Eric and Elizabeth Hayes, already the parents of two sets of twins, wanted just one more baby.
The couple got their wish _ and more _ last week when Elizabeth delivered New Jersey's only sextuplets. The Hayes brood grew to 10 children in less than three minutes at Monmouth Medical Center on Tuesday.
A team of 44 delivered the babies by Caesarean section at 1:07 a.m., a birth that deserved to be called "a miracle." Four of the babies weighed more than 4 pounds, well above average for a multiple birth, and the pregnancy lasted 32 weeks, much longer than is typical in such cases.
"It's a far cry from the 24 or 28 weeks we see, that's why we're so ecstatic," said Dr. David Wallace, who headed the delivery team. "At 32 weeks, they're almost home free." A typical pregnancy lasts 40 weeks.
Eric Hayes, a Marlboro, N.J., police officer who lives in a "very small" home that his grandfather built, told reporters that the three girls and three boys arrived with breathtaking speed.
He said he timed it at 2 minutes and 47 seconds.
"It was like, boom, boom, boom, and they were out," Eric said. "I was trying to get pictures of them, and I was trying to get the flash to work. By the time I got the camera working, they were out. I got the back of one of their heads."
Most of the babies needed only minimal breathing assistance after the birth. Doctors boasted about hefty Rebecca, "who left the others in the dust," because she needed no respiratory aid. By the time her father and doctors were having their pictures taken in the crowded hospital auditorium, Rebecca's sisters no longer required the nasal breathing devices.
The babies were born in the following order: Tara Rose, 4 pounds, 7 ounces; Rachel Ann, 3 pounds, 9 ounces; Rebecca Mary, 4 pounds, 10 ounces; Ryan Peter, 4 pounds, 10 ounces; Connor James, 3 pounds, 9 ounces; and Eric John, 4 pounds, 8 ounces.
Wallace said the children will be discharged in four to six weeks. Elizabeth Hayes is expected to go home in a week.
"It's been a long road of eight months of not knowing what comes next," Eric Hayes told reporters.
The couple conceived with the help of fertility drugs and learned after each checkup that they were expecting a greater number of children, Eric said.
"We heard there were possibly three, then the next week five, then six," he said. "My wife said, "I'm not going back next week.' "
"We planned to have another child," said Eric, 38. "We were blessed with six."
He was asked if he plans to have any additional children.
"Don't even go there," he said.
Elizabeth, a 37-year-old stay-at-home mother, was admitted a week ago, Wallace said. She had been on bed rest at the end of the pregnancy.
That left Eric to prepare the twins, a 5-year-old boy and girl and 8-year-old boys, for school.
The children, celebrities among their friends, visited their new siblings and were thrilled, Eric said.
The "Hayes 6" as they will be known on their official Web site, are indeed rare. According to one Web site on multiple births, there are 143 sets of sextuplets in the world. The Hayes babies are believed to be the first surviving set of sextuplets in New Jersey.
They join the ranks of U.S. families who have had multiple births, most famously the McCaugheys of Iowa _ whose septuplets will celebrate their seventh birthdays in November.
Four years ago, a Lakewood, N.J., couple lost septuplets to a miscarriage five days after they announced that they had conceived. According to Guinness World Records, the largest multiple birth was nine babies in Sydney, Australia, in 1971. All the children died.
Eric Hayes did not allow pictures of the sextuplets. "They don't look like babies right now," he said. "They look like little creatures."
In the coming weeks, he said, photos will be posted at www.thehayes6.com.
The couple already have consultants lined up to help them deal with the flood of media requests, community donations and the simply curious, he said.
Six car seats were already waiting for the children, Eric said. The family has received donations of clothing and supplies, as well as financial help.
At some point, an addition will be put on the home, Eric said. Until then, the babies will go home to one bedroom, he said.
"No one's going to have their own room," he said.
Eric intends to be home with his family for the rest of the year, a paid leave thanks to the generosity of each of the department's 76 officers who donated unused sick days. A DARE officer, Eric is accustomed to working with children, said his supervisor, Lt. Doug Van Note of the Marlboro Police Department, who attended the news conference.