Heather Carroll is an awfully small woman to carry six babies, especially all at once and in her belly.
The mother of a set of sextuplets born in Alabama over Father’s Day weekend today revealed how she had to consume 6,000 calories each day just to keep them nourished.
Looking ecstatic but exhausted, Heather Carroll, who is just 5’2″ tall, said the tiny babies – five girls and a boy – all ‘look wonderful’.
She and her husband Mitchell also revealed they have named the six alphabetically, after the letters doctors gave them when they were still in the womb: Abbie, Brooklyn, Chloe, David, Ellie and Faith.
She gave birth to the sextuplets by planned Caesarian section on Saturday morning, 28 weeks and one day into her pregnancy, after a month of strict bed rest – including her 30th birthday.
They arrived in the space of just three minutes, the eldest, Abbie, at 8.05am and the youngest, Faith, at 8.08am, and weighed between 1lb 10oz and 2lbs 5oz.
The babies were welcomed into the world by a team of 51 medical staff, who had rehearsed the delivery six times before. Each baby had their own group of doctors and nurses.
The 30-year-old provoked laughter from the assembled press as she described her 6,000 calorie-a-day diet. She said: ‘It was very hard. They had me keep a sheet of everything I ate, and they would always do the calories for it.
‘And all of the snacks, every day they would start bring me snack foods and desserts. I mean, it was very good, but I can’t imagine doing that again.’
Mrs Carroll is 115lbs, but she put on an extra 35lbs during her pregnancy, a weight she could barely carry.
The week before she gave birth, she said she could feel exactly where each of the babies were sitting: one on each hip, three lower down on her pelvis and another which moved up and down.
The couple had struggled for years to have children, and Mrs Carroll had four miscarriages before being diagnosed with polycystic ovaries.
To have Grant, Mrs Carroll underwent intrauterine insemination, in which she took fertility drugs to boost her own egg production before her husband’s sperm was injected directly into her uterus.
She went through the same process for her next pregnancy. It can sometimes result in twins or triplets – but rarely sextuplets.
In an interview shortly before the babies were born, she described her five-week scan to the Birmingham News. She said: ‘I thought the nurse was going to faint. Then she said, “Oh, no, there’s six,” and started apologizing.’
Once the shock wore off, Mrs Carroll said she just started crying. She said: ‘All I could think about was, “how are we going to take care of six babies?” because we had a hard enough time with our first.’
Their close-knit community has already rallied round the couple. Friends have begun extending their log home, local firms have promised to supply diapers and formula milk and a car dealership may donate a van.
The town’s church, where Mr Carroll helps out as youth pastor, has promised to expand its nursery, and her doctor’s office threw her a baby shower.
A month before the babies were born, Mrs Carroll was admitted to Brockwood Medical Center for round-the-clock monitoring.
She drank a nutrient-packed milkshake with every meal and was given extra supplements using an IV drip to make sure she consumed enough calories to keep the babies healthy.
For the last few days, she was experiencing regular contractions and had to take medication to stop the babies coming too soon.
Doctors said their chance of survival grew by four per cent every day they stayed in the womb, allowing their organs to develop.
Dr McKenzie said: ‘It’s just a very unique demand on a woman’s body and she is a little hiccup of a girl. But she’s got a very big heart.’
In the end, the babies arrived just in time for Father’s Day, and Mr Carroll spent the day rushing from incubator to incubator, sporting five pink ID bands and one blue, to show he could visit the babies.
He told the Birmingham News he was ‘on top of the world’. He said: ‘Everything this morning was perfect.’
In a statement, Dr McKenzie said: ‘Heather and Mitchell Carroll were committed to this journey, their family and community were supportive, and God was faithful.‘
I am so proud of this mother’s toughness and appreciative for the excellent preparation and care she received at Brookwood Medical Center.’
Mrs Carroll is the second woman in the U.S. to give birth to sextuplets this month. Two weeks ago Stacey Carey, from Abington, Pennsylvania, also had six babies.