By Kim Reader
A mum has revealed how she needs a ‘military regime’ to cope with the madness of life after giving birth to miracle IVF triplets.
While being a first-time parent is never an easy job, Rachael Winterton and her husband Chris Winterton have been faced with three times the work since their adorable triplets arrived in August 2017.
And the mum-of-three said the only way to cope with their hectic lifestyle since the birth of the ‘mini Winnies’ is by following a strict daily routine.
Between 6:30am – 6:45pm, special needs teacher Rachael, 28, and mortgage adviser Chris, 29, follow a regimen of feeds, naps, playtime, walks, song time, baths, story time and bedtime – all timed to the minute.
Despite being ‘three times as busy’ as other new mums, Rachael said she wouldn’t swap raising Jude Winterton, Lily-Rose Winterton and Esme Winterton, all seven months, for the world as she also gets ‘three times the joy and love’.
Rachael, of Eastbourne, East Sussex, said: “Chris and I haven’t slept very much since the triplets were born. The early days were especially hard with three screaming babies.
“Chris has helped with the night feeds from day one but even with team work it would take at least half an hour to feed each baby and we were getting up for three hourly feeds.
“It is tough and I am always on the go. I think I’ve lost all my baby weight just running around after them all day.
“The only way we’ve managed is by having a very strict daily routine. It’s all planned and timed very carefully, it’s like a military regime.
“It all starts with the morning feed at 6:30am. We feed a baby each first but Lily-Rose is the fastest eater so whoever feeds her will move onto the third.
“Then one of us will entertain them while the other goes to get dressed and then we swap. I’m on maternity leave so I stay home while Chris goes to work but he always comes home to help with lunch.
“They have set times for half an hour naps throughout the day with feeds, and play time in between.
“They all love their Jumperoos and I spend all day singing for them. I do sign language as I sing which is what they really love. We have story time every evening with touchy feely books.
“At bath time Lily-Rose and Jude need to be bathed first because Esme is happy to wait. She’s definitely the most patient.
“We get them down for the night at 6:45pm and then it’s time for us to make and eat dinner before a very early night and it all starts again.
“Chris has had to give up golf because he just doesn’t have the time but he loves it really. He misses them all day while he’s at work.
“It’s three times the hard work that you expect to have as a new mum, it is a bit mad. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.
“As well as three times the work, we also get three times the joy, three times the smiles and three times the love.”
After being told the mum-of-three’s egg count was too low to conceive naturally – but not low enough to qualify for NHS treatment – Rachael and Chris feared their dreams of having a family were over.
But while researching private options, Rachael discovered that Cyprus offered IVF at a fraction of the price to the UK and with a much higher success rate.
The clinic in Cyprus created a tailor-made IVF plan for Rachael with dosages to target her specific hormonal imbalances and medication to keep her womb lining thick throughout the pregnancy.
After two rounds of IVF, which cost them £11,500 in total, Rachael and Chris got the happiest and scariest news of their lives when they were told all three implanted embryos were growing.
The couple were suddenly faced with the daunting task of buying three of everything and even had to move house to accommodate their new arrivals.
Rachael said: “Chris and I had always dreamed of having a family so being told we might not be able to and that we couldn’t get help on the NHS was really upsetting, we were devastated.
“I joined loads of Facebook groups about IVF and found out about this clinic in Cyprus. It cost about half as much as the UK and had much better success rates.
“They took lots of blood tests and gave me different dosages of IVF medications tailored to my hormonal imbalances. They were great, they really looked after us.
“We didn’t have any luck the first time which was really disappointing but the second time there were three viable embryos.
“We decided to implant them all because a lot of people have three or four implanted and just one of them survives.
“You’re not meant to test for two weeks but six days later my stomach was so swollen that they told me to do a test which came out positive.
“I had to go to hospital and it turned out my hormone levels were so high they were making me swell up. They did a scan and told us all three embryos were growing.
“I just took it with a pinch of salt at first because it was such early days. I was sure when we went for a follow up there would just be one.
“But the next time we went back they confirmed it was triplets. Chris was completely silent and I just started laughing hysterically, this panicked laughter.
“It was so exciting but absolutely terrifying at the same time. Instead of one baby’s arrival to plan for we had three. We had to move into a bigger house, it was crazy.”
In the final weeks of her pregnancy petite Rachael, who is just 5’4” and a size 8, had to walk around with both her arms under her huge baby bump to support the weight of it.
The tiny triplets were born via caesarean at 33 weeks and six days weighing just 11lbs 3oz combined.
After just two and a half weeks in special care Esme, Lily-Rose and Jude were allowed to come home and while they’re still small for their age the triplets are thriving and meeting all their milestones.
Their proud mum and dad treasure every moment with their gorgeous trio who each have their own adorable personalities.
Rachael said: “By the time I got to 33 weeks I was so huge that I had to walk around lifting up my bump. I was only petite so the doctors decided it would be best to do the caesarean at 33 plus six.
“It wasn’t until they were born and I heard three cries that I thought ‘wow, there are actually three of them’. I think I was in denial up until that point.
“They were so tiny and they had to be whisked away straight away to special care and hooked up to all these machines.
“It was really difficult not having that skin-to-skin time you imagine you’ll get as a new mum, I still struggle thinking about it now.
“But they were all such fighters and they came home after two and a half weeks. They’re still small but that’s normal for premature babies. They are doing brilliantly.
“They’re all very different and their little personalities are coming out more and more now, they are really lovely.
“Esme is really placid and chilled out but then she’s got this wild side and loves to roar at us. Lily-Rose is our sensitive one, she’s very social and loves people but is also easily scared.
“And Jude is the cheekiest little monkey. I know I shouldn’t say it but he is a typical boy and loves it when you blow raspberries. We are so proud of them all, they our mini Winnies.”
THE ‘MINI WINNIES’ MILITARY REGIME:
6:30am – 7:00am: Wake up triplets and do morning feed
7:00am – 7:30am: Get dressed ready for the day ahead
7:30am – 8:00am: Baby bouncer time while mum prepares breakfast
8:00am – 8:30am: Eat breakfast
8:30am – 9:00am: Nap time
9:00am – 10:30am: Play mat time to practise rolling, trying to crawl and sit up
10:30am – 11:00am: Mid-morning milk
11:00am – 11:30am: Nap time
11:30am – 12:00pm: Jumperoo play time
12:00pm – 1:00pm: Lunch with mum and dad
1:00pm – 1:30pm: Baby bouncers in front of CBeebies
1:30pm – 2:00pm: Nap time
2:30 – 4:00pm: Sit in baby seats with toys
4:00pm – 5:00pm: Go for a walk with mum in our buggy
5:00pm – 5:30pm: Dinner time
5:30pm – 5:50pm: Calm play with quiet toys while mum sings
5:50pm – 6:00pm: Story time
6:00pm – 6:45pm: Bath and put down to sleep