It was a case of double trebles as a Northern Ireland hospital saw the birth of two sets of triplets withing the space of 24 hours.
Brendan and Kirsty McMenamin from Downpatrick welcomed baby girl Zoey (weighing 4.10lb) and boys Cameron (5lb) and Brody (4.7lb) into the world at Ulster Hospital Maternity in Dundonald last Tuesday.
The following day, proud parents Claire and Johnny Stewart, from Donaghadee had three baby girls – Libby (5.1lb), Evie (5.1lb) and Annie (4.4lb).
Fewer than 200 sets of triplets are born annually in the UK and the odds of bringing three of the same sex into the world are 8,000 to one.
Asked how she felt when she found out she was having triplets, Claire said: “One of my first responses was, ‘I’m so glad my mum’s retired’. I was shocked at Johnny’s response – how composed he was.”
Claire said the couple took the unique pregnancy one step at a time, knowing that triplets are normally born at 34 to 35 weeks.
Recalling the events of last Wednesday, Johnny said: “The birth was all very calm apart from the fact there were well over 20 people in the theatre.”
Describing the moment she saw her girls for the first time, Claire said: “I just lay there with the tears rolling down my face. Just to hear their cries was just amazing and we knew that they were well.”
Claire and Johnny were able to hold their three children before they were taken into the neo-natal ward. Johnny said: “We haven’t really got used to being a family of five yet as two of the babies are still getting special treatment, but I think whenever we get them home we’ll have another whole new wave of emotions.”
A spokesperson for the South Eastern Trust said: “Certainly we have had triplets born here before, but it is highly unusual to have two sets of the born within hours of each other.”
Claire, whose younger brother and sister are twins, said: “All the staff were talking about the fact another lady had delivered triplets the day before. It seemed to be a big novelty.
“I’ll be delighted to get everyone home, but it’s nice having the nurses here. They’ve been an amazing support.”