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Triplets to celebrate first birthday on Sanibel

By Staff | Feb 3, 2015

Identical triplets Ava, Avery and Alyssa Rhoa. PHOTO PROVIDED

A rare set of identical triplets visits Sanibel this week. The girls, Ava, Avery and Alyssa Rhoa, celebrate their first birthday with their family, friends and fans, said Linda Layton, the girls’ grandmother expecting a few dozen well-wishers at the Feb. 5 birthday party.

“Everyone is excited,” said Layton, who’s son Wesley is the father. His wife, Allison, delivered the healthy girls prematurely in Pennsylvania on Feb. 5, 2014. Each girl at 4 pounds or less arrived bounding into the world, Layton said. There were no complications.

To suggest the last eighteen months have been interesting is an understatement, Layton said. First came the news of multiple heartbeats, astronomical in odds for natural conception.

“Worried but excited,” as Layton described the impact of the news. “I was told I had better sit down.”

The couple had no other children, no history of multiple births on either side. In anticipation of the arrival, family donated more than a thousand diapers, equipment like carriers and strollers. It was like outfitting an army squad for field maneuvers. Some 20 medical workers assisted in the delivery, three doctors for each girl.

Holiday family portrait. PHOTO PROVIDED

Surviving the first weeks after birth was a struggle with timing and baby demands, Layton said, but the girls and their parents have endured and, in fact, are remarkably settled. Layton credits both parents, but said Allison’s time in the US Air Force likely helped in managing an instant Brady Bunch. At early wake ups/feedings, for instance, the parents would rouse the others, feed and change one of the 40 diapers used each day, rock the girls in triplicate back to sleep, ensuring a scheduling harmony.

Layton said the shock of learning of triplets has subsided, but only slightly. Her son works in food service and owns rental property. The girls’ mother had stayed home to raise the kids, to keep costs down. Friends, family and volunteers assist in some chores, but the girls’ happy disposition makes things easier, Layton said. Both parents also manage a Facebook page to share the girls’ growth in the last year (Rhoa Identical Triplets).

The humor, of course, is that the girls look pretty much the same. Wes Rhoa to identify his daughters paints purple, pink and green polish on their toes. Colored ear rings will help when the children are older.

The real challenge comes in the next decade, when friends and teen years arrive. Layton envisions the girls, all pretty much the same, swapping one another for, say, placing blame for spilled milk.

Layton said her son and Allison already have a good-natured strategy to cover the contingencies of a teen mind.

“They’re going to tell the girls they’ll all be punished equally” until the culprit is discovered, she said.