Triplets who made British ʜɪsᴛᴏʀʏ by sᴜʀᴠɪᴠɪɴɢ births fifteen weeks before they were due have celebrated their first birthday. When Max, Harvey, and Lucas Udell were delivered at 24 weeks and 5 days, they weighed less than 2 pounds apiece. They were born through ᴇᴍᴇʀɢᴇɴᴄʏ ᴄᴇsᴀʀᴇᴀɴ section and sent to intensive care, where they received a total of 12 ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ transfusions. They have finally returned home from the Hᴏsᴘɪᴛᴀʟfor the first time with their mother Rachael, 31, and father Ashley, 29, three months after their birth.
Rachael, a former medical secretary, and gardener husband Ashley, 30, couldn’t wait to have children – and started trying immediately after their wedding in May, 2010. Rachael said:” I have ᴘᴏʟʏᴄʏsᴛɪᴄ ᴏᴠᴀʀɪᴇs so we were worried about my chances of ᴄᴏɴᴄᴇɪᴠɪɴɢ. It took a year and a half for me to get ᴘʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴛ. And we got more than we bargained for.” At 20 weeks Rachael was signed off work because of ᴘᴇʟᴠɪᴄ ᴘᴀɪɴ. Less than five weeks later she was in St Michael’s Hᴏsᴘɪᴛᴀʟin Bristol for an ᴇᴍᴇʀɢᴇɴᴄʏ ᴄᴀᴇsᴀʀᴇᴀɴ. She said: “When the boys came out they looked so tiny, like little dolls.” The ᴛᴇʀʀɪғʏɪɴɢ ʜᴇᴀʟᴛʜ troubles came thick and fast. The babies had 12 ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ transfusions between them. At one point Max’s sᴛᴏᴍᴀᴄʜ ʙᴜʀsᴛ and he had to have an ᴏᴘᴇʀᴀᴛɪᴏɴ on it. Rachael and Ashley waited 10 days to see if he would sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴇ. Harvey had sᴇᴘᴛɪᴄᴀᴇᴍɪᴀ. One by one they came off ᴠᴇɴᴛɪʟᴀᴛᴏʀs. Max had spent two months on one. They were sent to the Royal United Hᴏsᴘɪᴛᴀʟin Bath and stayed there until they were allowed home on February 18.
Rachael said: “It was a very strange time for us when the boys were in Hᴏsᴘɪᴛᴀʟ, especially at first. It was almost like an out-of-body experience. We existed in our own bubble inside the Hᴏsᴘɪᴛᴀʟs. Every day it seemed there was a new ᴇᴍᴇʀɢᴇɴᴄʏ and we were constantly ᴛᴇʀʀɪғɪᴇᴅand ᴇxʜᴀᴜsᴛᴇᴅ. Last Christmas was the ᴡᴏʀsᴛ. Harvey and Lucas had been transferred to Bath but Max was still in Bristol. We spent half a day with each and wound up having pizza for dinner. We didn’t buy the boys any presents. We didn’t dare in case they didn’t make it. This year will be completely different. We’ll have presents and a big dinner at home before heading off to see family. It’s amazing what a difference a year makes.” The children have no problems at the moment but will have to see a consultant until they are two.