The final days of a pregnancy can be both incredibly exciting and nerve-racking for any expecting parent. And Thelma Chiaka can no doubt attest to this, as she went into labor at the Woman’s Hospital of Texas in March 2019. The mom-to-be’s delivery wasn’t quite the norm, though. She actually gave birth to three sets of twins – and all in the space of nine minutes.
There are few events that are more life-changing than the birth of a baby. And the subsequent responsibilities that come with caring for a child are immeasurable, as the parents must devote most of their time to the job. So before Chiaka’s own big day, thoughts of this nature were surely swirling around her head.
A resident of Houston, Texas, the pregnant Chiaka arrived at the Woman’s Hospital of Texas in March 2019. But it wasn’t the birth of just one baby through which she would soon have to suffer. No, the expectant mom was actually carrying sextuplets – meaning of course that she’d be welcoming six infants into the world. And so, the hospital commemorated the fantastic event by releasing a statement on its website.
“The Woman’s Hospital of Texas – an HCA Houston Healthcare Affiliate, which delivers more babies than any other Texas hospital – early this morning welcomed sextuplets,” read the hospital’s statement, “The odds of which are estimated at one in 4.7 billion.” And while this statistic is quite incredible, the surprises didn’t end there.
You see, the timeframe in which Chiaka had delivered her six babies was just as jaw-dropping. “Two sets of twin boys and one set of twin girls were born this morning between 4:50 and 4:59 a.m.,” the hospital confirmed on its website. So, in less than ten minutes, the Houston resident’s life had changed forever.
And although the odds of delivering sextuplets are remarkably low, there are a few other documented cases. Throughout the years, in fact, several other women from across the world have gone through the same experience and welcomed a whopping six newborns into their lives. But giving birth to so many children at once is obviously not without risk. The first time that sextuplets were born safely, then, was back in January 1974.
Residents of South Africa, Colin Rosenkowitz and Susan Wilson, were already the proud parents of two children when Susan fell pregnant again. The pair were caught completely off guard, however, when their doctor told them that they were expecting sextuplets. And the dad-to-be recalled the moment in humorous detail to The Sunday Times.
“When we heard the news, my wife fainted, and I got a runny stomach,” Colin admitted to the South African newspaper in 2004. “When we told our maid, she ran away.” Yet the couple seemingly adjusted, and by the time that January 1974 had rolled around, Sarah had entered her 34th week of pregnancy. And although the expectant mom was still some weeks away from her due date, she underwent a Cesarean section to try and bring her sextuplets safely into the world – albeit prematurely.
Thankfully, the procedure was a success. And the couple’s children had made history – becoming the first surviving sextuplets in the world. As a result of this, the six kids – who were named David, Jason, Emma, Grant, Elizabeth and Nicolette – grew up under the glare of the media’s spotlight.
Perhaps owing to this intense public scrutiny, David, Jason, Emma, Elizabeth and Nicolette all left South Africa in the following years, with only Grant staying behind. And it seems that there may have been a quirk to Grant’s personality that allowed him to stay in his native country.
In an interview with The Sunday Times in 2004, Grant opened up about his attitude towards fame. The sextuplet confessed, “Obviously, I can’t speak for any of the others, but I really enjoyed the publicity.” He continued, “Sometimes it got a bit much to be constantly seen as one of the six, but I wouldn’t change anything that happened. Everyone likes attention.”
And in the same interview, the sextuplet also spoke about the different paths that his brothers and sisters had taken as adults. “In the past six or seven years, we’ve been going our own ways and developing our own identities,” he said. But Grant struggled, it seems, with being the only sibling left in the country. “Of course, I miss them,” he admitted. So, would these pangs of loneliness be enough to cause the South African native to leave his home?
Well, it seems that Grant was at least open to the idea. “Especially as I get older and come to realize what [my] family means to [me],” he said. “We all have British passports, and I might decide to join them in a year or two and practice there. But I really like the Cape Town lifestyle.” And when the sextuplets turned 30 in January 2004, their father, Colin, reflected on the challenges that he had faced during his younger years.
“It’s a very emotional milestone,” the dad-of-eight told The Sunday Times that year. “I’m so proud to have brought [the sextuplets] up to be the kind of children that they are today. It was very tough. I don’t know how I did it. I used to pray ten times a day. It was a nightmare,” he confessed.
However, as the children grew up and started to move on with their lives, Colin was finally afforded some much-needed time to himself. “I’m a bird out of a cage now,” the dad revealed. “I’m enjoying life to the full and doing all the things that I couldn’t do when I was a full-time father,” he finished.
And close to a decade after Colin and Susan’s children had broken records in South Africa, another family welcomed sextuplets into the world. On November 18, 1983, Janet Walton delivered six baby girls in Liverpool, England, and the sisters earned their own place in the history books.
Yes, Janet’s daughters were the first surviving all-female sextuplets in the world. If their historic birth hadn’t come to pass, though, things could’ve been very different for the Liverpudlian family. As a teenager, the future mom was told by medical experts that she probably wouldn’t be able to have children naturally. But when Janet married her partner, Graham Walton, the Liverpudlian yearned to hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet. To boost her chances of conceiving, then, she underwent fertility treatment – but to no avail.
As this approach didn’t appear to work, the couple decided to adopt a child instead. “We got a letter from the adoption agency to say we’d been accepted as parents of the next baby or twins,” she recalled to U.K. newspaper the Daily Mirror in 2014. “[Graham] was quite horrified. He said, ‘Let’s start at one at a time.’”
While the pair were embroiled in the process of trying to adopt a little one, though, the fertility drugs finally proved successful, and Janet became pregnant. Both she and Graham were left dumbstruck, however, when an ultrasound showed just how many babies they were expecting – a stunning six. And it seems that Janet was more than a little concerned about carrying sextuplets. “These days multiple births are more common, but no one knew what the outcome would be [back then],” the mom said.
Much like Sarah had done nine years previously, Janet opted to deliver her babies via a Cesarean section in November 1983. And the operation went well; Janet became the mom of six bouncing baby girls. But as their daughters – named Hannah, Sarah, Luci, Kate, Jennie and Ruth – started to grow up, the couple didn’t want to feel restricted in what they could do together as a family. Graham opened up about what it had been like during the early years and touched upon the challenges that they had faced.
“Jan used to say we must go out every day. Just because we’ve got six children, it must not stop us from doing what everybody else does,” Graham told the Daily Mirror in 2014. “We had papooses, so we’d have one baby each at the front and two each in double buggies. It was ridiculous, really,” he said.
“When the girls were little, you needed eyes in the back of your head,” Graham added. “You’d turn around [and] go, ‘One, two, three, four, five… phew, that’s it.’ We were counting heads all day, so by the time you got home from these places, your head was spinning. We’d be counting in our sleep,” he concluded.
In a similar situation to Colin and Sarah’s children, the Walton sextuplets attracted a lot of attention when they were small. And one of the six sisters, Hannah, certainly picked up on it. From a very early age, you see, the Liverpool native noticed that she and her siblings were being looked at in a different light compared to other kids.
“When we started our first day of school, there were photographers and people outside the gates,” Hannah told the Daily Mirror in 2014. “That’s different, isn’t it? When I’m in the opticians, all the old ladies come in and ask questions. They want to know what we’re up to.” And in November 2013 that may have been a fair question, since the sisters were certainly cooking up something.
That month, you see, the Walton sextuplets had turned 30. And as a novel way of ushering in a new decade, Jennie made an interesting suggestion. She managed to convince all of her sisters to get the same tattoo of a heart. “It’s always been about the six hearts, and they represent each one of us,” the Liverpudlian said to the Daily Mirror. “They are all interlinked like us.”
And in more recent times, another family found themselves under the spotlight following the arrival of sextuplets. Jon and Kate Gosselin of Pennsylvania were already the proud parents of twins, but they wanted to add another new face to their household. Much like Janet, though, Kate was experiencing some fertility issues at that point.
However, on May 10, 2004, Kate welcomed six new children into the world – Alexis, Collin, Hannah, Joel, Aaden and Leah – making her the mother of eight kids in total. And unsurprisingly, the public was pretty intrigued by how such a family functions. Some three years later, then, the Pennsylvania resident and her husband became the focus of a reality TV show titled Jon & Kate Plus 8. The program ran for five seasons, but everything changed in 2009.
Sadly, Jon and Kate called it quits on their marriage, so the series came to an end. Less than a year later, though, the program was revamped and retitled, and in August 2010 it was released under the new name Kate Plus 8. And this offering proved to be much more successful; the show lasted for a further six seasons before coming to an end in July 2017. By this point, the Gosselins’ exploits had been documented in more than 170 episodes of television.
In February 2019 Kate revealed that she thought her children were all the better for having appeared on television during their formative years. While on a press junket to promote her latest reality show, she said, “Based on my kids and how well-adjusted and intelligent [they are] and how well they’re doing in school and overall in life, I feel like, more than anything, it has enriched their lives.” Kate expanded on this, claiming, “It has made them world-wise and taught them a lot about people’s intentions – more so than other kids their age.”
And yet Kate was by no means the last mom to bring sextuplets into the world. Only a month after the reality star had made these comments, in fact, the Woman’s Hospital of Texas released some tantalizing snippets of information regarding Thelma Chiaka’s six newborns. The statement touched upon the weights of the babies as well as their overall conditions.
“The babies were born at weights ranging from one pound, 12 ounces and two pounds, 14 ounces,” read the post on the hospital’s website. “They are in stable condition and will continue to receive care in the hospital’s advanced neonatal intensive care unit.” And the statement shed light on Chiaka’s condition as well.
“The medical team of Dr. Ziad Haidar, Dr. Sharmeel Khaira and Dr. Israel Simchowitz say the mother, Thelma Chiaka, is doing well,” the post adds. “As of 10:30 this morning, Thelma named her daughters Zina and Zuriel.” And that wasn’t all. The hospital shared a heartwarming photo of the happy family on its website, too.
Yes, alongside the statement, the hospital included a snap of Chiaka lying in bed with a big smile on her face. Standing either side of her are Dr. Haidar and Dr. Simchowitz, and both of them are holding the mom’s hands. Ebere Ofor – a member of the woman’s family – can be seen next to one of the doctors as well.
Later that day, the photo was shared on the Woman’s Hospital of Texas’ Facebook page. “We were honored to welcome Thelma Chiaka’s four sons and two daughters early this morning!” read the post’s accompanying message. And since the update went live, there’s been a sizable response to the new mom’s story on social media.
The hospital’s post has earned over 800 likes, for instance, and close to 200 shares on Facebook, while also generating just under 150 comments. A number of these responses were incredibly positive, too, with users congratulating the mom and praising the work of her doctors. And some people took the opportunity to share their own heart-warming stories about the facility in Texas as well.
“Your babies are in excellent care,” wrote Facebook user Krystal Nicole in the comments section. “My son was born 26 weeks [at] one pound, 14 ounces, and they did a magnificent job caring for him. He is now a very energetic soon-to-be eight-month-old. Woman’s Hospital is the best! Congrats to you on your six blessings,” she concluded.
Meanwhile, another social media user couldn’t help but agree with the sentiment, also touching on the quality of the hospital’s employees. “Congratulations, Thelma Chiaka!” the commenter wrote. “You are working with some of the best doctors and nursing staff! God is on your side!” Elsewhere, another user praised Chiaka for her part in the sextuplets’ births.
“I could not imagine giving birth to six babies,” wrote Facebook user Brittany Nicole Alldredge. “But at least you can say you’re done now and get the baby stages all over at one time! Congrats momma, I bet they’re all gorgeous.” The kind words didn’t end there, though, as several more people offered their congratulations.
Among all those heartfelt comments, though, one international Facebook user’s response particularly stood out. After talking about the incredible odds of having sextuplets, Juna Sama Wood revealed just how far-reaching this story had become. Much like the previous cases, you see, Chiaka and her babies have now attracted some curious glances – from around the world.
“Way more likely to win the Powerball Lottery than do what you did!” Wood wrote on the social media website. “All the best, y’all stay healthy and happy. Just read about this in the German news. World famous mommy.” But for Chiaka, the fun is only just beginning.