After a tough start in life, triplets Oliver, Megan and Zac are set to start school in September when they’ll celebrate turning three.
During the 1990s, hip-hop trio De La Soul hit the charts with a super catchy song telling us that of all the numbers, three was the magic one.
I know the song is older than that, but as a 90s baby it’s the one I remember.
Anyway, some 20 years after, that number literally came to life for husband and wife Damian and Clare Barker from Ashington.
On September 2, 2010, their family grew by six feet when they welcomed triplets Oliver, Megan and Zac into the world after a first-time successful IVF treatment.
Mum Clare, who grew up in Horsham and is an ex-Millais student, explained: “I’ve always wanted children for as long as I could remember. I’m an aunt, I’m a godparent to loads of kids and all my friends have kids and I love it.
“But they couldn’t give us a reason why we couldn’t get pregnant which was the annoying thing.”
The couple had unsuccessfully tried to have children for three years beforehand, and the significance of the number three doesn’t stop there.
She was hospitalised three times during the pregnancy, gave birth at 31 weeks and three days, was in a coma for three hours after the birth, she didn’t get to see her newborns until the day after their birth -on the third - and the trio are celebrating their third birthday next month.
The family moved back to Sussex last summer after spending the pregnancy stuck in Dubai, where Damian works as a TV producer and director, when they were refused to fly due to being a high-risk pregnancy .
Meeting up at the triplet’s grandparents’ house in Horsham, it was hard to believe the start in life they had as I watched the healthy youngsters sit there infatuated by the infamous Peppa Pig.
“I had an emergency caesarean,” continued 37-year-old Clare. “I got pre-eclampsia and blood flow to the boys had gone down as well so they had to get them out quickly.”
Weighing in at 1.2 kilos, Oliver came first followed by Megan at 1.4 kilos.
“Zac should have come out next because they were sharing the same sac but Megan moved right at the wrong time so she had to be next and ended up coming out with forceps even though it was a caesarean,” she added.
“But when she moved she pushed Zac into my ribcage so they couldn’t get him out. It was really hairy with Zac. It only took four minutes between them to get them out but Zac, who also weighed 1.2 kilos, was really poorly and we nearly lost him.”
Clare subsequently spent two weeks in hospital to recover, with the babies rushed into the Intensive Care Unit for the first weeks of their life.
Identicals Zac and Oliver were both born with holes in their hearts -with both thankfully healing themselves without the need for an operation.
“You had to keep really positive,” she recalled. “You couldn’t have a negative thought in your mind or I think otherwise you’d just break down. They were so tiny, and so vulnerable and just so helpless.
“Zac was the size of Damian’s hand and I would literally go in, sit with three incubators around me and talk to them and sing.”
Discharged before the babies, Clare had to go home leaving them behind. However, Megan shortly joined them, after spending a total of four weeks in hospital, and a week later the identical boys were discharged.
Now the toddlers are set for their own adventure when they start Southwater Village Hall pre-school in September, Clare still can’t believe how far they’ve come.
“It’s gone so quickly,” she added. “They’re all so different and part of me is really excited about them going to school because they’re very sociable children.
“But we’re so lucky. We get stopped pretty much every time we go out and people say ‘oh my god, you’ve got triplets, poor you’ and I think how can you say poor me? We are the luckiest people to have been blessed with this.”