Strange (but true!) multiple-birth stories

Some were treated like freaks, some have different dads ― these stories of multiple babies will surely surprise you!

Twins, triplets, quadruplets…even septuplets ― the list keeps growing when it comes mothers giving birth to multiple babies at the same time.

In 2009, Nadya Suleman, or “Octomom” as she is commonly known, delivered six boys and two girls in California, USA. Her babies, who were conceived with the help of in vitro fertilisation, were born nine weeks premature.

Indeed, advancements in technology and fertility treatment options have increased the incidence of multiple pregnancies, while improvements in neonatal care have raised the babies’ survival odds.

Over the years, jaw-dropping multiple births have been taking place all over the world. We round up some of the most fascinating stories.

1. Twins born in different years

In October 1994, New Orleans mum Simone Keys went into early labour and gave birth to a premature son, Timothy, who weighed 850g. What’s amazing is that Timothy has a twin sister Celeste, who was able to stay in her mother’s womb for another three months and was born full-term in January 1995. Born 95 days apart ― and in different years ― the pair holds the world record for the longest interval between the delivery of twin babies.

Valentina Vassilyeva of Russia had a total of 69 children… 16 sets of twins, seven sets of triplets and four sets of quadruplets.

2. First five

The first-ever set of quintuplets to survive infancy was born in Ontario, Canada, in 1934. The five girls, Emilie, Annette, Marie, Cecile and Yvonne, spent the first nine years of their lives in “Quintland”, a hospital located directly opposite the street from their parents’ farmhouse. Unfortunately, the Dionne quintuplets were quite the media sensation back then, and tourists and passersby lined up for hours to gawk at them. There was even a spot outside the hospital, where a pile of rocks lay, that was dubbed “fertility stones”. Infertile mums flocked here, hoping that being in close proximity to them would increase their chances of conceiving.

3. And then there were nine

While record for the largest number of surviving babies in a single birth go to Octomum Nadya Suleman, there have been two known cases of nonuplets, though the babies didn’t survive past infancy. The first set was born in 1971 in Sydney, Australia ― two babies were stillborn and the last surviving baby died six days after being born. Closer to home, nine babies were born to a couple in Malaysia in 1999, but sadly, none of them survived more than six hours.

4. More, and more!

If raising one set of twins is hard, and caring for two sets of twins poses an even greater challenge, well, Valentina Vassilyeva of Russia had a total of 69 children. This bounty included 16 sets of twins, seven sets of triplets and four sets of quadruplets. The incredible thing is that she was a peasant in the 1700s, and only lost two babies in infancy during a time where the infant mortality rate was extremely high.

What’s in the diet of a country that boasts twin-birth rates four times higher than the rest of the world?