Oh Baby! Triplets and mum survive incredible journey
MELODY and Matthew Cullen will never buy another lottery ticket.
The Little Mountain couple has used up a lifetime of luck.
Their one-month-old identical triplets - William, Joseph and Noah - are a miracle of modern medicine and a marvel of Mother Nature.
The odds of their natural conception are between one in 60,000 and one in 200 million.
Researchers struggle to pinpoint the exact figures because mortality rates in utero are so high.
The triplets' chances of surviving twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome and a premature birth at 29 weeks are even more astonishing.
Melody and Matthew discovered they were expecting triplets eight weeks into the pregnancy.
They had planned on a fourth child - not a fifth or sixth.
"At the six-week scan - two sacs were found," Melody said.
"THEY said come back at eight weeks and we will be able to confirm if it is twins.
"Instead of one or two, the obstetrician picked up three heartbeats on our return."
After Melody's 10-week scan, she was referred to Mater Mothers' Hospital Centre for "maternal fetal medicine".
Dr Glenn Gardener explained the risks, which included life-threatening seizures, hemorrhage, congen- ital abnormalities and gestational diabetes.
It was a lot to take in, but the couple tried not to focus on the scary stuff.
Once the nuchal translucency scans were complete and obstetricians were able to confirm growth in each of the triplets, Melody and Matthew broke the news to Jacob, 10, Sophie, 7, and Jasmine, 5, at a family meeting
"It was really difficult trying to explain how identical triplets work," Melody said.
"But they were all excited, Jacob is looking forward to having a playmate or three."
At Melody's 16-week scan, it was found her babies were experiencing twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome - a potentially life-threatening condition.
The diagnosis tested Melody's strength. She had to stay in hospital so she and her babies could be monitored.
Two weeks later, it was discovered the only way to save the triplets was to perform laser surgery in utero.
"There was so much uncertainty because of the massive risks," she said.
"On top of that it was incredibly difficult being away from the kids and Matthew for long lengths of time."
The morning after surgery, Melody was overjoyed to hear three hearts beats.
Back home she was put on bed rest, which meant no cooking, no housework or playing with the kids.
"There was not much to do other than watch loads of daytime TV," she said.
"I was tired and in pain."
At 27 weeks and four days, Melody woke in the night to discover she was bleeding.
After an emergency dash to Brisbane, she went into premature labour and was given medication to try to stop it so the triplets had a better chance to develop.
For four nights, this terrifying process was repeated.
On December 11, she was taken to have a caesarean and from there the triplets went into neonatal critical care - weighing just over 1kg each.
William, Joseph and Noah are doing well and have been transferred to the Sunshine Coast Private Hospital.
The bubs are expected to remain there until 37 weeks.
Melody can now imagine a future with three little boys heading off to their first day of school.
"To see them putting on weight is a massive relief," she said. "I am looking forward to the boys coming home and establishing a routine. There is a lot to organise. They take more than 24 nappies between them every day.
"Then there is big stuff like finding an eight-seater car."
The Cullens want to thank many for their support.
"The triplets would not be here if it wasn't for family, friends and the medical staff. We are truly grateful," Melody said.
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