Born on TV after an IVF miracle - my life as a triplet
- Credit: Emily Thomson
When Sharon and Simon Thomson found out they were pregnant after their first round of IVF they were ecstatic. But what they did not expect was to be told they were pregnant with triplets.
First let me get something out of the way. When someone asks me 'what is it like to be a triplet?' It's like asking 'what is it like to be me?' - I don't know any different.
Since before I can remember we have been referred to as 'the triplets', whether that was in school, by family members, friends or anyone who couldn't be bothered to say Emily, Megan and Georgia.
We are a single entity where one does not exist without the other - which is great when you're getting picked on in the playground and you have immediate backup but not when we are given a single birthday present and told 'it's to share'.
There are obvious difficulties with having three girls who are exactly the same age, from the terrible twos to moody adolescent teens, but my mum and dad, Sharon and Simon, did a pretty good job and I think they just about managed to keep their sanity.
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'Dad they found another one'
My parents were originally told their chances of having another child, after having my brother Troy, were slim so they turned to In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF).
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At that time, in 1996, my mum was told the success rate for IVF treatment was around 20pc, slightly lower compared to recent figures which reveal the chances of a live birth for a woman under 35 is 29pc.
But little did they know that their wish for a bigger family was about to be granted - and with a bit more than they bargained for.
To increase their chances of conceiving, doctors put three fertilised eggs back into my mum's womb and luckily for her all three worked.
The odds of conceiving triplets naturally is about 1 in 9,000, but in 1998 triplet births peaked in the UK with 297 because of IVF treatment.
Today the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (HFEA) has limited the number of embryos that can be transplanted, to prevent multiple births which have greater risks for the baby and mother.
My mum said: 'At one of the first scans they thought I was having twins. But I went back about a month later and they told me it was triplets. I didn't cry I just remember laughing.
'Simon was offshore at the time but when he got home I couldn't tell him because I was giggling hysterically and Troy just said, 'Dad they have found another one'.'
'I saw you on telly!'
Preparing for the arrival of a new baby can be an exciting and stressful time. Hormones are raging, ankles are swelling, and tempers are getting shorter. On top of that, my parents definitely didn't do things by halves, and from four months pregnant to one month before our arrival, ITV Anglia's cameras followed them around.
Then, on December 16, 1996, at the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston, the whole of Norfolk witnessed our birth.
Looking back at the footage is rather comical with the 90s hairdo's and my then 10-year-old brother wiping our bums and trying to muster some sort of excitement in front of the cameras. My family was literally the talk of the town. And 23 years later, Troy still thinks he was the star of the show.
My mum said: 'As soon as I went out with the triple buggy everybody stopped me and would want to know all about you or say they saw you on the TV. Getting from A to B was always quite a challenge.
'But I'm glad we did it. It's a really special thing that we have all the footage to look back on.'
You've got a friend in 'three'
The best thing about being a triplet growing up is that you were never alone. It was like a permanent sleep over with your best friends.
Bored? - always someone to play with.
Accidentally broken mum's new lipstick? - Blame someone else.
Argument with Georgia? - Megan, you're my new favourite.
We called ourselves the Power Puff Girls (also our favourite cartoon) because although we are not identical and are all completely different - from our hair colour to our friends at school - together we made the best team.
But that's not to say we haven't had our fair share of arguments and hair pulling over the years.
I asked my mum and dad to list some of their favourite memories of all of us in action.
Mum said: 'When you were quite young you worked out how to get over the stair gate by one standing on top of the other or you would push one another over by their bum.
'And at night you would climb into each other's cots because you didn't want to be on your own.
'On a Sunday I would make a roast and the family would sit around the table all afternoon and you would put on a show.
'Megan would be on the drums going mad. Georgia was obsessed with Shakira so she would be dancing and shaking her hips and Emily would be singing. You would have us in stitches.'
Dad added: 'I would come home from offshore and as I walked through the heliport, I saw three little girls darting towards me shouting daddy, daddy, daddy!
'There are so many moments we could list, but you were just best buddies and were forever causing mischief together. Even though you are all very different you have always had each other's backs.'
'Your poor mum!'
As an offshore worker, my dad spent a lot of his time away from home to provide for us all, leaving my mum, Troy and nan to juggle the workload. My mum shares both her struggles and the joy of raising a big family:
'The normal everyday things you take for granted were hard work, getting three babies ready and into car seats or a buggy. If I went shopping, someone would have to come with me because the buggy wouldn't fit through shop doors.
'I couldn't fit three of you into one trolley as well as the shopping so we had to use two trolleys. Everyday things were a lot harder because I couldn't physically manage you on my own.
'When I used to feed you it was like three little birds with their mouths open and I would go along the line and put a spoon in each mouth.
'But the guilt was the hardest thing. I had an only child before and I knew the attention Troy was used to.
'I couldn't cuddle any of you as much because I had so much to do. I was always on the go with bottles, cloth washing and nappy changing.
'But my solace was that you were never alone because you always had each other.
'The best part is I have three amazing daughters I am so proud of achieving everything they are putting their minds and hearts to.
'I like having a full house when the family is together. There is a lot to be said for having a big family, I just happened to get it over with in one big hit.'
A bond that can't be broken
Today I hear 'the triplets' less and less as we live apart and focus on our careers and lives as individuals.
I live in Norwich and work in journalism, Megan lives in Chester and works in law and Georgia is a cross-fit champion in Gorleston focusing on becoming a swimming teacher.
But after being cramped in a womb together you form a bond that not even time or distance can break, and I will always be grateful for that.
It's hard to summarise 23 years of life as a triplet and although it is somewhat of a unique story we are just a normal family - whatever that means.