To learn you are expecting triplets is a shock for any mother-to-be. But for Jane Wrigley there was an especially astonishing twist – as she was told that her three daughters would be identical.
Naturally conceived identical triplets such as Erica, Claudia and Ava are phenomenally rare, with the chances of having them as high as one in 200 million.
Doctors said her embryo split just after conception, as happens with identical twins.
But then the remarkable happened – and one of the resultant embryos split again. In contrast, non-identical twins and triplets are caused by multiple sperm fertilising multiple eggs.
Jane and her husband Oscar, a 54-year-old airline pilot, found out they were expecting triplets at her scan. And the fact they all shared a placenta told medics that the three were identical. She said: ‘We went for a scan. Oscar saw the three heartbeats first, and then I did. It was such a shock.’
Jane, 41, said the prospect was ‘daunting’ – especially as her other daughter, Matilda, was only a toddler herself.
She said: ‘The scan meant that I was going to be a mother to four children under the age of 18 months. But we were excited to meet our new arrivals.’
At 29 weeks into her pregnancy, Jane suffered complications, but with the help of medics at Leighton Hospital in Crewe, the triplets were born three weeks later, in January last year, by caesarean. Nine weeks early, Ava weighed 3lb 2oz, Erica weighed 3lb 5oz and Claudia just 2lb 8oz. They were kept in hospital for two months, but are now thriving.
Jane said: ‘It was amazing to see them all born safely. When I held them for the first time, it was a wonderful feeling. It was such a relief that they had all arrived healthy.’
At first it was difficult to distinguish between them, she admitted.
‘So that’s when we decided to paint their toenails. It was the only way we could be absolutely sure who was who.’
The task is easier now the girls are 16 months old and developing their own personalities.
Erica is ‘cuddly’, Claudia is ‘independent’ and Ava ‘cheeky’.
It’s going to be hard, but it’s great!