By Miranda La Rose Thursday, March 7 2013
First-time father Keiron Cummings, 29, of Arima, is thankful for his “six blessings,” three boys and three girls born in a historic sextuplets pregnancy on Monday.
A nervous Cummings spoke with the media for the first time at the Mt Hope Women’s Hospital (MHWH) after the identity of the babies’ mother, Petra Lee Foon, 28, of Chaguanas, was made public yesterday, in spite of requests for anonymity and privacy.
The babies are doing well, Cummings said, reporting that five of them are now breathing on their own.
“One is on the ventilator. Five have been removed from ventilators, but they (the medical staff) are watching them very, very closely,” he said. The babies will remain in incubators where they are being fed intravenously.
Asked if he had any fears about raising the children, Cummings, who was flanked by friend of his family and former gender minister Verna St Rose-Greaves said, “I don’t have any fears at this point. These are my first children. I have not had children before. I am just going along with it right now.”
Nevertheless, he called for more prayers to ensure the well-being of the babies and their mother.
Though “very elated and proud to be part of history” in having the first sextuplets in TT and the wider Caribbean, as well as breaking the United States record of having a sextuplets pregnancy going into 30 to 31 weeks, Cummings said one of his main priorities was getting a house for his new family.
Housing, he said, will be critical for his new family.
At present, he and Lee Foon do not live together.
“We both live at our parents. I live at Arima and (Lee Foon) lives at Chaguanas.”
Cummings, a banker, and Lee Foon, a teacher, are not married, but, Cummings said, they are in a committed relationship and they plan to get married.
He said they jointly made an application for a house to the Housing Development Corporation “about two or three years ago.” Home planning was no longer for a couple and a child or two, he said, but it was now for eight persons.
Thanking Dr Bharat Bassaw, the lead consultant obstetrician who looked after the sextuplets’ mother, the doctors, nurses and other staff of the MHWH and medical fraternity for the work they undertook to ensure the care of the mother and delivery of the babies, he said, “The children are okay. The mom is doing well. She is in recovery.”
He also thanked family and friends and the nation for their support and prayers.
Asked how he felt after an ultrasound revealed Lee Foon was having six babies, Cummings said, “I was amazed. At first I felt it was wrong (a mistake). I nearly fell to the ground, but it was all good. Now I feel very blessed.”
Cummings said he and Lee Foon were a bit anxious when Bassaw decided to bring forward her date of delivery to March 4 from March 14.
“Me, the mother and everybody kind of panic a little bit,” he said.
However, he said they trusted the doctor’s decision and went with it. “It was a wise judgement,” he said. The babies were born by Caesarian section and a medical team of 60 doctors and nurses cared for them and their mother.
What were his feelings during the delivery? “Very nervous,” Cummings said.
He and relatives were in a special area outside of the operating theatre. “We, the family were waiting very anxiously outside,” he said.
Asked about the names of the babies, Cummings said he and Lee Foon have not yet chosen any. Their focus was on getting the babies well.
Has he held any of the babies? “I have not held any as yet, but they are all good sized,” he said.
He has no idea when the babies would be released. That will depend on the doctors.
Does he plan on having more children? “Not right now,” Cummings said.However, he looks forward to the day when he can introduce his sons to sports and “mummy will take the girls shopping.”
Asked about reports that Lee Foon had taken fertility pills, Cummings said she will speak about that when she has recovered. He noted that multiple births have been recorded on her side of the family. Hospital officials had said the mother had undergone a series of fertility drugs at a private doctor to increase her chances of becoming pregnant.
Cummings said it was important for Lee Foon to remain calm during her pregnancy, which was why they asked for confidentiality. He still felt there was a need for more privacy in Lee Foon’s recovery.
In terms of help and sponsorship for the sextuplets, St Rose-Greaves, to whom Cummings referred to when some questions were asked, said they have been in discussions on the issues.
There would be a need to protect the children’s rights and privacy, as well as from a circus-type atmosphere, she said.
Both families, she said, “were very supportive” and were prepared to meet the needs of the children, but, not for the want of begging, they would welcome whatever support they could get as it would not be easy raising six children of the same age. As both parents were professionals, she said issues of extra maternity and paternity leave would have to be sought for them, as well as, extra help for the children both day and night.
St Rose-Greaves suggested that a citizens’ account be opened at a bank to allow members of the public to help in the nurturing of the six children.
She also welcomed Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s statement that Government will be “co-parents” to the sextuplets.
On Tuesday, in Debe, Persad-Bissessar told reporters the State will give financial assistance and do whatever it could to assist the new parents.