Like many couples before them, Rachelle and Jayson Wilkinson turned to fertility treatment to help them conceive a baby. However, what doctors discovered during a routine ultrasound four months later gave them real cause for concern. The expectant parents, though, made a difficult choice against doctors’ advice – and what followed proved to be miraculous.
But let’s rewind a little bit. After all, Rachelle and Jayson were college sweethearts. Indeed, they met at Utah’s Brigham Young University while Jayson was taking an engineering statistics class in which Rachelle was a teaching assistant. Then, after a relatively short period of dating, the young couple married in Salt Lake City.
The newlyweds graduated in 1999 and settled down in Austin, Texas. Rachelle soon became a mom, with their first son, Riley, arriving in 2000. Then, in 2003, daughter Kaiya joined the family.
Conceiving babies, then, seemed pretty straightforward for Rachelle. In 2005, though, she and Jayson decided that they were ready to try for a third child. Here, Rachelle realized that things weren’t working as they should.
So the couple sought fertility treatment and, after two years of trying, they celebrated their third pregnancy. They were aware of the statistics surrounding fertility treatment and so braced themselves for the prospect of twins or even triplets. However, there was no way of preparing themselves for what they were about to find out.
Rachelle wrote on her blog, “As the doctor began the ultrasound, we first saw one sac with a little beating heart inside, then two.” When the doctor continued, though, she thought that he’d made a mistake and had counted the first heartbeats again.
Rachelle continued, “Jayson, who had been watching the doctor’s face instead of the monitor, knew immediately that something was wrong. A moment later, the doctor announced that there were five babies in there.” But that wasn’t all the doctor had to say.
Indeed, the doctor explained that to give two babies a greater chance of growing without complications, it would be highly advisable to “selectively abort” three of the fetuses. The advice came as a shock to the Wilkinsons, and they knew that they had a tough decision to make.
So the Wilkinsons weighed up the numbers. For quads, there’s a 50 percent chance that they will survive until 24 weeks, which is the earliest point at which a newborn could be delivered. For quintuplets, the odds are even worse, with an additional higher risk of disabilities.
Unable to make a snap decision, though, Rachelle – a statistics teacher – went in search of answers. For weeks, she would ask multiple-birth mothers, doctors and church leaders for advice. Then, all of a sudden, she knew what she should do.
Rachelle believes that everything happens for a reason and felt it was no accident that she had been blessed with five babies. What’s more, they had recently decided to upscale their home and needed something to fill all that extra space.
So, against the suggestion of doctors, the Wilkinsons decided to carry the quintuplets as far as they could. However, aware that the journey would be a challenge, they surrounded themselves with the best doctors and medical care they could find.
Indeed, they were referred to Dr. John Elliott in Phoenix, Arizona, the so-called “quad god.” It’s a nickname he’s earned through scoring an average quad and quint pregnancy term of 32 weeks, which is three to four weeks better than the national average.
Rachelle had added peace of mind that Dr. Elliott’s mortality rate also outperformed the national average. So, at 18 weeks, she moved from the chaos of a house-build to bed rest in Phoenix until the babies were born.
And, despite an early onset labor scare in May 2007, Rachelle’s pregnancy went amazingly well. So well, in fact, that she defied doctors’ expectations, meeting her 34-week pregnancy goal. She was now ready for her scheduled c-section.
So, on July 31, 2007, a minor miracle happened. Rachelle’s refusal to sacrifice any fetuses had paid off, and she delivered five strong, healthy babies. Not only that, she now also holds the world record for the heaviest recorded set of quints, with each weighing three-and-a-half to five pounds.
What’s more, the quints were in need of very little after-care. Indeed, the heaviest baby went straight to the hospital nursery and, of the other four, only two needed oxygen. Moreover, they were all allowed home within just three weeks.
Of course, some modifications were necessary to the Wilkinsons’ residence, as the unexpected addition of quints clashed with their original home-build plans. Therefore, the office was transformed into a nursery with “Five times the fun” written above the door.
They’re words, perhaps, to remind Rachelle of how blessed she has been despite the chaos of raising quints. For the first year, for example, their home was a revolving door to volunteers willing to lend a hand with the babies.
Nine years on, though, Rachelle’s regimented nature keeps everyone in check. And she has absolutely no regrets about defying the doctors’ advice. She has said, “It’s been an amazing journey. I feel like they’ve brought me so much. It’s been a blessing.”