First-time parents from New Jersey welcomed four new babies into the world June 16 in Phoenix despite the global pandemic and other major health challenges.
Jennifer and Nicholas Stepenosky welcomed three baby girls and a baby boy — Caitlin, Addison, Emilia, and Elliott — at 27 weeks and 3 days, according to a release from Banner Health.
"After finding out we were going to have a high-order multiple pregnancy in early January, we knew this wasn't a normal pregnancy," Ms. Stepenosky said. "It's high risk, and there is a lot more at stake since we would need more care to make sure the babies and myself were safe."
Ms. Stepenosky was first admitted to a hospital in Pennsylvania at just 16 weeks gestation after losing one of the five babies due to an incompetent cervix, the release states. This prompted the couple to start looking for alternative options for enhanced prenatal care.
"Most doctors would say, 'You need to set up an appointment with Dr. Elliott,' I was able to get his cell phone number from my support group and just called him directly," Ms. Stepenosky said. "He was on the phone with me for 45 minutes without even knowing who I was or what my pregnancy looked like. He went through all the details of what we needed to do… I knew that we needed to come out here [to Phoenix] for treatment."
The Stepenoskys faced a very complicated pregnancy, but Dr. John Elliott, a perinatologist at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix and Valley Perinatal Services — who assumed care of Ms. Stepenosky and the babies while in utero — saw this as an opportunity to help the New Jersey couple to make their lifelong dreams of starting a family finally come true, the release states.
Ms. Stepenosky made her first trip to Phoenix in March, shortly after she was discharged from a hospital back home. During her first visit to the Phoenix hospital, Dr. Elliott performed a cerclage, also known as a cervical stitch. This is a treatment for cervical weakness, when the cervix starts to shorten and open too early during pregnancy, usually causing either a late miscarriage or preterm birth, according to the release.
Ms. Stepenosky was able to go home to New Jersey for several weeks following the cerclage. She returned to Phoenix at 23 weeks in her pregnancy and remained hospitalized until the birth of the quadruplets.
Dr. Elliott has extensive knowledge and experience in managing and delivering high-order multiples. He first delivered a set of quadruplets in 1984 and has since delivered 110 quadruplets and 25 quintuplets, according to the release. To Dr. Elliott’s knowledge, this was also the first case of a delayed internal delivery for a set of quintuplets in the world.
After spending nearly three months in Phoenix, the Stepenoskys are returning home Wednesday, Aug. 12. The four babies will be medically transported to a children’s hospital in Delaware. All four babies have made quick and successful progress with their development where each one has now doubled in size, the release states.
“We are really looking forward to being back home with our family and friends,” Ms. Stepenosky said. “It’s been a long yet rewarding journey and we can’t wait for them to meet the four new little additions to our family.”
The Stepenosky family will continue to post updates on the progress of each baby on their Facebook and Instagram accounts (@FiveStepsForUs) for those interested in following their story as a family of high-order multiples.
Editor's Note: This information was made available in a Banner Health press release.