The term "Irish twins" is a colloquialism stemming from babies born close together, but twins born 87 days apart in Ireland in a record-setting pregnancy are not what the term was initially coined to describe.
However, the Irish twins born 87 days apart do not share a birthdate nor even a birth month. They don't even technically share a birth season!
Maria Jones-Elliot of County Kilkenny in Ireland was 23 weeks pregnant when she gave birth to baby Amy on June 1, 2012. Amy was the first of the pair of twins born 87 days apart to arrive and was little more than a pound when she made her entrance four months early.
Jones-Elliot says of the frightening experience:
"I started feeling unwell at work and I felt extreme pressure on my abdomen but I thought that must be normal as I was having twins. But I was worried enough to get an appointment at my GP who told me to go straight to hospital and get it checked out ... To my horror when I got there just hours later, my waters broke. I was immediately admitted."
Amy was born then, at the 23 week mark, but something unusual happened. Jones-Elliot adds:
"My contractions just stopped dead – it was like I'd never even given birth ... Doctors were stunned they'd never seen anything like this before ... It should have been a joyful time but it was horrific. I had one baby in intensive care and one baby still inside me clinging to life."
She says: "It was like being hit by a bus ... I remember shouting to nurses: 'It's not supposed to be like this.' "
Dr. Sam Coulter Smith of Dublin's Rotunda Hospital told the Irish Times that the twins born 87 days apart mark the truly advanced state of modern obstetrics, and he says:
"For a baby delivered at 23 weeks to survive is a huge achievement from everyone's point of view. For a 23-week twin to survive is even bigger because twins often behave more prematurely than singleton babies. That really is right at the absolute border of viability."
Aside from medical marvel status, the twins born 87 days apart have also achieved a world record -- besting an American set who held the record from 1995, when they were born 84 days apart.