When Ivanna Cardenas Gutierrez fell pregnant, she was surprised to hear that she was carrying twins. Then, understandably, she was stunned when doctors found even more babies in her womb. However, when the expectant mom was told that one of the fetuses was weaker than the rest, she was forced to make a big call – and what happened after that could be seen as miraculous.
Cardenas Gutierrez and her husband, David Gutierrez, are a couple based in south Florida. And, before 2014, their lives were relatively normal ones. Cardenas Gutierrez was working as an interior designer, while Gutierrez was a chef who planned on establishing his very own restaurant.
But fast-forward a few years, and things have gone a little differently to plan for the couple. The restaurant idea has had to take a back seat, for one, since the pair have bigger fish to fry these days. And that’s the outcome of the life-changing events of 2014: the year that Cardenas Gutierrez and her spouse started a family.
That year didn’t run smoothly for the Florida-based couple, though. In fact, the story of how their family came to be is pretty remarkable, to say the least. It all started when the couple, who had got married in 2011, first discovered that Cardenas Gutierrez was pregnant.
And Cardenas Gutierrez and her husband were delighted with the news that they were expecting. At that point, though, the young couple had no idea what was around the corner for them. Then, when the time came for the first ultrasound scan, doctors told them something that would be difficult for many people to get their heads around.
That’s because, at that initial appointment, the parents-to-be found out that they would be welcoming more than one baby: they were going to have twins, in fact. And as that was something the pair welcomed, they were over the moon. But, as it happened, there was more news to come.
Subsequently, a doctor discovered something else during the appointment: it turned out that there was another baby growing inside Cardenas Gutierrez’s womb. And, for the next five minutes, the couple tried to digest the news that they were expecting triplets. That wouldn’t be the last surprise for the husband and wife, though.
Indeed, the doctor would go on to find yet another fetus gestating inside Cardenas Gutierrez. And the idea that there were four babies on the way was so overwhelming that the couple began to cry. But Cardenas Gutierrez herself was initially convinced that it was all a joke. “I thought they were trying to prank me,” she told CBS Miami in November 2014.
The doctor was being deadly serious, however. And although the couple had hoped that they would one day grow a big family, they may never have expected all of their kids to come along at once. Not only that, but Cardenas Gutierrez had never taken any fertility drugs to aid the pregnancy, so the chances of her having quadruplets were only one in 700,000.
Given that Cardenas Gutierrez was carrying quads, though, she and her husband were aware that there was an increased risk of things going wrong compared to a pregnancy with fewer fetuses. Nevertheless, it may still have come as a shock to the pair when, at 27 weeks along, doctors told them that there was a problem with one of the babies.
It turned out that one of the four fetuses wasn’t getting enough oxygen from the placenta – and this left the expectant parents with a very difficult decision to make. A medical professional therefore outlined Cardenas Gutierrez’s options – one of which was to carry on with the pregnancy knowing that one of her babies would die in her womb.
The other choice, however, would be to take all the babies out prematurely. This way, the couple were told, the struggling baby would have a chance of surviving; by contrast, though, the three others would only have a 40 percent chance of making it. But for Cardenas Gutierrez and her husband, the decision was made quickly.
So, the very same day, Cardenas Gutierrez gave birth to all four babies via cesarean section; they were later named Gabriel, Julian, Sebastian and Francesca. Gabriel was the baby that doctors were initially worried about. When he was born, he had weighed a mere one pound and three ounces, and his chances of thriving had at first seemed slim.
In fact, the parents were encouraged to say their goodbyes to Gabriel, and a priest was even asked to baptize him before the worst happened. But then, seemingly miraculously, Gabriel appeared to be getting stronger. And within just a few hours, his prognosis was much improved.
Slowly but surely, Gabriel’s oxygen levels increased; he even began to put a little weight on. Then, after nearly five months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Gabriel was strong enough to come home and join his three siblings – all of whom had spent time in the specialist unit, too.
And the fact that all four of their babies had made it home was a truly incredible result for the parents, who were concerned that they’d end up losing one of their children. Speaking to CBS Miami, Cardenas Gutierrez even said that the whole situation was “a miracle.”
The new mom continued, “I mean, they’re all a miracle, but he’s a little fighter,” referring to Gabriel, who didn’t have the easiest start in life. And when the parents thought back to that uncertain time in the hospital, they remembered all the support that they received via social media in particular.
In fact, the couple had asked their online network to join them in prayer for their babies, and they are convinced that this in turn had a real impact on the children. “I thought there were so many people praying for them, that that’s what helped them get better,” Gutierrez said.
And in 2018 Cardenas Gutierrez now has more than 35,000 Instagram followers, not to mention four beautiful and healthy three-year-olds. She uses the account to share the family’s incredible journey, which she has described as “the most challenging and rewarding chapter in our lives.”
So, despite the bump in the road at 27 weeks, Cardenas Gutierrez and her husband made the right decision and delivered their four children safely – albeit against the odds. And it’s a set of circumstances that they seem to be happy with, too. “To have a big family, we are just blessed,” the proud mom told the Miami Herald in 2014.