Staring at the tiny, sweet faces of their four babies, Hope and Jereme Barrera can’t believe how many times they have beaten the odds to become parents.
After trying unsuccessfully for more than a year to start their family, the Wichita Falls couple turned to a fertility specialist for help. Hope Barrera, 23, learned she had Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and has probably never ovulated. Despite being warned not to get their hopes up, the Barreras were surprised to learn that Hope was pregnant after just one month of fertility drugs.
“We’ve always wanted to be parents. We dreamed of having one boy and one girl,” said Jereme Barrera, 26. “We even talked about adopting.”
The Barreras knew the fertility drugs increased their odds of conceiving twins, but they were stunned when Hope’s first sonogram revealed she was were expecting quadruplets. Besides the health risks that the pregnancy posed to the mother, the couple was cautioned that the babies might not live past the second trimester.
“We were happy we were having four babies, but at the same time we were extremely scared,” Hope Barrera said.
After nearly two months on hospital bed rest, Hope Barrera delivered the babies in May at 27 weeks at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth. The boys, Jaxxon and Rylan, both weighed just over 2 pounds and the girls, Paisley and Kinsley, weighed just under 2 pounds.
“They rolled them by us when they were leaving the operating room, and I was like, I cannot believe they are that small. But their eyes were open, all of them, and they were looking at me,” said Jereme Barrera, a staff sergeant select with the Air Force. “And I was just thinking, ‘I know they’re going to grow fast cause they’re strong and they’re fighters.’ ”
Fertility treatments are responsible for an estimated 77 percent of triplet and higher-order births, according to a study published last December in the New England Journal of Medicine. The Barrera children are the eighth set of quadruplets born at Harris Methodist since 2005.
Now doubled in size, the siblings are expected to go home by late August.
“The more babies there are, the more difficult it is for mom to get anywhere near to term. It’s a lot of stress on mom’s body,” said Dr. Chad Barber, Harris Methodist’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit associate medical director. “When you get up into quads, then you are dealing with ‘Can you even get to delivery with all four alive?’ Getting to 30 weeks with quads without any of them dying is one in a million. That’s if you are lucky. You’ve got the emotional challenge of potentially losing a baby before you even get started.”
All four babies have varying degrees of respiratory illness, but Barber said were fortunately were not affected by some of the other health problems, such as infections or vision loss, that multiples can face.
“They’ve done tremendously,” Barber said.
The Barreras, who visit the neonatal intensive-care unit daily to feed and hold each baby, are anxiously awaiting to see their four tiny bundles sleeping in their own decorated nursery back in Wichita Falls.
“I’m excited for them to be home where they don’t have wires in the way when you are changing their diapers,” Hope Barrera said. “At the same time, it’s a little nerve-racking to think about bringing four home without all the help.”
A friend created a GoFundMe account online to share the Barrera’s story and collect financial contributions for the young couple and their babies.
“For us to receive all the help we’ve received is incredible,” Jereme Barrera said.