Gina Dewdney, 34, and her husband Craig, 35, from Frodsham in Cheshire, tried for a baby during the pandemic – and ended up with extremely rare identical triplets. Here the mum of three tells her story of her …
“As soon as the triplets have been put to bed at 7pm, I spring into action. Although I’ve been on the go all day, I know if I’m not organized for the next morning I’ll be chasing my tail and there’ll be chaos.
So I’ll put all the babygrows and bedding in the wash, tidy up a bit then make up the bottles of formula the boys will need, prepare cereal for their breakfast and some pureed vegetables for lunch. I’ll line it all up in the fridge ready for the morning when I know they’ll all be hungry at once.
I don’t sit down for dinner until at least 9.30pm and I’m lucky if I manage to finish eating before one of the triplets wakes up. When I fall into bed exhausted, I know I won’t get more than a couple of hours of uninterrupted sleep.
It’s hard work and it’s relentless, but it’s so worth it. When I see Jensen, Jaxson and Jimmy – who turned one last week – babbling away or reaching for each other’s hands, I couldn’t feel happier or more fulfilled. It’s incredible that they’re here at all.
They’re identical, meaning they came from the same egg and share the exact same genes. They also shared the same placenta in the womb. It’s such a rare occurrence that doctors say their birth is a one in 200 million chance.
Believe it or not, I never planned to have a big family – and especially not all at once. I was never particularly maternal and, besides, Craig and I loved travelling. We talked about having a family eventually but we were both working hard, Craig as
a dentist and me as a dental therapist, and most of our spare time was spent on holidays, seeing the world.
Then the pandemic hit, which put a stop to travel, so we thought it might be a good time to start a family. I expected it to take years to conceive, but within a couple of weeks I was pregnant. We were delighted and I started to think ahead about taking my mini-me baby out for walks in a pram or to visit cafés to meet friends.
I’d found out about the pregnancy early and already I was suffering from sickness and migraines. It seemed early to be experiencing symptoms so I joked to Craig that it might be twins.
Sure enough, when Craig and I went for the 13-week scan in December 2020, my suspicions were confirmed. It was a shock even though I’d joked about it. But as I tried to process the news, there was a much bigger shock. The sonographer changed the angle of the screen and Craig said, “Is that another head?”
There was a long silence during which you could have heard a pin drop, then we were told, “Yes, it’s triplets.”
The sonographer said she’d never seen naturally-conceived triplets in 25 years of scanning. As the babies were sharing a placenta, we were told that as well as being extremely rare there were also plenty of things that could go wrong.
I could hardly take in the news. That afternoon I sat on the sofa googling triplets. It was exciting but terrifying too. How would we cope with three babies all at eleven?
Then, that evening, I started bleeding. Craig rushed me to hospital, but after tests it seemed it was just a blood clot from the position of the placenta. A scan showed there were three strong heartbeats.
The scare was enough to make me realize just how much I wanted these three babies. I had to keep them all safe. Unfortunately, that meant I had to give up work to rest, which was hard, especially with the isolation of the pandemic and the continual lockdowns. I was told I was having two girls and a boy, so I went out and spent £500 on clothes for girls. But a couple of weeks later it was established that I was having three boys – another surprise.
I grew enormous and uncomfortable really quickly and was more than ready when the babies were born by caesarean at 33 weeks on April 26 last year. All three were born within just over a minute. Jimmy weighed 3lbs, Jensen 2.8lbs and Jaxson 2lbs.
The first time I saw them properly was in the ICU where they were receiving oxygen to build up their lungs. They looked like three little aliens lying there, connected to wires and machines, their skin paper thin.
Luckily all three developed well and six weeks later we were thrilled to be able to bring them home. We’d bought three little cots, three prams – including a single, a double and a triple – car seats and clothes. But nothing can truly prepare you for bringing three tiny babies home. We’d been used to the support of the hospital staff but now we were on our own.
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Because they were still so small I had to feed them every two hours, which could take 45 minutes for each triplet. The other two would be crying which was so stressful, especially when I was on my own. So I had to come up with my own system. I discovered I could feed all three at eleven, two on the breast while propping the other on cushions and bottle feeding him.
There was always one baby awake throughout the night so I got used to surviving on very little sleep. It’s amazing how you can function when there’s no other choice.
The boys soon developed their own personalities. Even though they share the same genes and have been brought up the same way, they’re so different. Jensen is the calmest, happy to sit playing with his toys, Jimmy laughs a lot and loves his bouncy chair and Jaxson is the smallest but the most feisty.
He’s the cute one with a heart-melting smile. To me, it’s easy to tell the difference between them but Craig often gets them mixed up and my parents, who’ve seen them nearly every day since they were born, still have no idea who’s who.
The boys get through a tube of formula every day, along with a pack of 24 nappies. I take them for a walk most days but when I’m on my own, that’s as adventurous as it gets. When Craig’s around we’ve gone on occasional family day trips, which of course entails a lot of careful planning, but we’re not brave enough to go on holiday yet.
The Instagram community has been amazing and I’ve connected with people all over the world, sharing triplet tips and advice. It helped through the isolation of Covid and it’s been a great way of documenting the triplets’ lives – they’re changing every day.
People are always telling me they don’t know how I do it, but you don’t know how strong you are until you’re tested.
I haven’t even ruled out having another baby. Because I thought two of the triplets were girls for a while, it’s made me think
how lovely it would be to have a little girl. The doctors have said there’s a strong possibility of another multiple birth though and that really would be a challenge.”
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