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Hospital prepped for first-ever sextuplets delivery with choreographed drills

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HUNTSVILLE Ala. -- An Alabama mother gave birth to six precious little bundles of joy at Huntsville Hospital, the first ever sextuplets to be delivered there.

"It was amazing getting to see them, and see what they look like, how little they are," mother Courtney Waldrop told WHNT. "I mean they're perfect though in every way, even though they're so tiny, they're just perfect."

The Waldrop sextuplets are the first to be born in Alabama since 2011.  Doctors said the babies are doing very well and growing stronger every day. Each baby weighed under three pounds when they were born, just about ten weeks early.

"That sounds like a lot, but that is remarkable on mom's part, that she was able to carry these babies this far," said Dr. Lee D. Morris a neonatologist.

Doctors said the delivery went smoothly, and all six babies were stable and cried at delivery. They said it went so well because of teamwork at the hospital, prepping and practicing for the sextuplets delivery.

"A lot of people don't realize what it takes to prepare for an event like this.It was a phenomenal undertaking, and it paid off," said Dr. Antonio Gonzalez-Ruiz, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist.

A team of about 40 people from different departments of the hospital worked together for the delivery and the drills and preparations that went into.

"All the key players sat down, we kind of made a list of anticipated needs," said Jade LeCroix, nursing unit director. "Even as far as having security available on the floor to make sure there's crowd control because we knew so many people would be involved in the delivery."

The staff had to gather equipment, prepare the blood bank and used mock drills to practice the delivery. A team of 40 people, from different departments, waited for the alert of a code six, named for the six babies. Each baby had its own team of staff and its own team color. They used the ROY G. BIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet) color order of the rainbow. Each baby was assigned a color according to the order they were born.

In place of the babies, the staff used IV bags during the delivery drills.

"Each time we would run through the drill a nurse would be handed the baby. Then we would grab the baby, catch it deliver it, determine if we needed to resuscitate," said Cheryl Case, neonatal and intensive care director. "We ran that roll through all the different multidisciplinary departments. Just making sure we had all the key people in place."

Case said the teams gave the same level of care to the sextuplets that any baby in the facility would receive, but the sixfold workload required choreography. They ran the drill twelve times before the birth.  By the day of the actual delivery, LeCroix said the team was excited and ready.

"We're prepared, and we know what to anticipate, but we're excited it's the real thing this time," LeCroix said. "So there was that nervous energy, but everybody was full of anticipation, it was electrifying, really."

They said the actual birth went even smoother than the drills and was a lot faster.

"We sort of anticipated like six, seven minutes, and Dr. Rushing had the babies out in four minutes," Case said.

She said that the success of the delivery should show the community that they can take care of any emergency that comes their way.

"I know that I speak for a lot of people that we couldn't be more proud of the work that our teams put into this," LeCroix said.

When it came to naming the babies, Courtney says it was important to give the babies names that were as unique and special as they are. The three boys are named, Blu, Layke, and Tag, and the three girls, Rawlings, Rayne, and Rivers.

Courtney and her husband Eric have been together since the eighth grade. The sextuplets will join their three other sons, 8-year-old Sailor, and 5-year-old twin boys, Bridge and Wales.

"I think when we bring them home, and all six cries start in the middle of the night, that's when they'll really understand what this is about," said father Eric Waldrop.

Photographer Ashley Sargent  captured the sextuplets' journey, snapping a color-coded memory of the sextuplets as newborns.

By February 21, the last of the Waldrop sextuplets had been welcomed home from the Huntsville Hospital. Rivers and Rawlings were discharged two weeks ago. Rayne was discharged last week. Blu, Layke, and Tag were discharged on Wednesday.

From oldest to youngest, the Waldrop sextuplets make one adorable rainbow.