Triplets helped by Cots for Tots now full of life
THE three thriving babies are barely recognisable from the tiny infants in incubators a year ago.
But as Archie, Paige and Tyler Barlow celebrate their first birthday it is clear to see just how great a start they had to life.
The Clevedon youngsters spent the first weeks of their lives in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at St Michael's Hospital after a Caesarean delivery 32 weeks into pregnancy.
They were only able to stay together after their birth because new incubators had been installed at the hospital just a month before thanks to the £1 million Cots for Tots Appeal.
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Parents Sarah Caple and Ryan Barlow were warned before their babies were born that there was a chance they would be sent to different hospitals as it was rare to have three cots available at the same time and delivery was held off to give the triplets the best chance of staying together.
When they arrived on February 1, 2012 – Archie weighing 3lb 6oz, Paige 3lb 7oz and Tyler, 3lb – they were taken straight to the new intensive care cots for support. They were then moved to high dependency cots in the special care unit.
The family was pleased that the triplets' start in life was not as stressful as it could have been as looking after three babies has meant considerable planning and help.
The couple had to move to a bigger house, buy a bigger car and juggle feeding the three babies.
Mr Barlow, 25, said: "It's been crazy but has a got a lot easier now they are sleeping right through.
"When we first brought them home we were doing 12 bottle feeds a night between the three of them – it would take 20 minutes to half an hour to feed each baby."
Archie now weighs 25lb 5oz, Paige, 19lb 8oz and Tyler 23lb 9oz and there are still check-ups from the hospital's community team.
Mr Barlow, who works in commercial vehicle sales, said: "Tyler had to have an operation when he was four months old at the children's hospital because he had two hernias but now all three of them are absolutely fine."
Discovering that Miss Caple, 29, was expecting triplets was a shock to the couple after she had been warned she might have trouble conceiving.
Mr Barlow said: "When we found out Sarah was pregnant we had a two-bed house and had to move to a three-bed and get a sizeable car. It has been a big change.
"We moved while Sarah was in hospital with family helping us out and her grandad gave us the car."
Miss Caple's mum Carol helps Sarah look after the triplets during the day and a volunteer from Home Start helps out around the home.
The triplets have already developed their own personalities.
"Tyler is funny and very naughty and will look around the room to see what mischief he can get up to," Mr Barlow said.
"Archie is very laid-back. He just sits down and takes everything as it comes. And Paige is a little madam and is very stubborn.
"They have definitely got their own little personalities.
"They are great with each other and bounce off each other. Tyler and Archie compete for attention. If Tyler is bouncing in his chair Archie will try and do it twice as high and Paige sits there laughing at them."
Family and friends will be helping to celebrate the triplets' first birthday over the weekend.
Having benefited from the Cots for Tots Appeal the family is now supporting the charity, which continues to fundraise for the unit and Cots For Tots House, which was set up through the appeal to provide a home from home for families when their babies are in the NICU. Miss Caple's dad Russell has been taking collection tins to work and Mr Barlow will take on a military obstacle course for the cause in the summer.
For more information about fundraising visit cotsfortots.org.uk.