Tracey Britten hit the headlines in October last year when she gave birth to four IVF babies at 31 weeks. Tracey, who was raised in Preston but now lives in London, explored the option of IVF with her 40-year-old husband Stephen after unsuccessfully trying for a baby naturally. Now, Britain’s oldest mother of quadruplets has celebrated her babies’ first birthdays. After surviving a dramatic fight for her life in intensive care, her young ones have defied the odds to see their first birthday yesterday.
To mark the occasion, Tracey, 51, who has three adult children, took her tots to Preston, Lancashire, to visit the grave of her mother. It was a fitting tribute to Pauline Smith, who died in 2007 and left £7,000 for her daughter which she spent on fertility treatment. Tracey said: “If it wasn’t for mum leaving me that inheritance then I wouldn’t have been able to have the IVF. I’ve always wanted to do this on their first birthday, to say thank you to her.”
Tracey Britten, now 52, from Enfield, North London, started her family aged 18 and had three kids with her first husband, who she went on to divorce in 2003. By 2012, she had married second husband Stephen, a roofer, and became pregnant. But the pair chose to give up. After being deemed too old for treatment on the NHS, the couple traveled to a clinic in Cyprus where an embryo was successfully implanted for the first time.
She added: “IFV was really tough and stressful, both emotionally and physically. Every day for two weeks Stephen injected me with hormones in the bum to stimulate my eggs, before I was given medication after the embryos were implanted. It was anxiety-inducting. Would the embryos take? I wondered how I’d cope if it didn’t work and I could not give Stephen a child.” When Tracey found out she was pregnant with four babies she ‘nearly fell off the bed’ and felt like she was ‘having an out of body experience’. “I was crying, thinking I can’t have seven kids anyway. When I got home and told Stephen he was as happy as Larry. He just said at least we don’t need to have any more” She said. But their joy turned into heartbreak when doctors later recommended two of the babies be aborted.
Fortunately, the pregnancy went well and the babies all survived. She gave birth to George, Grace and identical twins Francesca and Fredrica in London on October 26. She added: “If it wasn’t for mum leaving me that inheritance then I wouldn’t have been able to have the IVF. I’ve always wanted to do this on their first birthday, to say thank you to her. When I couldn’t get pregnant, I thought I’d put it towards that. Mum always wanted one of her girls to have twins and so I feel blessed that I was able to do that for her. She was a wonderful person, she would give you her last penny.”
Tracey describes Francesca as a ‘bossy boots’ who set off Fredrica if she cries. She says Grace ‘is her own person, nice and placid’, while George is ‘laughing from when he gets up to when he goes to bed.’ Due to their premature birth, the babies are not yet crawling and only began sitting up six weeks ago.
Tracey said: “They will be mobile soon, but it doesn’t bother me. I’ve got a big playpen and I will use that for when I need to go and do something in the house. When you’re young, you want to go out, go clubbing, go abroad and you get frustrated when you can’t get a babysitter. But when you’re older you’re more relaxed and you’ve got that out of your system. I want to enjoy the blessing I’ve been given.”