PRINCE Harry says he and Meghan want a maximum of two kids in a bid to help save the planet.
Most of us have an idea of what we want our family to look like, but what happens when Mother Nature has other ideas?
Jolene Broad, 39, and husband Toby, 45, a farmer, wanted one more child to give Toby’s son Amos a sibling — but ended up with four when Jolene had triplets Dolly, Tabitha and Kitty.
Jolene from Herne Bay, Kent, says: “It definitely wasn’t the plan to have a brood this size.
“It’s all very well Prince Harry believing you can decide to have two kids. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out like that. I never felt particularly broody growing up, so it’s ironic I’ve ended up with a big family.”
Jolene and Toby married in 2014 and as Toby already had a son from a previous marriage — Amos, who is now 11 — they agreed to try for just one baby together.
Jolene says: “I agreed we could try, but on the understanding this would be our one and only baby together.”
She adds: “After discovering I was pregnant, early in 2015, I felt shattered. And a bump started to appear long before other first-time mums I knew. I wondered if I was having twins, but my midwife assured me I’d be very sick if I was.”
But at Jolene’s first scan in April 2015 the couple found out they were having triplets.
Jolene says: “At first, I couldn’t understand why there were three little blobs dancing around, and naively wondered to myself which of them was the baby. When the sonographer said, ‘you’re having triplets’ I burst into tears. I couldn’t believe it and instead of joy and excitement, I felt terrified.
“How on earth would I look after three babies at the same time? I had no idea how I would cope and Toby, who had gone as white as a ghost, was equally shocked.”
Two of the triplets were identical, but the other was conceived two weeks later when Jolene had released another egg.
Jolene, an equine dentist, says: “This made them very unusual. It was the first case doctors had seen where it had happened. I was told there was a possibility the littlest triplet had a chromosomal disorder and that having a ‘reduction’, as it’s called, would increase the chances of survival for the other two.
“Toby and I agreed to let the pregnancy continue and what would be would be. More tests confirmed all the babies were healthy which was a huge relief.”
That September — two months before the due date — one of the triplets had stopped growing so they were delivered by C-section at King’s College Hospital, London.
Jolene says: “I didn’t feel that surge of maternal love I’ve heard other women talk about until they were around a month old. I think it was because I’d spent months terrified of losing them. I was protecting myself by holding back my love.”
After a month in the newborn intensive care unit the triplets, Dolly, Kitty and Tabitha, now three, were allowed home. That’s when Jolene realised how life-changing they were.
She says: “We’d had to buy a bigger car just to be able to drive them all home from hospital. When they were six months old, we added an extension to our home to create a third bedroom, as we desperately needed extra space. The first year is a blur.
"I spent a lot of time on the sofa breastfeeding, didn’t get much sleep and, at times, Toby and I bickered as we were so exhausted. I found a Facebook group for mums of multiples and that was a lifesaver. Now, physically, it’s easier as they sleep better and are more independent.”
She adds: “We were naive to think we could decide to have two children. Like Prince Harry we thought it was up to us how big our family was.
"Nature had other plans for us and, as tiring and expensive as it is, I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
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