Statistically, chances are one in a million that a mother will give birth to genetically identical triplets. This makes Brook Selley’s story all the more amazing.
When Brooke was living in in London, she found out she was having triplets and decided that she wanted to have her girls in the United States. She gave birth to identical triplets on October 8, 2013 at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. They were born 12 weeks early, and they were not able to leave the Intensive Care Unit for months.
All three of the girls had extremely low birth rates: Madeline was 1 pound 10 ounces, Riley was 2 pounds 9 ounces, and Ellie was 2 pounds 10 ounces. However, Maddy was the weakest and needed around the clock specialty care for chronic lung disease.
“… 25-year-old Brooke is all too familiar now with the NICU, which is the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit where fragile premature and sick newborns are treated. The identical triplets had an uphill battle, especially the littlest one, Maddy, who doctors feared might not make it.
“That was just really scary to hear,” said Brooke.
But Maddy has proven to be quite a fighter, although the battle is far from over for the little one. While her sisters got to home at two months, she’s been at the NICU at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for months on end, being treated for chronic lung disease.
“The first few months it was very hard for us even to get her to grow because when babies are breathing like that they are spending all their calories to breath and they can’t grow and with that they can’t grow healthy lung tissue either,” said Dr. Huayan Zhang.
It’s been heartwrenching for Brooke who visits Maddy every day, with her two sisters strapped in the stroller ready to go. Her husband Joe is from England where he is a captain in the British Royal Army. He visits as often as he can, but Brooke has pretty much had to go through this alone, spending hours at the hospital playing and caring for Maddy.
“Actually, just started seeing her smile for the first time,” she said.
That is a major milestone for a little girl who has been through so much. Maddy is improving every day and continues to amaze the team of doctors and nurses at CHOP. Maddy couldn’t be in better hands. CHOP has one of the largest chronic lung disease programs in the world for newborns and infants. Even the top doctors, who are caring for her, credit part of her progress to her sisters, Elly and Riley. “It’s so good, it’s such good stimulation for Maddy for the sister to be here,” said Brooke.
Brooke says her sisters are kind of like Maddy’s magic medicine.
“That’s when she started smiling more. And her breathing started progressing and she interacts with them,” she said. “Two identicals that come in and kind of route you on and push you forward.” Brooke is hopeful doctors will spring Maddy from the hospital before her first birthday, and every day she gets a little closer to going home.
“Just to see her change and the new baby she’s become,” said Brooke.