1st quadruplets born in S'pore since 2008

SINGAPORE - They tied the knot in May 2008, and after two years, they decided to have kids. However after trying for two years, there were no results.

Phua Jiun Wei and his wife Jennifer, both 28, went to see doctors, and Mrs Phua took fertility medication. After sometime, Mrs Phua, an assistant treasury manager at a commodities trading company, discovered she was expecting. Little did she realise how many babies she was carrying.

With every medical checkup, her obstetrician noticed another fetus. It was only during her 9th week of pregnancy that her obstetrician confirmed that she was expecting quadruplets, she told Shin Min Daily News. Mrs Phua was told that her conception was natural, as she did not undergo in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).

Her pregnancy was faced with difficulties. Mrs Phua had lost her appetite, and her weight dropped by 3kg in her first trimester. Worried about her babies' health, she tried to have multiple small meals each day, and eventually gained 11kg.

She also shared how the weight of her large belly in her last trimester caused sleeplessness. She was unable to find a comfortable position to sleep for long, and only slept for a few hours each night.

On June 23, around her 30th week of pregnancy, Mrs Phua felt contractions and checked into Gleneagles Hospital. Her obstetrician decided to hold off the delivery until last Thursday. Mrs Phua's estimated due date was Sept 6, but there were concerns that the smallest baby had stopped absorbing nutrition from the placenta.

The quadruplets, three girls and one boy, were delivered via caesarean section on July 19. The babies are named Janessa, Joelle, Jovianne and Kingsley. The sisters weighed about 1.37 to 1.47kg each at birth, while Kingsley, the youngest, weighed 0.91kg.

Mrs Phua also shared with Shin Min Daily News that the quadruplets are fraternal, which means they had developed from four separate eggs fertilised by four separate sperms. This is why the siblings do not look identical.

The newborns are the first set of quadruplets born in Singapore since 2008. Available Immigration and Checkpoints Authority figures between 2006 and 2011 show that only one other set of quadruplets were born in 2008, according to The Straits Times.

Now the Phuas face another challenge - the growing hospital bill. The current bill is at least $68,000, which includes an estimated $25,000 for Mrs Phua's month-long hospitalisation and a $23,000 obstetrician fee, reported The Straits Times. The babies will need to stay in neonatal intensive care for another one to two months which costs $1,000 a day.

Mrs Phua said she hopes to go back to work in two months to lessen the financial burden, but she is not too worried at the moment. She also added with a laugh that she welcomes sponsorships for baby products.

One thing that she need not worry about is child care. Mr Phua is the boss of a confinement nanny agency, started by his mother Madam Lily Lim. She can count on her parents and in-laws for help with taking care of her babies.

natlim@sph.com.sg

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