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Woman has triplets, born six weeks apart

When Joanne March's first child is asked whether he or his brother or sister is the oldest of triplets, he'll be able to claim the title.

Not by a few minutes, or even an hour.

He's the oldest by six weeks.

March gave birth to a baby boy April 30. The child was premature, and weighed just 2 pounds 1 ounce.

So doctors decided to delay delivery of the other two infants. Monday, March gave birth to another boy (4 pounds 1 ounce) and a girl (4 pounds 13 ounces).

A spokesman for Grace Hospital in Vancouver said it is only the third time that triplets have survived a birth so widely spaced and only the second time all have been delivered without a Caesarean section.

The hospital, which specializes in high-risk births and where more than 7,200 babies are born annually, said the 44-day delay between the first infant's birth and that of his siblings exceeds a previous U.S. record by 11 days.

March, a 29-year-old dental hygienist, knew she was going to have triplets. And her doctor expected them to be premature. So she was admitted to the hospital five weeks before the birth of the first triplet, with strict orders to do nothing but stay in bed and rest.

Hospital spokesman Ted Haugen said after the birth of the first baby, March was given antibiotics and medication to stop dilation of the cervix.

"All of this textbook treatment was used in the one case and it turned out well," Haugen said. "They're all in incubators. They were all premature babies. The two that were born Monday are just fine. The first baby is having some difficulty with lung development. But he's doing very well."

Haugen said the mother's relaxed attitude was key to her making medical history.

He said the two recent arrivals will be released from the hospital next week. The first baby, now weighing 3 pounds 8 ounces, will remain "for a while," Haugen said.

March and her husband, an optometrist, live in Kelowna, a lakeside resort town of 75,000 people more than 200 miles east of Vancouver.

The proud parents were overjoyed. "To have one healthy baby is a miracle in itself, but to have three healthy babies . . . there aren't words to describe it," they said in a statement.

The couple had no previous children but twins had been recorded on both sides of the family, the hospital said.