An Extended Family
Meet the Weatherall family, Southland's Host a Roast™ 2022 stars
“How’s the heartbeat?”
It’s a response that will stay with triplet mum Rebecca Weatherall of Balfour forever. Husband Sam was busy working on the family dairy farm, so Rebecca was alone when she received the news at her 8-week antenatal scan.
“I first thought [the radiographer] was talking about the rhythm of the beat, like three ‘ba boom, ba boom, ba booms’, but no, it was three babies. So there I was, lying on the table having just discovered I’m carrying triplets and, well I was in a bit of panic. Then [the radiographer] said, hang on I’ll just check for a fourth…. I quickly said, “oh no you won’t!”
Rebecca walked out of the appointment and phoned her husband to tell him everything was fine “but we’re not having one baby, we’re not having two babies… we’re having three babies!” Saying the news out loud for the first time Rebecca became so overwhelmed she started to cry.
“Triplets was definitely a surprise for us, we had been going for the more traditional approach of one at a time!”
The months that followed were largely focused on the health of Rebecca and the babies. Based 95km from Southland Hospital in Balfour, Rebecca feels fortunate to have received expert antenatal care through her local midwife, Sarah Stokes and Invercargill-based obstetrician Dr Jim Faherty – who coincidently has triplets himself. Rebecca was prescribed a high calorie diet and had many check-ups, including speciality scans at Christchurch Hospital.
“We quickly realised that with multiples there comes a lot of added risk and that even getting all the babies earthside was going to be a mission. That was pretty confronting at times, each time we would learn of another challenge we might face was mentally tough.”
The physical side of the pregnancy was also a battle for Rebecca, who is naturally small in stature. As the babies grew Rebecca began to struggle with everyday tasks.
“I’d get puffed easily and would lose my balance heaps. I was meant to put on 25kgs but I only managed about 15kgs, the babies were taking it straight off me. They were always going to be born early, so it was about seeing how far I could go.”
Surprising even herself, that gestation period was 33 weeks. At 10pm on 18th May 2017, three small but otherwise healthy babies were delivered via emergency C-section at Southland Hospital. Ava (1580g), Ollie (1700g) and Taylor (1800g).
For the next six weeks, while the babies received the care they needed in the neonatal unit, the Ronald McDonald Family Room became a home-away-from-home for the Weatherall family.
Thinking back now, Rebecca still remembers clearly how welcome Supervisor Helen Walker and the volunteers made her feel.
“The private rooms were an escape to some much-needed comfort and time to myself, while always being close to the babies. Food quickly became an afterthought, so having delicious meals and snacks available was wonderful. Helen was so supportive and made me feel right at home. I also got to know some of the lovely volunteers – it was like having an extended family who all went out of their way to make your time there as comfortable as possible.”
This May, Ava, Ollie and Taylor turned five and started at Balfour School. They are happy, healthy, active children, thriving in a wholesome rural upbringing.
“We are so fortunate they are all healthy. They love to go out on the farm where they are always creating, exploring and learning while seeing us work as a family unit, I think that’s pretty cool.”
To help celebrate their 5th birthdays, the Weatherall triplets are the 2022 Host a Roast™ fundraising campaign stars.
“We are generally pretty private people but for the Ronald McDonald Family Room we are more than happy to show our support. We will never forget what the Family Room did for us – it enabled us to become a family and it enabled us to survive.”
Q&A with triplet mum Rebecca Weatherall
What is it really like being a mum of triplets?
R: It’s a balancing and juggling act. Those first few years were really really tough. It was just survival day by hour, hour by hour. But there’s three times the good moments too.
How did you survive those early years?
R: Family and community support has been huge for us, we owe them all so much. We moved in with my parents for what was meant to be a couple of months and ended up being a year and a half!
How did your husband take to fatherhood x3!
R: Sam deserves a lot of credit. He brings out the best in the kids. He’s also fantastic around the house and a dab hand in the kitchen so there’s often requests for dad’s cooking, which suits me!
How do people react when they realise you have triplets?
R: We get stopped often and asked if they are twins or triplets. Often it’s by people who have multiples themselves, so they like to share stories. Some people think it’s fascinating. Sometimes if I only have two of the kids with me and get asked if they are twins, I just say yes because it’s easier [laughs].
To find out more about Host a Roast™ or to register online, visit www.hostaroast.kiwi