Mother gives birth to triplets at just 23 weeks — and they survive
Emma Seaton was happily married to her husband, Ray, with whom she had a nine-year-old son, Billy. The couple had long wanted another child but it didn’t seem to be their destiny.
Then one day in 2014 Emma, suffering from exhaustion and nausea, decided to take a pregnancy test, just to rule out the possibility. She was sure it was the flu or something else.
But then, surprise: the result was positive!
At 12 weeks, they went in to the doctor for an ultrasound. The doctor raised his eyebrows and gave them some startling news: twins.
But he kept looking at the image on the screen.
Then, frowning, he slowly added, “…There’s ANOTHER one.”
The two parents could hardly have been more taken aback. There had never been a multiple pregnancy in either of their families. To have triplets is a one in a million event.
The pregnancy was complicated, of course. It’s far riskier than with one or even two fetuses. Emma was sick a great deal and at only 22 weeks she started experiencing contractions. It was much too early, and understandably, she panicked. The doctor sent her straight to the hospital.
“We had a pretty awful conversation, with Ray and the doctors,” recalled Emma. “We thought we had lost our babies and we were devastated.”
For two days, both doctors and parents were fighting to hold on, trying to delay the birth. Emma got infusions of steroids to help her babies’ premature lungs. Then, after only 23 weeks of pregnancy, tiny Alfie, Conor, and Dylan came into the world.
They weighed just 14 ounces each. Emma wasn’t allowed to hold them because they needed so many machines to keep them alive. Even until recently, it was believed that babies couldn’t survive if they were delivered before the 26th week, then 24th week — but now, what about the 23rd week?
“We both felt helpless,” their mother remembers. “Ray brought back photos to show me and Alfie looked so tiny, surrounded by so many wires and tubes.” Their skin was completely translucent and they were visibly not fully developed.
Emma and Ray could hardly breathe for the stress and fear. Every day that the babies stayed alive seemed like a victory. And yet the next day would be full of terrifying challenges.
For parents of newborns, not being able to touch their babies is simply torture. Ray and Emma were only able to speak to them from a distance, sending all their love and courage through their voices. They faced threat after threat: one’s lung collapsed, another faced possible blindness, the third heart surgery.
And yet, astonishingly, each time they survived. They hung on. Their tiny bodies grew, they continued to develop. Until at last…
Their parents were allowed to hold them, to rock them, kiss and hug them. The machines were turned off, one by one. The babies were freed of wires and tubes. A full six months after the delivery, the whole family — with three new babies — was allowed to go home.
They weren’t quite out of the tunnel yet, but now they could handle it with confidence. The organization necessary for taking care of three preemies was the primary challenge.
The babies still needed respiratory aid, and just leaving the house — with all the usual baby accoutrements (diapers, bottles, etc) times three, plus extra oxygen, and a nine-year-old child who still needed attention — was arduous to say the least.
They got through this too, and more importantly, the triplets all made it.
What a journey! Alfie, Dylan, and Conor are the most premature babies known to have survived.
Today, incredibly, they’re a trio of cheerful, rambunctious two-year-olds who provide their parents with plenty to do. And their parents are simply grateful.
The only problem is telling them apart.
How has their big brother Billy handled this intense triple-addition to the family? He’s been a calm, loving, and active participant in the whole story. As Emma reported:
“He’s been really grown up. Like all of us, he’s enjoying being a family of six.”
What a good kid. And what a brave family. We can only wish them the best of luck handling their wild little troika, growing bigger and closer every day!