A suburban Detroit couple who have two older children are adjusting to life after becoming parents to identical triplets — a multiple birth that's rare.

The Whiteley family of St. Clair Shores celebrated the one-month birthdays Wednesday for Alexander, Nicholas and Timothy. The brothers were born Jan. 25 at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, but spent nearly a month in the newborn intensive care unit.

The boys are healthy, their mother, Lauren Whiteley, said. Their older brothers are age 3 and 2.

"I always wanted a big family, and I guess this is the way to do it, get them all at once," Whiteley joked.

Many triplets are the result of fertility treatments, but Lauren Whiteley, 32, said she didn't take fertility drugs. She had an ultrasound at about eight or nine weeks to confirm the pregnancy, but didn't know what she was seeing.

"It was the ultrasound tech that kind of left the room, came back and I thought something was wrong," Whiteley said. "She said 'No it's good news.' I said "Oh my gosh! It's twins, isn't it?' She said, 'No, I see three.' This was the shock of a lifetime."

Michael Whiteley, 31, said he asked his wife several times: "'Triplets? Are you sure?' It was very overwhelming."

Multiple births don't run in either of their families. "Not even twins," Lauren Whiteley said.

Identical triplets also were born Dec. 5 to a woman in Billings, Montana. Dr. Savitri Kumar, a neonatologist at Henry Ford Hospital, said data on identical triplet births by natural conception varies from one in 60,000 to one in 2 million. Most doctors call the chances "one-in-a-million," Kumar said.

Four sets of triplets were born at the hospital last year, but they weren't identical, she added.

"This is the very first set of identical triplets I have ever seen," she said.

For the Whiteleys, it will help that both sets of grandparents live within a mile, while aunts and uncles also are in the area. The grandparents "will do what they need done on a day-to-day basis — as far as feeding, getting the kids to and from where they have to go," said Bob Whiteley, Michael Whiteley's father.

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