Sunday, March 4, 2007

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.

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