Meet Cian, Declan and Rowan from Norwood, New York, USA, children to Kaylie and Brandon DeShane.
As triplets, many would assume they share the same birthday. However, these unique siblings were not only born on different days, but were born in different decades.
Cian was delivered via an emergency procedure at 10:40 am on 28 December 2019 at just 22 weeks 6 days.
But Cian's sister Rowan, and his identical twin brother, Declan, were delivered a staggering 5 days 12 hours 34 minutes later, at 23:11 and 23:14 respectively, on 2 January 2020, breaking the record for the longest interval between births of triplets.
But this challenging labour was just the start of the uphill battle that saw these fragile, premature babies fighting for their lives.
Kaylie and Brandon had been trying to fall pregnant for over four years, and after several rounds of IVF, it finally happened.
But little did this couple know that they would go on to face an agonizing ordeal of surgeries, infections, hospital stays and heartache, that would eventually result in three healthy, record-breaking babies.
It was at Kaylie’s six-week scan that she was told she carrying not just one baby, but also a set of identical twins simultaneously. The chances of the couple having triplets was just 1.7%.
"I started crying," Kaylie said, "because the [IVF] clinic had told us that we couldn’t carry three."
"It actually wasn’t exciting at first, not because we didn’t want three babies, but because they wanted us to terminate the identical twins. They said that gave us the best chance of a healthy pregnancy and we said no, we're keeping them."
Despite the difficult start, and questions surrounding the future health of the babies, Kaylie had quite an easy pregnancy for the first few months.
"I didn't have any symptoms, I never got sick - I actually felt great. I loved being pregnant because I wanted to be pregnant so badly."
But at their sixteen-week scan, the couple were told that something was wrong with Kaylie’s cervix, and that it was shortening and funnelling. This meant the cervix was more prone to dilation and could lead to early delivery, reducing the protection of both the foetus' and the mother.
"They basically said; 'You can miscarry them on your own, because that's probably what’s going to happen, or you can get a cerclage, which is stitching of the cervix, to sew it shut'."
Kaylie opted for the surgery, which went well.
"I was frightened from the day they said there were three in there," said Brandon.
"When they told us three expecting I knew things weren’t going to go as smoothly as everybody thought they were going to go."
Six weeks later, at just 22 weeks 5 days, Kaylie’s waters broke.
"At the time, I looked at my husband and I said 'We're screwed. I just killed our babies.' I felt like my body had failed, it was really scary."
Kaylie was rushed to hospital and all systems were go to try and save the babies.
"She [the nurse] went to do a check and then sat down next to me and said 'this is about to move very quickly'."
The medical team were unable to get a heart rate on Cian, but knew he was already in the birth canal, so Kaylie was rushed to the OR to try and get him out as quickly as possible.
He was delivered at just 22 weeks 6 days and his heart rate was only 30 beats per minute - usually for a newborn it is between 70 to 190.
"They asked us again, 'Do you want us to resuscitate him if we need to? What are we allowed to do?'. And we said 'Everything. Everything you can do, do all of it.'"
"It’s a little known fact that a lot of hospitals in the United States will not even attempt to save a 22 weeker."
At the time, Cian weighed a little over a pound and was given just a 9% chance of survival.
After already suffering physical and emotional exhaustion, and with Cian’s life hanging in the balance, Kaylie had to spend a further 5 and a half days in labour.
"I had contractions on and off. My epidurals kept failing. I wasn’t allowed to get out of bed so I had to have a catheter. Five and a half days later, I got an infection."
The infection caused Kaylie’s temperature to spike, so the decision was made to deliver Rowan and Declan immediately. Kaylie and Brandon were told that the chances of all three babies surviving was almost nonexistent.
They were delivered at 23 weeks and joined Cian in the NICU [neonatal intensive care unit]. The micro preemies faced months in hospital and various medical complications.
"Their skin is like paper when they are born that soon. They're bright red, it's awful to see. They don’t look like babies."
"There were many medical needs. They were intubated for quite a while. Lots of scares. They got NEC [necrotising enterocolitis], it’s a very deadly NICU disease. Cian had it once and Rowan had it twice. Cian also had pneumonia."
Brandon described himself as being "on autopilot" during those early days in hospital.
"I was just there for her. I didn’t even have a chance to think of what I needed or what was going on with me. It was just focus on Kaylie, focus on the babies."
Kaylie's parental leave ended before the babies had even left hospital. Brandon went to Vermont, where the babies were, to be close to them, and Kaylie joined him on the weekends.
After four months of unimaginable distress and heartache, Kaylie and Brandon finally had all their babies home. Cian was the last to be discharged, after spending a total of 122 days in the hospital.
There they were introduced to the rest of their family; adopted older brother Holden and stepsister Naveah.
Once the babies had settled in at home, Kaylie started to wonder if the triplets’ unique birth story could be record-breaking.
After some research, she applied for the Guinness World Records title of longest interval between births of triplets. Once all the relevant evidence and documents had been gathered and reviewed, the record was confirmed on 13 January 2021.
The record hadn't been broken for over 60 years and was last broken in 1956, by Christine, Catherine and Calvin, who were born 66 hours and 50 minutes apart. Children of Louise and Robert Jamison of South Carolina, United States, Christine was born at 3.05 am on 2 January, Catherine was born at 10 am on 3 January and Calvin was born at 9.55 pm on 4 January.
"I think it’s amazing that they got the record," said Brandon.
"Most of it comes from Kaylie. She's an amazing woman. For her to go through that for five whole days is stronger than anything I've seen in my life."
"I'm proud of them. They fought and survived. They have scars all over from all the needles and they are the warriors, not me. I wanted a record for them. I wanted them to know later what they went through." – Kaylie
The triplets have defied the odds stacked against them and are now happy, healthy, and somewhat boisterous, two-year-olds.
"I think they love having a big brother and sister. Especially Rowan!" said sister Naveah.
"I’m proud of my dad, I’m proud of the triplets, I’m proud of Kaylie. I love them all so much."
"They need lots of attention," Holden said of his rowdy younger siblings, "and they like having an older brother because I always get them laughing."
"They’re your typical two-year olds. They’re climbing furniture, they’re jumping off things, they eat on their own – they what to eat all the time! Just running around, being happy." - Brandon
Good luck to the DeShane family as these record-breaking triplets enter their terrible twos!