Carmen Matthews has wanted to be a mother for as long as she can remember. However, she and her husband struggled with infertility for two years and suffered two miscarriages before finally having a successful pregnancy—a pregnancy that blessed them with three sons and two daughters at once. “It’s surreal,” the new mom says. “Last year, I was praying to have a baby, and now here we are with five!”
The mom of quintuplets recalls the ultrasound during which the doctor discovered five heartbeats: “I was in shock for about two weeks afterward. It’s still hard to believe it actually happened to me.” Although the prenatal journey was far from typical—entailing bed rest at 20 weeks, one to two doctor appointments weekly, and hospitalization complete with daily ultrasounds for the last six weeks—its culmination was better than anyone could have hoped. “I delivered at 34 weeks exactly, and the hospital had planned every detail,” she explains. “We had a team of at least three people per baby, I had four surgeons, and there were many others on the team as well.”
The doctor held up the babies —Lorna, Layton, Carleigh, Rucker and Eason—as they were delivered, allowing Matthews to get a glimpse of each addition to her family before they were taken to recovery. But the proud mom didn’t have to wait long to see them again. “I was able to visit the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) within about two hours of their birth,” she recalls. “It was a miracle.”
Matthews was discharged five days after her C-section, and her babies came home at 12, 13, 18, 20 and 54 days, respectively. Since then, her parents as well as her husband’s have taken turns staying with the flourishing family, friends help out regularly, and volunteers come by to rock the little ones. “Don’t get me wrong; it’s hard,” she acknowledges, “but I think we are managing really well.” She’s even sleeping around seven hours a night although, “I do have to get up several times to pop in a pacifier,” she acknowledges.
During her pregnancy, Matthews was understandably worried about her babies’ health. “We were told from day one that it was unlikely we would maintain the pregnancy. I knew we could lose one or even all the babies, and it was a constant struggle to do my part to keep them.” Now, Matthews is happy to report the babies are doing remarkably well. And her fear of getting them confused has been put to rest too. “Each baby looks so different and has his or her own personality. It’s fun to learn about them,” she says.
While one baby is enough to keep most moms busy, Matthews insists raising five simultaneously doesn’t qualify her as an expert. “I learn something new every day,” she says. The best advice she can offer: “Don’t get too obsessed with things going your way. Just go with the flow. And take lots of pictures or videos because it goes by fast.” The abundantly blessed mom has visions of taking her children to Disney World some day and looks forward to watching her babies grow and experience the world. “I just want them to grow up to be good, healthy, happy people,” she says. And they surely will—in the blink of an eye.
Name: Carmen Matthews
Lives in: Leland, North Carolina
Occupation: Registered nurse
Partner in crime: Mike Matthews
Favorite song: Too many, she just loves country music
Strangest pregnancy craving: Slim Jims
First thing she does in the morning: Brushes her teeth