Life with triplets: 'We just went into survival mode'

Photo: Three times the fun / Supplied.
Photo: Three times the fun / Supplied. 

Waking 10 times a night, 40 nappy changes a day, 12 hours of feeding - and that's on top of having a two-year-old to care for. 

Emily Murray was seven weeks pregnant when she noticed some spotting. Fearing bad news, she asked her husband to come with her for an early scan.

"My obstetrician said, 'I don't know what I'm seeing. You'll have to go downstairs and see a specialist,'" Emily tells Essential Baby.

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied 

After waiting for what she says was the longest hour of her life, a heartbeat was found. She and Rob were overjoyed.

"They kept looking around and found another heartbeat. I started crying because I was so excited. I had always wanted twins," she recalls. 

"And then they found a third heartbeat. By then I was bawling my eyes out. They were spending a long time looking for a fourth embryo, but I asked them to turn the machine off. I couldn't cope with any more news. It was such a huge sense of overwhelm going from thinking I had lost my baby to finding out I was having three." 

However the couple were told not to get too excited, because there was a risk that not all of the babies would make it. Triplets are considered a high risk pregnancy. 

The toughest of pregnancies

Emily had taken ovulation medication, which is thought to increase the chances of having non-identical triplets, which occur naturally in one in every 9000 births. Identical triplets are even rarer, at one in every 62,500.

She was offered foetal reduction surgery, which would mean losing one or more of her babies. The procedure aims to reduce the chances of miscarriage, stillbirth, or premature delivery, but it wasn't something Emily could even contemplate.

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"Even though I was overwhelmed, once I knew I was pregnant with three babies, all I wanted was three babies. I never even considered anything else."

However Emily was advised against investing in a triple pram or a bigger car for at least the first 20 weeks. 

The toll the pregnancy took on her body was immense. She had nausea and struggled to gain the 25 kilos that was medically necessary. She couldn't walk without becoming breathless and had to sleep upright on the couch. She was meant to be on bedrest for a large portion of her pregnancy, but having a toddler to care for made it impossible. 

The toll the pregnancy took on Emily's body was immense / Supplied.
The toll the pregnancy took on Emily's body was immense / Supplied. 

Emily was told that if she could carry the triplets to 34 weeks, everything should be fine.

On the night before her 34th week or pregnancy, Emily went into labour and had a C-section. Her daughter and two sons, Summer, Daniel and Taylor, were born healthy, at a combined weight of seven kilos.

Nights with three newborns

After a month in the special care unit at a Melbourne hospital, Emily and Rob brought their three newborn babies home.

Ron and Emily Murray with their triplets and toddler, Xavier. Supplied.
Ron and Emily Murray with their triplets and toddler, Xavier. Supplied.  

Even though the triplets had synced their sleeping and eating relatively well, it was the toughest of schedules for their parents.

"I'd pick an order. Say it was Summer first: I'd pick her up and feed her, change her, wrap her up and put it back in her cot," explains Emily. "That would take half an hour. And then I'd do Taylor and Danny. You'd have an hour-and-a-half off before doing it again."

She and Rob worked out that they were changing 40 nappies a day and spending 12 hours feeding. 

Non-identical triplets occur naturally in one in every 9000 births.
Non-identical triplets occur naturally in one in every 9000 births. Photo: Supplied / Emily Murray

"We just kind of went into survival mode." 

Unlike their firstborn Xavier, who slept through the night by the time he was just three months old, the triplets didn't do so until they were 18-months-old. Some nights they were up 10 times.

Taylor was also born with severe allergies and would get severe eczema and facial swelling.

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied Photo: Supplied / Emily Murray

"There's usually one in most in multiples that has some tricky health issues. Taylor was born allergic to everything – wheat, dairy, soy, sesame, peanuts – you name it. So for the first year we had lots of appointments trying to figure out what was wrong. He's still got quite a few allergies but he is growing out of them."

When asked what it's like having three newborns compared to one, Emily says: "At the time, I probably thought it was hard when I just had Xavier. But now I see that we just went out for coffees together all the time. It was nice."

When Emily left home without Rob or her mum, she loaded up the triplets and Xavier in the pram. And unfortunately she copped some nasty comments from passers-by.

"They have a beautiful bond."
"They have a beautiful bond." Photo: Supplied / Emily Murray

"I was walking down the street one day and a lady said to me, 'If I had that many kids I'd shoot myself.' And she said it in front of my children. I heard stuff like that all the time." 

Does it get easier?

The Melbourne-based triplets are now four and Emily's eldest is six.

"I suppose it does get easier in some ways. But it also gets harder. It's tricky at the moment with the tantrums and fighting and whatnot. But it's manageable, and I think it is easier since they've turned four because three is a tricky age."

Life with triplets
Life with triplets Photo: Supplied / Emily Murray

Of course, her kids can do a lot more for themselves now, like get themselves into their car seats and eat without making much of a mess. 

But it remains as expensive and tricky as it ever was. 

"We run a business so they go to childcare three days a week, which is horrendously expensive. And we had to buy a bigger car, plus three car seats at once. And trying to find three spots in anything is hard. For something like swimming classes, there are never three spots available on the same day." 

The best thing about having triplets, says 40-year-old Emily, is knowing that they've always got their best friends by their side. 

"They have a beautiful bond. It's so cute. I'll put them to bed at night and then stand by the door listening to them giggling and making up stories. Hearing that is worth all the hard stuff we went through to get there."