There was three times the mess when the Haddy triplets tucked into cake to celebrate their first birthday – but parents Oriana and Brett didn’t mind a bit.
Their sons Amiel and Asher and daughter Aleeah, who were born dangerously premature at 24 weeks, have defied medical odds to reach the milestone.
‘It’s truly a miracle all three of our beautiful babies have made it to their first birthday!’ Oriana beams. ‘Gosh, it’s hard to believe they are eating their first ever birthday cake!’
The triplets were conceived after six years of trying and 23 IVF attempts, but that was just the start of the harrowing journey for the Haddys to have a family.Touch and go
Oriana was admitted into hospital 21 weeks into the pregnancy due to ongoing complications, and the triplets were born by emergency caesarean three weeks later when she developed an infection.The three tiny babies were immediately put into incubators and connected to machines to monitor their vital signs.
‘They had ventilator tubes down their throats to help them breathe, and when you see them connected to all these wires it is quite frightening – you wonder how they’re going to survive,’ Brett says.
‘Looking at them today, celebrating their first birthday, it’s hard to imagine just how tiny they were. Amiel weighed just 588g, Asher 626g and Aleeah 576g – that’s just over a pound each in the old imperial system! Three pounds of butter in total!’ Brett laughs.
‘A lot of tears were shed, some happy, some sad, and when the doctors announced all three would be home for Christmas, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room,’ says 39-year-old Oriana, wiping away tears as she reminisces on the months of struggle.‘They were still so tiny and so fragile. But as hard as it was some days, we would not have traded that time for anything. It was very special for all of us.’
Brett, 41, adds: ‘Even though they were so tiny, it was very hands-on right from the start.'We changed their nappies through the incubator holes. They were so small Asher’s arm fitted my wedding ring!’
‘Every time they had a step forward I cried. Every new goal, new hurdle, every time they had a tube taken out was very emotional,’ Oriana recalls.
At the time doctors gave the Haddys no real guarantee any of the babies would live.‘It was touch and go there for months,’ an emotional Brett says. ‘Watching the three of them literally fighting for their lives is something that will remain etched in our hearts forever.
‘Watching on helplessly was the most painful of all. The thought of losing them still haunts us.’The babies may be triplets, but Mum and Dad say that all three are so different.
‘Amiel’s the loud and boisterous one, Asher is a quiet and placid little boy, and Aleeah, well, there is only one word for her – diva!’ Oriana says. ‘I think we are in for some very interesting times.’Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital neonatologist David Cartwright says the triplets’ future looked very uncertain when they were first born.
‘The survival rate over the past decade of triplets born at 24 weeks indicates the chances are about 50 per cent for all three to make it,’ he says. ‘The Haddy triplets really are a miracle.’And Oriana and Brett are humbled by the amazing care they received from the neonatal unit during their stay.
‘Without this extraordinary team of professionals, I don’t think we would have got through this – they are angels!’ Oriana says. ‘They deal with cases like us every day of their lives, and they still manage to remain upbeat. They were also brutally honest and never once said we would be going home with all three.’
it’s party timeAs the triplets happily celebrate, their parents are reminded that they are not out of the woods yet.
‘Aleeah and Asher are on oxygen and both have nasal gastric tubes,’ Brett says. ‘As they get older and develop, we pray all these problems will go away. We take one day at a time.’
‘We have so much to live for and to look forward to. Gosh, imagine the pictures we can embarrass them with at their 21sts!’ Oriana laughs. ‘There isn’t a minute of the day that we don’t think about how lucky we are to have all three and what a gift they all are to us.’By Lizzie Wilson/Photos Tertius Pickard