Belfast Telegraph

These delightful triplets weighed only 3lbs at birth... just look at them now!

By CLAIRE WILLIAMSON

They were just 3lbs each when they were born – but look how they've grown.

Meet Dylan, Joshua and Tyler – the Sofley triplets who were born eight weeks early in 2012.

The boys, two of who weighed 3lb 6oz and one just 3lb, spent the first five weeks of their lives in the neonatal unit in the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital.

Proud parents Brian Sofley (44) and Francesca (35) from Lisburn said they knew the little boys would be premature.

"Given they were triplets, they were never going to go full term," Brian said.

They were due on February 5, 2013 but within minutes of being born on December 12, 2012 they were whisked off to the neonatal unit and put into incubators.

Brian said: "They were very tiny, reasonably healthy looking little boys but way smaller than a normal baby.

"They clearly needed medical support right away – they wouldn't survive without that."

The couple watched anxiously as their babies were tube-fed every day in the incubators. Brian recalled their panic as alarms would regularly go off to signal that the babies were not breathing.

"For you and I it sounds horrendous, but the nurses would literally come over and put their hand on the baby, and the alarm stops.

"They told us because they are so young sometimes they forget to breathe and you give them a wee nudge to remind them they have to breathe."

Day-by-day they saw improvements and with the assistance of hospital staff along with Northern Ireland's premature and sick baby charity TinyLife, the couple learned what lay ahead of them.

Brian said: "We had to get adjusted to the routine. There were restrictions on how you could hold them and even changing the nappy is a bit of an experience because they are so tiny." Brian said the charity's first gesture was very special to them.

"We arrived down on Christmas morning in to the hospital and there was a little Christmas present for each of the boys on the incubator.

"They had a card for the attention of mum and dad which was from the babies to us.

"It was very sweet and it brought a tear to my wife's eye," he said.

The family were made aware of the potential long-term consequences which could develop including cerebral palsy, but they say there is no way to determine one way or another.

Since the family returned home they have felt reassured that TinyLife, who they have called a "godsend", were willing to support them with a volunteer as they come to terms with the challenge of the extra care needed for their children.

Looking to the future, Brian said he hoped to be able to treat them as normal children.

He added: "In one respect you look at it as hard work and a challenging year, but it's three times the fun as each of them has their own little personalities – it is just a joy to be with them."

Every day there are seven babies born too early and this Sunday marks International Premature Awareness Day.

For information on TinyLife Services call 9081 5050 or visit www.tinylife.org.uk

Belfast Telegraph

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