SALT LAKE CITY — The mother smiled as she held the small, red University of Utah onesie against her torso.
The clothing, along with booties, caps and tutus, should come in handy for Guillermina Garcia, who has five newborns to clothe these days. Three girls and two boys — Esmeralda, Fatima, Marissa, Jordan and Fernando — were born via cesarean section to Garcia and her husband, Fernando, around 11:30 a.m. Sunday.
"She's happy, very happy, about all five of her babies," Spanish translator and hospital spokeswoman Marissa Villasenor said of Garcia. "It was a lot of emotions. (Garcia and her husband) were happy to see they were normal and everything was good."
The quintuplets were a first for the hospital and among only about 12 to 30 born to women in the United States each year, Dr. Tracy Manuck said.
"We've had several patients with triplets or quadruplets, and we used that knowledge and experience to guide our care of Mrs. Garcia," Manuck said.
The five infants — ranging in size from 2 pounds, 12 ounces to 3 pounds, 14 ounces — each had a team of at least five doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses and a respiratory specialists, according to Dr. Elizabeth O'Brien, who is charged with their care in University Hospital's Newborn Intensive Care Unit. They were delivered within two minutes.
"It was not really chaotic. It was very controlled," O'Brien said, noting that all of the babies were on some type of support within five minutes. "The resuscitations all went very smoothly, better even than one would anticipate, and the babies are all doing very well."
She said all three of the girls were off of oxygen and had begun feeding, while the two boys were weaning down on the amount of support they needed. Manuck said their health was in large part due to Garcia, who carried her five babies to 31 ½ weeks, which was much longer than the typical, 27- to 29-week gestation for quintuplets.
Manuck said she started caring for Garcia, who knew "very early on" she was carrying five babies, conceived with the help of fertility treatment, around seven weeks into Garcia's pregnancy. She estimated that as many as 100 people at the hospital helped with the woman's care throughout her pregnancy.
Fernando and Guillermina Garcia both said they were shocked and excited when they realized they had five children on the way. The couple already has a daughter, Julietta, 18 months.
Guillermina Garcia has been hospitalized since early April and has remained on bed rest since that time.
"She said, of course, there's always worries throughout the whole pregnancy," Villasenor said, quoting Garcia. "She just wanted them to be healthy, but they had good support and were positive, and they just always had good faith that, God willing, everything would turn out fine."
O'Brien said the hospital had some notice that the babies were coming when Guillermina Garcia started showing signs of developing HELLP syndrome, a form of preeclampsia. Testing for the condition allowed for some lead time that helped the hospital prepare for the surgery.
It was expected that Garcia would be able to leave the hospital Thursday. The babies likely will remain in the hospital for at least six weeks, O'Brien said.
When asked how she would care for six children, Guillermina Garcia responded: "I don't know." But Fernando Garcia said they would both take on the task of childcare and adjusting to their new life.
"The worst part is over with now, and you figure out a way. You make it work and make it happen," he said.
Aunika Kidd, of the Utah Doula Association, said Garcia was referred to the group by her doctors and that volunteers began to help the family in February. The group will also help care for the children for six to eight hours a day for the next two to three months. The association also is collecting financial donations, as well as new and gently used items for the babies.
Donations are being accepted for the family through the organization's website, as well as at America First Credit Union locations under "Utah Quints Through the UDA."