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Sonja, Sylvia and Scarlett Partridge arrived March 19 and have already made an impression on their parents and doctors as a special set of identical triplets. The healthy babies each weighed more than 3 pounds and are expected to remain in intensive care at Mercy Children’s Hospital in Creve Coeur for the next few weeks.

Laura and Brad Partridge of Des Peres conceived the triplets without the help of fertility treatments. They have two older children, Stephen, 3, and Stella, 17 months, and were shocked to discover early in the pregnancy that they would become a family of seven. Brad Partridge said the only multiple births on either side are his grandmother’s twin sisters.

“We were hoping to see one healthy heartbeat, and my doctor said there are two,” said Laura Partridge, 34. “Honestly, I think I blacked out for a second. I don’t remember her saying there are three.”

The chances of having identical triplets is unknown, although some estimates have put it as high as 1 in 60,000 births, or about one set a year in Missouri. Laura Partridge said there are identical triplet girls in fourth grade who attend the family’s church. Marleigh, Madilyn and Macey Moran, 16-month-old identical triplets born in Michigan, moved to O’Fallon, Mo., this week with their parents Jim and Shelby Moran.

While doctors don’t know for sure what the odds are for identical triplets, the Partridge girls are only the third set obstetrician Dr. Gilbert Webb has seen in his 27-year career. Through ultrasound, Webb could see that the babies shared a placenta, indicating they are identical.

“With today’s ultrasound, it is possible to very clearly see the membranes which divide the babies and affirm with complete certainty that they are identical,” Webb said.

Laura Partridge said they already have an army of relatives, neighbors and church friends lined up to help with the babies.

“The next couple years are going to be a great strain, but everyone is just so anxious to help, it’s been wonderful,” she said.

Shelby Moran offered some advice as a fellow triplet mom.

“If you feed one, feed the other two at the same time. Same goes with diapering and dressing,” Moran said. “Some days will be great, some will be really hard, but just breathe and have faith.”

Blythe Bernhard is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.