‘I carried all five of those!’: Washington mother gives birth to quintuplets at Phoenix hospital

Aug 24, 2023, 4:35 AM | Updated: 11:54 am

PHOENIX — A Washington mother who gave birth to five newborn babies at Phoenix’s St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in June is set to return home this week after 11 weeks at the hospital, putting a bow on a long journey for the Freels family.

“So, I think the first thing to know about us, we always wanted a big family,” father Graham Freels told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Stephanie and Graham Freels have prayed they would become parents since they got married in 2017, and on June 4, that prayer was answered.

Prayers answered

It started in September last year when Stephanie found out she was pregnant. When she got her blood work back, her hormone levels were off the charts.

“And I think at that point we knew we were having a bunch of kids,” Graham said.

But she wasn’t carrying two or even four babies, but a whole set of quintuplets.

“I never thought it’d be quintuplets, that never even crossed our minds. We were like…Maybe triplets,” Stephanie said.

She was just 6-7 weeks pregnant when she found out it would, in fact, be five babies. Stephanie knew this could lead to complications.

“I just wanted them to be okay,” she said.

The research begins

So, they got to work, and knew they’d likely have to look outside their Washington town of Bellingham.

“As soon as we found out we were pregnant with quintuplets, I got on YouTube,” Graham Freels said.

The search led them to Dr. John Elliot at Saint Joseph’s.

Dr. Elliott is known as a top-tier doctor when it comes to delivering multiple babies at once.

“They moved their family here to Phoenix to seek care here,” Andrea Hassler, nursing director of women and infant services at St. Joseph’s, told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “Obviously a quintuplet pregnancy is a very high-risk pregnancy.“

Their goal was to make it to 34 weeks of pregnancy, but Hassler said you never really know when the time will come to deliver when carrying multiple babies.

New kids on the block

One June day, Stephanie began to feel pain and discomfort. The couple went to St. Joseph’s for a check-up.

“I didn’t think I was in labor, I thought I was just uncomfortable because of so much weight from the babies,” Stephanie said.

Not only was she in labor, but she was six centimeters dilated.

Over the late hours of June 4 and early hours of June 5, the five children were born at 27 weeks of gestation.

“We only had about an hour notice. So it was a quick mobilization, but this team is a team of experts,” Hassler said. “And each baby had their own team.”

Doctors and nurses from multiple offices and hospitals quickly assembled to deliver Stephanie’s babies.

“It was definitely a little bit nerve-racking because that wasn’t the plan. But I really do believe they came at the perfect time, just, with how well they’re doing and it gave me time to heal after,” Stephanie said.

The five newborns were delivered not only successfully, but quickly, too.

“It’s incredibly rewarding. As a leader to see the team come together to provide this specialty care in such a rare circumstance… It really, really gives me a sense of satisfaction and pride,” Hassler said.

The health care journey continues

Physician for the Freels, Dr. Hemananda Muniraman with Phoenix Children’s Hospital, has helped the new parents care for their children in the 11 weeks the family has stayed in the nursery intensive care unit.

“We were helping them, feeding them, eventually they started feeding on their own… They were able to go home, healthy, thriving, much before their due date,” Muniraman said.

Now Graham and Stephanie are set to head back to Bellingham and their full support system to raise their five children. But they both said they’ll be back in Arizona soon, just maybe not in the summer.

“Our faith is the most important thing in our life. It’s central to everything we do, and we just believe, right from the get-go, God created an awesome story,” Graham said.

“And it’s been so cool to see how many people are a part of it…From family, friends, this hospital, all the nurses, all the doctors, complete strangers helping us.”

Stephanie expressed that she is still blown away by the births.

“And then I obviously see them and I’m like, ‘I carried all five of those!’” Stephanie said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Andrew Enriquez, 22, was arrested Thursday after allegedly shooting and killing 31-year-old Michael...

Suspect accused of fatally shooting man in Glendale after drug deal dispute

A suspect was arrested several days after allegedly fatally shooting a man in Glendale following a drug deal dispute, authorities said Monday.

3 hours ago

Dr. Elda Luna-Nájera to replace Leezah Sun's legislative seat...

Serena O'Sullivan

Elda Luna-Nájera will fill Leezah Sun’s vacant seat in Arizona House of Representatives

Elda Luna-Nájera will replace Leezah Sun as the representative of Arizona's Legislative District 22, which is in the West Valley.

6 hours ago

Mega Millions button lit up on a lottery ticket machine...

Kevin Stone

Mega Millions lottery tickets purchased in Scottsdale, Tucson win $50,000 each

Two Arizona Lottery players each won $50,000 in Friday’s Mega Millions drawing, officials announced Monday.

7 hours ago

Car crashes into power pole in Phoenix, 2 critically injured...

Serena O'Sullivan

1 dead, 1 in critical condition after car crashes into power pole in Phoenix

One man is dead and another is in critical condition after a car crash involving a power pole in Phoenix on Monday, officials said.

8 hours ago

An image from Google Street View shows the third-party post office between a Jimmy John's and a Dun...

Southeast Valley shopping center temporarily evacuated after bomb threat

Multiple businesses at a southeast Valley shopping center were temporarily evacuated Monday because of a bomb threat, authorities said.

10 hours ago

A DUI suspect drove down a 200-foot embankment in Cottonwood before a second DUI suspect was arrest...

Arizona DUI suspect’s car careens down 200-foot embankment before 2nd DUI suspect arrested

A DUI suspect drove down a 200-foot embankment in Arizona on Saturday morning before another DUI suspect attempted to evade police at the crash area, authorities said.

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

‘I carried all five of those!’: Washington mother gives birth to quintuplets at Phoenix hospital