Triplets Hunter, Jackson and Kaden all had surgery before they turned three months.
For first-time parents Mike and Amy Howard, the first shock was that they were expecting triplets.
The couple, from New York, hadn’t been having fertility treatment. When Amy went in for an ultrasound during her pregnancy, the technician discovered a second fetus, then a third.
Amy says she cried hysterically.
“I was terrified,” she told Today. “It took me a little bit of time to get used to the idea, to be honest.”
Hunter, Jackson and Kaden were born last October. Hunter and Jackson are identical, and Kaden is fraternal. It was just days after the birth that doctors noticed something unusual about the triplets’ skulls. Jackson and Hunter had a big bump at the back of theirs, while Kaden’s head was a triangular shape.
The Howards were told their sons all had craniosynostosis, a rare condition that can limit brain growth, affect vision and cause seizures. Hunter and Jackson had sagittal synotosis, while Kaden had an even rarer form, metopic synostosis.
“In plain English, it just means the skull fused early,” paediatric neurosurgeon Dr David Chesler of Stony Brook Children’s hospital explained to Newsday.
Dr Chesler and a colleague checked, and could find no other record of triplets all having this rare condition. They calculated the odds of it at one in 160 trillion.
All three babies would need surgery. Not surprisingly, the Howards were nervous about it.
“It was a little bit scary thinking about having your eight- or nine-week-old babies having their heads cut open,” Amy says.
In early January, Dr Chesler performed endoscopic surgery on the triplets. Each operation took just 90 minutes. Two days later, they were home.
To help mould their skulls into a normal shape, the triplets were given helmets which they would have to wear 23 hours a day for the next six to nine months.
Amy says it took the boys a bit of time to adjust to the helmets.
“But they don’t give me any problems taking them off or putting them back on at all,” she adds.
She says their head shapes are back to normal, and they’re developing just like other babies their age.
Mike, a plumber/mechanic, is currently working double shifts to support the family of five. “It’s awesome – and very scary.”
Feature image: Amy Howard and Stony Brook Children’s