On the 14th of May 2010 Vicky Lamb gave birth to the first sextuplets born in Britain for 17 years.
Now, in an exclusive documentary for ITV1, Vicky and her husband, Andy, share the amazing and unique story of the most dramatic time of their lives.
The pair talk about the shocking moment they discovered they were expecting six babies and the difficult decisions they faced during the pregnancy. They reveal details of their birth, which was 14 weeks premature, and the anxious days afterwards. And they discuss the heart-breaking moments when two of their babies died.
The cameras follow the family as the tiny babies spend the first few months of their lives in hospital, and the programme features the emotional day when the last of the babies is allowed to leave hospital for good.
Once home, there are intimate scenes as they are reunited with their big sister, Grace. The babies are seen settling into the family home, which has been specially converted to accommodate them and their four cots. Plus, the Lamb family get ready for their first Christmas.
Vicky and Andy tell the programme that they used fertility drugs to conceive their five-year-old daughter, Grace, and decided to take them again to have a brother or sister for her.
Andy says: “I wasn’t really aware the first time round…that it could lead to multiple births…I thought, ‘You have another dose of it and we have a little brother or sister for Grace and that’ll be it. Yeah, two babies, and that’ll be us done I think.’”
It wasn’t until Vicky had her first scan at 12 weeks that the couple discovered they were going to become parents to sextuplets.
Vicky says: “We were laughing, really laughing…because you didn’t realise the enormity of what it is, or how serious and dangerous the pregnancy could be. Because you don’t. If you’ve fallen pregnant and you’ve been waiting for such a long time…to have more than one is good.”
In an endearingly honest interview, the couple reveal that they faced a difficult decision after being advised to consider reducing the pregnancy, by stopping the hearts of three of the babies, or face the possibility of losing them all through miscarriage. Andy and Vicky had just 48 hours to decide but neither of them could face the prospect of killing the babies they’d tried so hard to conceive, so they decided to continue with the pregnancy and let nature decide.
The couple describe the day Vicky went into labour 14 weeks early and the moment their babies were born by Caesarean section. The babies, Rose, Layla, Eric, Ellen, Matthew and Pippa weighed from just 1lb 5 ounces to only 1lb 15 ounces and all of them were immediately put in intensive care.
Just three days later, Matthew suffered a lung problem which was too severe to be repaired and, tragically, he died.
The couple tell the programme about their mix of emotions as they grieved for the loss of their son but tried to remain strong for the other five babies who were still very ill. As the weeks went by, the couple describe the day their babies moved out of intensive care as their condition improved.
However, after seven weeks, baby Pippa suffered from a stomach condition. She was operated on but couldn’t be saved, so once again, the couple were faced with the agony of losing one of their children as their others bravely battled and grew stronger.
The film follows the couple as they make their daily visits to the hospital to see their children, with Vicky spending all day, every day, on the ward helping the nurses to change and feed her babies.
At 12 weeks old, Rose, Eric and Ellen were strong enough to move out of the high dependency unit and into the special care nursery. For the next four weeks, Vicky is seen splitting her time between the nursery and the high dependency unit where Layla had to stay. The programme captures the emotional day when the doctors said Layla was strong enough to join her brothers and sisters and move out of the high dependency unit.
As their babies gradually get stronger, Vicky and Andy reveal that they have not yet prepared for them to come home, as they were afraid to assume all their babies would make it. The film follows them as they start to convert their home for their new additions and buy their cots, nappies and prams.
Vicky says: “I just want my babies and I want to look after them, and it’s going to be really great to get them home and to be knackered, but to be knackered because I’ve been up changing bums and giving bottles. To be knackered because of that and not just because you’re emotionally drained. It’s going to be fantastic.”
There are moving scenes as, at 18 weeks old, Eric and Ellen are allowed to go home and be held by their big sister for the first time. A few weeks later Rose is also allowed home, but Layla has to stay in hospital for another operation.
The cameras are there on the day when, finally, after five months, Layla is allowed home and the whole family is together for the first time.
Vicky says: “It’s not the end of our journey, but it’s like the end of the nightmare, because it means we can start doing things and living and being a proper family.”
As the family are reunited at home, the programme gains an insight into what life will be like, from the night time routine of eight feeds and nappy changes, to preparing for their first Halloween with their sister.
And, the family go on a festive shopping trip to prepare for their first Christmas as a family of seven.
As she looks back at the last 12 months and the decisions they have faced, Vicky says: “we thought we’d be lucky to get one, so we really really did hit the jackpot getting our babies.”
Tuesday, 5 July 2011, 9:00PM – 10:00PM ITV