Monday, March 26, 2007

Babies and Belly

We had yet another ultrasound last week, however these babies seem determined to keep me in suspense over their gender. The ultrasound tech was able to get some fairly decent views, but because of the babies small size, the results are still inconclusive. After looking at the babies and finding two that definitely appeared to be boys, she did feel that the other babies, whose parts were less obvious, were likely to be girls. So her conclusion (with 70% confidence--the statistician in me had to throw that in) was that there are three girls and two boys! This would be the ideal gender split, in my opinion, so I am hoping she is right! Check out our website if you want to view the ultrasound video (from March 21st) and make your own conclusions.

During this ultrasound, the technician also took several measurements on all the babies and found that they were all measuring 1-4 days larger than average. This is frequently not the case for higher order multiples, so we were very happy to hear that our babies are doing so well!

Below is a recent shot of my belly. I will be 16 weeks tomorrow, but my size is equivalent to about 26 weeks for a singleton pregnancy.

As you can probably guess, the only photographer available to take the picture at the time was my 4-year old daughter, Kaiya. I am pretty sure she felt the need to express her creativity by using a unique camera angle.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Results are In, but Some Babies Demand a Recount

I had another ultrasound on Friday with my OB, and the babies look great! It is amazing how much more detail we could see on this ultrasound compared to the one we had 3 weeks ago. All the babies appear to be growing normally and have good heartbeats. I am doing well and my body is not doing anything it shouldn't (like preparing for labor). The ultrasound tech tried to determine the gender of the babies, but some babies were more cooperative than others. As of now, it looks like Baby A is a girl, Babies B and C are very modest, and Babies D and E are boys. I have an appointment with the specialist this week, so hopefully B and C will be a little bit more accommodating!

Baby A--Girl

Baby B

Baby C

Baby D--Boy

Baby E--Boy

We should also have a video clip from the ultrasound up on our website ( sometime soon.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

What are the Odds?

When you decide to pursue fertility treatments, the doctor warns you that your odds for conceiving multiples are increased. For the treatment I was using, they told me that I had a 20% chance for twins and a 5% chance for triplets. They didn't even give me a figure for anything higher than triplets, because it was small enough to be negligible. I later found out that if you are using fertility treatments, the odds for conceiving quintuplets is 1 in 56,000. Even if I had known that statistic upfront, I am sure I would not have been concerned--after all, no one ever thinks that they are going to be the "one". (With the exception of lottery players, who all expect to the "one").

To put these odds in perspective, I looked up a few other interesting odds:

Odds of being hit by lightening in your lifetime: 1 in 3000
Odds of injury from mowing the lawn: 1 in 3623
Odds of being audited by the IRS: 1 in 175
Odds of dating a supermodel: 1 in 88,000
Odds of catching a ball at a major league baseball game: 1 in 563
Odds of becoming a pro athlete: 1 in 22,000
Odds of striking it rich on Antiques Roadshow: 1 in 60,000

Our next ultrasound is tomorrow and we are hoping that they will be able to determine the gender of the babies. Because I am a numbers geek (otherwise known as a statistician), I calculated the odds for each of the possible gender combinations.

5 boys, 0 girls: 1 in 32
4 boys, 1 girl: 5 in 32
3 boys, 2 girls: 10 in 32
2 boys, 3 girls: 10 in 32
1 boy, 4 girls: 5 in 32
0 boys, 5 girls: 1 in 32

Ideally, I would like to have some of each, a 3/2 split. The odds are pretty good (about 62.5% probability) that this will be the case. However, based on my historical ability to beat the odds, I am not placing any bets!

Note: For more interesting odds, visit

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The End of the First Trimester!

As of this week, I am officially done with the first trimester! The email I got from this week stated, "Your belly may soon be big enough to announce to the world that you are expecting...". Clearly I passed that stage a long time ago! Here is a shot of my belly this week (at 13 weeks and 4 days):

The good thing about a rapidly expanding waistline is that I spent a lot less time than usual in the "fat" stage of pregnancy---that stage where people can't quite tell if you are pregnant or just putting on extra weight. One of my favorite pieces of advice from Dave Barry, a humor columnist, is: "Never, ever ask a woman if she is pregnant unless you see a baby exiting her body at that moment!"

Since 5 seems to be my lucky number, I have put together a list of the top 5 best things about the first trimester:

5. Somehow avoiding having 5 times the morning sickness. In fact, I had almost none.

4. Being able to eat 5 times as much chocolate. Maybe that is how I have avoided having 5 times the number of unexplained crying episodes that normally accompany pregnancy (though Jayson may argue differently on that one!)

3. Having 5 times the number of ultrasounds.

2. The 5 minute jaw-dropping pause that occurs right after you tell someone you are expecting quintuplets.

1. The 5x5x5x5x5 people that have called, emailed, prayed for us, offered to help and given support.


Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Diet

When I first contacted Dr. Elliott in Arizona, he put me on a diet. I have been on many diets in my lifetime, but this diet is like no other. I am supposed to eat 5000 calories a day of, and I quote, "junk food and red meat." The goal, according to the doctor, is for me to gain 75-100 lbs by the time I deliver. Since the babies will soon be occupying much of the space where my stomach is supposed to be, I was instructed to gain 75% of the required amount by 26 weeks. I was ordered to eat Big Macs and milkshakes and shun everything low-fat. I was told that salads are a waste, because they take up space and have too few calories. Hearing these words come out of a doctor's mouth was almost as shocking as hearing that I was carrying five babies!

At first, the diet seemed pretty great---I could eat all the chocolate and ice cream I wanted with no guilt! But the excitement wore off pretty quickly after the first few days, and I actually find it pretty difficult to eat that many calories. I am also supposed to eat 20% of the calories from protein, which doesn't seem too bad until you figure that 20% of 5000 calories amounts to about 250 grams of protein per day. So I guess it is kind of like the Atkins diet and the Seefood diet (everything you see, you eat) mixed together.

The doctor based his diet regimen on a book by Dr. Barbara Luke entitle, "When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, and Quads" (yes, I know it doesn't include quints, but no book does---trust me, I have looked). Amazingly enough, Dr. Luke actually has data that shows that by following her eating plan, babies have higher birth weights and fewer problems than other babies of the same gestational age.

Anyway, I guess I am off to have another hot fudge brownie sundae----after all, I want to do what is best for these babies :-)


Finding the Best Medical Care

Once we decided to go ahead with the quintuplet pregnancy, one of our main concerns was finding the best doctor to help us through the pregnancy. About two weeks after we learned the news, we got in contact with a gal who lives in Houston who had quads about two years ago. She told us about a doctor in Phoenix, Dr. John Elliott, who she used during her pregnancy. After doing some research, we found that Dr. Elliott, also known as the "quad god", has worked with 84 sets of quads and 6 sets of quints---more than anyone else in the country. The average age for delivery of quads and quints nationwide is about 28-29 weeks, however the average for Dr. Elliott's patients is a little over 32 weeks. Not only that, the babies born under Dr. Elliot's care have lower mortality and morbidity rates than other babies of the same gestational age. I immediately tried to get a phone consultation with this doctor, but things moved slowly, as they often do in the medical world. Their office required a referral from my doctors office, which took some time.

In the mean time, I started looking for doctors in Austin. While the doctor in Arizona sounded amazing, it would mean that I would have to leave my family and friends (most notably my husband) and move to Arizona for several months to complete the pregnancy and wait for all of the babies to get out of the NICU and be ready to travel back to Texas.

My first visit with an Austin perinatologist (an obstetrical sub-specialist who deals with high-risk pregnancies) was awful. Even though I told him upfront that I had decided not to reduce, he spent the balance of our visit telling me I made the wrong choice and that there was still time to change my mind. I knew that there was no way I wanted to see him for even one more visit, let alone the rest of the pregnancy.

My visit with the second perinatologist went much better. While he told me that my decision to keep the babies was a risky one, he respected my decision and mapped out a plan for trying to achieve the best possible outcome. I also found out that he had delivered the only other set of quints in Austin.

By this time, I had finally gotten all the referrals in the right place and I was able to talk with Dr. Elliott in Phoenix. After consulting with him, both Jayson and I felt that going to Arizona was the best option, despite the sacrifices it would require. His experience and track record are unmatched, and we are willing to do whatever it takes to give these babies the best chance possible.

Dr. Elliott wants me to come out to Arizona in my 18th week of pregnancy (I am currently 12.5 weeks). Once there, I will be put on bedrest for 5-6 weeks, after which I will likely spend the remainder of the pregnancy in the hospital. Fortunately, I have several family members in the Phoenix area who will be there to help me.