Many TLC viewers are excited for the Sept. 18 premiere of Sweet Home Sextuplets, a new docuseries following parents Eric and Courtney Waldrop and their nine kiddos which include fraternal sextuplets born in December. Considering families with multiples are interesting to many people (Outdaughtered, anyone?) it's no surprise fans are curious about the chances of having sextuplets. As it turns out, the phenomenon is quite rare even with fertility treatments.
Some fans might be interested to learn that Courtney and Eric's path to conceiving sextuplets is similar to a lot of other stories out there. After giving birth to Saylor in December 2008, Courtney suffered a series of miscarriages due to a blood clotting disorder, according to TLC. Courtney and Eric then turned to fertility medication, and they welcomed the twins in January 2012.
Given the severity of Courtney's condition, she and Eric gave fertility treatments another shot following the twin's arrival, a move that resulted in the sextuplet's conception. But it's important to realize it's no longer common for a person to conceive six kids as a result of medical intervention, like In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Dr. Avner Hershlag, chief of Northwell Health Fertility in Manhasset, New York explained to Live Science:
In the early days of IVF, [it] was still responsible for a high percentage of multiples, because it was not uncommon to put [in] three, four, five or even six embryos at a time. But as researchers optimized IVF techniques, they increased the likelihood that each embryo transferred would result in a pregnancy. Our field has now moved to strictly limit the number of embryos transferred. In general, almost all younger women treated at reputable fertility centers will have a single embryo transferred.
The use of fertility drugs, however, is another story. A study conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine claims fertility drugs are at the root of multiple births as opposed to IVF. The "number of multiple births of triplets or more due to fertility drugs like clomiphene citrate and injectable hormones rose from 36 percent to 45 percent from 1998 to 2011," according to NPR.
Interestingly enough, both Courtney and OutDaughtered star Danielle Busby used fertility drugs to help them conceive.
As for the likelihood of conceiving sextuplets via sexual intercourse, that's especially rare. In fact, "the odds of giving birth to sextuplets spontaneously are one in 4.7 billion," according to the CBC. Translation: there's a really small chance you'll conceive sextuplets on your own.
Eric and Courtney welcomed Blu, Layke, Tag, Rawlings, Rayne, and Rivers on Dec. 11, 2017 surrounded by around 40 medical professionals, according to People. The delivery for Courtney was intense, to put it mildly, and she later wrote about the experience on Facebook. "My body is in complete shock after growing 6 babies. I talked out of my head all night last night and this morning," she penned. "And have been very weak. A little scary at what was happening to me. I continued to loose a lot of blood through this the day."
Luckily for Courtney, however, she has since healed from the Cesarean section, and the sextuplets are thriving alongside their three older brothers (Saylor, 9, and twins Wales and Bridge, 5). The best part? Now fans get to witness the family's journey and growth firsthand.
Howard Lee, the President and General Manager of TLC, said in a press release about the "extraordinary" family:
TLC is the number one destination for extraordinary families like the Waldrops, and we’re so excited to be sharing their story. A first for the network, we began this journey with Courtney and Eric even before the sextuplets arrived, when they already had three boys in their brood. Our viewers get to see exactly what it’s like to experience such a life-altering moment in its entirety, going from a family of five all the way through expanding to a family of eleven.
Of course, it's fair to wonder how Courtney and Eric's journey came to be. It's not every day that a person welcomes sextuplets into the world, right?
Given how rare it is to conceive sextuplets, it's no wonder why many TLC viewers are excited for Sweet Home Sextuplets to premiere on Sept. 18. Let the multiples fun begin.