From premature babies fighting for life to three small bundles of energy, meet the adorable Kennedy triplets
One is easy-going, one is a ball of energy and one is extremely competitive - meet the adorable Kennedy boys.
It was not the easiest of starts for the premature triplets. But, 19 months on, the boys are thriving.
Jack, Oliver and Harry, who were conceived naturally, were born on June 12, 2013 by emergency Caesarean. They had not been due until August.
Jack was “the big boy”, weighing 3lbs 4ozs, Harry was 2lbs 11ozs and Oliver was the smallest at just 2lbs and 7ozs.
“They were so small and fragile when they were born but now they are just your average little boys, climbing things, fighting, throwing toys around,” said mum Ciara.
For Ciara (38) and husband John (43), news that they were expecting came as a massive surprise just two months before their wedding.
“We were planning our wedding and I discovered I was expecting twins. I then went for a follow-up scan and we found out it was triplets. We were terrified,” said Ciara.
“It was completely alien to me. It all seemed so complicated to me. I just cried, but from that moment the doctors were very comforting. We were just eight weeks away from our wedding. I had always wanted a big family. I never imagined we would have three all in one go.”
In early June 2013 Ciara was admitted to hospital with pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure and doctors decided it would be safer to deliver the babies.
But the day before delivery Ciara’s contractions started unexpectedly and she had to be rushed to Craigavon Area Hospital, as there were not enough cots in the Royal Victoria Hospital’s neonatal unit for triplets.
“That was frightening. It was just after midnight when the boys were born and there was a team of around 30 staff in the room,” explained Ciara.
Before Ciara could meet her newborn sons properly she was moved to a high dependency unit after developing a severe form of pre-eclampsia, where the liver and kidneys start to fail.
Thankfully, a week later, she was well enough to leave hospital. The triplets were moved to the Ulster Hospital at Dundonald where their parents, who live in east Belfast, visited every day.
“They just seemed so fragile and were attached to so many wires and monitors. But as a mum it didn’t matter — they just seemed like very small but perfectly formed babies.”
Finally the boys were strong enough to be allowed home — and that’s when the real fun began.
“They all have different personalities, even Harry and Oliver who are identical. Jack is very independent and easy-going, the other two are little balls of energy,” said Ciara.
“Every time they reach a milestone, like first words or first steps, we have triple the joy and excitement. Although, it can be hard to keep track of who did what first. It is funny. Harry and Oliver are very competitive and if one does something first then the other one has to copy. Whereas Jack is more relaxed.
“They’re great friends — they play peek-a-boo behind the curtains and chase each other around the kitchen, and make each other laugh. The family has received a lot of help and support from the charity TinyLife, which provided two volunteers to help out each week, as well as clothes for premature babies and Moses baskets.
The charity —which has just received a £619,250 big Lottery Fund grant for a five-year project with parenting charity Lifestart to help families with premature children — still offers practical help to the Kennedys.
“We are so grateful for TinyLife’s support,” Ciara said.
Ciara, who has worked in Dublin and San Francisco in information development, took a career break to look after the boys. However, in December she decided to return to work part-time.
“Life is pretty hectic, but I’ve a really good routine,” she said.
“It is also important for John and I to try to spend some time together.
“It may be exhausting, but we wouldn’t change it for the world.”