Kaden, Hunter, and Jackson Howard were born newsworthy—the Long Island triplets were conceived without fertility drugs, and Hunter and Jackson are identical while Kaden is fraternal. But not long into their young lives, the happy news took a turn. Their heads became noticeably misshapen. Kaden had a pointy forehead and Jackson and Hunter sported protrusions in the back, reports Today. All three were diagnosed with craniosynostosis, a rare birth defect in which a newborn's skull fuses together early, which can impede brain growth. The triplets, born in October 2016, underwent a set of surgeries at just two months of age in January and are all thriving back at home, apparently not even minding their helmets, which they must wear 23 hours a day for the next six to nine months.
“Your skull is made up of plates, it’s not a single bone,” says operating surgeon David Chesler of Stony Brook Children's Hospital. If the plates fuse too early, it can "detrimental to the brain, the vision, the life of the child. It’s not imminently life-threatening, but it can cause real consequences down the road.” It occurs just once in every 2,000 births, but doctors put the odds of it occurring in triplets—particularly a set that isn't identical and thus not prone to the exact same malformations—at one in 500 trillion, reports CBS Local. Mom Amy calls their progress "amazing" and their father, Mike, says that while life with three boys and three cats is "crazy," he "wouldn't change it for the world." They say they'd love to have a girl, but aren't planning to try. "With our luck, we would have another set of triplets," Mike says. (One mom ran a half marathon pushing her triplets in a stroller.)