But are they really triplets?

A mother has become the first in the UK to give birth to triplets carried in two separate wombs.

Melanie Bassett, 32, already a mother-of-two, was stunned when doctors discovered she was carrying identical babies in one womb, and another single foetus in the other.

Brooke and Isabelle, along with their younger triplet Beau, were born in January.

There are all sorts of variances possible among humans. With 7 billion of us we’re not in an infinite universe where everything must happen but still, quite a lot of rare things will. So there are cases of double penis, two vaginas and so on. Two wombs is rare but not unheard of. We’d expect perhaps 20 women in the UK to have the two uteri.

But are they actually triplets? We can, and do – although not in colloquial language – make the distinction between sharing an amniotic sac and not sharing between twins (monoamniotic etc). But the usual assumption is sharing a womb or uterus. It’s definitely a shared pregnancy. But does that non-monouterine, to coin a neologism, mean they’re not really triplets but twins and a sibling?

Next up, angels, pins and dancing.

11 thoughts on “But are they really triplets?”

  1. I’m happy to stick to the definition that born of the same mother during the same birth makes them triplets. Though perhaps that breaks down if it turns out one of them was conceived a month later than the others?

    However how do you describe them? A pair of identical triplets? Identical twins in a triplet?

  2. Non-identical triplets surely, as at least 2 eggs were involved. (I had a class once that had triplets like that, 2 were identical and came from the same egg and the other from a separate egg. They were still similar-looking enough that they got mistaken for each other. Eventually, they dyed their hair different colours so teachers could tell them apart!).

  3. She’s a mother of two, not a mother-of-two. mother-of-two is an adjective, it goes *before* the noun.
    A mother-of-two accountant.
    An accountant who is a mother of two.

    Bloody illiterates. Don’t they even hear the words in their head as they type them? It’s clearly “…is …a …mother …of …two” not “is …a …motheroftwo”.

  4. Wasn’t it great not too long ago when we didn’t know any of these details of anatomy?

    ‘Triplets’ was defined then. Let’s stick with it.

  5. Reminds me of the story about the prostitute with two vaginas. She was the star attraction of the local brothel, but she didn’t get on well with the other ‘working girls., Apparently, they couldn’t stand her ‘Holier than thou’ attitude!

  6. Another story of a similar type where a a woman gestated and gave birth to a child who was not genetically hers because she was her own fraternal twin, and the child was genetically from that fraternal twin:

    http://www.opposingviews.com/i/health/womens-health/woman-gives-birth-children-discovers-her-twin-actually-biological-mother-she

    Random genetic/biological changes make a mockery of almost every generalization, even if only in a very small number of cases (non viable variants are more common than viable ones).

  7. “non viable variants are more common than viable ones”

    BWTM. Recent theory is that cancer is not a variant. Not mutations, but existing cells that get triggered. The clue was that cancer cells are the same. One man’s lung cancer cells are like another man’s. If a man’s cells had mutated into a cancer cell, how could it be like everyone else’s?

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