Childcare assistant Vickie O’Donnell, 28, from Abercynon, Wales, had given up hope of having another baby. But all her wishes have come true at once as she and groundsman husband Jamie, 30, are enjoying Christmas as a family of six.
Hanging up the four tiny stockings above the fireplace, I pop in the little gifts I’ve wrapped for the children – personalised teething rings for the triplets, Thomas the Tank Engine toys for their older brother.
Life is hectic with three babies in the house and an energetic 16-month-old toddler and I have to be ultra-organised. I’ve had all my Christmas presents wrapped for weeks.
Becoming a mum was a dream I’d almost given up on; being a mum of four is just perfect in every way. For as long as I can remember I’d wanted children. Mum used to joke I’d be a teenage mum and everyone said I’d be the first of my siblings to have a family.
I started going out with Jamie when I was 13 and he was 15. We lived in the same street, soulmates then, just as we are now. Jamie loved children too and wanted his own.
I got a job working in childcare – what else? – and hoped it wouldn’t be long before babies arrived. I’d decided I wanted to be a young mum, definitely by the age of 20. But there was a problem. My periods had always been erratic and I was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries [PCOS], which meant it might be difficult for me to conceive.
I was devastated and more than once I told Jamie, “You don’t have to stay with me.”
Rowan Griffiths / Daily Mirror)
I wanted him to be a dad and if it meant sacrificing our relationship, I thought he should have that chance.
But he eased my fears, saying we’d get there in the end and if it didn’t happen, we could adopt or foster.
As the years passed, I was put on fertility drugs, some of which made me feel so sick I had to stop taking them. I took dozens of pregnancy kits and grew used to seeing them come up negative month after month.
One morning I did a test and left it on the windowsill without even bothering to check the result. What was the point?
Later that morning I felt a bit dizzy and remembered the test. To my complete amazement, it was positive.
I paced up and down, waiting all day for Jamie to get home from work to tell him in person. Once he realised I wasn’t joking, he was as excited as I was.
My pregnancy went smoothly and when Phoenix was born in August last year, we took him back to our little one-bedroom flat, thrilled with our miracle baby.
It had taken us more than half a decade and plenty of fertility drugs to have Phoenix, so when I missed a period 11 weeks after giving birth, I thought nothing of it. I did a pregnancy test just in case – and it was positive!
I’d expected Phoenix to be an only child and now I’d have two babies under one. But I was loving being a mum and knew I’d cope.
The sonographer at my 12-week scan studied the images then turned the screen to show me and Jamie. “You’re having twins,” she said.
I looked at Jamie, who had a big grin on his face. Although I’m a twin, I never thought I might have them myself. It was a shock, but a happy one. But as I stared at the screen, I could see something else.
“What’s that? I asked the sonographer.
She studied the screen again. Then she said, “It’s triplets!”
Now Jamie’s face was as white as a ghost. Neither of us could believe it. From wondering for years if we’d remain childless, we’d have four kids under one. I kept thinking, “We’re going to need a bigger house!”
By the time I was 16 weeks, I already felt like I was at the end of the pregnancy. My legs and feet were swollen and my back ached.
I put on 5½st and was so big I was buying loose-fitting vest tops in a size 24. I’m usually size 10-12. If I stood sideways at the top of the stairs, my belly touched the other wall.
It was hard to play with Phoenix because I couldn’t get down on the floor and carrying him up and down the stairs gave me a hernia. But I never complained because I knew it wouldn’t be for long and I would have three babies at the end of it.
The doctors wanted me to get to 35 weeks before delivering the triplets, but when one of the babies stopped growing, I had a Caesarean at 33 weeks, seven weeks early.
I was awake throughout and Jamie was at my side as we watched first Rhubie-Ann, Violet, and then Tarney being brought into the world – two girls and one boy. They weighed 4lb 5oz, 4lb 1oz and 4lb 2oz respectively.
They were tiny, but not as fragile as I’d feared. I was able to hold them straight away, all three together, before they were taken for special care. Luckily, they did well and we took them home to my mum’s 16 days later.
The triplets are adorable. They’re still small, so they sleep in one cot, side by side with Tarney in the middle.
They have such different personalities. Rhubie-Ann is so calm and loving. She had problems with her hips, which hadn’t matured enough, so had to be in a harness. But she’s OK now and loves being able to kick her little legs.
Tarney melts everyone’s hearts as soon as they see him. He always has a big smile on his face and loves cuddles.
Rowan Griffiths / Daily Mirror)
I call Violet my little diva. She was the really active one in the womb and there’s something very cheeky about her.
They’re 22 weeks now and I’ve started to look after all four of them on my own. It’s hard work but being organised helps.
The babies need feeding four times a day and I’m trying to feed them at the same time, one on my lap, one in a bouncy chair and one by my side. Phoenix is starting to feed himself in his high chair. He’s so calm and loves having a brother and sisters.
The nappy changes are endless and trips out have to be planned well in advance, but I’m lucky to have my mum to help and Jamie’s mum.
We’re hoping to move into our new house soon, right next door to my mum’s. We’re a big family now so it’ll be great to have our own home.
Every year when my mum used to ask me what I wanted for Christmas, I’d answer, “To be a mum.” I never dreamt my Christmas wish would come true four times over.