Ulster sextuplet couple‘rejected advice to abort several foetuses’

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Belfast Telegraph: report.

By Claire McNeilly
Monday, 15 June 2009

Sextuplets parents Nuala and Austin on their wedding day
Sextuplets parents Nuala and Austin on their wedding day

Ireland’s first sextuplet parents have told how they rejected medical advice to abort several of the foetuses.

Last month, Nuala Conway, from Dunamore, gave birth to four girls and two boys 14 weeks prematurely.

The 26-year-old Co Tyrone woman said that 14 weeks into the multiple pregnancy, doctors warned her and husband Austin of the risks of proceeding.

However, their children — Ursula, Austin, Shannon, Karla, Eoghan and Kerrie — are now 24 days old and they are all stable in intensive care in hospital, where their parents have been keeping an almost constant vigil.

“These babies are a wonderful gift from God,” Mrs Conway told the Sunday Express newspaper in her first interview.

“Whatever God laid out for our lives we were taking it.”

The four girls and two boys — who were conceived without the aid of IVF — were delivered by a team of 38 people at the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital in Belfast.

They all arrived within the space of five minutes, weighing in between 1lb 7oz and 2lb 2oz.

“When I was 14 weeks pregnant doctors gave us the option of terminating some of my babies,” Mrs Conway revealed.

“They more or less advised us to. They told us about the risks we faced if we went ahead with the pregnancy.”

The former fashion store sales supervisor said, however, that it was not an option for the couple.

“Doctors gave us a couple of days to think about it, but we knew without discussion what we both wanted,” she added.

Mrs Conway, who was discharged from hospital a week ago, told the paper she had prayed for a child with her husband of three years.

They are the first sextuplets to be born in Ireland and the first in the UK for over a quarter of a century — and now their parents cannot wait to bring them home.

“I just feel lost without them. We have a house here but it feels so empty. It’s not a home until all our babies are here safe and well,” Mrs Conway said.

“I’m in love with every single one of them. I fell in love when they were in the womb. When one moved they would all move and I could definitely feel 24 limbs kicking.

“Every day seems like a year. Every minute seems like an hour. I just want time to go faster so they can get home. I just want to have a cuddle with them.”

Doctors have said they hope the babies will be strong enough to go home within two months — around the time they were due to be born.

The couple kept the number of babies they were expecting a secret from all but their immediate family because they did not want Nuala to be put under any extra stress.

Mr Conway, a 36-year-old kitchen fitter, said he has suspended his job so that he can make the daily three-hour round trip to the hospital.

“It has been like a roller coaster,” he said.

“The babies have been on and off antibiotics and ventilators. They are thriving really well but it’s hard to get a good day.

“There are so many of them there are always days when one or two will not be doing so well.”

Dr Clifford Maynes, a neonatal consultant at the Belfast hospital, said the birth had taken “a massive amount of planning”.

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