Last year, they had to postpone Christmas due to the arrival of newcomers George, Fredrica, Francesca, and Grace. So Tracey and Stephen Britten are resolved to make amends — four times over – this year. When Mrs Britten’s .I.V.F brood was born by c-section nine weeks early on October 26 last year, she became the oldest woman in the UK to give birth to quadruplets. She was 50 years old at the time. The quads arrived home from the hospital only days before Christmas, and there was little time to celebrate with 168 diapers to change, 224 formula milk bottles to make up, and 28 baths to give in the first week.
This year, the curious 13-month-olds have matured sufficiently to partake in the festivities. ‘They keep me busy, but it’s all worth it to see them so happy,’ said Mrs Britten, a grandmother of eight who turned 52 earlier this month. For the world, I wouldn’t change a thing. They’re all very, really excellent most of the time, and it’s lovely to have them here for Christmas. It’s a lot of effort, and I started getting ready for Christmas in September by purchasing items for all of the kids and grandkids. Because they were so young, they had everything they needed for Christmas last year. They will receive gifts this year, but we will not go crazy.’
‘We don’t give them things individually; they just say ‘to the quads’ so they can share.’ This is the first Christmas for them to be able to sit up and open presents. The wrapping paper and boxes will likely pique their curiosity, as they do at their age. But it will be wonderful to watch them enjoy themselves.’ Mr Britten, a 40-year-old contractor, will prepare a turkey crown with all the fixings for his wife and quads, who can now consume solid foods. On Boxing Day, Mrs Britten’s grown-up daughter and boys from her previous marriage are expected to pay a visit to the family home in Barnet, north London, where Mr Britten will prepare a second Christmas meal for them all.
Mrs Britten, a former addictions counselor, went through with the .I.V.F operation, implanting four ᴇᴍʙʀʏᴏs, despite indications that the pregnancy was likely to fail. The couple traveled to a facility in Cyprus, ᴅᴇsᴘᴇʀᴀᴛᴇ for a child together because the operation is not authorized in the UK to prevent ᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀᴏᴜs multiple births. The quads, who included identical twins Fredrica and Francesca, were delivered 31 weeks into the pregnancy at London’s University College Hospital after a scan revealed one of them was sᴜffᴇʀɪɴɢ from circulation ɪssᴜᴇs and were immediately sent to intensive care.
‘I just wanted one kid and was blessed with four,’ Mrs. Britten said after being released from the hospital. It’s nothing short of a miracle. I had no idea we’d created history… At my age, they said I wouldn’t be able to make it.’ ‘I’ve had plenty of people writing me through Instagram telling me what an inspiration I am to older women,’ she added in response to critics who believe her pregnancy is reckless.