Racheal and Paddy Kirkwood are proof that true love will find exactly when it’s supposed to.
Paddy, 35, as Rachael’s schoolgirl crush.
They were both pupils at the same secondary school in Manchester when she fell head over heels – but was too shy to speak to him.
Although smitten Rachael, 34, did sent anonymous Valentine’s cards every year.
After school, Rachael moved to New Zealand for two years and had son, Oliver, now seven.
But then in 2015, she finally plucked up the courage to send Paddy a Facebook message.
He replied instantly and their first date was just a week later.
It was then that things started moving really fast.
Rachael and Paddy bought their first house together just two weeks later, got married a few months later in the December and then had three babies in nine months.
Rachael said: “People thought it was way too fast and told me it wouldn’t last, but I was sure we were meant to be together.
“I believe in love at first sight. I loved Paddy as soon as I saw him back at school, and still felt the same after years apart. If something feels right, you have to go for it.”
After trying to forget about Paddy when they both left school a chance comment on Facebook in April 2015 threw the couple back together.
Racheal said: “I saw his profile pop up as he’d commented on a mutual friend’s post, so I had a look through his photos and plucked up the courage to message him. I said, ‘You haven’t changed a bit.’
“I wasn’t even sure if he’d remember me, given that we’d never spoken. But he replied right away saying, ‘Neither have you.’”
From there, Paddy and Rachael began to speak every day over Facebook, swapping tales about life, love, and everything in between.
After a week, he asked the question she’d longed to hear since she was a teenager – ‘Want to go on a date?’
Rachael said: “We’d arranged something for the following week, but in the end, we couldn’t wait.
"I ended up texting him a few days later when I was on a night out in Manchester city centre to see if he wanted to come and join me.
“He did, and as soon as I saw him, it was like we’d known each other forever. Which we had, I suppose.”
The spark between them clear to see, Paddy and Rachael spent virtually every day together from then onwards.
Then, two weeks later, he mentioned he was house-hunting, and suggested she join him for a viewing of a property near to where she was then living.
She said: “He asked me what I thought of the place, and I told him I loved it.
“Then he turned to me and said, ‘I don’t want to get it unless you move in too.’
“I thought, ‘Is he mad?’ It had only been two weeks. But part of me just knew it was right.”
So, though her family and friends thought she was “nuts,” Rachael agreed, and the couple jetted off to Madrid the following week to celebrate.
There, under the Spanish sun, they discovered the offer they’d put in had been accepted, meaning they returned to the UK to start their new life together.
And just six weeks after that, in early July, Paddy had another important question for Rachael.
She said: “He proposed to me in Paris. It was like something from a fairytale.
“People thought it was way too fast and told me it wouldn’t last, but I was sure we were meant to be together.”
Shortly before their trip to France, Rachael had discovered she was pregnant, meaning she had gone from single to engaged and expecting within just three months.
She was delighted but, sadly, things weren’t meant to be.
At around 12 weeks, she went to hospital feeling dizzy, where a scan revealed she was experiencing a molar pregnancy.
The condition occurs when a lump of abnormal cells, rather than a healthy foetus, grows inside the womb.
In some cases, when the cells do not go away on their own, they can lead to a condition called persistent trophoblastic disease (PTD), which the NHS says is similar to cancer, if untreated.
That meant that – heartbreakingly – Rachael’s ‘baby’ had to be removed.
She said: “I couldn’t take it in. I had never even heard of a molar pregnancy.”
Looking back, Rachael said she would never have got through the ordeal without Paddy, who she married that December in Paris, in front of 60 loved ones.
She said: “We hired a boat afterwards and sailed down the Seine, past the Eiffel Tower.
"The way we saw it, we wanted to be together, so there was no point in waiting – even though we hadn’t even been together a year.
When you know, you know.”
In the wake of the molar pregnancy, Rachael feared the same thing could happen again and she would never be able to start the family with Paddy that they both so desperately wanted.
But then, in early 2016 – a month after their wedding – she was pregnant again and the pair’s daughter Mollie, now two, was born that September.
Just six weeks later Rachael was again – with identical twins.
She said: “We couldn’t believe it. We were basically doubling the size of the family.
“At first, I was terrified about how we’d cope, but Paddy said it was like winning the lottery.
“I knew then that we’d get through it together.”
The babies, Niall and Luke, were born early in June 2017, meaning Rachael had given birth three times in nine months – and the children will all be in the same school year, when the time comes.
She said: “It was hard work having three tiny babies. The twins had colic, so would cry a lot, then Mollie would wake up wanting a feed.
"Even getting out the house for five minutes took rigorous planning.
"We got a nanny to come and help two times a week, which was amazing. Plus Paddy was fantastic.”
Incredibly, despite the fact she was taking the contraceptive pill, Rachael soon added to her brood once again, with baby Orla, who was born in November 2018.
Life for the Kirkwoods now is hectic but happy, with six children in the house when Paddy’s other son comes round on the weekends.
Rachael’s own fairytale romance has even inspired her to set up a charity called Wish For A Wedding, which helps provide weddings to couples dealing with a terminal illness.
Given that she’s been through so many different types of pregnancies, she also wants to help others, and so has set up a blog called MumToBe.com, where she shares advice and candid posts, especially aimed at those who may feel isolated as they don’t have many friends with children.
Now, as Paddy and Rachael have just celebrated their third wedding anniversary, she says she’s proved the cynics, who told her that her whirlwind romance would never last, well and truly wrong.
She added: “I know we aren’t conventional, but I wouldn’t change the way we did things for the world.
"Paddy and I are like teenagers together, still as in love now as we were on day one.
“I’ve never met anyone like him, and know that, given all we’ve been through and not been broken, I’ll be with him forever.
“To anyone out there doubting whirlwind romances, I’d say this – If something feels right, go for it.”
- For more information on Rachael, visit www.wishforawedding.co.uk or www.mumtobe.com or follow www.instagram.com/the_kirkwood_triplets
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