HAMMOND, La. - We've heard a lot lately about twins and triplets because of fertility treatments.
But this story, about a new, 35-year-old mother from Hammond, is different. It's a case, her doctors say, they've never seen personally.
After having her last baby 15 years ago, Kimberly Cosey-Watts wasn't expecting to be expecting.
"Well, I was surprised, period, when I found out I was pregnant, because supposedly, I wasn't supposed to get pregnant," said Kimberly Cosey-Watts, the triplets' mother.
But the bigger surprise came later.
"She asked me was I sitting down. So I said, 'What? Twins?' She said, 'Triplets.' I'm like, 'How? Why? What happened?" said Lavexwin Watts, the triplets' father.
"He wanted to talk to the doctor. 'How did this happen?' 'What did you do?' I'm like, 'Huh? You know how this happened!" said Kimberly.
What happened is less than one in a million chance. Identical triplets - Eden, Cherish and Harmony are not fraternal triplets who are the same as any brothers and sisters but share the womb for nine months.
Fraternal multiples can be the result of the woman taking fertility drugs and releasing more than one egg a month. Or in vitro fertilization, where several eggs are fertilized in a lab then implanted in the mother's womb. Or, they can happen naturally, when the mother releases more than the usual one egg a month. Fraternal twins are only hereditary on the mother's side. A woman can inherit the tendency to release two or more eggs in a month rather than one per cycle. Fraternal twins are not hereditary on the father's side.
These baby girls are identical. For some unknown reason the fertilized egg naturally splits into two and then one splits again. Sometimes the first one splits and the two resulting each split again making quadruplets who are identical. In some cases one doesn't make it early on and parents just have triplets. The children are like clones but born at the same time. They have the same genetic material or blueprint for how they will look and behave. Identical twins are not hereditary.
"We just got picked like the lottery," said Kimberly.
Kimberly has been at Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge for six weeks. She almost lost the girls earlier in the pregnancy three times. Still, they came 11 weeks early, weighing just more than three pounds each. Daddy, a casino pit boss, spends hours of his off time in the NICU.
"I just feel I need to be there because they're, you know, my little babies. I just want to be there for them," said Lavexwin.
Mom and dad worry about the babies having health problems. Doctors are optimistic.
"They probably will not have any (problems.) They should probably be perfectly fine. Just a little bit smaller than somebody else but they should catch up," explained Dr. Cindy Voelker, a neonatologist at Woman's Hospital.
"These are very high risk pregnancies with triplets and so we like to see them very early on in pregnancy to determine what type of triplets they are," said Dr. Edward Veillon, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Woman's Hospital.
Mom panics at any NICU alarm, on any baby.
"Yesterday my little baby turned blue and I was like, 'Oh my God!"' she said.
While dad is always calm.
"Don't worry. Everything's going to be fine. God's going to help everything," he reassures his wife.
"They're so sweet, you know," says Kimberly with tears in her eyes. "And I'm just glad that I was the best one that they chose to enter, you know, that God chose me to be their mother, because I feel so much. It doesn't matter financially if we can do it. Nothing else matters. It just matters that they're surviving."
The triplets should be able to go home in about seven weeks.