Woman told she can’t have kids has 4 in 16 months
Published: June 3, 2008 | 7114th good news item since 2003
Confidently feeding and changing her baby daughters, Naomi Kesterton looks as though she was born to be a mother.
But a house full of children was once a distant dream for Naomi, 30, who years before was told she had practically no chance of conceiving naturally.
But she proved the doctors wrong – and just months after meeting her husband-to-be Toby, Naomi was pregnant and went on to have four children in just 16 months.
After daughter Ella was born in September 2006 she got pregnant again nine months later with identical triplets Catherine, Amelia and Sophia.
Incredibly, experts put the chances of natural conception identical triplets at 200million-to-one.
Naomi said: “When I think about how unlikely it was that I’d have children naturally, let alone identical triplets, I realise what a miracle they are.”
Former events organiser Naomi met internet publisher Toby, also 30, when she moved into his house in Bracknell, Berks, as a lodger in January 2005.
She said: “We had both just come out of messy relationships but we got on so well that within a few months we’d fallen for each other.
“Toby wanted a big family but when I was 20, doctors told me there was only a five per cent chance I would conceive naturally.
“It was devastating as I’d always wanted children but I had to resign myself to other options like IVF and adoption.
“Toby and I knew it was something we would have to face when we decided to start a family.”
But on a break to Scotland in November 2005 for Toby’s birthday, Naomi had an unexpected gift.
“We found out I was pregnant,” she remembers.
“It was a huge shock but a lovely one. We hadn’t been that careful with birth control because I assumed I couldn’t conceive. It wasn’t planned at all. We were both very career-minded and planned to get married after a couple of years and then think about a family.”
The couple flew to Naomi’s native Durban in South Africa to marry and, in September 2006, after a six-day labour, Ella, now 20 months, was born.
“I loved being a mum,” says Naomi. “But I warned Toby that I’d never be pregnant twice. Ella was my one miracle.”
Settling into motherhood, Naomi gave up work and starting planning a second wedding in the UK. She explains: “We got married in Durban because we wanted to be married when Ella was born but we still planned a big ceremony in the UK.”
Last summer, just weeks before her big day, Naomi began to suspect she was pregnant again. “I started getting sick and I began to grow,” she says.
A pregnancy test proved her intuition right and Naomi gave Toby the news on their wedding day in July last year. “He grinned like a Cheshire cat,” she says.
After a honeymoon in Cyprus that was ruined by morning sickness, the couple had their first scan.
Naomi explained: “I immediately saw two heads and asked ‘twins?’ Then we saw a third. Toby was grinning from ear to ear but I was thinking more about complications and risks. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, I said, ‘Please don’t find a fourth!’
“I phoned my mum in tears and asked, ‘How do I do this?’ It was so scary. I came home and went on the internet and found statistics like 48 per cent of triplets don’t make it and in many of those cases the mothers don’t make it either.”
Her fears were intensified when another scan discovered that not only were the triplets sharing a placenta, two of them were sharing an amniotic sac and at risk of developing Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, a potentially fatal condition where one baby takes blood supply and nutrients from the other. The Kestertons were given a stark choice.
Naomi said: “It was explained we could consider elective reduction – terminating one baby to make the pregnancy easier.
“I said to Toby, ‘No, if complications arise and the babies are at risk then maybe, but I am not going to terminate a baby just to make my life easier’.”
As doctors closely monitored the babies to check they were all developing at the same rate, Naomi struggled through a difficult pregnancy. She recalls: “The sickness was incredible. Normal morning sickness is bad but times that by three. I was a mountain. I measured my stomach at five-and-a-half months and it was 50 ins around.
“I was eating eight times a day, grazing on small meals because there wasn’t enough space in my stomach. My hips expanded so much I ended up on crutches. At six months I could hardly move. I would come down the stairs and not go back up all day because the effort was too much. I was immobile. I ended up with diabetes.
“It became a matter of getting as far through pregnancy as possible to give the babies the best chance. First, I had to make 27 weeks, when we got there it was 31 weeks because their lungs would be more developed then.”
In January this year, when the babies were 31 weeks and four days, Naomi felt back twinges and knew there was no space left.
After a steroid injection to allow the tiny babies a final chance to strengthen their lungs the three girls were delivered by caesarean at Basingstoke Hospital on January 9.
Because they were so rare, 15 assembled doctors and nurses supervised the birth. Amelia was born first, followed by Catherine and finally Sophia. They weighed 4lbs, 3lb 7ozs and 3lbs respectively.
They spent three weeks in incubators and two more in hospital before gaining enough weight to be allowed home. Naomi says: “They were so small and adorable. I’d always known they wouldn’t go full term and had to prepare myself not to be able to hold them at first.
“While I was recovering I picked up the winter vomiting bug and so there were days when I couldn’t even see them.
“It was awful to be away from them and breathtaking just to be able to hold them.”
Now the triplets are healthy five-month-olds and Naomi runs her household like clockwork.
She says: “I can tell who is who, but to anyone else they look the same.
“They all have their own distinct personalities. Amelia is the Earth Mother and looks out for her sisters, Catherine smiles the most and Sophia is the laidback one.
“Amelia and Catherine shared the sac and they have kept that bond. They hold hands and look for each other when they are apart.
“It’s not easy but the plus side is that we had our family all in one go. Most people have four children over a decade, we did it in 16 months. And we know how blessed we are to have them.”