Fact Check

Pic Shows Father Who Fainted After Seeing His Newborn Triplets for 1st Time in 1946?

"He's calculating how much it's gonna cost to raise them," one Reddit user commented.

Published March 1, 2024

 (Reddit u Cyber_Being_)
Image courtesy of Reddit u Cyber_Being_
Claim:
A photograph captured in 1946 shows a father who fainted after he saw his newborn triplets for the first time, as ultrasound technology for fetal monitoring had not yet been developed.
Context

The photograph is authentic and was indeed captured in 1946 in New York City. Moreover, posts correctly indicated that obstetric ultrasound, used in pregnancy to monitor fetal growth and position, had not yet been developed. However, both the content of the photo, in which three nurses and a doctor are seen smiling and laughing at the supposedly unconscious man, and the original Associated Press caption, which said the father was "feigning shock," indicate the tableau was staged, not real.

In late February 2024, a photograph circulated on social media, allegedly showing a surprised father that fainted after seeing his triplets. One Reddit post's caption read "A father faints when he sees his triplets for the first time, as ultrasound technology had not yet been developed, making their birth a surprise, 1946." One post with the photo reached 27 million views on X as of this writing.

A father faints when he sees his triplets for the first time, as ultrasound technology had not yet been developed, making their birth a surprise, 1946.
byu/Cyber_Being_ inBeAmazed

Google reverse image search results showed that the photograph was shared on various social media platforms such as Tumblr, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook. One 9GAG post attributed a slightly different story to the photo:

1947, in the days before sonograms, this mans wife gives birth to twins, as a nurse, she convinces her nurse friends to present a third baby born an hour before to her husband to prank him to thinking they had triplets. He fainted.

In short, while the photograph is authentic and was captured in 1946 in New York City, we were not able to independently verify the exact circumstances of its creation. The caption of the original Associated Press wire photo stated that the father was "feigning shock," suggesting his reaction wasn't genuine but, rather, staged. However, the caption accompanying the same picture in the Getty Images archive described the subject matter as "Triplets And Their Unconscious Father," which implies that, as multiple social media posts also claim, he really fainted. 

(Getty Images)

Reverse-image search results showed that the most frequently shared version of the image online was black-and-white. The colored versions had a "JSK colorization" watermark, indicating the black-and-white version was the original. 

Father faints when he meets his triplet babies for the first time in 1946. This was before ultrasound was invented.
byu/EhJusttryingtovibe ininterestingasfuck

We have also found, thanks to another version of the image that circulated online, that it was featured in a number of newspapers in February 1946, including The Port Arthur News (image below), with the caption "Proud Papa Sees Triplets for First Time." The father, Arris Poulos, also was mentioned in a 1951 New York Times article that read "A party that looked as if it were something done with mirrors celebrated yesterday the fifth birthday of the triplet sons of Mr. and Mrs. Arris Poulos." 

(www.newspaperarchive.com)

Lastly, many of the social media posts containing the photograph claimed, correctly, that it was captured at a time when "ultrasound technology had not yet been developed," and therefore the triplets really could have been a surprise for the father. Obstetrical sonography, used in pregnancy to monitor fetal growth and position, has its roots in the late 1950s

Sources

Campbell, S. "A Short History of Sonography in Obstetrics and Gynaecology." Facts, Views & Vision in ObGyn, vol. 5, no. 3, 2013, pp. 213–29. PubMed Central, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3987368/.

"Triplets And Their Unconscious Father At New York In Usa On 1946." Getty Images, 8 Dec. 2010, https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/triplets-and-their-unconscious-father-at-new-york-in-usa-on-news-photo/107421348.

Aleksandra Wrona is a reporting fellow for Snopes, based in the Warsaw area.