Identical triplets born to USAFE family

by Sheri Byrd
435th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

1/18/2006 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (USAFENS) -- The first-ever set of identical triplets to be born at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center has their parents changing 25 diapers per day.

The girls – Aspen, Trinity and Payton – were born naturally Nov. 16 between 12:22 and 12:32 p.m. to mother Jody Cooper, and father Staff Sgt. Kevin Cooper, 435th Security Forces Squadron instructor.

“Identical triplets are extremely rare,” said Maj. M. Bardett Fausett, neonatologist and multiples specialist who cared for Mrs. Cooper. “Only one in approximately 100,000 births will have identical triplets. I won’t personally see another case in my lifetime.”

The Coopers were already the parents of three boys: David 11, Brock, 8, and Heath, 4.

“This was our attempt for a girl,” Mrs. Cooper said. “The boys are good helpers.”

The family discovered that they were expecting triplets during an ultrasound examination in the 10th week of Mrs. Cooper’s pregnancy.

Although they were born in November, the triplets remained in the hospital for more than three weeks due to developmental problems typical for premature babies, Major Fausett said. Trinity and Aspen were just over 4 pounds each at birth, and Payton was only 3.1 pounds.

Mrs. Cooper beat the average triplet delivery time of 32 to 34 weeks gestation, delivering at just past 35 weeks. The girls wear yellow, purple and pink colored bracelets to help identify them.

“We’ve been busy, but it’s been fun,” Sergeant Cooper said. “We take naps.”

The arrival of three newborns into one family has not slowed down the active Cooper family. Sergeant Cooper coaches two of his sons in youth basketball, two nights per week.

“We’re not stay-at-home people,” Mrs. Cooper said. “We just load up the van and go.”

The Coopers credit their church and the LRMC multiples support group for lending a great deal of help. The church members have donated cases of diapers to the family.

Mrs. Cooper’s parents came from the states to help for one week when the babies first came home from the hospital, Dec. 8. Neither they, nor Kevin’s family, have a history of twins or other multiples.

“Multiple births are becoming more common, due to fertility medications,” said Major Fausett, “A mother taking fertility medications has a one in 100 chance of triplets. However, those would not be identical – all from the same egg – they would be fraternal – from separate eggs.”