‘It’s a miracle’
Published: April 16, 2007 | 6017th good news item since 2003
Miguel Pena peered at his daughter, Miranda, through the protective shell of her isolette.
With the unmistakable amazement of a new parent, Pena watched as she slept peacefully, taking in every inch of her fragile form, including her 10 tiny fingers and 10 tiny toes.
Pena then moved a few feet away to a neighboring isolette — another small being, another 10 fingers, another 10 toes.
He would repeat the process three more times Tuesday afternoon. In all, 50 fingers, 50 toes and five — yes, five — newborn babies.
Pena’s girlfriend, Rosa Gonzalez, gave birth to the Lancaster couple’s quintuplets Sunday afternoon at Lancaster General Women & Babies Hospital.
The set includes Miguel Angel, 2.2 pounds; Angel Miguel, 2.4 pounds; Miranda Angelina, 1.9 pounds; Ashanti Angeliz, 1.9 pounds; and Edward Miguel, 2.5 pounds.
Born 12 weeks premature, all are in stable condition in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, where they are expected to remain for two months.
Dr. Philip Bayliss, a perinatologist specializing in high-risk pregnancies, said Tuesday the next week will give doctors a better sense of how the babies are doing overall.
He believes the five little Penas, conceived naturally, are the first set of “quints” born in Lancaster County.
To Pena, they’re simply his children.
“It’s wonderful,” he said Tuesday afternoon as Gonzalez rested. “This is the best thing that’s ever happened.”
He said Gonzalez is “happy, too, but exhausted.”
But the new father admitted his initial reaction after learning months ago that Gonzales was carrying five little ones was a bit different.
“I was shocked; we both were,” Pena said. “It was scary at first, and sometimes it still is. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Pena also has a 2-year-old son, Miguel.
When asked if the couple planned to have more children, Pena replied, “No, we’re definitely done.”
Though his children are extremely fragile and require round-the-clock care, he said he’s confident they will continue to thrive and looks forward to the day he can take them home.
“We both have a lot of family here, and I’m sure they’ll be over all the time,” Pena said. “I know they’ll help out.”
Gonzalez had been on bed rest at Women & Babies for two months when she went into labor Sunday, just shy of 28 weeks into her pregnancy. Full-term pregnancies have a gestation of 40 weeks.
Bayliss said it is very common for multiple births to be delivered prematurely and that 28 weeks is considered to be the anticipated length of a multiple pregnancy.
After a failed effort to arrest Gonzalez’s labor Sunday, Bayliss said delivering the babies was the safest thing to do.
He performed a Caesarean section and had all five babies out of the womb in 15 minutes.
Several doctors, nurses and technicians were on hand, with each baby assigned its own team of caretakers.
“It was a vast effort involving so many people and so many different departments in the hospital,” Bayliss said, adding that the staff has been running drills in anticipation of the big day for the past two months.
“You have to plan for anything and everything,” Bayliss said. “In the end, it went better than we had hoped. It couldn’t have been planned any better.”
And you have to wonder if Pena was thinking the same as he quietly watched his children sleep.
“I’m just amazed they’re mine,” he said, gazing at tiny Edward Miguel. “I look at them, and all I can think is, ‘It’s a miracle.’ “