What it's like to be a father of triplets
When Warren Bullock and his wife Jane first discovered they were expecting triplets, they were over the moon.
But little did they know how much life was going to change after they welcomed India, Savannah and Alicia into the world.
“When we found out we thought ‘that’s a bit different. We didn’t have any other children so we didn’t really know what to expect. When we told people we were having triplets, their reaction was ‘no?!’.
“These people already had children so they knew what we had to come but we were quite naive really, we didn’t know what it would be like. It was a novelty to us really, it was funny,” said Warren, who runs the Zig Zag Dance factory studios across the West Midlands with Jane.
Increased chance of twins
The couple, who are former British number one ballroom dancers, had been trying for children for two years and his wife, who’s professional name is Jane Phillips, had resorted to fertility drugs which increased her chances of having twins by 20 per cent.
Their daughters India Sapphire Grace, Savannah Xara Crystal and Alicia Scarlet Coral were born, weighing in at 4Ib 1oz, 3Ib 13oz and 31b 10oz respectively, on February 29, 2000 – the only available slot for surgeons to perform a Caesarean delivery.
The girls, who mostly celebrate their birthdays on February 28 or March 1, also shot into the record books following their birth after being named as the first triplets to be born on Leap Year Day in the UK.
Warren, aged 53, said the day the trio made their arrival at Wolverhampton’s New Cross Hospital was when reality finally hit them.
“You can’t carry triplets to full-term so they were born premature at 35 weeks. They had to be fed every three hours and feeding three babies used to take a lot of time.
“I remember Jane would do the 10pm feed and I would come home from teaching at about midnight.
“I would do the 1am feed and after all the changes, burping and winding, I would be putting them to bed at 4am just as Jane was getting up to do the next feed.
“We eventually settled into a routine but it was hard to begin with. When they’re babies you go through phases where they have colds and coughs or they’re not sleeping right.
“The problems and challenges change over time. Now they’re 18, we’ve been going through driving tests, boyfriends and A-levels,” adds Warren.
Dancer or astronaut
Two of the three sisters have also followed in the footsteps of Warren and Jane, who appeared in 25 episodes of top television show Come Dancing in the 1980s and 1990s.
“Their personalities are thoroughly different and they have different interests. India and Alicia both like dancing – India is a former UK ballroom champion and Alicia is a former British Latin champion.
“But Savannah’s interests are very different because she doesn’t have any interest in dancing. She wants to do maths at university and become an astronaut.
“When they were younger there was a lot of sibling rivalry especially with the dancing and there is a bit of squabbling now but when push comes to shove they will support each other.
“With triplets it means that when someone’s not replaced a toilet roll after it’s run out or someone has left a dirty plate out on the side, you never find out who has done it. They all deny it,” Warren tells us.
Having triplets also means that their house in Lower Penn is always a hive of activity and none of them is ever short of any company.
“There is always something interesting going on and there is always somebody to talk to. I never realised how many clothes there would be in the house though,” he says.
“When they’re upset, I’m upset. I worry about them when they are poorly or unhappy. I’m sure that this feeling is the same for any parent but I get it more often with three,” adds Warren, who also stars in Baby Ballroom on channel 5Star, which follows the day-to-day running of his dance school and some of his young students.
Wouldn't change a thing
His girls mean the world to him and he says he wouldn’t change anything about his parenting journey and he would do it all again if he could.
“They make me laugh and I’m lucky to share my life with them. I enjoy it when we all go out as a family and I enjoy seeing them flourish. I feel proud and full of love. It’s very rewarding,” says Warren.
His advice for new parents of triplets would be for them to try to take the life-changing experience in their stride and not to feel too overwhelmed.
“You just have to deal with whatever happens in the best way you can. It’s not like you can send one back so you have to get on with it.
“I think it’s important not to mollycoddle them because you simply don’t have the time to do it. I see parents of one child going to them every time they cry but you can’t do that with three.
“So you have to be a little harder with them really but I think this makes them more confident and less needy in the long-run,” says Warren.
“Make sure you don’t lose your time for yourself – I don’t know what I did with my spare time before. But you can only do your best really, that’s what all parents have to remember.”