Mother's joy as triplets born 10 weeks premature beat the odds to surviveMother conceived triplets naturally despite having no family history of multiple birthsThe first family cuddle was one of the best moments of my life, she said
13:07 GMT, 21 March 2012
Lisa Bowen had three extra special reasons to celebrate Mother's Day at the weekend after her miracle triplets survived against the odds.
Nurse Lisa, 31, feared her babies would die after they suffered heart failure, breathing difficulties and numerous infections after they were born 10 weeks early.
Mrs Bowen and her husband Darren had been told their unborn daughter Millie would not survive just 21 weeks into her pregnancy. But determined Millie battled on until a routine 30-week scan revealed she had stopped growing.
Our little fighters: Darren and Lisa with (l-r) triplets Freya, Harry and Mille
Within an hour medics were in theatre battling to save her along with unborn sister Freya and brother Harry.
Lisa was surrounded by a team of 42 doctors at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, as she underwent a C-section with Darren, 33, by her side.
Lisa said: 'It was very frightening. We were so scared and praying that our three babies would all be fine.
'We knew something was wrong with Millie after 21 weeks when doctors said she would not make it. That was one of the hardest things a new mum can be told.
'We were shocked and in a terrible state. Then a few weeks later one minute we were having a scan, the next our babies were here. It was amazing, Harry came out crying so we were elated.
'Freya and Millie both came out quiet which was a worry but the nurses swung into action. Not being able to have a cuddle for the first six hours was heartbreaking.
'I just wanted to make sure they were doing well. We had to wait, but the first family cuddle was one of the best moments of my life.'
All three triplets, who are now six-months old, were moved to Princess Anne Hospital near Lisa and Darren’s home in Southampton, when they were ten days old.
Tiny Millie, born weighing just 2lbs 4oz, had to overcome three separate infections and apnoea – the threat of stopping breathing.
Keeping busy: Six-month-old triplets (l-r) Harry, Freya, and Millie are quite a handful
Quick-thinking Lisa diagnosed Millie with a life-threatening heart condition after seeing similar symptoms while at work.
She had a narrowing of the main vein leaving her heart – the aorta – and had to have major heart surgery.
Harry, who was born the biggest at 3lbs 5oz, struggled to breathe with his premature lungs and had to be put on oxygen for nearly three weeks.
Little Freya, the first of the triplets to go home, weighed 3lbs 2oz and had to fight with underdeveloped lungs before doctors were happy enough to let her go home.
The shock of finding out the couple, who have been married for five years, were having triplets came at 12 weeks when Lisa, who has no family history of multiple births, started losing weight because of constant morning sickness.
'The doctor came in and said I have something to tell you. It is going to be a bit of a shock for you both so sit down,' said Darren.
'We thought there was something wrong so both felt sick. Then he told us we were having triplets. I was in utter shock and could not move or speak. It took a long time to sink in.'
As Lisa was carrying triplets she encountered severe morning sickness making her vomit around 20 times a day.
Lisa added: 'I was still working at the hospital up until 26 weeks but was enduring terrible morning sickness all day.
'I was vomiting between 17 and 20 times a day but luckily for me everyone was excellent at work and helped cover for me. It got really bad at points.'
The family’s battle did not stop there with Darren being struck down by Hyperthyroidism days after the trio were brought home for the first time.
Banker Darren said: 'I was in a very bad way and what made it worse was the babies were bought home just days before. It was a tough time for us all.
'I was run-down for the first month to six weeks of their lives and out of it. Lisa was looking after them pretty much by herself.
'It helped that our friends and family were so good to us. Some would even come in the middle of the night if we needed them. I do not know what we would have done without their help.'
Dr Victoria Puddy, consultant neonatologist at the Princess Anne Hospital, said: 'Lisa and Darren faced a number of difficult issues during the pregnancy and in the first few months following the birth of their babies.
'While all three experienced complications and set backs during their stay in the neonatal intensive care unit, Millie had additional problems of being small for her gestation and a cardiac complication which needed specialist surgery.
'We are delighted for Darren and Lisa that all their babies are now thriving and progressing well.'