Bianca Garcia has only two arms, after all, so it helps to have two older sons around when she feeds and changes the diapers of her quintuplets.
The last of the five babies, born 12 weeks early on July 25, went home from Methodist Women's Hospital on Monday afternoon. Bianca, her husband, Jose, and sons Jose, 9, and Abrahan, 7, drove to the hospital with four of the five newborns to pick up Rosalyn.
They didn't all fit in the family's minivan, which they bought after selling their pickup truck, so friends helped with transportation.
Three of the five babies have been home in Sioux City, Iowa, for about three weeks. Jimena was discharged Sunday.
Combined, babies Marah, Christobal, Arleth, Jimena and Rosalyn — four girls and a boy — weighed a little more than 10 pounds at birth. Now their weights range from 5 pounds, 2.5 ounces to 6 pounds, 6 ounces.
The babies are only the third set of quintuplets born in Nebraska and the first to be delivered at the Women's Hospital, which opened in June 2010.
Before their delivery at 28 weeks — a typical pregnancy lasts 40 weeks — Bianca Garcia spent more than 13 weeks on bed rest, 10 of those at the hospital.
The babies were born within two minutes of each other during the delivery via Cesarean section.
A team of 30-plus obstetricians, neonatologists and nurses were on hand for the births, for which doctors spent weeks preparing. Each baby was immediately turned over to a team of four doctors and nurses.
All five babies had some degree of lung illness common to premature babies. They were placed on ventilators but taken off relatively quickly, said Dr. Brady Kerr, one of the babies' neonatologists.
Once their lungs cleared, he said, the focus shifted to getting them to grow.
By the time they were able to go home, Kerr said, all five were eating by mouth and no longer needed to be fed through a tube.
Bianca, 30, said feeding the newborns can be challenging. Sometimes they don't want to nurse because they got used to bottles in the hospital. So they get both — breast and bottle — and each consumes about 3 ounces per feeding.
The staggered dismissals from the hospital helped, Bianca said.
“We weren't bombarded at the same time. It gave us time to ease into it.”
Neighbors and friends have helped by bringing meals for the two older boys, Bianca said. Her family lives in Sioux City, she said, so “they will be over to help, I'm sure.”
Oldest son Jose, a fourth-grader, said classmates gave him presents such as baby shampoo and baby wipes.
The quints still have a lot of growing and developing to do, Kerr said, and their pediatrician will have to closely monitor their progress. But everything looks good so far — their brains are structurally normal and they don't have any retinal abnormalities, he said.
“Monitoring their long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes is an ongoing process that is not finished today by any means,” Kerr said Monday.
Sometimes, he said, premature babies can have subtle developmental delays that don't show up until they start school.
The family has moved into a five-bedroom house to accommodate all the children. Jose Garcia, 32, said he works 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. five to six days a week at the Blue Bunny ice cream plant in Le Mars, Iowa. He tries to help as much as possible when he gets home.
Christobal, 1 lbs. 15.5 oz. at birth. Discharged Sept. 27 weighing 5 lbs., 2.5 oz.
Arleth, 2 lbs. 6 oz. at birth. Discharged Oct. 1 weighing 5 lbs., 13.5 oz.
Jimena, 2 lbs. 3 oz. at birth. Discharged Sunday weighing 6 lbs., 6 oz.
Rosalyn, 2 lbs. at birth. Discharged Monday weighing 6 lbs., 5 oz.
Bianca quit her job as a collections agent for a bank to care for the children.
A fund has been established at Wells Fargo Bank to help the family with expenses.
Donations may be made to the Garcia Family Benefit Donation Fund at any Wells Fargo location.
“It's a little overwhelming,” Bianca said. “Just getting them in and out of the car is a hassle.”
Having the last two at home now will be more work, she said, but “it's all worth it.”