Lauren Perkins always dreamt of being a mother one day. The idea of fertility treatment was on the cards as she just spent a difficult year trying to get pregnant but failed.
She and her husband, David, decided to take a vacation to Nicaragua to consider their options.
Whilst there, Lauren talked openly about their struggles to conceive. A priest friend of theirs made a comment:
“Someone up there has big plans for you. I don’t know what, but it will be big.”
Lauren would soon realise these words carried some weight…
Following their trip to Nicaragua, Lauren returned home to Texas. She didn’t think much about what the priest had said during the vacation.
They had decided to try out artificial insemination; the simplest method of assisted fertilisation.
Lauren was convinced that it wouldn’t work but she finally fell pregnant.
Lauren was told by nurses that her HCG levels were very high at her first appointment.
There was a strong possibility more than one child growing inside of her.
Lauren and her husband were delighted at the idea as they struggled for so long to have a child. The idea of having more than one was exciting.
The doctor studied the screen for a few seconds and delivered the shocking news…
The doctor quietly told her: “I count five in there.”
The doctor turned back to the screen and then continued: “Wait a minute! I just found a sixth baby.”
The couple stared at the screen in complete shock.
Lauren and David could reduce the amount of children, or keep them all.
Chances that all six babies would survive the pregnancy were low. To have six at the same time brings on a number of dangerous complications.
Lauren and David finally decided to give all six a fighting chance after much thought.
Their doctors promised to ensure every baby was delivered safely. The hospital wanted to avoid complications associated with the birth.
On April 23, 2012, the day finally arrived. Lauren was in her 30th week of pregnancy.
There were 35 people from the hospital inside the delivery room. Doctors required assistance from six nurses standing by to receive each baby.
“I was nervous and excited all at once. It was starting to sink in that this was for real – I was going to have 6 babies,” Lauren explains.
It only took four minutes to deliver all six.
Andrew, Benjamin, Caroline, Leah, Allison and Levi all weighed between 1 and 2 pounds when they were born.
Lauren said: “I didn’t expect to see my babies until the next day, but each baby’s team rolled them by me one by one on their way up to the NICU, and I got to touch their little fingers.”
For the first couple of days the children were not healthy enough to be with their parents.
After four days, Allison was stable enough to be held. It took ten minutes for the nurse to remove to all the wires and monitors so Lauren could hold her.
“And that moment, when I got to hold my baby, was when I became a mother…of sextuplets,” Lauren explained.
The first few weeks were crucial in the lives of the babies. Their parents still worried about complications that could potentially lead to disabilities or, in the worst case, death.
Thankfully, all six recovered… slowly but surely!
After many intense weeks in neonatal care the family were finally able to hold all of their babies.
Five of the babies were able to go home at four-months-old. But Leah remained in hospital for a few weeks, as she was the smallest.
“She was literally buried under everybody else in the womb,” said Lauren, “so she didn’t get the right nutritional flow. Her brain was not fully developed.”
The family had support from loved ones, which has helped them to get through the most difficult of periods.
Donations received from both family and strangers who were touched by Lauren’s story.
Lauren, sings praise for all the medical staff involved as her children may never have been strong enough to go home.
“My doctor was the best and I’m forever grateful to him for the level of care I received,” Lauren says. “Also, the NICU staff who put in hours upon hours getting our children ready to come home and teaching us the ins and outs of preemie care. So many of these people have a special place in our hearts and family.”
Just recently, Andrew Noah, Benjamin Luke, Caroline Grace, Leah Michelle, Allison Kate and Levi Thomas celebrated their 6th birthday!
The family have adapted to a new busy way of life.
“I call it semi-controlled chaos,” Lauren explains.
“We had to get very scheduled and very structured and organized, especially in the first year.”
The boys – Andrew, Benjamin and Levi – and two of the girls – Allison and Caroline – are perfectly healthy today.
Things have been tougher for Leah, as a result of her brain not being fully developed prior to birth. She will probably require long time care from her parents.
However she has started school with her other siblings.
“She goes to general preschool for children with disabilities. But she always gives 100 percent and laughs all the time. She is our sunshine!” Lauren says.
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