Bethany Harris, 22, was young, free and single, when she discovered she was pregnant with triplets. She lives in Milton Keynes with her children, Hope, Athena and CJ, who were born in December 2021. A single mum, she works as a duty manager in a restaurant. Here's her story...
“I never planned to have children. My nieces and nephews were enough for me so when I got pregnant by accident with my partner Craig, it was a real shock. I was only 22, we hadn’t been together long and weren’t planning on having a family.
I booked a private scan at seven weeks and the sonographer found two babies. While I was getting over the shock of expecting twins, she found a third baby hiding! It felt like my heart stopped. I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t taken anyone with me to the scan so I had no one to talk to about it.
I texted my mum saying: ‘It’s THREE!’ and she thought I was lying. Even when I showed her the scan pictures, she still couldn’t believe it. In fact, everyone I told needed telling at least twice. I’ve since found out that Craig’s side of the family has twins in it!
It was a huge shock for Craig. We’d never even lived together and although we tried to make the relationship work in those early weeks, we realised we weren’t meant to be together. We knew we’d end up resenting each other so, together we decided that, although we would co-parent, it would be better if we weren’t a couple and would live apart.
At first, the thought of having triplets was completely daunting but as the pregnancy progressed, I switched into a mode of: ‘You’re just going to have to deal with this.’ Although the consultant had mentioned reducing the pregnancy to one baby to reduce the risk of complications, I couldn’t face that decision. There was never any question that I wouldn’t try to give all three babies the best chance of life.
I was lucky in that I had a really easy pregnancy. Both girl babies were sharing a sac which made it more risky, but I was scanned every two weeks and all was well. I ended up in hospital at 26 weeks, only because Hope was lying awkwardly on my bladder, but I was fine.
Watch: A mum of triplet toddlers has strict daily routine including pumping three litres of breast milk
I had a scheduled c-section at 34 weeks and two days, and after the birth I had to have a transfusion because of low iron levels. But the babies were ok and all born within four minutes of each other – Athena was born first weighing 4lbs 4oz, then Hope at 4lbs 5oz and finally Craig-junior (CJ) who was 4lbs 3oz.
The girls were on oxygen for the first day and CJ ended up in intensive care for a week as his lungs were struggling and he had jaundice. But they were out of hospital and home within three weeks.
I must be one of the lucky ones because I’ve found life with triplets surprisingly easy. Maybe it’s my age but I've been quite relaxed about it plus I have a lot of support around me. Even the doctors couldn’t believe how chilled out I was taking them home.
For the first month and a half, I put them to bed around 8pm then they’d wake at 11pm and 3am for feeds but I didn’t find falling back to sleep difficult. At first, I put them all in the same crib because they didn't like being apart, but then the girls started turning in their sleep so I separated them all. But they settled well.
In fact, they’re great sleepers, going to bed around 8pm and they wake up around 6am. Although I breastfed for the first couple of weeks, it became too hard with all three so I went onto formula, feeding every four hours. CJ would get a bit cross if he didn’t have his feed after three and a half hours, but we’d try to stick to the same schedule if we could. I had a special pillow which held each bottle that helped me feed all three babies at once so that was lifesaver.
They each had four bottles a day every four hours and around six months we started weaning so they had a jar/pouch of food between them before their 4pm bottle and went through about three pots of formula in about a week and half.
Reality of raising triplets
We get through about 24 nappies a day. As the cost of living rises, I have to admit I do worry about the finances in the future – especially as they get older. When I return to work I’ll have the cost of childcare to consider but I’ll worry about that when the time comes.
Getting out and about with triplets is often hard and we haven’t joined any baby groups yet. I had a triplet pushchair at first but being only 5ft 5ins, I got lost behind it so now I’ve got a double buggy with another car seat clipped to it which works well.
I’ve got a lot of family help. My brother, sister and their families live only 10 minutes away and my dad lives round the corner from them. My mum, stepbrother and other sisters live in Surrey but visit regularly. Craig doesn’t live far away either and comes over all the time to help. He hasn’t got enough of the equipment or beds at his place to have them over yet but he will. He’s very much a hands-on dad.
It's crazy to think that this time last year I didn’t have any children and now I’m a mum-of-three whose children will be one soon. But I’m not one for regrets and I can’t imagine things being any different.
For more information on multiple births see the Twins Trust.