Childbirth can be full of surprises, and even the best-laid plans sometimes go awry. For most people, that might mean a much faster labor than they might have anticipated or rushing in for emergency surgery to keep the baby safe. For Manita Singh and her husband, Mahesh Singh, of the Indian state of Chhattisgarh, that meant getting to the hospital much sooner than they'd anticipated — Manita's labor started at 26 weeks — before meeting their premature newborn daughter. Oh, and all four of her sisters, of course.
The Singhs, who hadn't been in for an ultrasound, were expecting one baby and hoping he or she would be healthy. What they weren't expecting was that Manita's early labor pains would turn into a vaginal delivery that resulted in the healthy births of quintuplets.
Quintuplets on their own are a huge surprise for any couple, and that's when you have a chance to prepare yourself for their arrival. For the Singhs, this came out of the blue, but as far as complete surprises go, this one is far from unpleasant.
The girls aren't actually the couple's first children. They had previously welcomed a baby boy, but sadly, he died shortly after birth, leaving the two of them devastated. It's part of the reason that Mahesh Singh is particularly overjoyed and proud that he's now the father to not one little girl, but a whole lot of them.
Chances are pretty high that he won't be starting up a Dads of Quints club anytime soon. Quintuplets are rare and occur about once in 55 million births. And what percentage of those are delivered vaginally? Well, with 75 percent of twin births requiring a cesarean delivery, it's pretty safe to say these girls are one (or five) of a kind. While the girls aren't out of the woods yet, they were born healthy, if underweight, and doctors are keeping a close eye on them.
There's nothing that makes up for the devastating loss of a child. It's a type of pain most of us can't even begin to imagine, and the Singhs describe the death of their first child as heartbreaking. But there's something that's particularly joyful about a loss that great being followed by not one, but five beautiful rainbow babies, and their father sees the addition of five girls to his family as a gift, one he intends to treasure. His only hope for his girls, he said, is to see them all come home healthy and then to give them the best life he possibly can.
Whirlwind doesn't even begin to describe what the Singhs have been through in the past few days. Something like hurricane is a bit more apt a descriptor. But if all goes well, the rush to the hospital followed by the birth of five girls is only the beginning for these two. Let's hope their friends and family take that old "it take a village to raise a child" nut to heart, because with five babies at home, these two are going to need a literal city on their side.
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