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Phoenix couple gives birth to rare identical triplets

PHOENIX — Sometimes good things come as a surprise.  One Phoenix couple has had something rare happen that has made an incredible change to their lives.

Travis Bird is a police detective.  His wife, Melissa Parham Bird, is an attorney.  They wanted their family to grow.

“We were trying to get pregnant,” said Melissa.  “We have a daughter (two-year-old Valerie), so we wanted to have a girl and a boy, like everyone seems to want.”

They were not using fertility drugs, but after Melissa found out that she was pregnant, she was treated for strep throat.  Her doctor performed an ultrasound to make sure the “baby” was okay.

“Pretty quickly she said, ‘Do you see what I see?’ I blurted out something like, ‘Don’t say it’s twins.  I can’t handle that.’  She said, ‘Nooooo…I see triplets here!,” said Melissa.

And not just any kind of triplets.  They are identical triplets.  “Melissa had a unique pregnancy,” Travis said.  “There’s one placenta with three sacs,” said Travis.  “Always identical,” Melissa added.

That’s like hitting the lottery.  According to Wikipedia, the estimated odds of giving birth to identical triplets range from 1 in 60,000 to as high as 1 in 2,000,000 pregnancies.  And there are risks.

“There’s risk of something called twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.  There’s not a name for it for triplets since identical triplets are so rare,” said Melissa.

But the three boys, Charlie, Joseph and Michael, were all healthy and weighed four pounds each when they were born two months early on May 13.  Ironically, that is Travis’ birthday, so the triplets will share the same birthday as their dad.   After spending two months in the hospital, Melissa says the triplets are now home and doing fine.

Travis and Melissa have developed a method of telling them apart.  “We paint a toenail and a fingernail on each baby a different color,” Melissa said.  “Charlie is blue, Joseph is green, and Michael is red.”

All three were named after another family member.  “Charlie’s named after my dad, Joseph’s named after my stepdad, and Michael’s named after Melissa’s dad,” Travis said.

Travis and Melissa have had to organize a system to keep track of feeding and other things.  They showed us a pantry stocked with formula.  There are three cribs with two diaper changing stations in one bedroom.  And they have a chart to keep track of diaper changes.

“(On the chart) Every ‘W’ is a ‘wet’ and ‘B’ is a ‘bowel movement,” said Travis.  He then started to count how many each baby had for that day.  He laughed as he counted, “One, two, three, four, five so far for this guy, five for that guy, and four for that guy, and we still have several hours to go.  And this is just one day!”

Travis is handling the diaper changing as Melissa is feeding the babies.  Both parents are also making sure that Valerie gets the attention that she needs.

Travis recently returned to work, and Melissa will be heading back soon.  They need help, so they’ve hired a nanny that they found through a group called Paradise Valley Mothers of Multiples.   Both Travis and Melissa feel very blessed with the new members of their family.

“It’s been an incredible, amazing, stressful, yet wonderful experience,” Travis said.  “As long as they’re healthy, we can deal with anything else.  We can deal with being sleepy, we can deal with the added cost, we can deal with the stress of screaming at two in the morning.  As long as they’re healthy… And they ARE healthy…I think we feel really lucky.”

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