College: Duke University class of 1997 (BA History & Psychology)
Employer: Enterprise Holdings (Area Car Sales Manager)
Meryl Baroi Ferraro (Mom)
College: Pacific Union College class of 1996 (AS Nursing)
College: Loma Linda University class of 1999 (BS Nursing)
Employer: St. Jude Medical Center (RN)
Here is our story and testimony (told by John)..
- We were married April 2005 after a 1 year engagement. We wanted to start our family and have 3-4 kids. After a couple of years of trying to get pregnant, and multiple miscarriages, we considered the possibility of adopting to grow our family. But, before we looked further into adoption options, we decided to see an infertility specialist December 2008.
- After several unsuccessful rounds of treatments, we decided to give it one last shot before we pursued adoption. In the next round, Gianna was conceived and born in April 2010. We were excited to welcome our first daughter into our lives and we love her dearly.
- A little over a year later, we started trying to get pregnant again unsuccessfully. In January 2012, we went back to see an infertility specialist. The first round of treatments were unsuccessful. However, the second round was successful. Was it ever! We had NO idea how successful it would be.
- 4 Weeks - Meryl took a blood test and the doctor told her, "Congratulations, you are pregnant. You definitely have 1, maybe 2, possibly 3." We were excited and nervous.
- 5 Weeks- Meryl had her first ultrasound. The doctor thought she saw 4 sacks, but there were only 2 heartbeats. We were excited. We thought we were having twins.
- 6 Weeks - In the next ultrasound, we saw 4 sacks and 4 heartbeats. Meryl was crying. We were scared, shocked, confused, and overwhelmed. This wasn't what we thought we signed up for. How were we going to take care of 4 more little ones in addition to Gianna? A few days later, Meryl experienced some bleeding. She went to see her doctor for an emergency visit thinking she might be having another miscarriage. In the ultrasound, the doctor saw a 5th sac, but no heartbeat. She thought maybe the bleeding was from the 5th sac miscarrying.
- 7 Weeks - This week's ultrasound showed a 5th heartbeat. At this point, Meryl was numb. The doctor said 2 of the 5 heartbeats were weak and it looked like they wouldn't survive. We couldn't begin to wrap our heads around 5 babies. But, we started reading about multiple births just in case. It was scary what we were finding out.
- 8 Weeks - We saw 5 heartbeats again in the ultrasound, and the 2 weaker baby's heartbeat caught up in size. This was the first time we really accepted that we might have 5 babies. But, the doctor told us the odds were still great that some or all of them wouldn't make it past 10 weeks. The odds of having Quintuplets are only 1 in 60 million.
- 9 Weeks - Our infertility doctor referred us to a doctor in LA that specialized in fetal reduction. She said it was too dangerous for both the mother and babies to continue the pregnancy with all 5. Meryl talked to this doctor on the phone, and the doctor mailed us information about how fetal reduction worked. After reading all the information, we were horrified. We decided it was not our place to choose which of our babies would live and which ones would die. If God was giving us 5 babies, there was a reason. We made a decision to see them as precious blessings from God above and not as burdens we needed to eliminate.
- 10 Weeks - We were referred to a high risk perinatologist/OB in Long Beach. We went to see the doctor and get another ultrasound. In the ultrasound, we saw all 5 babies dancing around in their sacks and we got their first "Group Photo" together. It is our favorite ultrasound. After the ultrasound, the doctor came in to talk to us about our "options". He spent over an hour telling us all the statistics and dangers that faced our little ones; blindness, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, autism, mental retardation, even death. He said he supported us with whatever decision we made, but he clearly implied that fetal reduction as the best option for having healthy babies. Keeping all 5 was too risky and the statistics showed that at least 2-3 of our babies would have significant health issues. Even after we told him we planned on keeping all 5 of our babies, he still aggressively pushed for reduction of 2-3 of the babies. When I asked him if there were any signs that any of our 5 babies were not healthy, or had any issues, he said not at this time. That was a hard visit for us, and we left his office very discouraged and scared. I stayed up all night reading a few books about multiples and praying for wisdom from God wondering if we were making the right decision to keep all 5 babies. I read a chapter in one of those books written by Dr. John Elliott from AZ that gave me hope. I couldn't wait until the morning when I told Meryl to get a hold of Dr. Elliott. We had to talk to him and get a 2nd opinion.
- 11 weeks - We thought Dr. Elliott was still in AZ, but Meryl found out he actually had moved to Southern CA and was at Saddleback Memorial (45 minutes away from our home). We couldn't believe it. Meryl made an appointment immediately. We were nervous and excited to meet him. Within 5 minutes of our consultation with Dr. Elliott, I was crying and knew God had answered our prayers. I was so thankful that God had given this man the passion and skills needed to be the best in the world for delivering HOM pregnancies. Of all the health care workers we had talked to, he was the 1st to give us confidence and hope that we could and would deliver 5 healthy babies. The national average for Quintuplets gestation is 28 weeks. Dr. Elliott had delivered 12 sets of Quintuplets at that time (3-4 times more than any other doctor in the world), and his average was 33 weeks. Our hearts sank when he told us he would be moving back to AZ in less than 10 weeks. We made the decision right on the spot that Meryl would be going to AZ with him to deliver. Dr. Elliott also told us that Meryl had the 3 top indicators of success for a higher order multiple birth.
- Meryl had a previous Full Term Pregnancy with Gianna that was successful. God had sent Gianna first to prepare the way for her siblings.
- Each baby was in their own individual sac (identical babies have more complications and risks in multiple pregnancies.
- Meryl was taller than 5'3". Taller women have more success with HOM pregnancies.
- 18 weeks - We had an ultrasound and we were excited to find out the sexes of our babies. We told the Ultrasound tech to write down the sexes, but not to share them with us. Meryl had picked out boy and girl outfits from Baby Gap, and we planned to take them to the store after our visit and have them wrap up outfits based on the sexes. Then, we planned a nice dinner where we would unwrap the clothes and find out what sexes our little ones were. God had different plans. At the end of the ultrasound, Dr. Elliott called us into his office to talk. He said that Meryl cervix was opening and he was admitting Meryl immediately. He would perform surgery the next morning. He almost let us go to dinner, but he wisely told us no. I took the baby clothes to Baby Gap myself after Meryl was admitted and brought the wrapped gift bags back to the hospital. That night, we found out we were having 3 girls and 2 boys. The next morning, Meryl had surgery to put in a cerclage. Dr. Elliott said the issue was more serious than he thought. Meryl was already dilated to 4cm and her bag of water was bulging out like a balloon. Dr. Elliott had to sew up Meryl without puncturing the bag of water. Another doctor told me after the surgery that Dr. Elliott performed a miracle that day and he couldn't believe he was able to get everything stiched up successfully. If we hadn't seen Dr. Elliott the day before, we would have lost the babies and Meryl would have gone into premature labor within 24-72 hours. God protected GRACE. Meryl stayed at Saddleback Memorial on bed rest for a little over 2 weeks.
- 20 weeks - Dr. Elliott released Meryl to go home for a few weeks "for sanity's sake since she would be in the hospital for a long time". At home, Meryl was on strict bed rest with a home monitor. Meryl's parents stayed at our townhome to take care of Meryl and Gianna 24/7.
- 23 weeks - I drove Meryl out to the hospital in Mesa, AZ. We took out all the seats in our van, and put a bed in the back. Meryl laid on the mattress all the way out for the 6 hour trip, and I prayed we didn't get into an accident or get pulled over. That would be hard to explain to an officer. After quick stop a Dunkin Donuts, we arrived at the hospital.
- 25 weeks - We closed on our new home. We moved back to Fullerton from the South Bay to get closer to our support system and put Meryl and the babies in the most convenient location for the most amount of people to help when the babies came. Also, we had to have more space for our growing family of 3 going on 8.
- 28 weeks - We reached the national average for Quintuplets birth gestation on August 24th. At 28 weeks, Quintuplets have approximately a 60% chance for survival and full health. Inspired by the Summer Olympics in London, Meryl set up her goals for the duration of the pregnancy.
- 28 weeks = Qualification Heat
- 30 weeks = Bronze Medal
- 32 weeks = Silver Medal
- 34 weeks = Gold Medal
- 34 weeks, 3 days = Olympic Record (current World Record for Quintuplet Gestation)
- 34 weeks, 6 days = World Record (our ultimate goal is to have the babies on 10/11/12)
- 30 weeks - We reached this milestone Sept 7th. At 30 weeks, Quintuplets have an 85% chance for survival and full health.
- 32 weeks - We reached this milestone Sept 21st. At 32 weeks, Quintuplets have a 97% chance for survival and full health. Meryl also got 2 rounds of steroid shots to help with the development of the baby's lungs. We are so blessed and thankful to Dr. Elliott for helping Meryl reach this very important milestone.
- 32 weeks, 5 days (September 26th) - I had just arrived back home in CA after visiting Meryl for the weekend. Meryl had just finished her 2nd round of steroid shots and was getting ready to go back to Anterpartum for the home stretch. She had the record in her sights. But, at 5am, Gabby's water broke and everything changed. Meryl woke me up in CA. I booked a plane for an hour later and was able to get on just as they were closing the gates. Thank you God. I arrived in AZ with a couple hours to spare and we had 5 beautiful and healthy children. They were the 800th set of Quintuplets ever born.
- Gabrielle Ann Ferraro was born at 11:01am. She weighed 3lbs, 7oz & was 17 inches.
- Riley Daniel Ferraro was born at 11:02am. He weighed 4lbs, 6 oz & was 17 1/4 inches.
- Cooper Elliott Ferraro was born at 11:03am. He weighed 3lbs, 12oz & was 16 inches.
- Emerson Joy Ferraro was born at 11:03am. She weighed 3lbs, 13oz & was 16 1/4 inches.
- Addison Faith Ferraro was born at 11:04am. She weighed 3lbs, 1oz & was 16 inches.
- 35 weeks (October 12th) - Gabby and Emmy came home. Gabby weighed 3lbs, 14oz and Emmy weighed 4lbs.
- 35 weeks, 4 days (October 16th) - Riley and Cooper came home. Riley weighed 5lbs, 5oz and Cooper weighed 4lbs, 8oz.
- 35 weeks, 5 days (October 17th) - Addy came home. She weighed 3lbs, 12oz. When Addy came home, the GRACE Quintuplets became the "healthiest set of Quintuplets ever born", going home a full 8 days gestational age prior to the previous record for a set of Quintuplets. God has blessed them richly. Let the fun begin!!