A mother has described her birth to the world’s most premature triplets as “traumatic”, but has been hailed by her partner as a “wonder mum”.
Michaela White, 32, from Bristol, gave birth to Rubi-Rose, Payton Jane and Porscha-Mae Hopkins on February 14 2021. They were born at 22 weeks and five days, with a total weight of 1,284g or 2lbs and 13oz.
Rubi-Rose was born first at 10.21am at just 467g (1lb), while Payton Jane and Porscha-Mae were both born nearly two hours later at 12.01pm and 12.02pm, respectively, by caesarean section weighing only 402g (0.89lb) and 415g (0.91lbs).
The triplets have earned two Guinness World Records for being the most premature triplets and lightest triplet weight, though the two years since their birth have been “stressful” for Ms White and her partner, Jason Hopkins, 36, also from Bristol.
“It was very, very stressful in the first year that [the triplets] were here,” Ms White said in a video by Guinness World Records.
Meanwhile, Mr Hopkins said the journey has been “mental”.
“The whole journey between finding out that there were triplets and then triplets actually being here was, I think, the quickest pregnancy I’ve ever known. It was mad,” he explained.
Ms White has said “the day of the birth was quite traumatic” after being moved from St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol to Southmead where she went into labour.
“I didn’t see any of [the triplets] when they were born,” said Ms White.
All three babies were rushed into incubators and swaddled in polythene wrapping to act as their mother’s womb and regulate their body temperature.
The first 72 hours of the babies’ lives are most critical and each were required to breathe independently for 10 seconds before doctors could intervene with oxygen.
Each child was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and remained there for 216 days, which is something Mr Hopkins found very hard to experience.
“The NICU journey on its own, any parent who has been through it, whether it’s been two days or, as we were 216 days, it’s one of the hardest journeys you’ll go through,” he said.
The triplets were born with cerebral palsy though each have differing levels with Rubi-Rose having a mild form of the disorder, while Payton Jane and Porscha-Mae have mobility issues and are tube-fed.
Ms White has spoken of the challenges that comes with caring for disabled children calling the process “very, very hard”.
“It can be quite challenging at times with all the appointments, the people coming in your house and doing physio with the girls on a day-to-day basis,” she said.
“It can be really challenging for anyone with disabled children, but me and my partner, Jay, just crack on and do what we need to for them.”
The couple have since used social media to document their journey as parents with premature triplets living with cerebral palsy, postnatal depression in dads and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Their journey has earned them a legion of more than 10,000 followers on TikTok as @hopkinstribe.
Speaking of his post-natal depression, Mr Hopkins said: “I wanted to be there for a lot of dads, because there’s not a lot of help for dads, especially in the NICU side of it.
“Post-natal depression isn’t really recognised in dads. The whole experience for a dad can be very alienating.”
The 36-year-old expressed his awe and gratitude for his partner’s strength and support over the last two years.
“If it wasn’t for Kay [Michaela] and how amazingly strong she is. She was my support,” said Mr Hopkins.
“It sounds stupid because I should be her support, but she was 110% my support.
“Michaela is wonder mum and she is absolutely amazing – I love her to bits.
“Words can’t say how proud I am of that woman, she is amazing.”
When Ms White found out she was pregnant at 19 weeks, she and Mr Hopkins were living in temporary accommodation, faced eviction and lost their job due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is these factors that the 32-year-old believed may have contributed to her early pregnancy.
“I think with the pressure and stress of eviction and things could have brought my waters on,” she explained.
“No one knows why I went into labour that early.
“It was a tough year for us losing our home and going into temporary accommodation.”
Despite the challenges both parents have faced over the last two years, the triplets celebrated their second birthday with their mother, father and two older siblings Jamie-Leigh, aged eight, and Issac, aged six.