One-in-50 million odds is a big thing to beat. But beating 1 in 50 million odds is rarely so sweet as it is for Kelli and Jason Fenley. On July 1, they welcomed their odds-beating identical triplets (Owen Michael, Noah Charles, and Miles John) to the world, and last Thursday they introduced them to the public.
Kelli Fenley’s second pregnancy seemed to be proceeding as normal until her first ultrasound, which revealed twins. Several ultrasounds later, the obstetrician confirmed the “twins” were in fact triplets, and all three were monozygous, or identical. She spent fifty days in the hospital before giving birth at 29 weeks. The triplets are going to be sent home in the next few days, a few days before they would have been born if full-term.
“We hit the genetic lottery and we couldn’t be happier,” said the very happy father.
The 1 in 50 million odds of having identical triplets have already been done this year, and done with even more improbable situations than then Fenley boys were born under. In May, Sylvia Hernandez and Raul Torres welcomed identical triplets Catalina, Jimena, and Scarlett at 34 weeks. What made this birth even more unusual is that Jimena and Scarett were conjoined — 1 in 200 thousand odds on its own, and only the 37th set of triplets to be born with two conjoined.
Identical twins are formed when a fertilized egg splits in two, and make up a third of all twin sets. Unlike fraternal twins, which come from two separate eggs, identical twinning is thought to be a spontaneous occurrence and cannot have a tendency to reoccur in families. Identical triplets are formed in the same way, with the egg splitting once and one of the two eggs splitting again. Twenty percent of triplet births are spontaneous, or occurring without the use of fertility treatment. Only about six percent of triplets are identical. There are identical quadruplets as well: around 60 sets have been confirmed as identical. As for identical quintuplets, the largest number of all identical births recorded, that’s happened a mere seven times, and only two sets, the famous Dionnes and a set born in Mexico in 2004 — have all survived infancy.
And what of the 2-year-old brother of the 1 in 50 million odds? He’s a bit confused by his new siblings, and calls them all by the same name. No doubt he will be in good company for much of his brothers’ childhood.
[Image stock image via Pixabay]