Sometimes I just think to myself, 'isn't pregnancy just bloody amazing?' Being able to bring a new life into being is something that will never cease to astonish me.
Bringing one baby into the world and having it survive infancy and grow up is incredible enough, but to bring more than 1, say, 8 babies into the world and have them all survive past infancy, and all grow up to be thriving adults, well, it's nothing short of miraculous.
It can be the biggest thrill to discover you're carrying more than one baby in your belly, but can also be absolutely terrifying. The more babies in there, the more risks associated with the pregnancy and the birth.
It's rare that multiple pregnancies make it to full term. As a result, the babies are underdeveloped and require intensive care to survive. Sadly, few make it past the first critical few hours.
Experts say there are two factors which increase the chances of a woman giving birth to multiple children. Oddly enough, the older the mom is, the higher the chances that she'll have more than one baby.
The second factor is linked to fertilization. Woman who undergo fertilization treatment are more likely to have more than one baby because multiple embryos are implanted into the uterus. However it's always a gamble as to how many will survive.
Here are 15 incredible stories of multiple births. While not all have happy endings, each is a reminder of the miracle that is human life.
15 Tragedy Threatened To Eclipse The Coble Family
The heartbreak that Lori and Chris Coble from California, USA endured is extremely difficult to comprehend. But the strength the couple managed to find within each other to move forward and reclaim their lives is staggeringly inspirational.
It was 2007 when Lori and Chris Coble tragically lost all of their three children - Kyle, Emma and Katie, ages 5, 4 and 2 - when a lorry loaded with 20 tons of goods collided with the back of the family's minivan.
Unable to imagine a life without children, Lori and Chris made the decision, a few months following the accident, to go ahead with in-vitro fertilization.
Of the ten fertilized embryos, three were viable. Lori and Chris insisted that all three were implanted, despite the doctor's suggestion that they used only two.
Against all the odds, Lori went on to give birth to three healthy babies - Ashley, Ellie and Jake.
14 A Very Rare Blessing Times Four
In 1915 when Alma Keys from Hollis, Oklahoma, USA fell pregnant for the fifth time, she knew something was different, she just didn't know what. In those times, there were no x-rays to give an indication as to what was going on inside, so she just had to wait it out.
When her 4 girls finally made their appearance, they weighed a total of 16 pounds. Their birth certificate read 'four babies, all girls.'
Folk flocked to see the 4 sisters, but as they grew older their mother became shy about the publicity. The girl's father however said that anyone from the state of Oklahoma could come and visit.
The family received numerous offers from circuses offering to take the girls on, but they insisted that they wanted them to lead normal lives. Though the girls did perform every year at the state fair to raise money for the family.
13 The First African American Quadruplets
It was 1946 when, in North Carolina USA, the first identical African American quadruplets on record were born, and they were born straight into the public eye.
The girl's parents, Mr and Mrs Fultz were not rich folk by any means, and already had 6 mouths to feed when their daughters came into the world. Mr Fultz had never made more than a few hundred dollars a year, so, when Pet Evaporated Milk arrived on the scene and offered to pay the family's medical bills while also offering them family a house with land, the parents thought it was a miracle from heaven. The media attention was intense during the girls childhood in the 1950's - on one occasion they even met President John F. Kennedy - and continued well into their adult lives.
Fascinatingly, the Fultz Quadruplets became only the third set of quadruplets in America to survive until adulthood.
12 The Quads Born At 32 Weeks
From the moment that they knew they were going to have four babies, Lee and Pam Deschler from Pennsylvania kept an online diary.
It's usual for quadruplets to be born at about 29 weeks into the pregnancy (for a single pregnancy, it's 39-40 weeks). The babies - Christopher, Alyssa, Emily and Nicholas- were delivered by c-section at the Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, USA when they were 32 weeks and 5 days. Each baby weighed 3-4 pounds each and each one was breathing by itself without ventilators just one day after their birth.
On the family blog, Lee wrote: There is a mixture of relief, happiness, sadness, and uncertainty as we all go through this indescribable experience of bringing four preemie babies into the world.
Astonishingly, despite having four babies to look after, the couple maintained their online diary until their children were 5 and a half years old.
11 Their Odds Were 1 In 13 Million
Mom Karen Jepp from Calgary, Canada gave birth to 4 identical daughters in 2007 - Autumn, Brooke, Calissa and Dahlia - in a case of about 1 in 13 million where quads are conceived naturally. Predictably, the birth made headlines all over the world.
In medical records, less than 50 cases have been documented (included are the Fultz Quads). Karen and her husband J.P. travelled out of Canada for the birth, and the girls were delivered in Montana, making them American citizens.
Due to their premature birth, the girls have displayed an issue with delayed speech issues. Though it seems that their speech has been improving thanks to speech therapy.
When the girls first started to go to kindergarten, their mom said "I love them dearly, but I’m not going to lie, a huge part of me is going to be like ‘whoo-hoo!’ — a little more time to myself, finally."
10 The First Quintuplets To Survive Infancy
The first documented quintuplets to survive infancy were 5 identical girls born in 1934 in Corbeil, Canada to Elzire and her husband Oliva Dionne.
In an event which really does sounds like something from a horror movie, the little girls Marie, Cecile, Yvonne, Emilie, and Annette were taken from their parents by the government of Ontario and were raised in a specially built facility which famously became known as Quintland.
The girls were exploited to extreme measures by their new guardians. Millions of visitors parted with their dollars to be able to get a glimpse of the little girls as they played in an observatory field. When they weren't being observed by visitors, they were undergoing medical tests.
When the sisters reached 9 years old, they were reunited with their family. Tragically they never bonded with their biological parents and in later years severed all contact with them.
9 The First Surviving Sextuplets In The United States
How would you react if your ultrasound detected not one, but five little heartbeats? Personally, I think I'd be grabbing for the oxygen nine months early!
Well, five heartbeats are what Becki and Keith Dilley from Indiana, USA heard when they had their ultrasound performed. After five years of trying to conceive without any success, the couple went ahead with fertility treatment. But they were in for a surprise when the time came to give birth.
After five babies - each weighing a little over 2 pounds - were delivered by caesarean section, there was still one to come! He'd been hiding behind mom's spleen and hadn't been noticed on the scans. In total, mom delivered four boys and two girls - Brenna, Julian, Quinn, Claire, Ian and Adrian.
In 1999 an American film was shot for ABC which told the story of the family called Half A Dozen Babies.
8 Twins Followed By Sextuplets
Imagine giving birth twice...however you don't have 2 babies, but 8! That's exactly what happened to Kate Gosselin. In 2000 she gave birth to twin girls - Cara and Madelyn.
Four years later, when Kate and her husband planned to 'have just one more baby,' she gave birth to 3 boys and 3 girls - Aaden, Collin, Alexis, Hannah, Leah and Joel.
The delivery of the sextuplets in Wyomissing, USA was attended to by 50 doctors, nurses and specialists. Both the twins and the sextuplets were conceived as a result of fertility treatment, due to Kate suffering with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
The huge family even have their own reality TV show - Kate Plus 8 (also known as John and Kate Plus 8. The name changed when the couple divorced) which airs on The Learning Channel. The show which has being running since 2007 has had 10 seasons and counting.
7 The First Surviving African-American Sextuplets
In 2001 Chris and Diamond Harris from Birmingham, USA who had been trying for two years to have a baby, resorted to fertility treatment.
It wasn't long after the treatment that Diamond fell pregnant and the couple discovered that they were going to be the parents of twins. However, a sonogram told a different story, that the couple, were in fact pregnant with 5 babies! Unfortunately, a blood clot was discovered on Diamond's lung which meant a lengthy stay in the hospital. And, at only 26.5 weeks into her pregnancy, she was required to give birth by caesarean.
But the couple didn't bring 5 babies into the world, but 6! 2 girls and 4 boys. Despite the babies eye wateringly low birth weights - each baby weighed between a pound and three ounces and a pound and 12 ounces - all 6 survived and were discharged from hospital after 3 months.
6 A Delivery Of Eight Babies Required 46 Pairs Of Helping Hands
One mom was admitted into the hospital during her 23rd week of pregnancy because she was suffering with terrible back strain.
She was told that she'd be delivering several babies, and, after the shock, came acceptance then exhilaration.
The leading doctor and his team prepared weeks in advance for the delivery. 46 members of the hospital staff, including 2 anesthesiologists, 3 obstetricians, 7 neonatologists, respiratory technicians and nurses were drafted in for the Caesarean section procedure.
The birth was a success, with one little boy making his way out who'd previously gone unnoticed. He had been tucked into one of the horns of the uterus!
'You have to consider that all those heads and extremities were packed into a space that’s designed for at most two babies, so you can see that it’s conceivable that one would be caught in the midst of that and not be seen,' the doctor said.
5 Identical Quadruplets From A Single Egg
To give birth to identical quadruplets only happens every 1-in-11 million births. Every year, 500 sets of quadruplets are born, but an identical set has only happened a handful of times in recent history.
One of these cases is the case of the young parents Ornsee Khamsa, and Verek Muy from West Sacramento, USA who gave birth to four genetically identical girls in 2002 - Preana, Audreana, Natalie and Melody. The astounding thing is that the four newborn girls were conceived entirely without the use of fertility treatment.
'It was a lot of fun to be involved,' said Alex Mentakis, M.D., the obstetrician and perinatologist who delivered the quadruplets by Caesarean section. 'This delivery is the most unusual of my career. I can't imagine I'll see anything like this again.'
When the couples 4 year old son was told about his sisters, he said he would have preferred brothers.
4 Octuplets Delivered In Five Minutes
The best known mom of multiple babies is American TV personality Nadya Suleman. She shot to fame in 2009 when she gave birth to octuplets through in-vitro fertilization treatments.
After the birth of her 8 babies, Nadya was bombarded with negative press - as it turned out, the then unemployed mom already had 6 children at home.
Nayda started IVF treatment in 1997 at 21 but gave birth for the first time in 2001. The six boys and two girls were delivered in just five minutes by Caesarean section.
While Nadya once said she'd always dreamed of having a big family, however debatable as to whether she's deserving of one. In an interview for In Touch Weekly she said 'I hate babies, they disgust me... Obviously, I love them—but I absolutely wish I had not had them.'
Last I heard, she was shooting a porno movie called Alone At Home.
3 This Mom Managed To Overcome Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Doctors told Katalina Martin, that, despite the fact she'd had a previous successful pregnancy, due to her diagnosis with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), this might not be the case again. Despite the prognosis, Katalina went on to prove the doctors wrong by becoming pregnant with 4 babies.
When she first saw her four little ones on screen, the 28 year old mom couldn't believe it. 'I just burst into tears. I didn't take it in at first.'
Katalina gave birth to Amelia, Sofia, Aston, and Roman. But she had another surprise in store for the doctors when they discovered the quadruplets were non-identical. They'd actually come from four separate eggs. The odds of this happening is around 1 in 700,000.
Despite Katalina being just 27 weeks into her pregnancy when she went into labour and each baby weighing around only two or three pounds, they're now perfectly healthy little kids.
2 The Extraordinary Mono Mono Twins
Sarah Thistlethwaite spent 57 days in bed before giving birth by Caesarean section to her two daughters Jenna and Jillian in Ohio, USA.
What makes the birth and survival of the little girls extraordinary is the dangers associated with monoamnioitic, or 'mono mono,' a birth defect where both twins share an amniotic sac and placenta. The risks associated include birth defects and tangled umbilical cords.
'Mono mono' normally happens in 1 in 10,000 pregnancies with Monoamniotic twins being the rarest type of twins.
The girls were born just after the 33rd week of pregnancy. Jenna came first weighing just over four pounds, followed 48 seconds later by Jillian, weighing slightly over 3 pounds. The little girls became an almost immediate internet sensation after a photo of the two holding hands was released.
The girls had to spend nearly a month in intensive care before they were allowed to go home.
1 Sextuplets Born In One Minute
When Jennifer and Keith Hanselman from Ohio, USA welcomed their 6 babies into the world it took just one minute for all 6 to make an appearance. At 28 1/2 weeks - 3 months premature - both parents were concerned for their children's future.
The smallest baby, Sophia, weighed just 1 lb. 9oz. The 'biggest' baby Isabella, weighed 2lb 10oz. The little ones spent several weeks in neonatal intensive care before being allowed to go home. But the family were not on their own with their mammoth responsibility. A total of 70 volunteers rallied round and provided help with laundry, bottle feeding and story reading.
Jennifer, who had been a copywriter before having kids, wrote a book about her experiences as a stay at home mom to 7 children (the couple already had one child - Connor) titled Party of Nine: The Triumphs and Traumas of Raising Sextuplets + One.