August 29th 2000 ABBA is on the radio " the winner takes it all" sounding in my ears as I lay on the operating table having my emergency C-section, with my dad by my side 8.22 pm Abbey enters the world 3 months early weighing 2lb's, 8.25 pm Ashley follows weighing 1 lb 10 and at 8.27 pm Alex joins them weighing 1 lb 15.

I get a photo of each of them to look at as I don't get to see them before they are taken straight up to NNMU and hooked up to the ventilators at St Mary's Hospital, Manchester which unknown to me was to be my home as well as theirs for the next 8 months. This was the end of the life I had known, I was now a mummy and I had prepared myself for all the things motherhood brings, or so I thought. What I hadn't prepared myself for was what I was to learn during the first few days of my daughters lives.

When I first walked into the NNMU the first thing that caught my eye apart from the size of my tiny daughters and all the wires they was connected to was that each one had broad angulated thumbs, this straight away put my mind at ease that they may have accidently got my babies muddled up with somebody elses ( I'm a natural panicker) all the way through my pregnancy it was thought that they were non identical, yet here they were, all an exact replica of the other, all with dark black hair and funky thumbs. It didn't really bother me and I thought nothing of it, they were here and that's all that mattered. Early hours the next morning Ashley became poorly and didn't recover, I thought my world had fallen apart, but as my mum and dad explained I had to be strong as I still had Abbey and Alex to think of. I went to visit them the next day and whilst I was there I was told that a genetacist had been to see the girls and was 99% sure that they had something called Rubenstien Taybi Syndrome and that Dr. Henneken would like to visit them as this was the first case of triplets having RTS he had heard of.

Dr. Henneken visited when the girls were a little bigger (about 2 months old) and confirmed that it was RTS, by this time I had come to terms with the fact that things weren't going to be plain sailing. My parents and I read up lots about RTS during this time.

HEALTH: Nov 2000+ operation to reduce the pressures in their eyes due to glaucoma, had medication for heart murmur ( common in premature babies), healed up nicely, given gaviscon to try and stop the reflux( finally grew out of it after about a year, hooray! I found this the most difficult to handle as I have a weak stomache) though they are still sick when they have a chest infection, suppositories for constipation. Oxygenated for 8 months and NG tube fed. Finally left hospital April 2001 needing only the suppositories and NG tube which I removed just after the girls 1st birthday as the therapist told me that if they have it in too long then they'll have to be fed through their stomaches and this might result in them never learning to talk, so out it came and when they were hungry enough they started to drink orally, I topped their feeds up by NG tube during the night when they were none the wiser, best thing I ever did for them even though it seemed a bit cruel at the time. Both girls still suffer from constipation, mainly Alex though, a recent sleep study has also shown that both girls suffer from sleep apnea with Abbeys SAT's dropping to mid 20's on some occasions, hopefully this will be sorted this month (Oct 2003) when they have their tonsils and adenoids taken out as well as having their tear ducts probed for the sticky eye problem. No major problems for the past 2 years, a few hospital visits for chest infections and Alex vomitting blood, but that's being investigated (also this month) probably just a tear in her stomache due to vomitting which makes sense because if you think about it the body just isn't designed to vomit all that much. Abbey and Alex don't eat that well and have to have fluids thickened and foods semi pureed because they gag on big lumps, (lazy chewers) though they are getting better and will now eat beans and spaghetti, fish pie is favourite of the week at the moment. they currently weigh 20lb and are 82cm tall.

PROGRESS: Wow! what a difference in the girls during just 3 years, from these tiny, poorly, sicky babies to 2 lively, energetic, cheeky, adorable and sometimes naughty little girls, when they were first diagnosed with RTS I imagined the worse case senarios I could think of and got myself all worked up over something I knew nothing about, I used to get upset when I saw or heard mothers saying what their children were doing, things that Abbey and Alex couldn't/cant yet do, but thanks to the likes of sites like this I've realised that just because my girls don't do things at the same time as other children of their age, it's not the end of the world, so what if my girls can't walk or talk yet at least they have the determination to try and because of this determination will eventually succeed as and when they are ready to do so. Considering Abbey and Alex had other problems to deal with for so long such as the vomitting, feeding problems, constant chest infections there progress has amazed me and I'm proud of everything they achieve. Both girls have a wide variety of sounds but can't yet speak, Abbey started learning Makaton recently and already I can understand her wants and needs and she's so cheeky, she likes tormenting me. Alex is desperate to walk and is doing excellent, since she's had a baby walker there's no keeping her still, her favourite thing is CRASH! as she rams you on her way past.

Both girls have been attending a special needs school 3 days a week for the past year and love it, they have lots of friends and get all the therapy they used to get at home there now plus extra ones like swimming which Abbey loves. Abbey and Alex are very affectionate little girls especially towards each other, they give each other loves several times a day and are always close by to each other.

I think my girls are a blessing, but I can't take all the credit, so I'd like to thank my parents for being so supportive over the years without them I don't think I would have got through the first year, Dr. Emmerson who has been there for us since day one and is always so positive and helpful and is the reason Abbey and Alex are still here today and all the staff at St. Mary's Hospital, Manchester England, who have been great. Thank you.

Jo xx
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