Maria Jørstad was in the midst of her second pregnancy, but this one was very different to the first. Most obviously, her belly suddenly seemed to be expanding very rapidly indeed. So, she took to Instagram to show off the eye-catching evidence, the result of an extremely rare condition she was experiencing in her gestation.
Jørstad, a native of Norway, holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees in film and television and has worked as an editor, director, producer and post-producer. In 2014 she moved to Copenhagen, Denmark, for a four-month stint working on the Danish version of the popular TV cooking competition MasterChef.
Once she arrived in the Danish capital city, Jørstad logged on to Tinder and started swiping. She matched with a man named Anders Hjort Staarup, who worked as a freelance web developer. He also played keyboards in Alcoholic Faith Mission, an indie rock band.
Six days after matching, the pair went on their first date. It must have gone well as just six months later they moved in together. In 2016 they became parents to their first child, a son named Mikael, and by the summer of 2018, the couple were ready to say “I do.”
Even before their wedding, Jørstad and Staarup knew they wanted to give their son a brother or sister. They naturally conceived again and headed in for their first ultrasound, excited to find out if they were going to have a boy or girl “to fulfill our family,” Jørstad wrote on Instagram.
But the appointment didn’t go as planned. “We had our first ultrasound at exactly 13 weeks and got the biggest surprise of our life. Total shock,” Jørstad wrote, alongside an image of her crying on the way home from the hospital.
The shock and emotion she felt was understandable, considering what doctors had told her and her husband. The couple had become pregnant naturally – and they just so happened to have conceived fraternal triplets without the aid of fertility drugs.
The birth rate for triplets in the US in 2015 was about 103.6 per 100,000 deliveries. A roughly one-in-one-thousand chance doesn’t sound too rare, until you consider the fact that multiple births are often the result of fertility treatments, which Jørstad did not have.
At just 14 weeks’ gestation, Jørstad could already see the differences between her first pregnancy with one child and her second pregnancy with three. She shared a photo comparing her bellies, noting how much bigger her triplet bump was.
As the weeks went on, she shared more about her physical and emotional state. “Big highs and deep lows these days! Dizziness and nausea again,” she wrote alongside photos that showed her beaming and crying, which she said were taken just four hours apart.
By 23 weeks, the size of her belly was pretty shocking – she looked similar to moms reaching the final days of their one-baby pregnancies. At the time, though, Jørstad seemed unfazed. “The belly is getting noticeably heavier day by day,” she wrote, “but I’m feeling quite good all considering.”
Four weeks later, even Jørstad herself was shocked at the size of her triplet belly, calling it “amazing.” She added, “Seems unreal that it’s going to get even bigger. I need a lot of rest, but overall I’m still feeling quite good.”
By 30 weeks, Jørstad was starting to feel the strain – in a number of ways. “The last few days have been tough, the pregnancy is really starting to take its toll on me,” she described in an Instagram post featuring yet another belly picture. “Frequent Braxton Hicks contractions, itchy and stinging skin on my tummy, bad sleep, sore gums,” she added.
She then revealed that her itchiness had worsened – and doctors had diagnosed her with pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy, or PUPPP. Jørstad described it as “a terrible itchy rash” that spread from her belly to her arms and legs.
Fortunately, PUPPP poses zero risk for a mother’s unborn child or children; it’s just an annoyance that lasts until the woman delivers her baby. “Thank you body for that extra gift. Officially feeling sorry for myself,” Jørstad admitted when she revealed her condition.
At 33 weeks, four days, Jørstad shared a video so that she could better show off the sheer size of her bump. She held her hugely protruding belly with two hands. “It’s really big and stretched so bad. It’s really heavy as well,” the mom-to-be said.
Jørstad’s second-to-last mirror selfie came at 34 weeks as she celebrated the fact that she’d avoided bed rest or hospitalization throughout her pregnancy. “We are very happy that I’ve made it this far without any serious complications,” she wrote. “Hope my body will keep up the good work for the next eight days!”
Just before her due date, Jørstad shared an incredible collage of photos collected throughout her pregnancy. Every fortnight she’d snapped a picture of her growing bump. “It’s strange to have ended up with such a big belly and it’s even stranger that it can stand out like that without falling down,” she reflected. But it wouldn’t be long until the swollen belly disappeared.
On September 12, 2018, the wait was finally over as the mom-to-be readied herself for the big moment. Jørstad delivered her babies at 8:55 a.m., 8:56 a.m. and 8:57 a.m, thus doubling the size of her family in a matter of minutes. She had two girls, Iben and Agnes, and a boy named Filip.
Two weeks after delivering her extra special babies, the happy mom posted a picture of the happy brood. Mirroring how she’d felt when given the news that she was carrying triplets, Jørstad was amazed by her terrific trio. “It’s such a wonder that these three beautiful babies are all ours,” she wrote.