Joshua Wright and his wife Hollie had the surprise of their lives when their first child made a dramatic entrance to the world a month earlier than expected.
But three weeks later, the proud parents look serene and content as they snuggle up to their son in these beautiful first official family photos – and exclusively announce to HELLO! the little boy’s name: Joshua James Angelo Wright.
MORE: Joshua Wright and Hollie talk baby's gender and how family reacted to news - EXCLUSIVE
"The whole thing was like something out of a film,” says proud dad Josh. "It’s been a surreal couple of weeks, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I always said I’d name my first boy Joshua."
The 32-year-old footballer is upholding a Wright tradition; his big brother, TV and radio presenter Mark, is named after their father. The new arrival, who will be known as "little Josh, baby Josh and Little JJ", made his entrance weighing 5lb 9oz on 22 February, four weeks before he was due.
WATCH: Joshua and Hollie take son Joshua on a sunny walk
Sharing the story of the birth for the first time, Hollie says: "On Monday [21 February], I woke up with a few pains. I didn’t think it was labour, still having four weeks to go, but we went to hospital anyway to double check. We came home because everything was fine.
"That evening, Josh and I were sitting on the sofa having a cup of tea. It was about 10.55pm. Then, with no warning – just a split second when I felt a bubble in my stomach – I jumped up off the sofa and my waters broke.
"It was like a movie," she says. “I didn’t think they could break like that. There was a lot of water. It caught us by surprise." Josh leapt into action to drive them to the hospital as Hollie’s contractions began coming thick and fast within minutes.
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"I was having visions of Hollie giving birth at home or in the car. I was panicking more than she was," he says. The surprises didn’t stop there, however. A scan showed the baby was in a breech position.
"They said it would be very difficult for Hollie to have a natural birth, which had been the plan," Josh says. "For the safety of the baby, they recommended an emergency C-section. They threw me my overalls and we went off into the theatre. Before we knew it, our baby boy arrived."
The couple with their new addition Joshua James Angelo Wright
Hollie adds: "He was born at 12.55am – bang on two hours after my waters broke." Josh was by Hollie’s side throughout, holding her hand in theatre and cutting the umbilical cord himself, and says it was an unforgettable moment when they discovered the sex of their new child, which they had decided not to find out beforehand.
"They held him up and we realised we’d got a baby boy,” he says. "That was when the real emotion kicked in. I cuddled Hollie and gave her a kiss." Hollie tells us: "It didn’t feel like it was happening because it all happened so fast. It was a lovely emotional moment for me and Josh. "It was a Lion King moment when they held him up for us to see," she adds. "We can’t thank the team at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow enough – they were amazing."
The new parents spent the rest of the night in a blissful bubble before being allowed to take baby Joshua home the following evening, when they were met by a very excited welcoming party. "Both of our immediate families were there at our house," says Hollie. "That was a lovely moment to show him to our family straight away."
Josh adds: "I got some pizzas delivered on the way home and we raised a few glasses of champagne. It was very emotional. Everyone fell in love with him there and then."
The little boy was born four weeks before he was due
Among the members meeting the newest Wright were both sets of grandparents, as well as Josh’s siblings, Jessica – who is expecting her own son in May and can’t wait for him and baby Josh to be "best cousins and friends forever" – Natalya and Mark, with his actress wife Michelle Keegan.
"Mark was quite nervous at the start. He couldn’t get to grips with how small the baby was," Josh says. "But now he’s been here a few times and he’s adjusted. He’s starting to hold him and be comfortable with him."The little boy is already being showered with love – and gifts – by his proud aunties and grandparents.
"My two sisters and Hollie’s two sisters [Katie and Sophie] have been like another four mums to him. So have our mums. They’re all changing him, feeding him, holding him and cuddling him.
"The front door has been very busy – Josh has done the rounds! Our family has seen our house more in the last two weeks than they did in the last year we’ve lived here."
Both sides of the close-knit families are honoured in the baby’s name. Like the Wright family tradition, Hollie’s brother and father are both called James, now baby Josh’s middle name. His third name, Angelo, which is derived from the word "angel", is a nod to his birth date: 22-02- 2022, a palindromic number.
"I always said I'd name my first boy Joshua," said the footballer
Some believe a repeated sequence of twos signifies angels. "He’s a special boy. It feels like it was meant to be that he arrived on that date," says Hollie, while Josh adds that the name had caught their attention a couple of weeks before the birth.
"We were debating whether it could be the first name. Then, at Hollie’s sister’s son Orlando’s christening, the day before Hollie went into labour, the other baby being christened that day was called Angelo. Hollie and I looked at each other and thought: 'How ironic.'"
Joshua Jr is certainly living up to his angelic name – even the couple’s miniature dachshunds Milly and Theo have been bowled over by him. "They sit either side of him, good as gold. It’s very sweet to see," says Josh, smiling. Hollie, meanwhile, proudly tells us: "He’s got a full head of hair. He looks gorgeous," while her husband adds: "He’s been fantastic. He’s eating very well, sleeping very well."
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The new mum hopes to go back to running her fashion business Tripletta Bridal with her sisters soon, a sign of how she and Josh are clearly taking new parenthood in their stride. They’re even planning their first family holiday to Dubai, their favourite destination.
After that, says Josh: "We’ve got Hollie’s sister [Sophie] and my cousin George’s wedding in the Bahamas at the end of May. We’ve had a lot of firsts already – our first trip to the coffee shop, first takeaway with him, first West Ham game. It’s all happening. It’s all amazing," he adds with a smile.
Incredibly, these have all taken place before the original due date of 23 March. "We keep saying: 'He should still be in Hollie’s stomach,' and he’s experienced all this already," says Josh. "He’s had an extra four weeks of life. It makes it extra special when they come early."
Photography by Justina Cereskaite
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