Quintuplets born in Columbia

They're going to need a bigger car

COLUMBIA -- Temekia Harris celebrated two birthdays in July. First hers, then, 12 days later, that of her quintuplet boys, born Friday.

"That was a belated birthday present," she said.

The special delivery to Harris and father Ivan Smith at Palmetto Health Richland:

• A boy, 2 pounds, 3.1 ounces, 13.5 inches long, born at 8:27 a.m.

• Another boy, 2 pounds, 2.9 ounces, 13 inches long, born at 8:27 a.m.

• A third boy, 1 pound, 6 ounces, 11.75 inches long, born at 8:28 a.m.

• Yet another boy, 1 pound, 14 ounces, 13.75 inches long, born at 8:28 a.m.

• And a fifth boy, 2 pounds, 6 ounces, 14 inches long, born at 8:29 a.m.

The parents, who have two other boys, a 9-year-old and a 9-month-old, are still deciding on names.

The babies didn't wait the whole 38 weeks of a full-term pregnancy; they showed up at 27 weeks and will have to stay in the neonatal intensive care unit for at least a month.

"We just thank God that they're here and they're healthy," said Harris, 28.

Mom is recovering well, too.

Early Friday evening she still hadn't met the babies but had seen lots of photographs that hospital staffers took.

"I cried when I saw the pictures," she said. "I was anticipating their coming, but when I saw them, I was just glad to finally see them."

She had to stay in the hospital on bed rest for eight weeks while waiting to deliver the babies by Caesarean section.

An initial ultrasound done in the first trimester of the pregnancy showed four babies. Two weeks later, a fifth heartbeat was detected.

Disbelief brought the couple to tears. Tears of joy, said Smith, 38.

"We shed those tears today also," he said.

News of the quintuplets was a big surprise for them. They had not used any fertility drugs, and the only multiple birth they knew of in their families was Smith's 18-month-old twin nephews.

The Columbians weren't prepared for the news financially or otherwise. But they scrambled to multiply their preparation efforts by five. They also had to get mentally prepared.

"It's a big deal, but I think we'll be able to handle it," said Smith, a painting contractor. "The most important thing to me is that we bring them up as best we can. I just want to provide for them like any other parents want to do for their kids."

He said he wants to help them get a good education, and some of the things he didn't have in life. He wants to teach them to do the right thing, as he was taught.

He looks forward to spending father-son time with the boys, as he does with 9-month-old Joshua and 9-year-old Carlik. Smith and Carlik enjoy going fishing in Jenkinsville, swimming in the lake and playing ball.

"I've a small basketball team the starting five -- but they might not want to play basketball."

Carlik is excited about his brothers' arrival. He has even asked his parents to get the babies T-shirts with their names on the front so he can tell them apart. He also told his parents that he knows how to change a diaper.

Harris has been taking lessons from other parents who had multiple births. She recently met Betty Glover-Derrick, who delivered quadruplet girls March 13.

Derrick tells her that making a schedule and sticking to it is key.

"I know it's going to come down to time management," Harris said.