Identical triplets were born in a California hospital this week, but there's an even more amazing part of the story --- they were conceived the old fashioned way.
While identical triplets themselves are incredibly rare, they have happened a few times in recent years as the result of fertility treatments or artificial insemination. Instead, lucky parents Hannah and Tom Hepner from Quincy, California gave birth to their three girls thanks to a rarely seen act of nature; a single fertilized egg split into three, producing three babies who are close to exactly alike.
Their three girls --- Abby, Brin, and Laurel Hepner --- were born at Sutter Memorial Hospital in late November. Doctors there said that identical triplets are exceedingly rare.
"Identical triplets are anywhere from one-in-a-million and one-in-a hundred million," said Dr. William M. Gilbert, medical director of Sutter Women's Services and founder of Moms of Multiples Center. "It is so rare that it is hard to calculate how frequently they occur."
The girls' father knew where to give credit, saying his 29-year-old wife is "quite a remarkable woman. She cruised through the experience. Hats off to her." There have been other instances of identical triplets. Last year the Beasly family in Oregon saw three identical brothers --- Liam, Bradley, and Eli --- born at the same time.
Another couple in the UK found out early that they were carrying identical triplets, and were given the option to either terminate the pregnancy or reduce the number of babies. But parents Karen and Ian Gilbert decided to go forward with the pregnancy, and ended up with three healthy baby girls.
The father of the identical triples born this week thinks maybe the family's locale had something to do with the unusual birth.
"We are thinking of bottling the water in Quincy and offering it as a fertility treatment," Tom Hepner said of his identical triplets.