Three's company: Pa. couple has identical triplets

Wes and Allison Rhoa pose with daughters Ava, Avery and Alissa. The identical triplets were born Feb. 5.
CBS Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA — The odds are 1 in a million for having identical triplets, but it's happened in a Philadelphia suburb.

The triplets were born earlier this month at Abington Memorial Hospital, where they are still hospitalized so they can get a little extra nutritional support, CBS Philadelphia reported.

 Ava was born first.  Next came Avery. Alissa was last.

Allison and Wes Rhoa have been in shock since they found out they were having triplets, when she first got pregnant.

"I still can't believe it that it happened. So it was definitely something we weren't expecting, but we couldn’t be happier now that they're here," said Allison. 

She was 33 weeks along when the babies were delivered by cesarean section on Feb. 5.  They each weighed around 4 pounds, and unlike many preemies, they were breathing on their own. Their only issue is feeding, which is why they have temporary tubes for supplemental nutrition.

"One of the challenges with premature babies in general is that they don’t have the neurologic or developmental ability to eat by mouth yet," said Dr. Eddie Chang, a neonatologist at Abington Memorial Hospital.

He says spontaneous triplets, meaning they were conceived naturally without fertility help, are extremely rare -- 1 in a million.

"They actually all come from one zygote, one fertilized egg.  And they've split from that original egg," said Chang.

"She got pregnant when we were in Mexico on our honeymoon," said Wes.

Allison and Wes were in Puerto Vallarta, wanting a family eventually.  They never imagined they'd have three all at once.

"As soon as you're done feeding all three and the other ones are rested you've got to start all over again.  So it's nonstop," said Wes.

They decided on all A names.  Their A-Team of little angels. "We did Grace, Faith and Hope as the middle names," said Wes.

The girls are expected to go home in two to three weeks have normal, healthy lives. Their parents are thankful for all of the donations and support from family and friends.  There are no multiple births on either side of their families.

Although identical triplets are rare, a set was born in January in Southern California, where April and Brad Dooley welcomed sons Patrick, Owen and Liam. And just a month earlier, another California couple, Hannah and Tom Hepner, became parents with the arrival of identical triplets Abby, Laurel and Brin.

And in an even rarer case, a 42-year-old Mississippi woman gave birth to identical quadruplets on Feb. 8. Kimberly Fugate and her husband, Craig,  thought she was having triplets, but doctors found a fourth baby girl during the C-section delivery.