Twins Marcus and Lucas arrived in the world just 48 minutes apart... yet they have two different fathers.
Mum Charlotte Hilbrandt became pregnant by ex-husband Michael AND new boyfriend Tommy when she slept with both men within 48 hours.
It means the boys, who turned six last week, are one of only three known sets of twins in the world who are genetic half-brothers, beating odds of a billion to one.
“You have a bigger chance of winning the lottery than something like this happening,” said 38-year-old Charlotte.
She is the first to admit her boys are like chalk and cheese. Cheeky Marcus, her son by Michael, is short and stout, red-haired with bundles of energy. His twin Lucas, her son by Tommy, is taller, blonde and has a more gentle, calm manner.
Even more surprisingly, both dads are very much a part of their lives and Charlotte says they are one big happy family.
The story of the twins’ bizarre conception began after Charlotte, who already had two sons by Michael Nielsen, divorced him in August 2004.
“After we split up I started to go out a bit more,” said Charlotte. “One evening in the bar this handsome blond man called Tommy Kallehauge came over. We got on well and began to see each other.”
But Michael had always hoped to get back together with Charlotte and in the heat of the moment they ended up in bed together on New Year’s Day
Worried she might jeopardise her fledgling relationship with Tommy, Charlotte kept quiet about what had happened. “The incident with Michael had been a one-off and I was determined it would stay that way, ” she said.
But Charlotte’s moment of madnesscame back to haunt her when a few months later, feeling sick and bloated, she went to the doctor.
“He confirmed what I had been dreading... that I was pregnant,” she said. “But that wasn’t all. I was expecting twins.”
With her emotions all over the place Charlotte decided honesty was the best policy but faced the agonising task of telling both men they could be the twins’ father.
“It was a very chaotic period,” she said.
“Michael was hoping two more children would bring us back together while Tommy had always wanted a family and was desperate for the twins to be his.”
Michael was with her when the boys arrived on August 23, 2005. Lucas was born first at 1.35pm followed 48 minutes later by Marcus at 2.23pm.
“We’d already had two children together, and Michael had been very involved in my life while I was pregnant,” said Charlotte. “It only seemed fair that he should be the one in the room with me.”
But within weeks of the twins’ birth, Charlotte soon realised the boys were hardly two peas in a pod.
“Marcus was red-haired with a tiny nose and looked like my two elder boys, Phillip and Victor.
“Lucas was blond with soft facial features and a long head, just like Tommy’s.
“But having twins is so overwhelming I hardly had time or the energy to deal with the fact that they probably had different fathers and what that might mean to Tommy, Michael and me.
“However, it was pretty obvious, and my mother was the first person to say what we were all thinking. The boys were just a couple of weeks old when she said,‘They don’t look alike.’ And that was it.”
Despite what had happened Tommy, 33, and Charlotte got back together and six months after the twins’ birth they decided to move in together. A short while later, Tommy bumped into Michael in a pub in their home town of Aalbaek in Denmark.
Over a pint the two men cleared the air to ensure both could be part of the boys’ lives. Yet it wasn’t until the twins were one year old that Charlotte, Tommy and Michael were ready to take a DNA test to find out for certain that the boys had different fathers. A few weeks later, the answer arrived in the post. The test proved the twins did indeed have different dads, stating: “The results do not imply that the children Lucas Hilbrandt Nielsen and Marcus Hilbrandt Nielsen have the same biological father. The probability of this preclusion exceeds 99.99 per cent.”
Charlotte said: “Even though it was what we had all suspected, it was still strange to get the answer. We didn’t exactly jump with joy, neither were we unhappy.
“Most of all it was a relief to get things straight so we could all start making our arrangements for the boys.”
It was never in question that both dads wanted to be there for their sons. And it led Tommy, Charlotte and Michael to have the boys christened. The church went completely quiet when the vicar named Marcus “Nielsen” after his father Michael, and Lucas “Kallehauge” after his father Tommy.
Charlotte said: “Friends and family have been very supportive about the situation and there have been no raised eyebrows in the community probably because we have been so open about the situation all along.
Michael’s three boys Phillip 12, Victor, eight, and Marcus spend every other weekendwith him and sometimes Michael will take Lucas too. All four boys get on well and Michael and Tommy consider themselves friends.
“A lot of people say we’re liars... that you can’t have twins with different fathers,” said Charlotte.
“That’s why we want to tell our story. It’s because something like this only has happened a few times in history.”
The science is easy.. but Mamma Mia, try telling the men!
By DR VIRGINIA BECKETT of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
I have never come across a case like this. But if a woman is going to sleep with more than one partner at the same time it is perfectly feasible that if she has twins they could have different fathers.
In this case these twins were conceived at the same time even though the mother did not have sex with the fathers at the same time. The sperm from the first man would have been in her fallopian tube, where it is effective for three to four days. Then she had sex with the second man and released two eggs. The eggs, which live for 24 hours, were fertilised by different sperm from the different men.
The science is easily explained, but it may have been less easy for the mother to explain. It's like the plot of Mamma Mia!