) is thriving and has started school. (pictured with their daughter Chloe)

'The whole time you are reminding yourself that you shouldn’t complain as there are families that haven't got that far and didn’t make it into the ward and there is some that don’t make it out of the ward. Are are acutely aware that you are lucky – but you don’t feel that way when you're in there.'

Sarra added that you just have you just have to be 'grateful for every breath.'

Luckily for Chris and Sarra, Callum start to gradually progress, being moved from the intensive care unit to the high dependency ward, then the special care ward: 'I remember the consultant said he’s a fighter, we just let him lead and the way – he had a few set back but we just had to hold on tight,' Sarra admitted.

Sir Chris Hoy holds one of the Preemie Protection nappies for their #PampersForPreemie campaign - which can be worn by premature babies

Sir Chris Hoy holds one of the Preemie Protection nappies for their #PampersForPreemie campaign - which can be worn by premature babies 

Finally leaving the hospital after two months with Callum, who still only weighed 4lbs 4oz they both admitted that going home with a premature baby was hard. 

'Suddenly you realise this is your whole responsibility, you get quite institutionalized as you're surrounding my these amazing nurses and doctors - its hard to take them home and have a baby which has no monitoring systems to tell you what is going on with them,' Sarra told FEMAIL.

While Chris added: 'When you are in the hospital you dread the sound of the beeps of the machines, but you almost long for these sounds when you get home – to reassure you. When you get home you’re think "but how do you know if his oxygen levels are high?" -  so it’s letting go of that safety net.

The couple revealed that Callum had two years of care post birth, but now their five-year old is thriving.

Finally leaving the hospital after two months with Callum, who still only weighed 4lbs 4oz they both admitted that going home with a premature baby was hard

Finally leaving the hospital after two months with Callum, who still only weighed 4lbs 4oz they both admitted that going home with a premature baby was hard

Chris said: ‘He has just turned five and started school, he is the tallest in his class – you would never know that he had a tough start. There is nothing holding him back – he’s happy healthy and developing like he should for a five-year old.

'When we dropped him off for the first day of school, most parents are emotional, but for us it was a massive celebration as we'd got to that point where he was able to go in and everything was going well.'

The couple, who also have a two year old daughter, Chloe, said that the worry about her being premature was factored in when they had her: 'Time is a good healer so it took us time to make a decision, ' Sarra said, 'But we were monitored really well because of everything that happened - but yes it was a risk, but one we were ready to take and fortunately we got to the 36 week mark with her.'

For every pack of Pampers purchased in ASDA between 7th November 2019 and 7th January 2020, in partnership with Bliss, the largest charity for premature and sick babies in the UK, Pampers will donate a Pampers Preemie Protection nappy to UK hospitals. 

Sir Chris Hoy reveals heartache over premature son born 11 weeks too early

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