The start of 2016 when full-time mum Zoe was rushed to from the family home in Lossiemouth, Moray, to Raigmore hospital in Inverness for an emergency c-section. Tiny Erin and Leah were brought into the world on January 25 – exactly the same date that Charlotte and Isabelle were born in 2008. Nursing staff were astonished by the coincidence, and the Sullivans couldn’t be happier. Zoe, 38, praised medical staff who cared for the premature babies in the weeks that followed their birth. She said: ‘They were fantastic. They were absolutely amazing. For sisters Erin, Leah, Charlotte and Isabelle Sullivan were all born on the same date. The two sets of twins – the elder girls are nine years old while the younger girls have just celebrated their first birthday – have defied odds of 4.5 million to one to arrive in the world on January 25. But despite the twins’ double-double of birthdays, the girls’ parents still face a struggle to organize everybody’s parties and gifts – as they have five other children, and another one on the way.
‘It’s really difficult to thank someone for saving your child’s life because they just say it’s their job. But she revealed they could not quite believe it when she told them how significant the date was. She said: ‘‘When they took me down (for the operation) I said, “It’s my other twin’s birthday today” ‘They were like, ‘Really?’ No, really?” ‘The first time, I don’t think they really believed it. And then you say no, it really is their birthday.’
Little Leah was tiny at 3lbs4 whilst her sister Erin was just 2lbs6. But they are now thriving with Charlotte and Isabelle on hand to help look after them. Zoe said: ‘They weren’t jealous at all about sharing their birthday. They were just over the moon.’ ‘They went about telling everybody. ‘And then the other children were like ‘Can we have a baby on our birthday?’ But I don’t think I will be able to do that again, that was a complete fluke.’ She added: ‘They all help to take care of the little ones. But I think with these ones, especially as they were so poor, and so small, it’s a little bit extra special. ‘They love babies, it’s quite lucky really. And the baby twins are also very, very close to each other, which is quite sweet. ‘
When it came to the first joint birthday party, military precision was required. Dad Ben, an engineer for the RAF, said: ‘It took a lot of organization. We got it set up in the evening before and they all lined up at the top of the stairs in the morning. ‘Let’s just say it took a little bit longer than usual trying to keep tabs on whose present was whose.’ ‘And after about ten minutes all of the wrapping paper made it look like a recycling center. ‘We didn’t have a birthday cake – we bought them a lot of cupcakes instead because of all of the 1s and 9s.’ The twins’ other siblings are Elizabeth, 11, Olivia, 10, Noah, seven, Evangeline, five, and Tobias, four.
The huge family is well known in their small community, where they live in a four bedroom home provided for service families. Still, their neighbors were stunned by the news. Zoe said: ‘People have to do a double take every time that we say it . People think no, that can’t be right. ‘I think people think they have misheard. And then there’s the fact we’ve got nine and another one on the way. Quite often new people will say “Are you a childminder?” and I’m like no, they’re all my own.’ The family are self-reliant, depending on Ben’s salary. Zoe said: ‘We don’t claim any benefits except child benefit. I’m fortunate that Ben earns enough that I can stay at home and not pay out for childcare. ‘We don’t really spend money on other things. We just enjoy spending money on the family.
‘All the kids are happy, they are all healthy. They like the fact they are in a big family. There’s never a dull moment. ‘We are very, very, lucky. Especially after everything the twins went through being born. We are very lucky with all of it. ‘They had their few rocky moments but they pulled through and we all pulled together. ‘The other kids were brilliant and we were very proud of all of them.’ Statistical analysis of birth rates suggests that the odds of any conception resulting in non-identical twins is around 1 in 50. The odds of identical twins are higher, at 1 in 250. The odds of two births happening on the same day are 1 in 365, meaning that the Sullivans’ twin girls are the product of a 1 in 4,562,500 co-incidence.