Although multiples are becoming more and more common thanks to fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization, it’s still quite rare for them to occur naturally. While about one in 89 naturally-conceived births are twins, only about one in 100,000 births are triplets. In addition, some estimates place the odds at one in a million of having identical triplets. So, imagine the surprise of Philadelphia couple Allison and Wesley Rhoa when they learned at their first ultrasound appointment that they were having not one or two babies, but identical triplets.
The couple, who up until this point, did not have any children, said they had planned very carefully for one child and perhaps another when the time was right. Those plans, of course, had to be quickly scrapped as they adjusted to the astonishing news.
Rhoa says that she and her husband went into the ultrasound fully expecting to only see one baby. Instead, the ultrasound technician told her husband that he had better sit down. Rhoa admits that even though she was in “total shock” she still kept smiling. Her husband, on the other hand, looked worried. She adds that the technician seemed more excited than they were because of the rarity of the event.
Rhoa says that even though they were scared at the time, they were also very happy about the news.
Of course, the excitement associated with Rhoa’s pregnancy didn’t stop here. On February 3, when she was in her 33rd week of pregnancy, her doctor called her saying that he had some concerns about a test result. Unfortunately, the Philadelphia area was also being pummeled by snow and ice, making driving conditions hazardous. Rhoa called her husband to pick her up, but, after two hours in traffic the unsafe roads forced him walk the final quarter-mile home. Eventually a neighbor with an SUV was able to drive them back to their waiting vehicle. Once they reached the hospital, however, there were still problems. It, among many others in the area, had lost power that night and “half of the lights were off” according to Rhoa.
The identical triplets — who have been named Ava Grace, Avery Hope and Alyssa Faith — were born on February 5 at Abington Memorial Hospital in Abington, PA. They were born at 33 weeks of gestation, which is less than the 37 to 40 weeks which would be considered a full-term birth. While they could breathe on their own, they did initially need feeding tubes, although two of the girls now have their tubes out. The babies’ doctors say that all of the babies are doing well. Ava may be able to come next week and the other two girls may be able to be released the week after.
Rhoa says that while they are happy with their new bundles of joy, they do have worries about how they will care for the babies and afford what they need. She had worked up until they were born so there are financial concerns to think about. In addition, she worries about learning how to juggle their feedings so she can get enough sleep. However, despite the fact that they are still working to figure out how they will do it all, they do have some clear plans. “One thing’s for sure, though,” says Rhoa. “I’m buying a minivan.”
By Nancy Schimelpfening