Imagine thinking you may never be able to have a child, only to end up being pregnant with six babies at once! That’s exactly what happened to Lauren Perkins and her husband David. At first, the couple had trouble conceiving, but with the help of intrauterine insemination, the Perkins’ lives changed forever.
The Texas family has shared their journey on their blog so we can follow along as the “Perkins Pack” turns six years old. Here’s what it’s like raising six kids of the same age.
They Were Hoping For Two Kids
Lauren Perkins had a very clear idea of how she wanted her life to play out when she married her husband David. “I was going to have two kids, two to three years apart, preferably a boy and a girl,” she told TODAY.
She added, “I think God was laughing at me, saying, ‘You have no idea what’s coming your way.'” Indeed, Lauren’s life plan didn’t work out as she had intended.
They Went To A Fertility Specialist
Lauren and her husband David tried to conceive for 18 months with no success. At that point, the couple from Houston, Texas decided to turn to a fertility specialist. They were introduced to different plans that involved drugs and injections, but it all seemed overwhelming for the couple.
They decided to sleep on it, meanwhile packing up for a mission trip with their church to Nicaragua. For a moment, they thought they would leave their infertility issues behind.
They Didn’t Want Everyone To Know
During the trip, Lauren and David were asked to share a personal struggle with their small church group. Thinking it’d stay within the group, the Perkins’ shared their infertility struggles. Little did they know, one of the group members shared their story with the local Nicaraguan pastor because he just wanted someone else to pray for them.
Unsurprisingly, word of their struggle got out, which put the Perkins’ in an uncomfortable situation.
Everyone Prayed For Them
Later that night during a service at the Nicaraguan church they were volunteering at, Lauren and David were called up in front of the entire congregation.
“A group of people put their hands on us and prayed for fertility. It was all in Spanish… But it was emotional, and it was moving – language barrier or not,” Lauren shared on Houston Moms Blog. Their friend apologized, not knowing that would happen, but things didn’t end there.
A Pastor Told Lauren God Had “Big Plans” For Her
By the end of the mission trip, all was forgiven. But before Lauren boarded the bus back to Texas, the Nicaraguan pastor pulled her aside. “She told me she knew God had big plans for me; she didn’t know what, but it would be big,” Lauren wrote.
Lauren thought it was strange that the pastor told her something so serious, but she shrugged it off and didn’t think much of it once they returned to Texas.
The Couple Didn’t Have Full faith In IUI Treatment
When they returned to Texas, the Perkins decided to try IUI, intrauterine insemination, in which the sperm is placed directly into the uterus to increase the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes. That way, there would be a higher chance of fertilization.
IUI only results in a 25-percent chance of pregnancy, so Lauren wasn’t convinced it would work anyway. She figured they would look at other options once the IUI treatment failed.
Her Levels Were Too High
After the two-week wait following their procedure, Lauren and David received the miraculous news that she was pregnant! At her first routine checkup, nurses noticed that Lauren’s hormone levels were abnormally high.
This news worried Lauren. High hCG levels during pregnancy could indicate a number of concerns. Not only could it have meant that doctors calculated her timing wrong, but it also could have indicated a molar pregnancy, which is an abnormality of the placenta.
It Was Good News
High hormone levels could also be an indication of multiple births, which surprisingly was the case for Lauren! She and her husband David were thrilled by the news, excited by the possibility that they might have twins or triplets.
After all, they had tried so long to conceive that having more than one kid was an absolute blessing. Soon, it was time for the ultrasound where they would find out exactly how many babies Lauren was carrying.
More Than They Bargained For
At the ultrasound, Lauren and David noticed their doctor fell eerily silent. Finally, Lauren had to ask what he was seeing. “Well, I just counted five,” the doctor told them. They couldn’t believe it! But the shock didn’t end there.
Suddenly, the doctor said, “Wait, wait, wait! I just found a sixth one!” The Perkins’ were definitely not expecting that kind of news. At that point, the doctor gave them options.
It Was Never An Option
Because of the limited space in the womb, the doctor gave Lauren and David the option of selective reduction. They would have been able to choose to abort some of the developing fetuses to give the others a better chance of survival.
But for David and Lauren, that was never an option. “Seeing your six babies and seeing their heartbeats and there’s no sign of any problems, so you know, how do you choose?” Lauren said.
An Overwhelming Situation
Lauren and David decided to give all six fetuses a fighting chance, despite the challenge of having to raise six babies at once as new parents. “Our feelings range from excited, overwhelmed, and scared, all at the same time,” David Perkins wrote on the couple’s blog at the time.
Thankfully, they had the support of their family and friends along the way. Before the babies came, the Perkins’ were inundated with diapers and hand-me-down clothes.
It Was Almost Time
At just 29 weeks, doctors noticed that one of the babies wasn’t doing well. Lauren’s blood pressure was also dangerously low. She was admitted to the hospital right away. That was on a Friday evening and doctors intended to have her deliver the babies by the following Monday when they would have enough staff for the procedure.
Thankfully, that left enough time for Lauren to make it to 30 weeks of gestation, which is what her doctor wanted in the first place.
The Day They Arrived
On April 23, 2012, Lauren delivered her six little ones via C-section, all within four minutes. There were six nurses lined up to take each baby to the Natal Intensive Care Unit right after they were born.
Although Lauren didn’t get to hold any of them right away, the nurses wheeled each baby by Lauren and David as they left the operation room and Lauren was able to touch their tiny fingers.
Three Of Each
Lauren had three boys and three girls, all weighing in around one to two pounds. Their names are Andrew Noah, Benjamin Luke, Caroline Grace, Leah Michelle, Allison Kate, and Levi Thomas.
After four days, Allison was the first baby stable enough to be able to hold. “And that moment, when I got to hold my baby, was when I became a mother… of sextuplets,” Lauren shared with Houston Moms Blog.
Leah Needed Surgery
While the babies spent time in the NICU, the nurses taught Lauren and David how to change their tiny diapers, take their temperatures, and clean their eyes and mouths. Most of the babies were growing well, except for one.
“Leah is sick sick sick. We knew she was sick when she was born and really couldn’t be in the womb any longer,” Lauren wrote on her personal blog. Leah had to undergo several surgeries early on.
Two Babies Was Difficult To Handle
After just over a month, Benjamin and Caroline were the first two babies who got to come home from the hospital. Lauren and David were relieved to find out that they could handle at least two babies in the house on their own.
With the four other babies still growing in the hospital, David was already mixing all their names up! Even with two babies, and David having gone back to work, they were still exhausted.
Anything To Help Leah Michelle
Unfortunately, for their little Leah, doctors discovered cysts in her brain aside from the intestinal surgery she had to undergo. An MRI scan revealed that the cysts were taking the place of where her brain matter should be.
“Her motor skills are most at risk as well as her vision, hearing and speech are likely to be affected too… So we’re disappointed, but trusting God like we have been and focusing on what we can do to help her and encourage her development,” Lauren wrote.
The Community Offered Their Support
In all, it took about five months for all six babies to be under one roof. Leah was the last one to “graduate from the NICU,” as Lauren puts it. On the day of her homecoming, the hospital threw a going-away party and the Perkins’ were interviewed by The Today Show.
“I can’t believe how our friends, family, and neighbors have stepped up! It’s only been a couple weeks, but we’ve had plenty of help (and food!),” Lauren wrote.
Andrew Noah – 4 Months Old
Andrew was the first one to exit the womb. At the four month mark, he was known as a flirt since he could charm anyone with his smiles and sideways glances. It’s no wonder his parents gave him the nicknames “Charm” and “Andy Man.”
“Andrew has no patience; he goes from calm and happy to kicking and screaming within seconds,” Lauren wrote, adding that he was one of the easiest to feed.
Andrew Noah – 6 Years Old
By the time he was six years old, Andrew Noah was known as what Lauren calls a “goober.” With all the kids having finished up kindergarten, Lauren notes that Andrew was the one who was often in trouble.
Despite that, he has become extremely outgoing and talkative. “I get ‘you’re the best mom ever’ almost daily from him. He’s the tallest pack member by a head, yet still wants to be picked up and flipped around like the littles,” Lauren writes.
Benjamin Luke – 4 Months old
At four months, Benjamin was the chunky one of the bunch, weighing in at 12 pounds and 6.5 ounces. People couldn’t get enough of his chubby cheeks, which is why he was nicknamed “Cheeks” and “Big Poppa.”
Lauren noted that he liked to race Andrew during feeding, but added, “He hates tummy time and fusses the entire time; due to this, he is the worst at lifting his head and pre-crawling motions.”
Benjamin Luke – 6 Years Old
Ben was still charming people with his cuteness at six years old and prefers to be called Benny Boy.
He had also been wearing long sleeves, shorts, and sandals for the past three years. “He is that stubborn. And bossy as can be. And his siblings listen to him! He says he wants to do nothing when he grows up, but I think he’ll be a boss – of something,” Lauren writes.
Caroline Grace – 4 Months Old
By the time she was four months old, Caroline had made a “nemesis” out of her father, Lauren notes. Perhaps it’s because of the way she could let one rip, which is what earned her the nickname “Gassy Girl.”
“She is still dainty, but can toot and burp like a man… She has some strong lungs too. She almost always stops crying once she gets some attention,” Lauren noted at the time.
Caroline Grace – 6 Years Old
Six years later, Caroline has grown into something of a tomboy, despite loving the color pink. “Don’t you dare try to fix her hair or make her wear a dress,” Lauren notes.
Aside from loving to spend one-on-one time with her mom and helping out, Lauren notes that Caroline also likes to color and read. Lauren did note that Caroline is a bit complicated and stubborn, which others close to the family believe comes from Lauren herself.
Leah Michelle – 4 Months Old
At four months old, Leah was still in the NICU and David would often stop by on his way home from work to see her. Lauren would get to see her on the weekends. Lauren and David affectionately referred to her as “Leah Peah.”
As for her progress at that point, Lauren noted, “She loves her swing and her pacifier and being held. She isn’t smiling or cooing, but has started to make some eye contact.”
Leah Michelle – 6 Years Old
At six years old, Leah Michelle has grown into one of the happiest people that Lauren has ever known and loves music.
“Since the last time I posted, Leah’s health has been a roller coaster. We’ve learned to manage new things to hopefully avoid some downs… Her siblings help a bit in her care now too,” Lauren writes. Leah is enrolled in a different school from her siblings as well as therapy to suit her needs.
Allison Kate – 4 Months Old
Allison was the second-to-last one to come home because she had trouble feeding. At four months, Lauren noted, “Her eating has improved dramatically, but she still isn’t as quick as her siblings or eating as much.”
Aside from that, Allison was known for her big smiles and was one of the only ones of the group to always be moving. “Always scooting around, popping up on her side, and kicking herself over the boppy pillow,” Lauren noted.
Allison Kate – 6 Years Old
By the time she reached age six, Allison Kate has grown into what Lauren calls the “mommy of the group.” “She knows what should be done, what needs to be done, and tries her best to keep everyone in line,” Lauren writes.
Aside from her shy personality, Allison Kate is known as the perfectionist out of her siblings and is also the girliest, but like Caroline will not have anyone touching her hair.
Levi Thomas – 4 Months Old
Levi was the tiniest of the bunch at four months old. At the time, he weighed a mere seven pound and 4.5 ounces. Part of it was due to his digestive issues, but doctors issued medicine that helped him eat and sleep better.
“He is so alert and makes more facial expressions than all the others combined… He fights his sleep like no other, I think it’s because he doesn’t want to miss anything,” Lauren wrote.
Levi Thomas – 6 Years Old
Lauren notes that at six years old, “Levi has always been independent and moved to the beat of his own drum.” Lauren was told that Levi befriended the one kid in school that no one wanted to play with.
Levi has also proven his affinity for learning and asks lots of questions. “He’s already drawing better than I can and has the best handwriting of any left-handed 6 year old boy I’ve ever seen,” she writes.