Her First Year: Elliott Rose

Last born by seconds. Our baby girl.  Sweet as she is stubborn. Independent by nature. The best self soother. One determined little girl.

Most likely to walk first. Will likely be the most compliant child.  Most likely to land a job in the C-suite.

Ms. Elliott Rose.

For those of you who know me…

For those of you who know me, know I’m a bit nostalgic. I believe this appreciation for the past and joy from recollecting was instilled in me by my dad. I enjoy reminiscing about times that have gone by, sometimes to a fault, in that I miss the present or plan too much for the future. But, nevertheless, I cherish days like today- Memorial Day- for taking a time out to look back.


One year ago today, I was lying in a hotel in Mesa, AZ. I had just been discharged from the local hospital after having a surgery that saved our pregnancy. I did not know what the days ahead would bring, but knew that in a few hours I would have to drop Frank off at the airport and spend the next days alone.

For those of you who know me, being away from home is not my specialty. I have always been a homebody. I am perfectly content hanging out at home. While I appreciate others’ love for travel, I generally have little interest. So, needless to say moving to Arizona was not something I would have chosen to do.

For those of you who know me, know that I strive to walk with God. It truly has been a bumpy road, of straying here and there. But, as I reflect on this Memorial Day, I see how God’s hand was guiding our footsteps during that treacherous time. We had found out on that Monday that we were going to lose our pregnancy and the medical team shared with us that there was nothing we could do about it. The parents of other quintuplets told me differently. When I learned of the surgery that had prolonged other high order multiple pregnancies the answer was easy; I needed that surgery. I recall wrestling with this decision in my mind. I saw two choices: Stay here in WI where I was comfortable and await the impending miscarriage, or hop on a plane to AZ to see the best maternal and fetal medicine specialist in the world. After we decided to choose life, God granted me peace. My fear had passed away, and this new sense of calm and strength arose. I take no credit for this change, but was merely witness to it. 28wk_diagram1

For those of you who know me, know that I have a rich inner life. I may be an ambivert on the Meyers Briggs, but I believe I’m a true introvert. I process life on the inside and share with those I trust. So, why would a true introvert write such a telling message? It is to brag, but not on myself. It is to testify to the guiding grace of God the Father, His humble Son and His Spirit.

I feel like I blinked and a year has flown by. Every day is an opportunity of worship. I look at my children and sometimes forget in the moment where they were 10 short months ago. I see them kicking and rolling and can recall them doing that when they were all crammed in my tummy. I stand in their nursery and just watch as all of their little heads pop up like little prairie dogs from their cribs in the morning. I dreamed of moments like that. Our children are a true joy and a challenge wrapped up into one little package

So, on this day when we are beckoned to remember, I encourage you to first and foremost thank those who have served our country. Remember those who have fallen for it. But, also take a moment to remember and recall the miracles in your life. For you are loved!

The V-5 “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right”

The V-5 definitely “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.” As a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) I couldn’t miss the opportunity of featuring my beautiful children during National Nutrition Month®!

Lily enjoying some pre-meal tummy time.
Lily enjoying some pre-meal tummy time.

Eating well is a pillar in the pursuit of overall wellness, especially if you are/were a premature infant. I attribute my children’s well-being to their healthcare team’s (which includes Mommy & Daddy) dedication to feeding them well from day one.

I have bragged on and on about breast milk in past posts, including Mommy Nutrition and 2 Simple Acts, so the following will feature the best solid foods for infants, or Baby’s Super Foods. These also happen to be super foods for the oldest of children- aka adults. I selected the following foods based on their nutrient density, ease of digestion and preparation and friendliness to the young palate.

Tummy time-out for Kali
Tummy time-out for Kali

Grass-fed Beef & Organic Poultry

Meat and poultry are great first foods due to their iron content.  Baby’s stores of iron begin to fade around 6 months so, a food rich in iron is important. Additionally, iron from animal sources (heme-iron) is much easier to absorb and use by the body. Meat also is loaded with B-vitamins and zinc. If you opt for grass-fed over grain-fed cattle, you will also get meat with more healthy omega-3 fats, vitamins A and E, and less of the unhealthy saturated fats, hormones and antibiotics. Organic poultry is ideal for the same reasons; basically more time and attention are directed towards the birds living quarters and nutrition creating a better quality end product.


Lentils may be small but they are mighty. They are loaded with protein, fiber, iron, zinc and a host of B-vitamins. They are also a good source of copper, potassium and molybdenum. These legumes are quick and easy to prepare and generally more tender than other types of dried beans.

Bone Broth

This nutritional powerhouse can be made by boiling chicken or beef bones in water and a touch of vinegar. It is a significant source of GAGs, or glycosaminoglycans, chondroitin sulfate, keratan sulfate and hyaluronic acid, which are all “ingredients” for cartilage. Additionally, the red marrow has myeloid stem cells, which supports red blood cell development and the immune system. This broth also is a great source of glycine and proline, which are the building blocks for other amino acids (protein). Glycine and proline are also used by the body to aid digestion, promote healing, and create healthy plasma. Logically, bone broth also provides a good source of minerals found in bone: calcium, phosphorus and magnesium to aid in bone development and maintenance.

Theo chowing down on avocado
Theo chowing down on avocado


This fatty fruit is a good source of fiber, vitamins K, E and C, a few B-vitamins, as well as, potassium, and copper. Avocadoes provide a host of anti-inflammatory phytochemicals (antioxidants from plants) and can help with absorption of other nutrients, like carotenoids (orange, yellow and red phytochemicals). Besides aiding in blood sugar regulation and heart health, they also make a great beauty product.

Butternut Squash

This orange, winter squash may require some extra prep work but the sweet flavor and benefits are well worth it. Although squash are a starchy vegetable, their carbohydrate is much different than a potato; it has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The orange color gives away that it is a great source of vitamin A, but it is also loaded with vitamins C, B6 and several minerals.

Gluten-free Oatmeal

This hardy cereal is a great first food for infants. My vote goes to oats over rice for an infant cereal because it is rich in iron, zinc, phosphorus, fiber and protein, as well as, several other vitamins and minerals. It also comes without the worry of arsenic toxicity.

Why gluten-free? Well, gluten is a very inflammatory agent that is found in wheat, rye, barley and some oats and can be difficult to digest. Often times, traditional oats can also be “contaminated” with wheat due to shared processing equipment. I feel it is best for babies to be wheat-free until their first birthdays when they dive into that cake! Overall, I opt for gluten-free because it is much nicer to the kiddos’ digestive tract.

Bella loves to help feed herself
Bella loves to help feed herself


I had to include at least one common fruit. Bananas are a great first fruit because they are a good source of vitamins C, B6, B2 and of course, potassium. They also provide bone-building minerals, including magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. Besides the benefit of being very convenient to prepare, they are also known as nature’s antacid because they contain a substance that can help the stomach and intestines produce the mucus lining.

Another bonus of the foods mentioned above is that when they are pureed they contain at least 20 calories per Tablespoon, which is equivalent to the average amount of calories in one-ounce of breast milk. When you have picky bottle-feeders who love solids this can be a huge lifesaver!

Ellie loves to help feed herself, too.
Ellie loves to help feed herself, too.

Whether these foods are old favorites or perhaps news ones to try, I encourage children of all ages to serve up these super foods and “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right!”

The sign of good food (Kali)
The sign of good food (Kali)

Elliott Rose

As many of you remember, Ms. Elliott Rose, formerly known as Baby E, has been quite the fighter from day one. Today, she continues to fight and has pulled ahead of the quints and is now breathing on her own! She can even hold her own pacifier and has successfully taken milk from a bottle on one occasion. God’s handiwork and healing is truly miraculous. This little peanut is still the smallest of the bunch, but you wouldn’t know it by her resiliency.

Ellie Rose is another fabulous self-soother. She will lie wide awake for an hour if you let her just looking about her isolette, chewing on her feeding tube and exploring her face with her miniature hands. She also is quite the smiler and can steal your heart in a minute. Of all the quints, she knows our voices the best, which could melt anyone’s heart.

Elliott also loves bath time and being clean. She enjoys being snuggled in her blankets and nest, but will bust out of her swaddle like Houdini if she wants to.  We are so proud of our little Rose for how she has bounced back from her obstacles early on.

Praise God for His mercy on Ellie Rose and please continue to pray for her health and healing.

Lillian Grace

Lillian Grace is one tough cookie. She has certainly had one of the more rough transitions to life outside of Mommy. This little love bug has faced breathing issues, a puncture in her lung, a brain bleed and an infection scare. But, she has conquered all of them! She is now leading the pack of ladies in growth and is one of the stronger breathers. You will notice below that she has fewer photos than the rest of the V-5. We did not want to bother her while she was healing, so we have some catching up to do now that she is well.

Little Lily has Daddy’s light hair, but Mommy’s nose. She is definitely a cutie like the rest! Our little Lily Bug is a great self-soother. Once you put on her little Lady Bug hat she is as happy as can be. She also cannot stand dirty diapers and she will let you know it. The minute she wets her drawers, she’s wailing. However, once you clean her up, she’s good to go.

If you click on an image, it will give you a full-screen slideshow of all the pictures.

We are so proud of Lillian and very thankful that God has granted her grace and has helped her to heal from her ailments. Please pray that His hand remains over Lillian and the rest of our Quints, so that they will continue to grow stronger and be able to return home together.

Lucky Number 7

Theo the masked man
Theo the masked man

Friday we surpassed yet another milestone! The babies have been cooking for 7 months, which means we are now above the average gestational age for quintuplets. All of the babies were measured on Friday and they are all measuring within a day or two of the recommended size for babies at this point in pregnancy.

The picture below is a cool diagram that my sonographer drafted for us, which depicts where each of the babies are located in my belly, along with their current weights and percentiles.


The weight of each baby is estimated based on the length of the baby’s humerus (bone in upper arm) and femur (bone in upper leg), the circumference of their abdomen and their head circumference.

Baby B's Abdomen and Kidneys
Baby B’s Abdomen and Kidneys

The biggest one in the bunch is Baby B at 2lbs and 12oz at the 62nd percentile. Little Elle Rose (Baby E) is the munchkin, but not by much as baby D and Theo (baby A) are also the same weight (2 ½ lbs) but just a bit longer. At this rate, when the baby’s are measured again at 32 weeks they will be about 1lb heavier each. Let’s just hope this Mama can keep up!

Baby C's Brain
Baby C’s Brain
Theo's Heart
Theo’s Heart

All of their organs (kidneys, bladders, hearts, brains, stomachs) look great and are also appropriate sizes. The blood flow to Elle has improved and has stabilized.  All heart rates remain within normal limits, and are often on the higher side, which is probably because they just can’t sit still.  We are truly excited to meet our little wiggle worms!

Baby D
Baby D
Elle Rose
Elle Rose

I am also doing well. It seems I am stretching by the day, but my body is adapting.  Pregnancy is definitely a physical challenge, but the emotional, mental and spiritual journey that accompanies gestation is truly a blessing!


The Cost of Good Care


The healthcare industry is constantly evolving. Scientific research spurs on new discoveries, techniques, surgeries and cures. The economic environment dictates the distribution of healthcare. In the present day and age, there are many “what-if’s” about how and to whom healthcare is delivered. This post is not intended to be an epic dissertation on healthcare in America. The purpose, rather, is to explain to those inquiring why we are no longer pursuing medical care for our pregnancy in Madison, WI.

Upon learning that we were pregnant with quintuplets, the initial meetings with our fertility specialist and perinatologists were an emotional undertaking, to say the least. These medical specialists fought long and hard to convince us to pursue multi-fetal reduction. They wanted us to take the five and reduce to 2, maybe 3. This was never an option for us, and we made it very clear from day one. However, despite our stance, the perinatologists would not discuss a plan of care with us for over a month under their supervision.

Finally, nearly two months into our pregnancy we were able to sit down and discuss how we were going to make our pregnancy a success and give our unborn children the best chance at a happy and healthy life. We came prepared to this meeting, well read on terms and proactive treatments and even brought along a few research articles to discuss. The docs may have been a bit thrown off; one was not even prepared to discuss how to combat pre-term labor. Luckily, his colleague was.

We had a long conversation about what their practice was willing to provide and what they were not. They were willing to provide monitoring prior to 24 weeks of gestation, which simply meant monthly ultrasounds. They were willing to provide a nutrition consult with their dietitian and psychological care with their social worker. But, they were not willing to consider preventative measures, and what I would consider proactive care. Despite the research I held in my hand, they would not acknowledge the efficacy of a cerclage (stitching of the cervix), non-stress testing (contraction monitoring), intensive tocolysis (treatment of contractions to delay labor), or even bed-rest. Instead they encouraged me to continue to take my prenatal vitamin and told me it was fine to exercise up to 30 minutes a day.

This information did not sit well with me, so I reached out to other mothers of quints and they were appalled. They encouraged us to get a second opinion and quickly. I didn’t at that point. I decided that I needed to come to trust my current healthcare practitioners; I did not want to seek care elsewhere knowing: 1) This would mean leaving home and 2) Our insurance would not cover it.

Then, at 18 weeks we sat across the table from another perinatologist from the same practice and a clinical nurse specialist. They informed us that we would most likely lose this pregnancy in the next 3-4 weeks. I asked and begged for them to reconsider a cerclage, and they said it would not help but would actually put me in more danger of losing my pregnancy. They shared that cerclages are only provided to persons with incompetent cervixes, which is a diagnosis typically given to moms only after having a previous miscarriage prior to 24 weeks. He told us not to give up hope but that there was essentially nothing else we could do. He encouraged me to continue to eat right and said I could still exercise up to 30 minutes daily. I asked about bed rest, tocolytic drugs and contraction monitoring and was once again told these treatment options would be of no help. Then, came the moment I realized that care at this clinic was not our only choice. I sought a second opinion.

The second opinion came from a renowned high-risk perinatologist in Arizona, who many other quint mom’s highly recommended and adored. They loved him for a very important reason; he saved their pregnancies. After a 30-minute phone call with this doc, also known as the, “Quad God,” I learned that if I didn’t have a cerclage within the next 3 days, we would, in all likelihood, lose our babies. He had a recipe for success that was incomparable to other docs’ practices due to his extensive experience with high order multiples. He has delivered 101 sets of quadruplets, 15 sets of quintuplets and 2 sets of sextuplets. To put that in perspective, our previous docs had delivered just 1 set of quads, no quints, and no sextuplets. Additionally, the average gestational age of quints delivered under his care is 33 weeks and 1 day… Academic research indicates the total population gestational average is somewhere between 25 and 27 weeks. The “Quad God’s” success was quite simply unheard of.

The next few days flew by as we attempted to plead with our insurance company to cover this care. However, to this day, they continue to deny us because:

  1. The services requested are/were with a non-participating provider.
  2.  The services are/were not medically indicated because they are not appropriate to treat the condition and do not represent the standard of care to treat the condition.
  3.  The utility of prophylactic cerclage is unproven and there is evidence to suggest it may be detrimental and may be associated with an increase in preterm delivery and pregnancy loss.

However, here I sit to write this post at 24 weeks- 6 weeks later- with healthy babies developing within me.

So, many ask why am I still here? I have the cerclage, the pregnancy is stable and insurance continues to not be willing to pay a dime towards our care. Why would I not come back to Madison?

The answer to me is plain and simple:

1. There were no other participating providers in our insurance network besides our  initial maternal and fetal medicine specialists.

We were concerned with the care that was being provided by our previous providers for several reasons, including their unwillingness to consider preventative and proactive measures of care.  Even after the cerclage, they informed me that they would be unwilling to provide intense tocolysis, contraction monitoring and support strict bed rest. I have been receiving these treatments here in AZ since the moment I arrived.

2. Emergent care, via cerclage, strict bed rest, contraction monitoring and tocolysis, were/are all required and medically indicated, in order to, prevent pre-term labor.

There is a body of research, which supports these facets of care during multi-fetal gestation. Additionally, a cerclage is not an “experimental therapy” but again is considered a component of normal perinatal care in a high-order multiples pregnancy.

My current perinatologist has published over 25 peer-reviewed articles on the management of high-order multiples and has delivered 15 sets of quintuplets whom have exceeded the average gestational age by over 5 weeks. The previous specialists have never delivered, or managed, a quintuplet pregnancy and while they are revered clinicians in their areas of research, they have not published on the management of high-order multiple pregnancies.

The peace that I feel in pursuing treatment under this new doctor’s care is overwhelming. For the first time in this pregnancy, I am confident in the care that I am receiving.  I would fear for the well being of my babies if they were subject to the care of the practitioners in Madison. They have not demonstrated that they truly care about our five miracles, nor do they appear willing to proactively fight for a healthy pregnancy.

Unfortunately, these reasons are not convincing to our insurance provider. Therefore, we will continue to appeal and grieve this process with them, as we have since we initiated care outside of network. It is truly unfortunate that we cannot find comparable care within our insurance providers network. Our current doctor even offered to communicate his care plan to our previous docs, so that we could remain in-network, however they have denied all collaboration at this point.

Our biggest concern at this point, outside the healthy delivery of our 5 babies, is the financial livelihood of our family. The medical practitioners we are working with are very cognoscente of our financial situation and have been more than accommodating. But, we know that once I am admitted for closer monitoring and more intense treatment, the bills will begin to accumulate. Then, of course, will come the likely astronomical Neonatal Intensive Care Unit bill for 5 babies.

And so, we are witness to the cost of good healthcare in America. Still, we are simply unwilling to sacrifice our right to choose a qualified practitioner just because an insurance company is holding us financially hostage. We feel as parents-to-be that we now represent our children; we are now responsible for their well being until they are able to take on that responsibility themselves. We will fight, and continue to fight, for our children’s God given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The Story of Theo and the 4 Princesses


As I lay on the ultrasound table this afternoon I watched the story of Theo and the four princesses unfold.The sonographers took just over 30 minutes on each baby to specifically measure and examine:

  • The spine
  • The heart, including all 4 chambers, the aortic arch and the heart rate
  • The brain and specific parts including the cerebellum
  • Nuchal fold
  • Kidneys and the blood flow through the renal arteries
  • The umbilical cord and placenta
  • Fluid within each placenta
  • Boy and Girl parts
  • Head circumference
  • Facial features (eyes, nose, lips)
  • Both arms with open hands
  • Both legs and feet

As you can see it was truly a marathon of measurements. But, three hours later we now know that we have very healthy babies. Everyone’s organs look great at this point and have great blood flow. All of the nuchal folds were less than 6 mm, which means they are all at a very low risk for genetic disorders, including downs syndrome. Everyone has 10 fingers and 10 toes and the cutest little noses!  Also, all of the babies’ measurements are within normal limits. We have two babies at the 70th percentile, meaning they are measuring bigger than one baby would at this time. The remaining three babies are at the 30th percentile.

We also got confirmation that we will be having four girls and one little boy. We have decided to name our little guy Theodore Joseph, or Theo for short. He may eventually come to enjoy the name TJ, too!  As for our little ladies, we are still tossing names around but definitely have a few that we like.

I commend all of the sonographers for their work because we certainly have a bunch of wiggle worms. However, everyone did give us a beautiful profile shot and a quick glance at their faces.

Baby D
Baby D
Baby E
Baby E

Even little Theo decided to show us his face, which up until this point he would only reveal his boy parts.


The only baby who stayed in the same position was baby E, who is at the very top. She may be quite the diver some day because she assumed the Pike position and didn’t switch. Baby C was tucked in a little ball and was quite the rascal. The rest were rolling about the entire time. I was happy to see everyone moving and grooving.  I wish I could share all of the images from today with you but unfortunately I got a faulty disc. All of the images within this post are from our 19-week ultrasound.

So, all in all we are doing very well! We are quickly approaching 22 weeks this Friday and then it’s just 3 more months to make it to our goal of 34 weeks!

Greetings from Arizona

Superstition Mountain

All is well in Arizona!

21 weeks

Today we celebrate 21 weeks, which may have not been possible without this venture to the desert.

My mom came to visit this week and it has been amazing to have her here. She has cleaned, cooked, and cleaned some more. It will be hard to say goodbye tomorrow, but I just have to remember that it’s really, see you later.

The home where I am staying is truly an oasis with a beautiful view from the patio.  Since there is not much to share in terms of updates, I thought I would share the scenery.

One tall cactus
One tall cactus
Cactus in front of Superstition Mountain
Cactus in front of Superstition Mountain

There is a lot more wildlife than I thought there would be. The birds are constantly chirping. I am greeted each morning by a pair of lovely doves. I even found a family of quail- mommy, daddy and several babies.  After meeting those little guys I was happy to see the vulture fly away. There are also the little lizards scampering to and fro and the coyote who takes his walk of shame down the road every morn.  I am truly surrounded by God’s handiwork, which is yet another blessing.

Mr. Morning Dove
Mr. Morning Dove

We will be having our 5-hour, 2nd trimester scan next week- woo hoo! I hear it’s a marathon with snack breaks and all! So, I will definintely have more to share about the V-5 next week. Stay tuned!

The Starting Line-Up


As many of you may have heard, our starting line is four girls and one boy!

The boy is currently guarding the gate and is located at the very bottom with the four little ladies piled on top.

On Tuesday, I had another ultrasound to assess heart rates and fluid. It also was another opportunity for a photo shoot. It appears that we have some shy gals and guy because each time they went to take a close up on their faces they drew there hands in front of their face. Either that or there was an epic game of peek-a-boo that we were witnessing!