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Saturday, April 1, 2006 - Page updated at 12:14 PM

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1 family, 2 minutes, 5 babies

Seattle Times reporter

Doctors at Swedish Medical Center on Friday described the birth of Western Washington's first quintuplets as surprisingly smooth, with about 20 health professionals working to get mother and babies through a tough procedure in good health.

The doctors spoke the day after Courtnee Stevenson, 31, of Poulsbo, Kitsap County, gave birth to four girls and a boy. The babies were expected to remain in the neonatal intensive-care unit at Swedish for at least a month.

Three of the infants needed help to breathe, but doctors said they expected that to be temporary.

The smallest baby weighs 2 pounds, 12.4 ounces. The tallest of them is 15.75 inches long. Their names, in order of birth, are: Aniston, Weston, Belle, Camilee and Scarlett. They were all born by Caesarean section in the space of two minutes.

Their father, Mike Stevenson, 33, said he could already tell the difference between some of the quints. For example, he has noticed that Scarlett has particularly long fingers. And Weston, the boy, seems to have big hands.

"I'm really happy and proud and looking forward to watching them grow," the father said.

Doctors said it was extraordinary that Courtnee Stevenson was able to keep the babies in the womb for 31 weeks. She was in the hospital for 11 of those weeks. The doctors noted the danger of carrying five babies, but they said Stevenson was the best candidate they could ask for. She was young, fit and had a positive attitude.

"The human womb is not designed to carry five," said Sunil Saluja, a neonatologist affiliated with Swedish. "And she did it."

Stevenson became pregnant by using drugs to stimulate the ovaries. The couple already has one child, 3-year-old Lilli, with help from that treatment.

It's not inexpensive, but the couple wanted a large family, Mike Stevenson said. So they made sacrifices.

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"We don't drive the best cars," said Stevenson, an apprentice electrician.

"We live in a 900-square-foot mobile home."

That should change soon enough. Members of the family's church, NewLife Church in Silverdale, are building the family a five-bedroom rambler. The church members are also teaming up to help for the first year with food, clothing and a van.

The babies will be released from the hospital as soon as each one meets certain milestones, such as breathing regularly and having normal body temperature.

Mike Stevenson said he is nervous but eager for the day the whole family of eight can skate together at the Bremerton roller rink where he and Courtnee met as teenagers.

"I'm gonna take it as it comes, and do the best I can," he said.

"That's the way I take life."

Cara Solomon: 206-464-2024 or csolomon@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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