When doctors informed Joani Clemons that she would be unable to conceive, it came as something as a surprise. After all, she and her husband Trevion were already loving parents to four healthy children. So what had happened to her body? She didn’t know, yet she and Trevion were more than happy with the kids they had anyway. But then, years later, something of a miracle happened.
But to give their story true justice, we have to tell it from the beginning. After all, Joani and Trevion were childhood sweethearts. In fact, Trevion told WSB-TV, “When I first met her I knew. I knew I wanted to be with her for the rest of my life.”
And indeed the couple from Atlanta, Georgia, planned to have a family. Over the course of a decade, then, they would welcome four daughters into the fold. But when it came time to think about having a fifth child, Joani was dealt her devastating news.
Doctors explained to Joani that she had a condition known as polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS for short. PCOS is a condition in which an egg is unable to be released for fertilization. Therefore, Joani was told that she would be unable to have any more children.
But with four daughters – aged eight, ten, 17 and 20 – already at home, Joani and Trevion figured they were done anyway. Trevion may have thought that the addition of a boy or two would balance things out, but they were very happy all the same. They said that they were a complete unit.
However, several years later, Joani found a lump in her breast. She was naturally concerned – particularly as there was a history of breast cancer in her family – so she got it checked out. What the doctors found, however, was not cancer at all. It was, in fact, something altogether more surprising.
The doctors had discovered a milk gland. Yes, the very same doctor who had told Joani seven years earlier that she could no longer have children was now telling her that she was nine and a half weeks pregnant. Understandably, she and Trevion were in shock. But the surprises didn’t end there.
Indeed, the next shock that nobody saw coming happened at Joani’s follow-up scan. Here, the doctor looked at the screen and said, “I’m sorry guys. I know I can count, but I can see three.”
What’s more, the doctor revealed that the triplets would be identical – and they would all be boys. Trevion, for one, was beaming at the idea that the gender balance of the family was about to be altered. He said, “I was smiling ear to ear! I just wanted them to be healthy though.”
Indeed, as with any multiple birth, there was the potential for risks. Joani said of the doctor’s warnings, “Because I was so short and there were three [babies], he said the chances of them surviving was extremely low.”
They were also warned that if all the triplets did make it, that in turn could be a risk to Joani’s chance of survival. Therefore, the couple’s excitement at their ever-growing family was now tinged with concern over the grave risks involved in seeing the pregnancy through.
Against the odds, however, Joani carried all the triplets through to 27 weeks of pregnancy. But that still meant the three identical boys were delivered an astonishing three months prematurely. They were naturally very small and fragile, too, and their battle to survive was not over yet.
After all, newborns who come into the world after just 27 weeks in the womb are at high risk of various health problems. For example, they’re too underdeveloped to feed and breathe at the same time, and their muscles aren’t strong enough for them to move.
In fact, it’s thought that 90 percent of babies born three months prematurely survive for only a year. Furthermore, around a quarter of those who do survive develop disabilities, behavioral issues or learning difficulties. The outlook for the three boys, then, was not good.
Devin, Bryce and Miles were each born 30 seconds apart and were incredibly delicate. To highlight just how small they were, Trevion slipped his wedding ring over one of their hands, and it fell comfortably down to the elbow like a tiny bangle.
The boys would spend the next two and a half months in the neo-intensive care unit at Northside Hospital to build up their strength. Miles was in the worst shape of the three, however, as he had developed bleeding on his lungs.
The Northside Hospital in Atlanta, though, came highly recommended to the Clemons. Indeed, Northside boasted that it had experienced more childbirths than any other hospital in the country, so the Clemons knew that they had the best care available.
Skip forward a year and a half, and Miles is the largest of the three boys. All of the triplets, though, are in good health and show no signs of any lasting effects of their fragile start to life. Plus, once a year, their extended family expands even further.
That’s because the Clemons had developed a bond with the staff at the hospital where the triplets were born. Joani said, “They treat you like family.” It’s a feeling that the hospital spreads to every baby born at the unit, and they celebrate by holding an annual “preemie” family reunion at Zoo Atlanta.
So Devin, Bryce and Miles may have started life weighing under three pounds each, but the boys have made a dramatic transformation into happy and healthy toddlers. It’s a story of survival that verges on the miraculous.