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There's a 1 in 4.7 billion chance of giving birth to sextuplets. It happened to Thelma Chiaka.

It took just nine minutes for Thelma Chiaka to add six new members to her family. Last Friday, just before 5am, she gave birth to sextuplets at the Woman’s Hospital of Texas.

The sextuplets have been described as two sets of boy twins and one set of girl twins, implying three fertilised eggs each splitting to become identical twins.

So far, Chiaka has only announced the names of the girls, Zina and Zuriel.

The hospital has announced that the odds of giving birth to sextuplets are one in 4.7 billion. Those are the odds without fertility treatment.


The babies’ birth weights varied from just under 800g to 1.3kg, and they’re in stable condition in intensive care.

So what’s it like being in a family with sextuplets? Here are some of the most famous.

The Rosenkowitzes

The world’s first surviving sextuplets were born to Susan Wilson and Colin Rosenkowitz in South Africa on January 11, 1974. In a Sunday Times article celebrating the children’s 30th birthday, Colin explained that his wife had been on fertility treatment to regulate her periods, and they hadn’t been expecting multiple births. The couple already had two children.

“When we heard the news, my wife fainted and I got a runny stomach,” Colin said. “When we told our maid, she ran away.”

The children were named David, Grant, Jason, Emma, Nicolette and Elizabeth. They were celebrities growing up in South Africa, but as they reached adulthood, most moved overseas. Grant said he really enjoyed the publicity that came with being a sextuplet.

“Sometimes it got a bit much to be constantly seen as one of the six, but I wouldn’t change anything that happened. Everyone likes attention.”

The Waltons

Janet and Graham Walton from Liverpool in the UK had been trying for five years to start a family. Fertility treatment didn’t seem to be helping, and they’d just been approved as adoptive parents when Janet found out she was pregnant – with six. On November 18, 1983, Janet gave birth to Hannah, Luci, Ruth, Sarah, Kate and Jennifer.

Graham took a year off from his job as a painter and decorator to help Janet look after the babies. Later, he converted the couple’s home so that each girl could have her own bedroom.

“But they were in and out of each other’s room most of the time,” he told The Mirror in 2014.

“They’d swap clothes, swap beds, swap everything… even swap boyfriends later on. I’m only kidding.”

To celebrate their 30th birthday, the sextuplets all got matching heart tattoos.

“It’s always been about the six hearts and they represent each one of us,” Jennie said. “They are all interlined like us.”

The Dilleys

Becki and Keith Dilley met when they were both working at a Wendy’s restaurant in Indiana. After five years of trying to fall pregnant, they turned to fertility drugs. To their shock, an ultrasound showed they were expecting quintuplets. Or, at least, that’s what they thought.

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On May 25, 1993, Dr Lynda Smirz delivered five babies by caesarean. But after they had been delivered, Dr Smirz, reaching for the placenta, put her hand on a foot.

“I think we have a sixth baby,” she announced.

“Is there a seventh?” Keith asked, in a daze.

There wasn’t. Brenna, Julian, Quinn, Claire, Ian and Adrian were the US’s first surviving sextuplets.

A few months after the birth, Becki, by then a nurse, went back to work and Keith stayed home to look after the babies. That involved 42 bottles a day and three loads of laundry.

“What’s not to like?” he told People magazine. “I’ll get to watch them grow. I’ll hear them say their first words – which will probably be ‘Mummy’.”

The Gosselins

Probably the most famous parents of sextuplets this century, Kate and Jon Gosselin had their six babies on May 10, 2004, in Pennsylvania. Kate, a nurse, had been on fertility treatment due to polycystic ovary syndrome. She had already given birth to twin girls, Cara and Madelyn. Alexis, Hannah, Aaden, Collin, Leah and Joel made her and Jon parents of eight.

The family went on to feature in a string of reality shows – most famously, Jon and Kate Plus 8. Last month Kate, who split from Jon in 2009, claimed being on TV had been good for her kids.

 

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“Based on my kids and how well-adjusted and intelligent [they are] and how well they’re doing in school and overall in life, I feel like, more than anything, it has enriched their lives,” she said on a press tour for her latest show Kate Plus Date last month. “It has made them world-wise and taught them a lot about people’s intentions… more so than other kids their age.”

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The Waldrops

Alabama couple Courtney and Eric Waldrop wanted a big family. But when Courtney, already mum to Saylor and twins Wales and Bridge, found out she was pregnant with six, thanks to fertility treatment, she was “scared to death”.

“I’m a smaller-framed girl, and my first thoughts were on how I was going to successfully get six kids here without something happening to them or me,” she told People.

Doctors told the couple they could reduce the number of foetuses through “selective reduction”, but the couple chose not to.

“We are strong in our faith, but you never know how you’re going to feel when you’re actually in those shoes,” Courtney said.

 

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The three boys and three girls were born via caesarean on December 11, 2017. They were named Rivers, Rayne, Rawlings, Blu, Tag and Layke.

“My body is in complete shock after growing six babies,” Courtney posted on Facebook two days after the birth. “They’re oh so very little but absolutely perfect! May take a few more days for me to recover. But it was all worth it.”

The Waldrops feature in the series Sweet Home Sextuplets.

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