Laura and Brad Partridge are proud parents to newborn triplets—trouble is, they can't tell their baby girls apart.
The triplets, born at 34 weeks on March 19, were a surprise to the St. Louis, Missouri based couple, who were already parents to 19-month old Stella and three-year-old Stephen. "We were open to having a third kid but weren't exactly planning it," Laura Partridge, 34, told Shine. "We were thrilled when the home pregnancy test was positive and then I scheduled an eight-week follow-up with my doctor. During the ultrasound she said, 'There's a heartbeat…oh, there's another one…and another one!' But I don't remember her telling me about the third heartbeat. I was in such shock."
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A woman carrying twins has what's typically considered a high-risk pregnancy given the odds of her developing conditions such as preeclampsia (high blood pressure and protein in the urine), gestational diabetes, and pre-term labor. And because the twins shared the placenta (making them identical), there was added risk for "twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome" (a potentially fatal condition that occurs when there's a disproportionate blood supply in the uterus) to occur. Thankfully, Laura's pregnancy was a healthy, albeit exhausting one, but she did go into labor seven weeks before her May 10th due date. After undergoing a C-section, she gave birth to three girls at three pounds each: Sonja, Sylvia, and Scarlett. The babies will remain at Mercy Children's Hospital for the next month or so until their body temperature regulates and they gain enough weight to be considered healthy.
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In the meantime, without name signs on their bassinets, Laura and Brad can't tell them apart. "They look so much alike but there are slight differences," says Laura. "Scarlett's face is thinner than the others and she's more petite with a wrinkle in her forehead. And one of Sylvia's ears is a little smushed because her cartilage is still growing. But when they're all wearing hats and bundled up? Forget it."
So Laura and Brad have devised a color-coordinated system in order to recognize their daughters. Sonja is always dressed in yellow, Sylvia lavender, and Scarlett in either red or pink. "We buy them blankets, sheets, and hats in their respective colors. And a friend gave us bottles of nail polish in each girl's color so we paint their toenails. That way, we can tell at glance who is who, especially if it's late at night."
Hopefully, says Laura, as the triplets get older they'll develop their own physical traits and personality differences. "And I'm hoping they don't try to prank people by switching places. Parents of multiples have told me stories," she says. For now, she's just grateful for the color code, provided no one dresses the babies in the wrong color during a late night feeding or after a bath.
The couple introduced Stella and Stephen only once to their new siblings on Easter due to hospital rules that don't allow children that young inside the intensive care unit. "Stephen was intimidated when he saw the girls but he's more comfortable now," says Laura. "Every day he asks if he can see the babies so I video call him when I'm at the hospital."
According to The Daily Mail, the odds of having identical triplets is unknown, but some estimates range from one in 60,000 births to one in 200 million.
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