It’s really hard to believe that the two to 11-year-old girls and the 3-month-old baby in the picture are triplets, but Bethony, Megand and Ryleigh actually are.
Although the three of them were conceived on the same day, Ryleigh came 11 years after her twin sisters. This was possible because, while the first two fertilized embryos were implanted back in 1998, this third one has been frozen up until recently. This is a rather unusual situation for both parents and doctors as neither of them have knowledge of other cases of siblings conceived at the same date but born with such an age gap.
Health problems, such as endometriosis and polycystic ovaries, reduced Mrs. Shepherd’s chances of becoming pregnant and determined her and husband Adrian to undergo treatment. Out of 24 eggs collected by doctors, 14 were successfully fertilized, 2 were implanted and the other 12 were frozen. The pregnancy went smoothly and, although 6 weeks early, Bethony and Megan were born healthy and brought joy to their family.
After about 9 years, when the Shepherds decided they wanted another baby, they went to the same clinic and used one of the embryos stored years before.
“It seemed strange to think that we were using embryos that we had stored all those years ago, that were conceived at the same time as the girls. We knew that if we had another baby it would in effect be the girls’ triplet as they were all conceived at the same time. We didn’t know if it would work, and we agreed that we would just have one go with one embryo and if it didn’t work we wouldn’t try again. It was one last chance, and if it was meant to be, then it would happen,” Mrs Shepherd explains.
The doctors warned the parents there was the possibility the body would reject the frozen embryo, but fortunately this didn’t happen and Ryleigh was born healthy, although 11 years later than her twin sisters.
“The girls are thrilled to have a sister – and they know that she was conceived at the same time that they were, but has been in the freezer. She’s a really happy baby and has got a really good appetite – it’s as though she’s making up for lost time,” says Mrs. Shepherd.
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