The latest set of quintuplets born here in the Valley belong to a couple from the east coast.
Carmen and Mike Matthews of Wilmington, North Carolina, chose Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa, and perinatologist Dr. John Elliott, to help them have their instant family.
The couple told reporters they got a positive pregnancy test on Super Bowl Sunday. When they went to the doctor, he heard two heartbeats, according to Mike. The next time they went, he heard three. And on the next visit, five.
Carmen said Mike found Dr. Elliott online and they began consulting with him. Elliott has become a celebrity, of sorts, among multiple-birth parents.
"Carmen is the 13th set of quintuplets... that I have delivered," he says. "There's no place else in the world that has more than one set of quintuplets delivered in their institution."
Not only does Dr. Elliott have a track record of delivering multiple births successfully, he also does it much later in the pregnancy than most doctors. According to him, the national average for delivering quintuplets is after 28 weeks of pregnancy. Elliott's average is 33 weeks, and Carmen went 34 weeks before delivering.
Neonatologist Dr. Glenn Waterkotte says that the additional six weeks "allows the ability for us to care for those babies remarkably easier."
The key, according to Dr. Elliott, is keeping the mother relaxed and calm. "If you are at all anxious, you release hormones, fight or flight hormones... and that causes contractions" and an earlier birth, he said. At Banner Desert, he added, they have a medical team that's become very good at helping the mothers relax and avoid anxiety.
Carmen says she "always wanted five or six kids, but not all at the same time."
Her babies ranged from 2 pounds 2 ounces to 4 pounds 13 ounces at birth, with a total weight of 18.4 pounds.
PHOTO: From left, Mike Matthews, Carmen Matthews, Dr. John Elliott, and Dr. Glenn Waterkotte talk to reporters.