When Kasey Read went from mother of three to mother of six overnight, she was overwhelmed and overjoyed. She and husband Matt tell Cloe Willetts how they share the love around their brood.
A typical night for Taranaki couple Kasey and Matt Read looks a little like this. Two-year-old triplets Billy, Oakley and Addalyn enjoy a warm post-dinner bath as their mum washes the day’s mess from their white-blonde hair. Their three older siblings are usually among the hype, helping to pull tots from the bath one by one, before Matt attempts to catch them in a towel. By the time he’s done drying the last triplet, the other two are already being changed in their bedroom by Kasey, who pulls little limbs through pyjama arm holes at lightning pace.
“Then we have a dance party or exercise to tire them out, and they all get their cuddles goodnight, before getting tucked in,” says Kasey, 29, chatting to Woman about her dynamite life with six kids aged 10 and under.
“The boys always get tucked in first and Addy helps us with that. Then she says goodnight to her brothers, gets her bottle and Puss Puss, which is her pussy cat, and hops in her bed and waves goodnight.”
But the night-time routine doesn’t end there for the couple, whose precious triplets celebrate their second birthday in April. After putting on sleep music for their youngest trio, Kasey and Matt bathe Chloe, four, followed by Bentley, 10, and Austin (aka Bugsy), eight.
“Then Matt and I do the dishes and 9.30pm rolls round and we’ll watch something on TV, then go to bed. That’s the only time we have alone together, sitting on the couch folding about eight piles of washing!”
Three years ago, when Kasey and her water technician husband found out she was pregnant with triplets, it was a complete shock. The couple of 15 years had talked about extending their energetic brood to four, but decided they’d give it four weeks. If Kasey hadn’t fallen pregnant by then, they’d stop trying.
“When I found out, I kind of already knew because my morning sickness was horrendous. I lived in the toilet,” recalls Kasey, who didn’t know triplets ran in her family. “I said to Matt and Mum, ‘I’m having twins because this morning sickness is so bad!’ When Matt, Chloe and I went for the scan, the lady said, ‘Ah! There are two babies in there.’ We were like, ‘Awesome.’”
Kasey shared the news with her parents first, visiting them on their farm, which is a 16-minute drive from the home she and Matt, 30, bought a year before the triplets arrived. “We were in a cowshed and I was like, ‘I’m pregnant,’ and Dad looked at me and held up two fingers and I said, ‘Yeah!’ It must’ve been the look on my face,” she says.
“When we went for the anatomy scan, they also only saw two babies. Then when I was 16 weeks pregnant, I had a feeling something was wrong and rung my midwife and we went for another scan.”
Matt remembers the sonographer frantically running the ultrasound machine over Kasey’s belly, without saying a word. “She looked a bit flustered and so I asked if she knew what she was doing,” he quips. “Then I asked if there was another baby and she said it looked like there was, but she needed a second opinion.”
It was confirmed the couple were indeed expecting three babies.
“They said, ‘Congratulations, you’re pregnant with triplets,’ and it was such an overwhelming experience,” Kasey says. “Twins we could manage, but then all of a sudden it’s triplets. We were like, ‘This is amazing but so scary at the same time.’ Matt got a sticker for being so brave, lucky bugger. I still have it too. It hasn’t left my wallet since the day we had that scan.”
An elated but worried Kasey cried in the car afterwards. “I video-called Mum, who was at the hairdresser, and when I told her there were three babies she laughed and said, ‘That’s great!’ My sister-in-law was doing her hair and she popped up and started laughing, then we all had a good giggle.”
On April 4, 2019, when Kasey was almost 33 weeks pregnant, the triplets arrived prematurely.
They spent around three weeks at hospital during their first year of life.
“Since they weren’t quite developed when they were born, they got sick more easily,” Matt explains. “They were quite chesty, up until now really.”
Thanks to hands-on support from loved ones, who helped with night shifts, meals and cleaning, and juggling their other three kids, the couple learnt to adapt to a household of eight. But despite the constant feeds and nappy changes, Kasey says in hindsight, the newborn days were less of a challenge than parenting toddler triplets.
“They were definitely easier then because even though you’re on a three-hour routine with babies, at least we could put them down and know where they were. Now we’re continuously thinking, ‘Where are they? What are they doing? What are they getting into?’” she laughs. “They’ll probably stay in cots for a while, even if it’s until they’re five, just to keep them in their bed!”
We’re continuously thinking, ‘Where are they? What are they doing? What are they getting into?’
Jokes aside, Kasey says life is definitely harder when she and Matt are tired, especially when the triplets are sick and don’t sleep all night. “But you’re always going to have your tough days and each is different,” she says.
“Every single day I’m entertained by the babies or the kids and they always manage to make me laugh. When I was 28 weeks pregnant, I accidentally fell asleep for no more than 10 minutes and I looked up and Chloe was underneath the table covered, and I mean covered, in Nutella. There was no bare skin on her whatsoever. I had to ring my friend to come and help me clean it up because I couldn’t get on my hands and knees.”
When the triplets’ first birthday rolled round last April, it was during the Covid-19 lockdown. Kasey made balloon garlands to put around the house, along with party food and cupcakes. Then they video-called family to sing Billy, Oakley and Addalyn “Happy Birthday”. “That first milestone kind of got squashed because of lockdown, so their second birthday is a major one,” Matt says. “Chloe turns five a week after, which is another big birthday, so we decided to combine them into one big celebration with a bouncy castle, immediate family and a few of the kids’ friends. But we also haven’t wanted to get our hopes up in case lockdown happens again.”
For aspiring teacher Kasey, lockdown wasn’t as overwhelming as expected. “I actually loved it,” she enthuses. “I made a big snakes and ladders game on the lawn with spray paint and every day we had a fun activity for the kids. Matt built a playground with the spare timber and things he had laying around the property, and we turned our lounge into a hut.”
An outdoor climbing frame will be added to the backyard for the triplet’s birthday, since all three share a love of climbing. Personality-wise though, the toddlers are noticeably different. “Billy is very snuggly and cruisy, and more your quiet one. He looks and tilts his head like a puppy and is a grandad’s boy,” Kasey smiles. “Oakley is definitely a mummy’s boy. When we’re in a group of friends, he’s the one who’ll go up to the baby. He’s the really curious one. Addalyn, well, she’s quiet but very sneaky. She’ll sit back and observe everything and before you know it, she’s gotten into everything.”
Matt adds, “We had kiddy-safe latches on every drawer in our kitchen, even their dressers, and the triplets managed to destroy the lot within three days!”
With three sets of hands to constantly monitor, Kasey admits her biggest worry has been the older kids feeling left out. “We try to involve them in helping with the triplets as much as they want, so they don’t feel that way,” she explains. “Sometimes it just takes an hour of sitting down watching TV together, whatever they want to watch, and letting them explain their favourite cartoon to us. Or little Chloe might come up to me in the morning before kindy and say, ‘I want to be a deer today’, and so I get my make-up out, my contour kit, and turn her into a deer. She often goes with some kind of make-up.”
Sometimes, their oldest boy Bentley hides out in his room when he’s craving some one-on-one time. “All it takes is to go in and have a little conversation and make sure he’s alright,” Kasey says. “He may have had a bad day at school, which doesn’t happen very often, and will say, ‘I just want to go fishing with Dad’, and so that weekend we organise fishing.”
Last month, the Reads visited Rotorua for a family holiday. “The last two years we’ve been so busy, spending a lot of time in hospital with the babies, so the older kids had to miss out a lot,” she admits. “Now the triplets are older and can kind of understand the word ‘no’ around safety, we’re trying to get the older kids out to explore New Zealand a bit more and make memories together. It’s hard when they want to do lots of things, but having the triplets makes life quite structured.”
Kasey says, fortunately, there hasn’t been any jealousy. “My boys have hearts of gold and every morning they get ready for school and when they’re finished, they ask the nanny if they can help with anything. I seriously couldn’t be where I’m at without them because they’re just so helpful.”
Having the support of a nanny for a couple of hours each morning during the week gives Kasey a chance to go to the gym. “It means I get an hour and a half where I get to drive by myself without having to get anyone out of the car. I work out and have a couple of adult conversations, and then I have a clear mind to start my day,” she says. “When I get back, I just have to make lunches and put the kids on the bus to school. I go for my sanity, otherwise I’d be very grumpy!”
Matt’s downtime is fishing. “I started getting into it a bit this year, on the odd chance I could go on the boat with Kasey’s brother or a mate I work with,” he says. “Most of the time it’s just ledge fishing so I can soothe my soul. Sometimes I take the older kids fishing down at the river mouth and it’s still a couple of hours of peace.”
With half a dozen mouths to feed, bodies to clothe and minds to entertain, Kasey and Matt are often asked how they manage. “Whether you’ve got one child, three children or six children, you just adapt,” Kasey shares. “We have the kids mould around our lifestyle, so if we want to go out and do something that day, they just come. Also, we’re not just a family but a team, so we all work together and try and make it fun, even on the weirdest days.”
Whether you’ve got one child, three children or six children, you just adapt
Matt, who met his future wife on the school bus at 15, says working on a farm together in their earlier days helped shape his and Kasey’s relationship style. “We were living together, working together and then playing together, which was a major balancing act,” the former dairy farmer says. “We had to learn that if I stuffed up or if Kasey stuffed up, what happened on the farm stayed on the farm. As soon as you walked in the boundary fence that was it. That kind of shaped how we do things, and now, if something annoys us, we talk it out, sort it out and move on.”
He adds, “At the end of the day, if we didn’t have each other we couldn’t make it happen.”
Kasey says after a particularly chaotic day with the adventurous triplets, Matt knows as soon as he walks in the door after work that she needs a hug.
“We’ve just got each other so sussed and know when we need something,” she says. “Even on those days, we remember it’s not forever and that we’re really grateful for what we have. We absolutely love our kids, and the house is never boring!”