Ten days after joining the relatively exclusive club of parents to welcome a set of identical quadruplets — four babies conceived without any help from fertility drugs — Karen and J.P. Jepp are looking forward to bringing their daughters home and embarking on what they know will be a thrill that will last a lifetime.
“We have an opportunity for a really unique family life, and we’re looking forward to it,” proud father J.P. told TODAY’s Ann Curry in a live interview Wednesday. “As any parent can tell you, bringing a new child into the world is an amazing event. It changes you from the moment they arrive. We’ve got four new arrivals, four little girls, and we’re just over the moon.”
Although multiple births of fraternal twins have become more common with the use of fertility drugs, medical record keepers say there are fewer than 50 sets of identical quadruplets — quads conceived from a single fertilized egg — in the world.
The odds of such births happening are one in 13 million. The last such set was born in April 2006 in India.
“No fertility drugs were involved,” Karen confirmed. “I initially thought I was carrying twins. A week or two later, they did another ultrasound and found out they were quads. So I knew for months that I was carrying quads.”
The couple lives in Calgary, Alberta, in Canada, but because their local hospitals were booked to capacity, they traveled more than 300 miles to Benefits Healthcare Hospital in Great Falls, Mont., for the births. Ten days ago, Karen delivered the girls by Caesarean section, about two months prematurely. They weighed between 2.15 and 2.6 pounds, and all are doing well and are not on ventilators. The infants will soon be transferred to a Calgary hospital where they will remain for another month to six weeks.
“All four had tiny, little medical hiccups relating to their premature age, but their health is surpassing all our hopes,” J.P. reported.
When doctors were monitoring the babies’ development in utero, they referred to the fetuses as infants A, B, C and D. When it came time to pick names for the newborns, the parents decided to stay with those initials. Hence the names Autumn, Brooke, Calissa and Dahlia.
Girls to join their big brother
Until recently, both J.P. and Karen worked for nonprofit companies; J.P. now works for Shell Oil. They have a 2-year-old, Simon, at home.
“He’s blissfully unaware of what’s about to come home,” Karen said. “He’s a pretty active, friendly little guy. I think he’ll do fine.”
Among the changes the family anticipates is a new home — the two-bedroom house in which they now live isn’t going to be big enough for five children. There is also a van in the near future.
Karen said she doesn’t feel special. “I just feel like a mom,” she said. “I want them to be healthy and happy, as any mom would want.”
J.P.’s mother has a fraternal twin, but neither new parent has a family history of identical twins.
“This is just an amazingly rare event that happened to us,” J.P. told Curry. “You sort of think you have an idea of where your life is going and then something like this happens. We’re thrilled about it.”