Having one baby is a huge, life-changing event. Multiply that times three to get a sense of life at the home of Elizabeth and Matthew Milliron.

"I just keep feeling like I'm in a dream," Elizabeth said. "Right now I really have my hands full."

The Millirons' rare identical triplets require 24 diapers a day. The parents work in shifts to share overnight duties feeding, soothing and changing the infants. A pair of nurses visit the home twice a week so mom and dad can get a full night's rest.

A cadre of neighbors, friends, relatives and co-workers provide support.

"We wouldn't be able to do it without them," Elizabeth said.

The triplets were also big news for 2-year-old Mason, who now has three brothers.

"Our older son is having a blast. He's got his own little fan club," Matthew said.

"They're going to be such great friends," Elizabeth said.

It took a while for the Millirons to get over the shock of having three babies at once. Now, she said, they see it as a blessing.

The chance of having identical triplets is astronomically low - 1 in 80 million to 200 million, she said.

"You have a better chance of winning Powerball," she said. "It was a miracle."

Dad is an anesthesiologist, mom a pediatrician.

The boys were born two months prematurely on Oct. 18 at the Medical University of South Carolina.

"It's kind of been a rollercoaster since we found out we were having triplets. They're doing great, much better than we could have expected or hoped for," he said.

"We were very, very lucky," she said.

Elizabeth said she was not taking fertility drugs at the time of conception. The parents first learned that triplets were on the way when an ultrasound was done in the seventh week of pregnancy. She was on bed rest for 24 weeks because it was a high-risk pregnancy.

Telling identical triplets apart is not easy, even for parents who are doctors. For that reason, the toenails of Nicholas, Blake and Caleb are painted different colors.

The triplets were born at 31 weeks and three days. Nicholas and Blake were 4 pounds, 2 ounces and Caleb was 3 pounds, 15 ounces. On Friday, Nicholas weighed 9 pounds, 12 ounces, Blake 9 pounds, 8 ounces, and Caleb 10 pounds, 1 ounce, she said.

The babies were at the MUSC neonatal intensive care unit for a week. When they became medically stable, they were transferred to East Cooper Regional Medical Center, where they stayed for five weeks so the family could be closer to home.

The triplets have breathing and heart-rate monitors, and their feedings are "paced" to prevent choking.

"Some premature babies have periods where they essentially forget to breathe," she said in an e-mail.

"Sometimes they also have trouble choking with feeds and it causes their heart rate to drop and them to stop breathing as well," she said.

The monitors sound an alarm if a baby does not take a breath for more than 20 seconds or if the heart rate drops.

"This lets the parents know so that they can stimulate the baby to breathe again or alerts them that they may be choking," she said.

The triplets shared the same placenta, which is a criteria for determining that they are identical, she said.

She hopes to return to work in the spring at Coastal Pediatric Associates.

"I love what I do," she said.

Reach Prentiss Findlay at 937-5711.