Last Dec. 4, after five years of marriage and two miscarriages, Michael and Margaret Baudinet of Richmond, Va., welcomed quintuplets at 32 weeks plus one day of gestation.
The proud paternal grandmother is Ginny Baudinet of Watertown, who sits on the Board of Directors for Carolyn’s Place in Waterbury, the pregnancy resource center, and who has devoted more than 25 years to working on behalf of moms and babies.
So when her son, Michael, 34, and daughter-in-law, Margaret (Moggie), 31, became the parents of four girls and a boy — Ava, Clara, Camille, Isabelle and Luke Baudinet — it was like a gift from heaven.
“I had priests, four orders of religious sisters and countless numbers of people celebrating Masses and praying rosaries and novenas,” said Ginny. “Obviously, God is good. Not only did we have the miracle of our five babies, but it was a healthy delivery.”
Among the supporters was Father Robert Rousseau, archdiocesan director for pro-life activities, who prayed for the family through the duration of the pregnancy and periodically checked in with Ginny to follow the progress.
“I’ve known Ginny for over 25 years,” he said. “Not only is she dedicated to pro-life, but now she is the grandmother of quintuplets.”
After the two miscarriages, the couple opted for fertility treatments. Afterward, they learned that Moggie was carrying five babies.
But as everyone knew, having a healthy pregnancy and delivery would not be without challenges. The key was finding a doctor who would help them through the pregnancy.
Initially, their physicians in Virginia recommended selective reduction — a practice of reducing the number of babies to allow for a safer, healthier delivery, which has become more common as the use of fertility treatments has produced more multifetal pregnancies.
They wanted to raise all five. “I was really shocked, but we were really so hopeful that we could start a family,” Moggie recalled. Both parents also sought spiritual guidance, Moggie from her pastor and Michael from a priest — both with the same answer, that these are all lives; selective reduction would be wrong.
Michael, a Harvard-educated lawyer, and Moggie, who holds a master’s degree and is a partner in a firm that helps students select a college, turned to the internet and located Dr. John Elliott, a perinatologist and medical director for Valley Perinatal Services in Scottsdale, Ariz., who has earned an international reputation for shepherding successful multiple births.
He told the couple they had to be in Arizona by the 18-week mark.
“The amazing thing about Dr. Elliot is that he is so positive,” said Ginny. “He sees each life as a miracle.
“He told them it wasn’t going to be easy,” she added, “but he said that so much of it is attitude. The mother and father have to have a strong attitude.”
The Baudinets drove to Arizona, where they rented a house and arrived before Labor Day. As the big day neared, the grandparents went to Arizona to prepare for the delivery, help furnish the rented house and plan to outfit nurseries in two states.
Moggie’s friends in Virginia dropped off baby clothes, swings, changing tables, car seats, and a houseful of items needed to turn Moggie and Michael’s house in Richmond into a nursery; and hired two au pairs to help with feedings.
Then everyone waited.
The delivery team that assembled included Dr. Elliott and obstetrician Dr. William A. Chavira, who was newly ordained to the diaconate.
Each baby also was assigned his or her own five-person medical team totaling about 35 to 40 people in the delivery room. The actual delivery was delayed briefly so Dr. Chavira could attend Sunday morning Mass. Ginny explained the fact the deacon has an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on his website gave her all the confidence she needed.
At 8:32 a.m., the 17-minute cesarean section started.
Ava Louise arrived at 8:33 a.m. at 3 pounds, 6 ounces. A minute later, Clara Katherine followed her at 3 pounds, 8 ounces. One minute after that came Camille Whitney (Millie) at 3 pounds, 10 ounces. The one boy, Luke Thomas, was next at 3 pounds, 14 ounces.
And five minutes after the first baby, at 8:37 a.m., came Isabelle Frances at 3 pounds, 6 ounces. They totaled almost 18 pounds of baby.
“When you have five babies coming in less than five minutes, it is just one miracle after another,” said Dr. Elliott in a post-surgery video produced by his clinic, where he is lauded for having taken care of 108 sets of quads and 22 sets of quintuplets. “It’s like nothing else on earth to assist at the birth of five beautiful babies” at a time.
Each baby was given its own pod in the nursery; and after baby Ava’s surgery for a perforated bowel, the first baby, Clara, left the hospital on the 28th.
After the last baby was discharged on Jan. 7, the Baudinets began arranging the trip home. Driving was out of the question, and commercial airlines would not accept the risk.
Amazingly, a person who asked to remain anonymous arranged for a private jet to take the babies, mom, dad and a neonatal intensive care unit nurse to Virginia on Jan. 11.
“It was just God showing us that he was in charge,” said Ginny. Meanwhile, grandparents loaded their vehicles, including the family dog, for the drive to Virginia to set up the nursery and supplies.
“It was like a whirlwind,” said Ginny, who remained in Virginia until Valentine’s Day week to help with the daily rotation of feedings every three to four hours, plus diaper changes.
By the first week of February, all of the babies except Ava weighed in at more than seven pounds. Dad Michael went back to work at his law firm. Moggie celebrated her 32nd birthday.
Life has taken on a whole new meaning in the Baudinet household.
“Throughout this process, we've heard God simply ask us to surrender to his will and his choice,” said Moggie in her blog (see baudinetquints.blogspot.com). “God assured us that he would take care of the rest.”
Ginny was equally reflective. “The ironic thing is she couldn’t keep one but ended up with five.
“The fact that she conceived them and kept them by honoring God’s word, not by what doctors initially advised, shows us that each baby is its own miracle,” she said.
“They had to have faith in God that he was doing his work. “It’s pulled so many people together in a good and prayerful way for all to see a miracle happen,” she said. “God has had his hand in this, there’s no mistake.”