The one thing we know for sure in life is that things don’t always turn out the way we think they will. Sometimes we get surprises. Courtney and her husband Derek were in for a surprise when the doctor told them that what she had in her belly, she had never seen before. So let’s see what happened. Courtney and Eric Waldrop are a lovely couple from Alabama. They’ve been together since high school, and when they married in 2004, it was clear to both of them that they wanted to have a large family.
Courtney soon fell pregnant, and nine months later, they welcomed their son Sailor into the world. Their journey as parents had officially begun. Within a year, they began trying for their second, but now they were faced with some obstacles, and unfortunately, Courtney suffered a few miscarriages. It’s estimated that 1 in 8 pregnancies end in miscarriage, so it’s something that quite a few families experience, which usually happens in the first trimester, which is a big blow.
“It was devastating because I can get pregnant very easily, but I can’t keep them. It was very upsetting, but we’ve been through it before, and I knew I had a medical problem,” Courtney said in an interview. Of course, she and her husband went for medical checkups but were told it was difficult to determine why she was losing the babies. However, to help them plan their family, they were given fertility treatments that worked, and Courtney became pregnant, this time with twins, two boys they named Wells and Branch. So far, so good, and they were both very happy with their family.
They could have left it at that, but they thought maybe a fourth child would be nice. Once again, she had a hard time getting pregnant, and treatments were administered again. This time, Courtney was put on a lower dose to minimize the chances of getting multiple fetuses again. This did not work. When she became pregnant, she went to the hospital for a checkup at the Huntsville Hospital in Alabama. She had an ultrasound, and the couple waited patiently for the results.
Soon, she came out to the doctor with a shocked expression on her face. She was pregnant, but her belly contained something he hadn’t seen. There appeared to be no less than six fetuses in her belly. It was very unusual for something like that to happen without the help of IVF. It was basically a medical miracle and quite a curiosity if you’re a medical professional.
No sextuplets had been born in general at Huntsville Hospital since 2011, let alone such special multiples. As you can see, the news came as a huge shock to Courtney and her husband. Quite simply, she wanted a fourth child, not suddenly turn their family of five into a family of eleven. How were they going to manage? Now they needed six of everything from car seats to baby beds to clothing sets and baby bottles, and oh my, how many diapers were they going to need? And then there were their medical consequences. Carrying so many babies at once poses a risk to both mother and children. It’s likely to result in a cesarean delivery or worse, even if it results in premature labor.
But they also greatly increased the chances of complications such as strokes, blood pressure surges, urinary tract infections, gestational diabetes, and problems with the placenta. They were afraid and found it difficult to get excited about the pregnancy. The young couple was offered the option of selective reduction, meaning that some of the fetuses would be removed so that the remaining ones would have a better chance of survival. It was a bitter pill for Courtney and Derek to swallow and something they never thought they would have to consider. How were they to know what the right decision was? They were thinking about it for quite some time, trying to figure out what the right path was.
Being people of strong faith, they ended up letting faith decide and guide them through the process. They were too scared to make the wrong decision and entrusted themselves to God, trusting that things would turn out the way he wanted them to. When they returned for a follow-up ultrasound a couple of weeks later, they were happy to see that all six babies were still in their belly and apparently doing very well. But still, risks existed, and throughout the pregnancy, Courtney and Eric, also the doctors, were worried things would get worse. Their goal was to keep the babies in their womb until 30 weeks when they would have developed enough to survive outside of it.
It was going to be an exciting time, and in the meantime, Courtney, who’s quite small, was getting bigger and bigger. She had to eat a lot so that both she and the babies would get enough nutrition, something she wasn’t used to. “Please pray that my appetite will allow me to eat like never before,” she wrote on Facebook. The couple lived in an incredibly close-knit community, and as soon as word got out that they would be soon welcoming unique sextuplets, everyone got excited. Their friends organized a 5k run to raise funds for the family, and at the start of the race, they would reveal the sex of the babies with colorful smoke bombs. Dubbed the Divine God 9, the Waldrop family quickly became celebrities, and this was cemented when they were invited by TLC to film their own reality show. Now the whole world could enjoy them, and the show called Sweet Home Sextuplets became a huge hit. In the 25th week of her pregnancy, Courtney was told to stay in bed until the babies were born to make sure they developed properly.
Her belly was already huge, but she still managed to smile most of the time and carry them with love and pride. Because of her situation, she was very limited in her movements. Courtney said, “The hardest part wasn’t really the physical discomfort, but the fact that she now couldn’t give her three older children the attention she wanted to give them. It was really nothing more than the challenge of trying to continue to be a good mother to them and grow these six babies and get them to where they needed to be,” she stated. Then, in just under 30 weeks, Courtney’s body began to contract, and her water broke. It was time. The c-section was scheduled, and it took a team of 40 medical professionals to deliver all six babies. There was a special team for each one. Eric was by Courtney’s side, holding her hand and supporting her through the entire process. Everything was lightning fast, from the first baby to the last.
It only took four minutes. To everyone’s relief, all six, three girls and three boys, came out healthy, whole, and silky smooth. They would still have to spend a couple of weeks in the hospital to be monitored and allowed to develop and grow and give them the best chance at life. Even though the all-important 30-week mark hadn’t been reached, they were still being born prematurely. How did they come up with six names at once? After Sailor, Wells, and Bridge, Courtney and Eric continued the outdoorsy theme and named the three girls Rawlings, Reign, and Rivers, and the three boys Tagged, Lake, and Blue. And now, the Waldrop family life had changed overnight. They had nine children, and that’s certainly a challenge. Six newborn babies all needing care at the same time, plus three other children in the house.
Sailor, Wells, and Bridge were already in school, so during the day, it was just Courtney and Eric and the six little ones. But it still seemed impossible, so they asked for help and soon had a whole team of friends and family helping out on a rotating 24-hour schedule. The Waldrops soon realized that their home was not capable of holding so much love. There wasn’t even enough room for Courtney and Eric to have a room of their own. So they planned a major renovation and moved into a trailer in their backyard for a while. Little did they know that a pandemic would break out at that point, and they were stuck in that little trailer for even longer. Can you imagine the fighting and chaos? And you thought your confinement was hard.
But they were fixed up, and soon the construction workers returned, and the renovation could be finished. The TV show kept running, and the Waldrops became more and more famous. Have you seen them? Most people found it amazing to see how the couple managed everything. So many children to take care of, a family of nine, simply just a monstrous task.
Just putting them all in their car seats was monumental, but not once did Courtney and Eric raise their voices or get visibly upset. They simply accepted that it was going to be hard, and they were going to be tired most of the time, and those diapers needed to be changed. The years ahead were going to be exciting, exhausting, challenging, but most of all, blessed.
And Courtney and Eric seem like the right people to handle them. A friend of Courtney’s related that she’s nothing like he’s ever known. “Courtney’s literally the most positive person you could ever meet. She has a heart of gold, and she’s definitely the perfect mom.” Can you imagine having so many children? Nowadays, it is unusual to see such large families, let alone such special ones with historically unique sextuplets.