The parents of Houston-area sextuplets born last month said Wednesday one of their daughters continues to battle some health problems but is a "fighter," and they are looking forward to the day she and her siblings can go home, possibly in a couple of months.
Lauren and David Perkins said their three boys — Andrew, Benjamin and Levi — and two of their girls — Allison and Caroline — are doing well. One daughter, Leah, still is catching up to her siblings. She had surgery Monday to repair a portion of her bowel.
Lauren Perkins, 28, said it has been upsetting to watch Leah struggle.
"Leah is just a roller coaster for sure," she said. "We get excited for all of her gains and then it's heartbreaking when she has a big setback. She's been able to recover from everything so far. We are just confident she will be able to pull through."
David Perkins, 29, said dealing with Leah's health issues has helped the couple be more patient and "appreciate the small victories."
"We are just thanking God every day for our babies and we are looking forward to bringing them home," said Lauren Perkins, who worked as a school psychologist. She and her husband live in the Houston suburb of Pearland.
Health problems Leah was experiencing in utero prompted doctors to deliver the babies April 23, about 10 weeks premature, said Dr. Charles Hankins, a neonatologist at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston.
"In a way, Leah is the boss. She continues to drive a lot of the decisions," Hankins said. "All of the babies for their age are doing pretty much as expected. Five of 6 are following a very rapid path. Leah is catching up, slowly but surely."
Leah is the only baby who remains on a ventilator. The others are using a tube in their nose and mouth that partially inflates their lungs so their bodies don't have to work as hard, he said. Some of them could stop using this tube later this week.
Four of the babies will have their central lines, which are used to support their nutrition, removed Wednesday. Levi will have it removed Thursday. Leah will continue being fed through an IV line.
"Every time we withdraw something and it gets to stay off, that's a good thing," Hankins said.
When the children were born, the heaviest of them weighed 2 pounds, 15 ounces. Hankins said the babies should weigh 4 to 5 pounds by the time they can go home. Doctors are hopeful that will be in about two months.
Lauren Perkins conceived the sextuplets after undergoing fertility treatment. She said when she and her husband first talked about starting a family, they thought about having two children. But they are ready to raise six children and grateful for the support received from family, friends, even strangers, she said.
"We are just an ordinary couple chosen by God with an extraordinary responsibility and an extraordinary blessing," said David Perkins, who works as an IT analyst.