McKINNEY, Texas — The blue sign outside the front door of a McKinney home proudly announces, "It's a boy."
Andrew Gracin is the third of the Mallon children. Despite being born as a singleton, he, four-year-old Julianna and two-year-old AnnaSophia are actually triplets.
At least in theory.
"They are what we like to call 'tripblings,'" explained mom Joyce Mallon. "They are triplets by conception and siblings by their date of birth."
How is that possible?
They were all conceived in a petri dish on October 26, 2007.
Julianna was born nine months later thanks to in vitro fertilization. Her brother and sister waited their turn in frozen limbo.
"We made a vow that we would go back and get them," said Chris Mallon, their father.
"I kept saying, 'We waited so long for you,'" Joyce said of her joy at having children after years of struggling with infertility. "But really, they waited so long for us. I mean, AnnaSophia and Andrew just were patient little things and just waited for us. So we look them and think, 'You all came from the same point in time,' and now they're reunited."
Fertility experts say freezing techniques have improved so embryos can be preserved for longer periods. An estimated 400,000 embryos are currently in frozen storage in the United States.
As a result, more multiples — separated by years — are being born into modern families via in vitro fertilization every day.
The Mallons now have three healthy children — or rather, tripblings.
"Sometimes you pray for a miracle, you get three," Joyce Mallon said. "So that's what we have. Just a huge miracle and a huge blessing."