Inspired

Mom Beats Infertility, and Now 4 of Her Surviving Quintuplet Preemies Are Thriving: ‘It Changed Us’

TIMEDecember 16, 2021

An Ohio couple, who were once high school sweethearts, became pregnant with quintuplets after a two-year battle with infertility. A terrifying journey ensued, including losing one newborn and several close calls.

After 385 days in the NICU, the proud parents finally reunited four happy, healthy babies at home.

Hannah and Jake Merton, aged 22 and 23, met as 15-year-old teens on their high school bowling team, married after graduation, and bought a house together. Hannah, who herself is one of eight siblings, told The Epoch Times that she had always wanted to be a mom, but with a hormone imbalance diagnosed in her teens, she knew she may have trouble conceiving.

“We were both working full time and he was going to college; we were ready to have a family of our own,” Hannah said. “After a year of trying, I was diagnosed with the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). They told me my chance of conceiving on my own was very unlikely, due to the fact that I don’t ovulate on my own.”

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Hannah Merton)

Hannah was prescribed a medication to help her ovulate, with a caveat: it would slightly increase her chances of multiples. She and Jake were about 10 percent more likely to conceive twins, and 1 percent more likely to conceive triplets. “No one ever mentioned any more than that,” she said.

After just under two years of trying, countless tears, and negative pregnancy tests, Hannah finally tested positive. She went in for her first ultrasound at five weeks and got the surprise of her life: she was carrying five babies. In shock and disbelief, she and Jake drove home in silence.

Even their doctor, Hannah recalled, had “gone pale” revealing the news. She told Love What Matters (LWM) that the doctor was frank, explaining that most likely the babies wouldn’t all survive. The parents-to-be were to return in two weeks.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Hannah Merton)

Hannah stayed strong, settled into her pregnancy, and all went well until 23 weeks; the weight of the babies had caused her cervix to dilate, and Hannah was admitted to the hospital.

On March 5, 2020, at 25 weeks and 2 days, she went into labor.

The quintuplets—three girls and two boys—were born at Akron City Summa Hospital by C-section in the following order: Philomena, at 1 pound 9 ounces; Evangeline, at 1 pound 10 ounces; Gideon, at 1 pound 12 ounces; Meredith, at 1 pound 4 ounces; and Elliot, at 1 pound 11 ounces.

“I was so scared, excited, happy, anxious, and worried the night they were born,” Hannah told The Epoch Times. “I didn’t expect to deliver my babies at only 25 weeks’ gestation. The babies were so premature that they all needed to be put on ventilators.

“When the doctors are doing all they can, and even then it’s not enough, the only place to turn is God. We had to trust in Him and put our babies’ lives in His hands.”

Epoch Times Photo
Hannah and her husband, Jake, with their late baby daughter Meredith, who passed away three days after birth. (Courtesy of Hannah Merton)
Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Hannah Merton)

After being transferred to Akron Children’s NICU, things took a devastating turn for baby Meredith.

“The night the babies were born, Meredith almost didn’t make it,” Hannah recalled.

“Meredith had a hard few days, and ultimately gained her wings on day three of life. I think I’m still trying to cope with the grief … but I have to pick myself up, keep moving, and be there for the children I have with me. We will never forget her, and the pain will never go away.”

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Hannah Merton)

Amid the couple’s shock of losing Meredith, her siblings fought for their lives.

Elliot was the first to go home, just after the babies’ original due date. He came off his ventilator at about 2 months old, learned to eat, and learned to maintain his body temperature. Philomena followed him home a month later.

Evangeline suffered a brain bleed and severe brain damage. She struggled to get off her ventilator and needed a round of steroids to help her lungs. An infection in her intestines presented a major setback.

“Evangeline was very, very sick for a few weeks,” said Hannah. “But thankfully she overcame it. After struggling to learn to drink a bottle, she got a G-tube and was able to come home.”

Baby Gideon struggled from day one, said Hannah. “His lungs were very, very sick; we almost lost him many times,” she added. “He wasn’t able to come off the ventilator, and eventually received a tracheotomy. He spent just over a year in the NICU, overcoming all of the obstacles he faced.”

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Hannah Merton)
Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Hannah Merton)

Hannah said the name Gideon means “mighty warrior.” The couple was urged to sign a do-not-resuscitate order, but she kept her faith strong.

The proud mom says her favorite moment with her babies to date was their reunion on the day Gideon came home, coming together for the first time 385 days after being born.

“Elliot and Philomena show no signs of ever being premature,” she said. “They are on track developmentally for their age. “We refer to Elliot as our ‘angel boy’ because he is the sweetest, silliest, kindest little boy. Philomena is pure spunk; I don’t know how so much personality can fit in one tiny body.”

And their “sweet, sassy” Gideon is making “amazing strides.” He only uses his ventilator at night time, and his parents are hoping his trach will be removed before his second birthday.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Hannah Merton)
Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Hannah Merton)

Evangeline was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Hannah says what matters is that “she is the happiest little ray of sunshine.” “She is the light of our lives, and can brighten up the darkest days,” the mom said.

Hannah—who shares family life on a dedicated Instagram page—says their NICU journey is a blur. Yet becoming first-time parents during a pandemic, losing a child, and watching four babies fight for their lives has brought Hannah and Jake closer than ever before.

“It changed us. We became each other’s rock,” she said. “I went from having no children and no medical background to having four children here, one in heaven, and two of my kids being medically complex.

“I had to learn to become Gideon’s caregiver. I learned to handle feeding tubes. I learned to care for a child with cerebral palsy. It’s challenging, every single day, but these kids are so worth it.”

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Louise Bevan
Louise Bevan is a writer, born and raised in London, England. She covers inspiring news and human interest stories.