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Rare identical triplets bring 3 times the challenges

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Three cribs have been assembled and are ready to use in the Franklin home of Amanda and Chad Doss.

Onesies and other baby clothes have been purchased in triplicate. The Dosses’ two cars have been traded in for a van suitable for three car seats. A mountain of disposable diapers have been stacked and stored.

“Even that’s not going to be nearly enough,” Chad Doss said.

Three months ago, the family was anticipating the arrival of their first child together. Now, they have welcomed three infant girls into the family.

Amanda Doss, 27, gave birth to identical triplets on Dec. 30. Avery, Bentley and Cassidy Doss are all healthy and doing well in the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Vincent Women’s Hospital in Indianapolis.

It may still be another two months before the babies can come home. But the Dosses are ready for them when they do arrive.

“It’s been strange. We realize that we have triplets, but it’s a whole different matter when you can see the three beds and three babies all together. When they’re all three here at home together, it will really hit us,” said Chad Doss, 31.


Avery Doss

Born: 1:05 p.m. Dec. 30

Birth weight: 3 pounds, 15 ounces

Cassidy Doss

Born: 1:06 p.m. Dec. 30

Birth weight: 3 pounds, 11 ounces

Bentley Doss

Born: 1:07 p.m. Dec. 30

Birth weight: 4 pounds, 3 ounces

Home: Franklin

Parents: Amanda Doss, 27, and Chad Doss, 31

Siblings: Hal brother Caleb, 12, and half sister Kaitlin, 9

The arrival of a new baby is always cause for celebration among family and friends. In the case of the Doss triplets, that spirit has extended across the country.

Identical triplets born naturally are incredibly rare, with odds as much as 1-in-100 million, according to Dr. James Sumners, Amanda Doss’ doctor at the St. Vincent Women’s Hospital.

Sumners told the family that in his 43-year career he has delivered more than 200 sets of triplets but has seen identical triplets only two other times.

That has made the family become minor celebrities, featured in news stories from New York to California and all the way to England.

They’ve been saving the papers and asking people to record news shows throughout the country. The hope is that when the triplets are older, they can see the stir that they caused.

“I think it’s going to be a really fun experience for the girls to have when they’re old enough to understand,” Amanda Doss said.

Until October, the Dosses had no idea they were having triplets. They had been preparing for one new child, their first together.

The couple had joked that they might be having twins, since multiples run in her family. Amanda Doss also noted that she was gaining more weight than she thought she would.

They had prepared themselves for the possibility of twins. But during her routine ultrasound on Oct. 2, the technician pointed out that she was instead carrying triplets.

“We were in total shock, basically,” Amanda Doss said. “It didn’t even seem real. To find out we were having three, it was unreal.”

Amanda Doss’ obstetrician, Dr. Emily Cline, referred her to the Center for Prenatal Diagnosis at St. Vincent Health, which specializes in high-risk and multiple births.

At an appointment the next week, they learned that their triplets were identical. That means the three babies came from the same fertilized egg, splitting into three separate embryos shortly after conception.

The good news brought with it a rush of panic. The Dosses lived in a three-bedroom house in Franklin with Chad Doss’ children from a previous marriage, Caleb, 12, and Kaitlin, 9.

They already were struggling to figure out how to rearrange the household with one child on the way. Both Amanda and Chad Doss had cars that would fit up to five people, but not the seven that their family was about to grow to.

“We kind of freaked out for a while,” Amanda Doss said. “We started planning what we could — getting rid of our cars, trying to find a van that would hold three car seats.”

Kaitlin and Caleb have been adjusting as well. Caleb was preparing for being the only boy against four little sisters.

Meanwhile, Kaitlin was eagerly counting down until she had three new girls to play with.

“I only expected one sister,” Kaitlin said. “It’s been really cool, though.”

The closer that Amanda Doss came to her due date, the more preparations had to be made. Starting in November, she was put on home bed rest. Then at the start of December, she was admitted to the hospital.

Amanda Doss had gone to her regular checkup. Everything appeared to be normal, but nurses found that her cervix was dilated. They admitted her to St. Vincent Women’s Hospital, assuming that the triplets would be born quickly.

But they weren’t. Over the next three weeks, the Dosses stayed in pregnancy limbo. They knew that Amanda Doss could go into labor any minute, so they didn’t risk leaving.

“Every day was just waiting. It was three weeks of no progress,” she said.

By the end of December, Amanda Doss started feeling weak and ill. Doctors watched her, but nothing developed until Dec. 30.

It was around noon when Chad Doss stepped out of her hospital room to grab lunch. Before he was even at the other end of the hallway, Amanda Doss’ water broke.

Nurses quickly attended to her and rushed her to get ready for delivery. The triplets were born between 1:05 and 1:07 p.m.

“I was glad that it went fast, since I had been freaked out throughout the whole pregnancy. That was a relief,” Amanda Doss said.

All three babies were born healthy. Cassidy weighed in at 3 pounds, 11 ounces; Avery weighed 3 pounds, 15 ounces; and Bentley weighed 4 pounds, 3 ounces.

Since the triplets were born prematurely at 31½ weeks, doctors told the Dosses to expect them to remain in the hospital until the end of February, near their original due date, Chad Doss said.

Until then, the parents have to drive to St. Vincent Women’s Hospital to see their new babies.

The triplets are breathing on their own and don’t require ventilators. They’re able to wear their own clothing and don’t need incubators to control their body temperature.

They are being fed through feeding tubes in their nose, but that’s common for premature births, Chad Doss said.

“But they’re thinking by the end of the week they might be able to take a bottle,” he said.

The couple have to ask permission from the neonatal staff to hold the babies and haven’t been able to bond like they expected. But there have been moments.

The babies are responding to their voices and have started to reach out to grab Chad and Amanda Doss’ fingers with their tiny hands.

“It’s different. You’re visiting your babies. You don’t have them 24-7 yet,” Amanda Doss said. “But it doesn’t take away from the feelings you have for them.”

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