Our Journey to Parenthood

Steven and I decided in January 2010 that we were ready to start trying for a baby. We both had good jobs, built our new house, had been on fun vacations, so it felt like the right time to add a baby to the mix. That January I went to my yearly checkup and got the green light to start trying. I wanted to wait until the summer to start trying because I wanted a spring baby so I could stay home all summer long and have more time with my baby. My doctor told me not to count on getting pregnant right away so I thought it would be a while and we decided to just see what happened. To my dismay, one month later I was looking at a positive pregnancy test. We were so excited and shocked to get pregnant the first month of trying. Our baby was due in October. I had my first appointment at 9 weeks. We were very nervous because we had no idea what to expect. I gave blood and then got ready for my first sonogram. When the technician began she was very quiet. I didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing, but it turned out to be a bad thing. Our baby didn’t have a heartbeat and was measuring 5 weeks instead of 9 weeks. I was devastated. A week later I was having a d&c. For the first time in my life, I had my heart broken and it hurt worse than I could have ever imagined. We hadn’t told anyone about the pregnancy because we were waiting to make a big surprise announcement so after I recovered from the d&c I went back to life as normal as I could.

 

My doctor told us to wait three months before trying again, so after those three months were over we decided to give it another try. Again, one month later, I was pregnant. And again, we were shocked it happened so fast, especially after I just had a miscarriage and had a d&c. We were very nervous. My doctor had me come in much earlier to be monitored during this pregnancy and at 6 weeks we saw and heard our baby’s heartbeat. It was the most amazing sight and sound I’d ever heard. I was immediately relieved, excited, and very hopeful that everything was going to be okay this time. The next week, I went back for another sonogram and the baby had grown and still had a strong heartbeat. We were so in love with our little peanut and felt so positive about this pregnancy. The next day, I left for vacation in Florida with my sisters and their kids. We went to Disney world one day and I was very careful to not overdo anything. The night we got home from Florida, I started bleeding, and it was bright red blood. I was heartbroken; I knew that meant we’d just lost our second baby. The next day, I went to the doctor for a sonogram to confirm what I already knew, we had lost our baby. I had another d&c and was told to wait another three months before trying again. This time, my doctor ran a few tests on both Steven and me and thankfully everything came back fine, but that still left us with no answers as to why we had just lost two babies. It was devastating. I felt so helpless and lonely. I knew miscarriages were fairly common, but still, I felt very lonely.

 

So those three months crept along and finally we were able to try again. Just like before, I was pregnant the first month of trying. This time my doctor had me take baby Asprin and progesterone. At 6 weeks our baby had a good strong heartbeat. At 7 weeks it was growing and still had a great heartbeat. At 8 weeks we could actually see it moving during the sonogram; that was the first time I’d seen one of my babies moving and it was so exciting to see. Each week, I kept going to the doctor for sonograms, and each week I kept getting a great report. The baby was measuring right on track and had a good heartbeat. I was doing so good that at 11 weeks my doctor listened to the baby’s heartbeat with the Doppler instead of doing a sonogram and once again, the heartbeat was perfect. After getting so many good reports and of course talking to my doctor, we decided at 12 weeks to break our silence and announce to our family, friends, and the world that we were having a baby! It was so exciting to finally have that moment to be able to say I’m pregnant; unfortunately it was short lived. I went back for another checkup at 13 weeks 5 days and my doctor started trying to find the baby’s heartbeat with the Doppler. The seconds kept ticking away and it felt like forever and there was still nothing. So my doctor stopped, told me not to worry, that the baby was probably turned weird and sent me for a sonogram. I listened to my doctor and didn’t worry, I actually was a little excited to get to see the baby again since it had been a couple of weeks since the last sonogram. But when I sat down on the table to start the sonogram, I all of the sudden got an overwhelming feeling that something was wrong. I felt like I could barely breath but I wanted to remain calm. Then, there it was, our precious little baby was on the screen and it was so much bigger, it actually was looking like a real baby. And then came the heartbreaking news that there wasn’t a heartbeat. There are no words that can adequately explain the pain and sadness I felt at that moment. We’d made it so far, everything was going perfect, I was actually feeling pregnant and was about to start showing. We’d just told all of our loved ones, now what was I suppose to do, go make an announcement that no I’m not pregnant anymore??? For the first time in this whole pregnancy nightmare, I was mad. I had done everything right. I read everything you could possibly read about how to be as healthy as possible during pregnancy and I followed all the advice. I’m a healthy person and I have a healthy lifestyle. None of it made any sense. Because I’d made it so long in the pregnancy, I had to go to Labor & Delivery and give birth to this baby. It was probably the worse thing I’ve ever been through in my life. What an awful feeling to leave the hospital empty handed, after giving birth. It just felt wrong. I felt cheated. I was disappointed in my body and in myself because for some reason, my body kept killing my babies and I didn’t know how to stop it or change it. Did all this mean I was never going to be able to carry my own baby because getting pregnant is the easiest thing in the world for me to do. The next few days after I was released from the hospital were horrible. I cried uncontrollably all day long. I usually try not to cry in front of people but I couldn’t help myself.

 

Losing three babies, back-to-back-to-back was almost more than I could handle and I had just about given up all hope of ever having a baby of my own. I started talking to Steven about adoption because I really didn’t think I could mentally survive another pregnancy that ended with another loss. I didn’t want to put my heart through more heartbreak, I felt like we’d suffered enough. But Steven didn’t want to give up just yet. And my doctor didn’t either; she really felt like I could have a baby, but we just needed to figure out what was wrong. So, she sent me to a fertility doctor in Dallas. Surprisingly, we got an appointment fairly quickly and a few months later we were in Dallas talking to the fertility doctor. The fertility doctor ran several tests over several different visits to try to find out what was wrong with me. He did see that I had cysts on my ovaries (PCOS) but other than that everything looked good. He told us that he thought my eggs were being released before they were completely matured. So, he prescribed the lowest dosage of Clomid for me to take. I didn’t know a lot about fertility issues or fertility treatment, but I did know your chances of having multiples went up when you used fertility drugs and/or treatment. Honestly, I was hoping I’d get pregnant with twins. All we wanted were two kids and if I could have twins then I’d be done. We’d never have to try again, our family would be complete; but above all else, I just wanted a healthy baby.

 

The next month I took Clomid and we tried again to get pregnant. And just like before, I was pregnant the first month. I wanted to be pregnant, I wanted a baby more than anything, but for the first time, when I got that positive pregnancy test, I wasn’t excited. I just couldn’t let my heart get all excited about this baby and then something go wrong like it had the last three times. I loved this baby and I prayed that everything would be okay, but I just couldn’t let myself get too happy. Like before, I went to my doctor early and at 6 weeks we saw the heartbeat. Everything looked good and I felt good. I kept going back to my doctor each week and at each appointment I kept getting a good report. It was exciting to see our baby growing. I can’t tell you the relief we felt when I made it to 14 weeks and everything still looked good with the baby. It was about that time that I started thinking, this may really happen this time, but I just wasn’t ready to announce to the world that we were pregnant just yet, in fact, I would have loved to stay pregnant the whole pregnancy without saying anything just in case something went terribly wrong again. At 16 weeks, Steven was like, you’ve got to tell people, you can’t hide that bump any longer, so we did, we told all our friends and family our exciting news and asked everyone to pray. At 18 weeks, my doctor asked if we wanted to find out the sex of the baby, and we were like heck yeah! In my heart, I thought it was a boy the whole time and Steven kept saying it was a girl, but of course, Mama knows best…..IT WAS A BOY!!!!! We went back and forth on names but I wasn’t going to settle on anything but Brady, this baby boy had to be named Brady. We chose James to be his middle name after Steven’s dad. When we knew Brady was a boy, it really made everything seem so real. Feeling him kicking and moving around in my belly was the most amazing feeling in the whole world. Watching my belly grow was so cool. I loved everything about my pregnancy. The further along I got, the more I enjoyed the pregnancy. Brady always measured big on the sonograms and I think my doctor was afraid if she let me go too long then I wouldn’t be able to have him naturally, so on March 15, 2014, I was induced (38w5d). I was in labor all day and at 7:59pm he was here! He was a big baby weighing 8 pounds 2 ounces and was 21 inches long. I was hoping the whole pregnancy I’d have an eight pound baby, I just felt like that was a good healthy weight. I’m still surprised I grew such a big baby and that he was perfectly healthy. For the first time in my life, I fell in love at first sight. He was beautiful and in that second that he was born all my hopes and dreams came true. Brady didn’t take the place of the three babies that we lost, no one can ever take their place in my heart, but he definitely filled an empty space in my heart. I will spend the rest of my life thanking God for blessing us with him. He is such an amazing little boy and fills out hearts with so much love and joy.

 

The second Brady was born, he was the center of our whole universe, everything revolved around him. But I had always wanted 2 kids. I never wanted him to be an only child. I grew up with two sisters and I have two younger brothers and I love my siblings and can’t imagine life without them. I was 31 years old when I had Brady and I knew I didn’t want to wait too long to try for another baby, so when he was 15 months old, I called my doctor about getting a prescription for Clomid. I had made my mind up that I was going to enjoy every second of my second pregnancy. I was so scared that I was going to lose Brady the whole time I was pregnant with him and I didn’t let myself enjoy every moment, I didn’t want to do that this second time. Just like before, I was pregnant the first month, but like so many times before, I quickly miscarried. I was so upset. I thought we had figured out what my problem was, I thought Clomid was the magic pill that solved all my problems, but once again, we didn’t have answers to why we lost this baby. Steven and I both agreed we’d try one last time to add a baby to our family and if it didn’t work then we were done forever, one of us was going to get fixed. We were perfectly happy with just having Brady. We honestly didn’t feel like anything was missing in our lives, we just wanted to give Brady a sibling. And I loved everything about being a mother and I really wanted one more chance to be a mama again. So, we made an appointment with my fertility doctor in Dallas. We were determined to give this last time our best shot, that way if things didn’t go well, we knew we’d given it our best shot and it just wasn’t meant to be, but we didn’t want to live with regrets. The fertility doctor examined me and said everything looked good. This time he prescribed Clomid (lowest dose), Follistem (lowest dose), and Ovidril (a trigger shot to make me ovulate). I had to go have sonograms every other day to measure my follicles. I was being monitored very closely. About a week after I took the Ovidril injection (to make me ovulate) I started feeling like something wasn’t right. One night after work, I noticed my belly was swollen and I thought that was very weird. If I were pregnant, it was too early to know for sure, I would have only been 3 weeks pregnant which is was way too early to be showing. I knew I was pregnant, I’d never tried and not gotten pregnant but something seemed wrong. The next morning my belly was flat again, so I thought maybe the swelling was just a fluke. I got dressed, took Brady to the baby sitter, and headed to work. I looked normal that morning and by the afternoon, I looked like I was 4 months pregnant. I knew something was wrong. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I didn’t feel well and my stomach was looking huge. So, I called the fertility doctor and talked to the nurse. I told her my symptoms and she said it sounded like my ovaries had overstimulated. She told me to take it easy and call her back if it got worse. I got off the phone and called Steven to tell him what was going on and then all of a sudden, I got another phone call and it was my nurse. She called back and said they actually wanted to see me the next day to check everything out. So, I took off work and we headed to Dallas. I looked so pregnant; it was the weirdest thing ever. I gave blood and they did a sonogram. The technician said my abdomen was full of fluid, my ovaries had definitely overstimulated; then she said, you see those too tiny dots…..it looks like you’re having twins. I was so shocked she could see those two tiny dots so early but I was also so excited! I have always wanted twins, my whole life I’ve wanted twins and now it was happening. Steven was more like “oh crap”, but in a funny way. Because I had so much fluid in my belly, I had to have it drained before I left the appointment. I will spare you the details but let me tell you, it was not a good experience, at all! On our way home the nurse called me and said they had gotten more results from my blookwork back and I was definitely pregnant was multiples. I thought that was a weird phone call, I was like, yeah, I know twins are multiples. I laughed and Steven just looked stunned. The next week, I went back to Dallas because all the fluid had come back and I was really uncomfortable. I had another sonogram and sure enough there was more fluid. But instead of two babies, the tech saw four babies! My doctor talked to us and said I needed to have the fluid drained again. Afterwards, he sat us down and talked about the risks of having quadruplets and that he didn’t recommend us having that many babies. He talked to us about our options. All of a sudden all the happiness of begin pregnant was gone. There were so many emotions that we felt, it’s hard to put them all into words, but I’d say we were mostly shocked, confused, and worried. We went back the next week for another checkup. We were so worried, but I honestly didn’t think all four babies would still be alive. I mean, seriously, I had 4 miscarriages, I have problems carrying one baby, there’s no way all 4 of the babies were still alive. I was prepared for them to tell me we’d lost one, two, maybe all four of the babies because that’s what my history would make one believe, right? Well, things didn’t go as planned, obviously; the sonogram technician started the sonogram and it was really quiet. She called for the doctor and he came in, and he said, “this is bad”, then he turned around and walked out. The tech showed us what she was looking at, we didn’t just have 4 babies, we had 8 babies! I immediately started shaking uncontrollably all over. I didn’t cry I just shook. She asked me if I was okay and I said yes, but I wasn’t, how could anyone be okay when you’ve just been told you’re pregnant with 8 babies. Two of the babies were measuring behind and were just sacs, nothing had developed, but we had 6 babies with heartbeats. My doctor met with us after the sonogram and told us we could not have 6 babies. He told us that most if not all of the babies would have severe disabilities, we could lose some or all of them at any point in the pregnancy, on and on. He had nothing good to say about our situation. He looked me in the eyes, and said, “Michelle you can not have 6 babies.” I just sat in silence. I felt so sick to my stomach. I was so worried because he told us something could happen to me during the pregnancy or delivery. All I could think about was Brady, what had we done to Brady? If I go ahead with the pregnancy and die then I leave him motherless and Steven would be a single father. If we have six babies with severe disabilities how could we provide for them and take care of them and what would we do with Brady, everything would change for him. How were we going to afford this many babies plus Brady? It was overwhelming and scary. But when the doctor told me I could not have this many babies, I thought, oh yes I can you just watch me. After hearing about all the bad things that could go wrong with the pregnancy, I still couldn’t imagine killing my babies. And I did the only thing you can do in that situation, I turned to God; no, I couldn’t carry this many babies, but God is bigger than me, He’s bigger than the best doctors in the world, He’s bigger than all the medicine and medical technology in the world, He could help me have all these babies. And in that instant, my mind was made, I was going to do my best to stay pregnant as long as I could to help these babies have the best possible chance at surviving. As soon as we got to the car, I call my OB/GYN from home. She was shocked but was very supportive. She helped calm me down and she pointed me in the direction of finding a doctor that could help me with my pregnancy. The next week, I went back to the fertility doctor and I had lost one of the babies. We now had 5 babies with healthy heartbeats and were growing right on track. The fertility doctor gave us the number of a doctor that specializes in selective reductions. He told us we had until 12 weeks to decide what we wanted to do, keep them all, reduce to 2, or abort the whole pregnancy. We left that appointment and never went back. That afternoon we went to our first appointment with the Maternal Fetal Specialist in Dallas. She did her own sonogram and confirmed that we were in fact expecting five babies. She talked to us about the risks and options but never pushed anything on us, in fact, she told me she’d see me through the pregnancy no matter what I decided to do and that made me feel good; she wanted to be my doctor. So, that was it, Dr. Y became my doctor and was with us every step of the way. She told me that I would have to deliver the babies at Baylor University Medical Center in downtown Dallas and that was fine with us. I know this is going to sound crazy but I didn’t get on the internet and look up anything about my pregnancy. I didn’t want to see or hear anything that would scare me so I just didn’t look so when we were talking to Dr. Y, I asked her what you even called 5 babies and she was the one who told us we were having quintuplets.

 

I was pretty sick with morning sickness the first 14 weeks of the pregnancy. I was also amazed at how fast my belly grew with the quints. At 10 weeks we decided to announce to all our friends and loved ones about our BIG news. We made our announcement at church. My uncle got up and read a note we’d written explaining our situation and our request for prayers. When he got to the part that I was pregnant with 5 babies it was like the air was sucked out of the church. It was a big shock for everyone. But we were so thankful that everyone was so supportive and we could feel everyone’s prayers and that gave us so much peace. I went to the doctor every week. One week I’d see my regular OB/GYN at home and the next week, I’d go to Dallas to see the MFM. Each week all five babies were growing right on track, active, had strong heartbeats, and looked great. It was the most crazy, yet amazing sight to see five little babies on the sonogram screen. Around 13-14 weeks, we found out the sexes of the quints. The doctor looked at quint A and said, it’s a girl! I was so excited; I was going to get to be a mama to a little girl. Then he went to quint B and he said, this one is a girl too! I looked at Steven and he had a funny look on his face, like what in the world! He went to quint C and said, this one looks like a girl too. I was starting to get worried that we weren’t going to have a little boy in there and I wanted Brady to have a brother so badly. Finally when he got to quint D he said, we finally have a boy! Steven and I were both so relieved. Then he went to quint E and said this one is a boy too! We were thrilled, 2 boys and 3 girls! We kept it a secret for several weeks just to make sure and every week the doctors kept telling us we were having 2 boys and 3 girls. Finally on Christmas, we had our gender reveal with our families and everyone was so excited! About a week after our big reveal, at our next appointment, the doctor said, I only see one boy. Steven was like, no, you said two boys, so there’s two boys. We really thought the doctors just counted someone twice and we still had two boys but every appointment after that they only saw one little boy. So that made us have to come up with 2 boy names (just in case) and 4 girl names. Talk about a struggle. We couldn’t agree on any names.

 

Right before Christmas, when I was around 17 weeks pregnant, the length of my cervix shortened from 4cm to 2cm. That is not horrible but it was a big enough change that my doctors decided to put in a cerclage (a stich in my cervix). Thankfully I got to go back home and be on bed rest at my house. Lying around all day was so boring but I knew it was what was best for my babies so that’s what I did. I got up to use the restroom and take showers and that was about it. My mother-in-law would bring me lunch each day and that was so helpful and kept me off my feet. At 22w5d my doctors decided to put my in the hospital for the remainder of my pregnancy so they could keep a close eye on me. They didn’t want me to be three hours away and something happen. So, on January 31, 2014 I became a resident of Baylor University Medical Center (BUMC). It was awful being so far away from Brady. He had no idea what was going on, all he knew was his mama wasn’t at home anymore. Steven stayed at home during the week with Brady and continued to work (Brady continued to go to his baby sitter) and on the weekends, Steven would come stay with me in the hospital (one of our family members would keep Brady for us and someone would bring him out on the weekends for a few hours so I could see him). So during the week, I was alone in the hospital. Thankfully, I had so many visitors come by to see me and it was nice to have the company. And I can’t say enough good things about my awesome nurses. They were sweet, funny, and took such good care of me; they made being homesick bearable. As much as I missed my guys, and my home, I knew being in the hospital was where I needed to be if I wanted to give the quints the best chance to survive. Each week I continued to get bigger and was staying pregnant. I took medicine to help with the contractions (I never had too many issues with contractions or anything else for that matter). It is surprising that to be as small as I am, I’m 5’2” and usually weigh around 110 lbs., that I carried the quints just like I carried Brady. I gained all my weight in my belly, the rest of me stayed the same, for the most part, and I didn’t gain a lot of weight. At my last weigh in, exactly one week before the quints were born, I weighed 149lbs. I do believe I gained weight during that last week (the hospital only weighed me on Tuesdays and the quints were born on a Tuesday), so I’m guessing I weighted around 155lbs when I delivered. I was uncomfortable, I think a lot of that was from lying around all day long, but seriously, I felt fine. My blood pressure was good (usually on the low side), my contractions weren’t bad at all; I never had an episode where they had to try to stop labor. Breathing got harder the bigger I got and I could not lie on my back for very long without feeling like I was going to pass out. The only thing that went wrong was I failed my glucose test and had gestational diabetes, which is pretty common with a pregnancy with multiples. Just like with Brady, I took Lovenox (a blood thinner injection) everyday. But that was pretty much it. Eating was hard and got harder the bigger I got. I drank lots of Boost during my pregnancy to add extra calories. I thankfully never lost restroom privileges and was allowed to get up when needed on my own. I took a shower every night; I washed my hair every other day to cut down on the amount of time I was sitting up. I did have to wear the leg compressor things that help prevent blood clots, but those weren’t too bad, it just got harder to put them on and take them off the bigger I got. Overall, for a quint pregnancy, I think I had a pretty low-key and easy pregnancy. And the only way I can describe what it felt like to feel 5 babies kicking inside of me is to compare it to a lighting storm. You never know where a flash of lightening is going to strike and sometimes there was a lot of strikes at one time, that’s pretty much what it felt like in my tummy. It was honestly one of the most amazing experiences ever, and I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to experience such an amazing and unique pregnancy.

 

Brady turned two years old on March 15th, so Steven brought him to the hospital and we had a little party for him in the hospital family room. My mom, mother-in-law, and a couple of my friends were there to celebrate. My mom brought a cake for Brady and we gave him his presents. It was so nice to get to be with him on his actual birthday. I sat up in a wheelchair for about 30 to 45 minutes and by the end of it I was feeling very uncomfortable. My feet were really swollen so I had to go back to my room and lay down. I hated not being able to do more for Brady on his birthday but I was just physically unable. Thankfully the swelling in my feet went down after I layed down for a while. But for the next couple of days, my hands started swelling when I’d get out of bed to go to the restroom. It wasn’t anything bad or uncomfortable, but it did concern me. I told my nurse and she said they’d keep an eye on it. On March 17th, my friend Anita came to visit me and brought me lunch. We spent most of the day talking and laughing and eating, it was heavenly. I felt fine. I hadn’t taken my 29th week pregnancy picture yet, so I got her to snap a picture before she left for the day. We had made plans to have lunch the next day and I had already given her my lunch order; I believe it was going to be Mexican food. That night, three of the nurses were in my room and we were talking and laughing like we were 4 college girls hanging out in our dorm room. We were having so much fun. One of the nurses gave me a fork and said when you get to the point that you just can’t take being pregnant anymore, here’s a fork to hold up and say, “Stick a fork in me, I’m done.” We all got a big kick out of it and laughed, but I made it very clear that I wasn’t done just yet. My next big goal was 30 weeks and I was less than a week away. I felt good I just knew I was going to make it. I went to sleep that night not knowing it was going to be my last night to be pregnant. Around 4am I woke up to a pretty strong contraction. It wasn’t painful but it was much stronger than the little tightening contractions I’d been experiencing every-so-often. Plus this was the first time I’d noticed having a contraction during the night, I usually felt contractions after I’d sat up too long. I laid there and a few minutes later, I had another one. I knew the drill, if you have contractions you need to do 2 things before you panic, 1. Empty your bladder, and 2. Drink lots of water. So, that’s what I did and I waited. Unfortunately, I had a few more contractions, fairly close together, so that’s when I decided it was time to call my nurse. This was the first time out of the 6+ weeks I’d been in the hospital that I had ever called the nurses’ station for a problem (usually I had accidently hit the button, Brady had hit the button, or I was calling for ice cream) so they knew something was wrong when they got a call from me at 4:30am. My nurse was immediately in my room asking what was wrong. She quickly had me hooked up to the monitors to check my contractions and she gave me an IV to get fluids in me quickly to slow down the contractions. Everyone, including me, was very calm. I knew the contractions were “real” contractions but they weren’t the double over think you’re going to die kind of contractions, so I really thought I was fine. My doctor came to the hospital around 7am and did a sonogram. Everything looked great but I was dilating and Baby A’s head was in the birth canal and right at the cerclage. The plan was to go to Labor & Delivery and try to get the stiches out without having to deliver. That’s when I started getting concerned. I was at the hospital completely alone. My whole family was 3 hours away so I called and told them to hurry up and get to the hospital because the last thing I wanted was to give birth to my quintuplets without Steven by my side. Thankfully my friends Paula and Anita were in Dallas and rushed over to the hospital to be with me until my family made it. I can’t tell you how thankful I was to have those two ladies with me by my side. They kept me company and kept my family informed about what was happening and how I was doing because the last thing on my mind was to be on my phone. I was focusing on keeping these babies inside me. I was hooked up to all the monitors to find the quints’ heartbeats and measure my contractions. I was also given Magnesium to help with the babies’ brain development. It took Steven and my sister, Kristian, about 2.5 hours to get to BUMC (they were flying down the road). Steven made it just in time for the doctors to try to take my cerclage out. Because I was taking Lovenox (blood thinner) it wasn’t safe to have an epidural, so they tried to take the stitches out of my cervix, without any pain medicine and talk about painful. I couldn’t take the pain and the doctors couldn’t get all the stiches out and in the process of trying to remove the cerclage, I went into full-blown labor. So, the doctors made the call to deliver. Since it wasn’t an emergency delivery, everything was very calm. They told me they’d deliver at 2pm to let all the NICU staff get ready and in place. Plus they shut down an extra OR to resuscitate two of the babies. They did go ahead and give me an epidural because I was going to deliver. And a little after 2pm they came to wheel me to the OR. I don’t know why, but I really wasn’t too scared. I was nervous but I would have thought I would have been terrified when the moment came. Steven was able to be with me the whole time, which help keep me calm. And I’m sure they gave me some medicine to help me be calm. There were a lot of people in the OR but it was very calm and organized. Everyone was happy, cheerful, and excited to see quintuplets be born. (We were the first set of quintuplets born at Baylor University Medical Center.) Then came the moment of truth, it was time to get these babies out of my belly. I just kept praying that everything was going to be okay. At 2:46pm the doctor said, “It’s a GIRL! She’s crying Michelle.” At 2:47pm the doctor said, “It’s a GIRL! She’s crying mama!” At 2:48pm the doctor said, “It’s a BOY! He’s crying.” Then a little break because we all know The Diva has to be different and come out feet first. At 2:50pm the doctor said, “It’s a GIRL! She’s crying.” And then another little break because the last baby was squished way up in my ribs, and at 2:52pm the doctor said, “It’s a GIRL! And she’s crying.” It was an amazing experience and one that I’ll never forget. They were tiny but they were fighters. I felt immediate relief after the Baby A was out, I honestly could tell a difference in being able to breathe. It was nice to be able to breath again. But of course, my mind immediately started worrying about how the babies were doing. Steven went to see them and came back with a quick report. And on their way to the NICU, the nurses wheeled 3 of the babies by so I could get a quick glimpse. After recovery, the nurses wheeled me in my hospital bed to see each of the babies. I couldn’t believe how small they were. I didn’t know what to expect but it was shocking to see a baby so small. They were hooked up to all kinds of machines but were doing really well. The first baby we got to see and touch was Baby B. The nurses told us a little bit about her personality and we decided to name her Tessa Suzanne. Tessa weighed 2lb 14oz. The next baby we got to see was our smallest quint, Baby D. Since she was the smallest I knew we needed the grace of God to be with her and help her fight to live and that’s why she’s named Gracie Lou. Gracie weighed 2lb 7oz. The next baby we got to see was Baby A. After hearing a little bit about her, we decided to name her Mia Danielle. Mia weighed 2lb 10oz. Then came the boy of the bunch. He was the biggest of the quints and was the easiest one to name, Brant Lee weighed 3lb 6oz (one ounce from being a whole pound bigger than our smallest, Gracie…he was hogging all the food apparently). So that left Baby E, she was off in a different part of the NICU and it broke my heart that she was so far away from the others, but thankfully the nurses moved some babies around and she was back close to the others the next day. There was only one name left so she was named Rayleigh Ann. Rayleigh weighed 2lb 8oz.

 

Just like that, in a span of 6 minutes, our little family of three grew to a family of eight! My recovery went very smoothly. I didn’t have any complications after having the quints. I was very, very, very sore for the first 2 weeks but that was about it. Steven and I went to the NICU everyday to see the babies. My milk came in pretty fast, so I was able to start pumping and give them my milk. Life with 5 babies in the NICU was difficult. It was so hard to watch our babies fight for each breath. The beeps from the monitors were terrifying. Not being able to just pick up your baby without having to ask permission or for help from the nurse was a tough adjustment. The last thing any parent wants is to see your baby(ies) suffering, hurting, or sick. I felt very responsible for all the pain and hardship they went through. It’s hard to look at your baby who should still be snuggled up in your belly, fighting to live. I was still suppose to be breathing and eating for them, but here they were having to do it on their own. But, instead of getting depressed and upset, I had to focus on being strong and being there for my babies.

 

We were so blessed that our friends, Dave and Paula, let us stay with them, in Carrollton, while the babies were in the NICU. While everything was going on, our family stepped up in a big way to keep Brady and take care of him. Brady’s babysitter, Miss Courtney, was such a blessing to our family during that time. She continued to keep Brady and she even let him stay the night with her the day the quints were born. I will forever be grateful to Courtney for being there for Brady and loving him during that crazy time in his life. Our family members brought Brady to Dallas on the weekends to visit me. Paula and Dave were so amazing to welcome my whole family into their home. And it was so nice to have them as my support system once Steven went back home to go to work.

 

After I was cleared to drive on my own, around 3 weeks post delivery; Steven went back home to be with Brady and to work. I’d drive to Baylor every morning and stay all day long then drive back to Carrollton and rest/sleep then repeat. I did this every day for four months. The babies did well in the NICU. There were a couple of issues here and there, but overall, they did well. It was discovered that Mia has a narrow airway so she had to have her airway stretched a couple of times. Rayleigh almost died on us before the doctors figured out she needed to have a hole in her heart closed. A simple surgery fixed all that. All our girls had issues with aspirating when they took a bottle, so the doctors decided to place a g-tube for help supplement the nutrition they wouldn’t take by mouth. After 4 ½ months in the NICU we finally got our last baby home. On August 1, 2014 we brought all our quints home to our home. It was so nice to finally have all eight of us under one roof.

 

So as you can see, getting to where we are today was no easy process. There were some really high highs and some really low lows. The heartbreak over losing so many babies to miscarriage still hurts after all this time, despite being so abundantly blessed with six beautiful and healthy kids. The six kids we get to see, love on, teach, and raise will never take the place of our babies who are in heaven. But, with that being said, we are so incredibly thankful for Brady, Mia, Tessa, Brant, Gracie, and Rayleigh. I can’t imagine my life without them. They are the six most amazing kids I’ve ever met. Yes, our life is tough, we don’t have as much money in the bank as we once did, and we have to make a lot more sacrifices to provide for them, but I wouldn’t change this wild, crazy, and amazing life I’ve been blessed with for anything in this world. I guess the biggest lessons I’ve learned from our journey to becoming parents The Six Sweet Seals, is that God is in control of everything. Sometimes he says yes to our prayers, sometimes he says no, and sometimes he says wait, I have something much bigger planned for you. Our plans aren’t always going to go our way; I learned to trust in God’s plan for my life. When I was hurting, scared, upset, searching for answers, and heartbroken, I learned to really lean on God and my faith grew by leaps and bounds. He always provides.