By Angel MedFlight Contributor
Last Mother’s Day is one Jessica Neri-Lucero would rather forget. It was just weeks after she had lost twin daughters during birth. This year, things are much, much different. Jessica is the proud mother of four surviving quintuplets, which Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance transported from Scottsdale to their home in Watertown, N.Y. last February. To help celebrate Mother’s Day, we thought we would check in on the Lucero family and see how they’re getting along.
In order to see just how special this Mother’s Day will be for Jessica, one has to revisit her past. It’s a past that included seven pregnancies of which the first five were miscarriages. Jessica then lost twins Amber and Danielle at birth.
Months later, thinking she would never be able to have children, she and husband, retired Army Sgt. Esdras Lucero, found out she was pregnant with quintuplets. She then sought out physicians that specialize in multiple births and decided to give birth at the Banner Desert Medical Center and Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa, Ariz., under the care of Dr. John P. Elliott.
Sadly, Laila Maxine did not survive the birth. But Jessica says Laila, named after boxer Laila Ali, was the fighter of the group and had she not fought as hard as she did, Jessica believes the other babies wouldn’t have survived. Laila passed away on Dec. 25, 2012 and the four surviving quintuplets were born a day later. They were premature, born after 29 weeks – short of the 35-week goal set by doctors. They weighed just over two pounds.
Each of the four quintuplets have names rooted in history. There’s Adrian Normandy, named after the D-Day Invasion; Drew Neil for astronaut Neil Armstrong; Amada Barbara, after the patron saint of field artillery, St. Barbara, and Pearl Harbor, for the U.S. Naval base in Hawaii attacked during World War II. Their father Esdras served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and was wounded in combat.
When it came time to transport the newborns back to Watertown, a commercial flight was not an option as the preemies needed to fly in a virtual germ-free environment. That’s when Angel MedFlight’s air ambulance service stepped in last February and transported the family back home, taking care of all the travel and insurance details. See more of their journey in this video.
A few months later, Jessica reports the four surviving quintuplets are doing great. “They’re huge!,” she exclaimed in a recent phone interview. Jessica says the four have either reached 11 pounds or are close to that mark.
Mom talked with delight about the four different personalities she and her husband see in the babies. “Pearl is interested in everything, ” says Jessica adding her daughter “fights to stay awake and will watch everything.” She also says Pearl is the kicker of the bunch and is slated for a career as a swimmer or soccer player.
Pearl’s brother Adrian is the most relaxed of the siblings. The parents marvel at his adult-like facial expressions and his ability to use them in the correct context. Jessica says Adrian recently had hernia surgery and showed great poise throughout the ordeal. “He was relaxed at the hospital, didn’t cry and wasn’t cranky,” says Jessica.
Drew is the little flirt. Jessica says when a woman enters the room, her baby boy’s attitude will change to instant happiness as he gives them sweet eyes and smiles. Mom says, “When they leave, he’s done and he falls asleep. He’s cranky unless women are in the room.”
Then there’s Amada, who Jessica says (and others agree) is a tiny version of her. “This little girl is exactly like me, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing,” she says with a laugh. “She looks exactly like me when I was a baby. And boy, does she have a set of vocal cords.” Jessica says Amada will yell out, “Ama!,” which is Spanish for Mom. With the yell comes closed eyes and a cute little lip quiver.
Jessica reports at just over four months old, all four babies “have these huge chubby cheeks and little button noses.” Esdras loves their chunky thighs but didn’t realize at cleaning time that babies can have such deep creases in those thighs.
Jessica says one of the most delightful times with the babies is when she and her husband can just listen to them breath or snore.
She doesn’t look at having four little ones as an extraordinary challenge because “for me and my husband, this is all we know. They’re very good babies.”
Jessica is looking forward to Mother’s Day for a change. “This year we have something to celebrate,” she says. They’ll celebrate by packing the family into the van and going to a drive-in movie. They’ll bring along some food and take in a double bill of “Oz: The Great and Powerful” and “Iron Man 3.”
An appropriate choice of movies for a family that has shown an iron will through tough times and has given us a story that is both great…and powerful.
Happy Mother’s Day Jessica Neri-Lucero.