Houston mom gives birth to two sets of twins
Mom beats overwhelming odds to deliver 2 sets of identical twins
Updated 11:58 pm, Monday, February 18, 2013
Tressa Montalvo loved growing up in a big family with six siblings, but she never expected her own to become so big, so fast.
The 36-year-old Houston native naturally gave birth at The Woman's Hospital of Texas to a rare form of quadruplets: two sets of identical twins - a statistical phenomenon.
Unlike quadruplets who split from one egg and grow in one placenta, these four boys grew in pairs within two placentas for 31 weeks before Tressa had a complication-free cesarean section on Valentine's Day.
The arrival of Ace and Blaine then Cash and Dylan a minute later was even more unusual because the Montalvos did not take fertility drugs or use in-vitro fertilization, which have contributed to a 76 percent increase in multiple births nationwide between 1980 and 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to previous reports, Dr. James Grifo, director of the NYU Fertility Center, has said the odds of having two sets of identical twins at the same time are 1 in 10,000 with in-vitro and much rarer with natural conception.
Manuel picked up his oldest son and carried him to the nearest sealed crib. "That's your brother," Manuel told Memphis. "That's your little brother."
The toddler reached out and touched the plastic case surrounding Ace.
"You see your brothers?" Tressa asked, now standing. Ace cried softly.
"What's he say?" Memphis asked.
"He's happy to see you," Tressa said, smiling.
She said Memphis is just beginning to understand that his little brothers have arrived. "He kept kissing Mommy's tummy and saying, 'Brothers,' " she said. "Yesterday he was kissing my stomach still. I think he now understands they're outside Mommy's belly now."
Surprise at 10 weeks
Tressa was surprised to learn 10 weeks into her pregnancy that she'd be having twins.
Her physician heard a third heartbeat on her next visit and referred her to Dr. Brian Kirshon, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at The Woman's Hospital, who told the family to expect quadruplets.
"You're sitting there crying and you're not sure why," Tressa said, remembering the day she heard the news. "I didn't know if I was excited or afraid. It was just overwhelming."
Manuel, who works as a plumber and tradesman, was more certain about how he felt.
"Basically, I pumped my fist," he said. "It was a home run."
With no serious health complications and birth weights between 2 pounds, 15 ounces and 3 pounds, 15 ounces, the boys have an excellent chance of leading normal, healthy lives, hospital officials said.
Six weeks in hospital
"They came out healthy, early. The pregnancy went well, so smoothly that she was driving just a week before," Manuel said, his wife shrugging off compliments from television reporters about her strength.
The boys will remain at the hospital another six weeks. Like all preemies, they lie under blue fluorescent lights that help break down bilirubin levels in the blood until their livers can do the work alone. It'll be a few weeks before the infants learn how to feed, so for now they're given breast milk through a tube that runs down their noses into their stomachs.
Manuel said he still wants a girl, but deferred the decision to his wife. She said she wants to wait a few years until they better understand what it's like raising five boys.
"I don't think it will set in until we're all home how difficult it's going to be," Tressa said.
Nonetheless, she looks forward to the advantages of a big family like the one she had growing up. Her older sister, Lisa Hernandez of Boston, stood nearby.
"You always had someone to bug and someone to pick on you," Hernandez said, noting her parents now have 10 grandchildren in Houston - all boys less than 15 years old.
Family ready to help
Tressa's five siblings in Houston have already started talking about how they can help.
"She will definitely need all the extra hands she can get," Hernandez said.