Milestone birthday for miracle triplets

September 14, 2010

by Brónagh Murphy

Crossmaglen’s miracle triplets celebrated their first birthday with a party on Sunday for family and friends.

More than 90 invited guests joined little Sean, Katie and Emily Blessing, and their older brother Jack, at the party to celebrate the triplets’ first – and Jack’s second – birthday at the weekend.

The event was organised by their parents, Orla and Paddy, to mark the special occasion, to thank their families and friends for the support they received during the year, and to raise funds to help the care of premature babies.

It’s a day that Paddy and Orla thought they might never see when Sean, Katie and Emily were born three months premature on September 13th last year, weighing less than 2lb each.

For weeks their fragile lives hung in the balance.  Their first four months were spent in incubators in neo-natal units of hospitals in Belfast, Craigavon and Newry.

But they amazed doctors with their strength and resilience and in January, at five months old, they were finally able to come home.

It was during the party for Jack’s first birthday when Orla began to feel unwell. On doctor’s advice, the couple rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where the babies were delivered by emergency Caesarean section, 15 weeks early

First-born Sean Joseph weighed the heaviest at 1lb 12oz, followed by Katie Faustina at 1lb 7oz and finally Emily Frances at 1lb 10oz.

Doctors told the couple to prepare themselves for the worst as their tiny babies clung to life.  All three suffered from medical complications relating to their premature birth and spent nine weeks in intensive care before being strong enough to be moved into the special care baby unit.

During this time Paddy and Orla and their families were on an emotional roller-coaster as each baby suffered set backs.  Making the 120-mile round trip daily was often a mercy dash for the couple who say they couldn’t have got through it without the fantastic support from their family and friends.

At one stage they were going between three hospitals with a baby in each of the Royal, Daisy Hill and Craigavon hospitals.

“Nothing could have prepared us for what it was like,” Orla says.

“In the beginning we didn’t know from one day to the next how each baby would be.  Sometimes we’d only be home from the hospital when we’d get the call to go back that one of them had taken ill.”

There was added uncertainty with the smallest baby, Katie, as even before she was born doctors told the couple that she may not survive and she was so small at birth that Paddy’s wedding ring fitted on to her leg.   Despite having suffered cardiac arrest, little Katie defied all the odds and clung to life.

After spells in different hospitals, the triplets were reunited in Daisy Hill just in time for Christmas and were well enough to come home several weeks later.  However, this move was not without its complications and within a month all three babies were back in hospital with respiratory problems.

Again they overcame this hurdle and since then have not looked back.  Doctors say they are developing normally in relation to their age and now just have regular tri-monthly check-ups.

Picture of health

Despite their precarious start in life, Sean, Katie and Emily are the picture of health and happiness and weigh a healthy 19lb 10oz, 14lb 10oz and 15lb 12oz respectively.  They have very individual and different personalities, their Mum says, with Emily the chatty one, Katie the inquisitive one and Sean the most ‘laid-back’ of the three.


Orla and Paddy hosted the party at their home for family and friends to mark the triplets’ first birthday and to celebrate their miraculous survival.

The couple decided to use the opportunity to fundraise for Daisy Hill Hospital’s special care baby unit and guests were invited to make a donation to this fund in lieu of presents for the babies.

“They have all they need and we decided to have this party to raise money for the Special Care Baby Unit in Daisy Hill as a way of giving something back for the care the triplets received there,” Orla explained.

She says that without the experience and dedication of the neo-natal staff in there and in the Royal Victoria Hospital,  there is no doubt in her mind that the triplets would not have made it and she paid tribute to the ‘brilliant’ care they received.

Paddy and Orla take this opportunity to extend their heartfelt thanks to their families and friends for the continuous help and support they received through Emily, Katie and Sean’s first year, and thank everyone for their prayers and good intentions which are very much appreciated.

With four small children, the Blessing’s home is a constant hive of activity but their parents wouldn’t have it any other way and say their miracle babies truly live up to their name – Blessings.