Being a faculty member in the Division of the Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) at the University of Michigan means I have had the privilege of working with many amazing families and playing a part in this very important time in their lives. My colleagues and I have spent our careers caring for women with pregnancies that for any number of reasons qualify them as being high risk.
Several months ago, we had the extraordinary honor of meeting Mr. and Mrs. Robert and Jessica Hicks and their family. Mrs. Hicks had learned she was pregnant with higher order multiples and was referred to our institution for the special level of care we provide for high risk pregnancies. Upon our initial consultation, we learned that Mrs. Hicks was not just pregnant with four babies, as they had previously been counseled, but rather five babies – quintuplets! Numerous ultrasounds, consultations, appointments, and eventually an inpatient hospitalization for Mrs. Hicks allowed our team to optimize the care that both she and her babies needed.
Pregnancy is not an illness
One of the important aspects of the care we provide for pregnant women is to continuously remind ourselves and these women that they are women who are pregnant, not sick women. In Mrs. Hicks’ case, this also was incredibly important to her. She took such great care of herself throughout her pregnancy, and that is what we continue to encourage women to do as pregnancies progress – to give themselves the attention and care they need for both themselves and their babies.
Our team encouraged Mrs. Hicks to continue her daily activities of living, even after being admitted to the hospital. We made sure she had access to the resources she needed at every step of the way. Nutrition, for example is very important for both mother and babies during a multiple gestation pregnancy. Mrs. Hicks did an incredible job of making sure she was getting the right amount of calories while at home, and once she was at the hospital we were able to support her with dietary counseling and nutritional support.
Exercise was another important aspect of Mrs. Hicks’ prenatal care. Although moving around becomes more challenging as a pregnancy with quintuplets progresses, Mrs. Hicks worked with a physical therapist and our team at the hospital to walk each day and to use resistant bands to maintain muscle tone even up through the last day of her pregnancy.
Coordination at a whole new level
Another aspect of Mrs. Hicks’ care that has been an important focus for us has been attention to her privacy and her status as more than a “patient.” With so many people and different teams needing to be involved in orchestrating the care that both she and her babies would need before, during and after their birth – it was important to us to keep her care and her families’ needs at the center of attention. I am sure that at many points, having so many specialists checking in on her and involved in her care could have seemed overwhelming. We worked hard, though, to keep the focus on what she needed and what we could do to avoid making her feel small in the midst of such grand coordination and planning.
Special delivery x 5!!
Once the big day arrived – we were all prepared, ready and excited. Months of planning between our Maternal Fetal Medicine team, birth center nursing staff, Neonatology and Newborn Intensive Care Unit staff, Pediatric Cardiology teams, and others throughout the hospital led to this day. At just over 32 weeks’ gestation, a scheduled Cesarean delivery was performed in the University of Michigan Von Voigtlander Hospital.
I am so proud to be a part of this team, and honored that Mrs. Hicks and her family chose us for their care. The Hicks family feels like part of our family now, from the rolls of ultrasound printouts we’ve sent home with her over the past few months, to the equipment marked “Reserved for Quintuplets” that has been on standby in the Cesarean delivery rooms for the past few weeks, to the five pink and blue University of Michigan stocking caps we had ready for their grand arrival. We have enjoyed every moment of taking care of Mrs. Hicks and preparing the Hicks babies for entry into this world.
We can’t wait to see what lies ahead for them.
Good Luck, Hicks family! And GO BLUE!!
Take the next step:
- Read the press release about the Hicks quintuplets’ birth.
- Related blog post: Breastfeeding quintuplets: Yes, it can be done!
- Learn about the maternal fetal medicine team at University of Michigan Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital.
- Learn about the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
- Watch a video about the Sawabini family whose quadruplets were born at University of Michigan in 2011.
Deborah Berman, MD, is a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist at University of Michigan Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital. Dr. Berman specializes in fetal diagnosis, therapy and intervention, and mental health and pregnancy.
University of Michigan Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital opened in December 2011, offering women a state-of-the-art place to welcome their babies to the world in the most caring and comfortable way possible. From private rooms to birthing tubs, each feature was designed around mom and baby’s every need. Learn more at www.UofMhealth.org/birthcenter.
University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked one of the best hospitals in the country. It was nationally ranked in all ten pediatric specialties in U.S. News Media Group’s “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals,” and among the 10 best children’s hospitals in the nation by Parents Magazine. In December 2011, the hospital opened our new 12-story, state-of-the-art facility offering cutting-edge specialty services for newborns, children and women.