SALT LAKE CITY – A Utah woman gave birth to a healthy set of quintuplets over the weekend with help from a team of eight doctors, one anesthesiologist and dozens of nurses ensuring the mother and the tiny babies survived.
Guillermina and Fernando Garcia's five babies -- three girls and two boys -- weigh between 2 and 3 pounds each and are expected to stay at the University of Utah hospital in Salt Lake City for another six weeks. Doctors predict they will grow up completely healthy.
Guillermina Garcia, 34, carried the babies until 31 1/2 weeks -- seven weeks shorter than most single-birth pregnancies but about three weeks longer than most quintuplet mothers. The extra time in the womb helped the babies' lungs develop more than other quintuplets, said Dr. Elizabeth O'Brien, of the newborn intensive care unit.
"They are all doing remarkably well," O'Brien said.
It was the first set of quintuplets ever born at the hospital. Fewer than 10 quintuplet sets are born each year in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counted 37 babies who were born as part of a set of five or more in 2010.
"We feel like we're dreaming," said Fernando Garcia in Spanish at a Tuesday afternoon news conference. "It's incredible that we have five."
The Utah couple used fertility drugs, which increases the odds of a woman having multiple births. They found out early in the pregnancy they were having quintuplets, and Guillermina Garcia had been in the hospital on bed rest since early April.
All five babies were born by cesarean section -- coming out within two minutes. A team of five, including one doctor and two nurses, was waiting for each baby. Their names are Esmeralda, Fatima, Marissa, Fernando and Jordan.
"I was excited to see them and see that they were OK, that everything turned out normally," she said in Spanish.
The largest is baby Fernando, who weighed 3 pounds, 14 ounces. The two baby boys are still using breathing tubes, while the girls are breathing on their own.
Dr. Tracy Manuck served as Guillermina Garcia's doctor at the hospital and called the mother an extraordinary person who never complained, despite suffering from high blood pressure and other medical problems during the pregnancy. The doctors also complimented her husband's support throughout the pregnancy -- including in the operating room Sunday morning.
Though the hospital had never had quintuplets before, they've had many women give birth to triplets and quadruplets and drew on those experiences to help them Sunday, Manuck said.
The beaming couple, originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, now begins a future sure to be filled with droves of dirty diapers, endless hours of trying to calm crying babies and enough bottles and binkies to fill a sink. They also have a 1-year-old girl, Julietta.
They said they have family who live in the area who will help them. Fernando Garcia's bosses have told him to take as much time off as he needs from his work as a welder at a local factory. The family has health insurance, and the Utah Doula Association has setup an account where people can donate to help with the costs of having five babies.
When asked how she plans to care for all five babies, Guillermina Garcia shrugged her shoulders, laughed and said simply: "I don't know."
Her husband smiled and gave a more confident answer: "Now that they're here, we'll find a way," he said. "We're through the hardest part."