When Lauren and David Perkins tried to conceive for the first time, they had no idea it would become such a roller coaster. They didn't expect that a regular trip to the doctor's office would change their lives forever.
Lauren had always wanted to become a mom since the day she married David Perkins. The couple was very hopeful of becoming pregnant since they were very young and healthy. "I was going to have two kids, two or three years apart, preferably a boy and a girl," Lauren revealed. But things didn't work out as she had intended.
The couple did a lot of work to get pregnant, including taking vitamins and having a healthy diet. However, every month, the pregnancy test was negative. After 18 months of failed attempts, they realized that they had to try something different.
They thought they needed a break first to release the stress. So, they took a vacation to Nicaragua along with some friends. While they were there, Laura told their friends about their struggles to conceive. One of their friends, a priest, told the couple, "Someone up there has big plans for you. I don't know what, but it will be big." Although it sounded strange back then, Lauren would soon realize how wise these words were...
After they returned home to Texas, the Perkins decided to try artificial insemination. This method typically results in a 25-percent chance of pregnancy, so Lauren was convinced that it wouldn't work. Meanwhile, she was ready to look for other ways to help her get pregnant. Little did she know that something crazy was about to happen.
After the very first check, doctors told Lauren that she was pregnant and that she had really high HCG levels. High HCG levels during pregnancy could indicate that doctors had calculated her timing wrong, a molar pregnancy, certain diseases, or even multiple births. The news worried Lauren.
Doctors finally ruled out other possibilities and confirmed that Lauren was carrying more than one child. The couple was ecstatic at the result. After all, they had struggled for so long to have a child, and they had eventually become pregnant...with two babies they thought. What happened next was really too good to be true.
Soon the ultrasound came. The staggered doctor stared at the screen for several seconds and delivered some incredible news. "I count five in there," the doctor continued, "Wait a minute! I just found a sixth baby." The couple was thrilled but in complete shock.
The chances that all six babies would survive were low, and six at the same time can bring many dangerous complications. The doctor gave Lauren and David the option of selective reduction. How would the couple choose?
Lauren and David finally decided to take the plunge and give all six a fighting chance. "Our feelings range from excited, overwhelmed, and scared, all at the same time," David wrote on the couple's blog at the time.
With all the babies growing in her body day by day, Lauren began to experience lots of back and foot pain. It was hard for her to travel far for long. She and her husband David were looking forward to the big day.
On April 23, 2012, the day arrived when Lauren was in her 30th week of pregnancy. A total of 35 medical workers gathered inside the delivery room, including six nurses ready to receive each baby as they came into the world. It eventually took four minutes to deliver all six, Andrew, Benjamin, Caroline, Leah, Allison, and Levi.
The normal delivery time is anywhere from the 38th week to the 41st week of pregnancy. Lauren went in much earlier. All the babies were tiny, weighing only 1 to 2 pounds. They were not healthy enough to be with their parents for the first few days. Lauren said, "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."
The first few weeks were crucial in the lives of the sextuplets. Doctors kept them in the hospital to ensure there were no complications. Fortunately, all six recovered slowly but surely. Five of the babies were released to go home at four months old except Leah.
Leah had to stay behind because she was the smallest and had struggled for space inside the womb. "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." But it turned out Leah was much stronger than Lauren had thought.
Little but resilient, Leah finally went home to be with her siblings. Lauren and David thanked all the medical staff involved in helping them. Without their help, the six children could never have been strong enough to reunite with mom and dad.
Having one child is one thing, but having six is a whole different monster. This meant figuring out feeding schedules, nap schedules, and everything in between. "We had to get very scheduled and very structured and organized, especially in the first year," Lauren said.
Lauren and David have received strong support from their friends, family, and community. Even strangers were touched by their story and donated to them. All these helped the couple get through the toughest periods. All six children are growing happily.
If you can believe it, the six children are now seven years old. The boys, Andrew, Benjamin and Levi, and two of the girls, Allison and Caroline, are perfectly healthy today. Leah has experienced some hardships because her brain was not fully developed before birth. But she always gives 100 percent and laughs all the time.
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