The odds are 160,000-1, but Karen Gilbert beat them.
Gilbert, 32, just brought home her identical triplets, the result of a single fertilized egg dividing into three separate embryos, an extremely rare occurrence. Born Aug. 2 at Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, U.K., two months premature, the babies spent six weeks in intensive care before they were deemed healthy and released.
“At first they didn’t look real and you could pick them up with one hand. It was a bit of a shock,” the girls’ father, Ian Gilbert, told ABC News. “Now [that] we’ve got them home, we are coming to terms with it. They are starting to feel like our own.”
Delivered by C-section, Ffion weighed 3 lbs., 8 oz.; Maddison weighed 3 lbs., 5 oz.; and Paige weighed 3 lbs., 4oz. -- less than 11 pounds combined.
The Gilberts were newlyweds when they found out Karen was pregnant. "We got married, went on honeymoon to New York, and came back to find out we were expecting,” she told Express. "At first we thought it was one, but at eight weeks I got some really bad pains. We thought it was a miscarriage, but it turns out it was three babies fighting for space.”
The couple was offered to terminate the pregnancy because it posed health risks to both mother and babies. "The risks were so high to me and the babies because they shared a placenta," Gilbert told the BBC. "There was the chance of twin to twin syndrome, where one baby can starve the other two babies of food and other fluids. But we just couldn't do it. The babies are ours," she said, adding that she received regular checkups to monitor her high-risk pregnancy.
Even after six weeks, the couple still has trouble telling the triplets apart. "We kept their hospital bands on for as long as they could, but they grew out of them, so Ian had to buy more on eBay and we're still using them," Gilbert said. "They're that identical; it's scary.”
The couple, who already had a 3-year-old daughter, is contemplating trying for a son. "Ian would like to try for a boy as he's a bit outnumbered," Karen said. "But I'm not persuaded. I'm happy with what I've got."