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Mother of quintuplets, newborn babies return to Watertown

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More than a month after delivering quintuplets in an Arizona hospital, a local Army spouse was able to return with her children to the north country to be reunited with her husband and soon settle in their newly renovated house.

“It’s going to be a home now,” Jessica P. Neri-Lucero said, standing in front of Samaritan Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit. “Now when people say what’s home, I can say Watertown, New York.”

Ms. Neri-Lucero delivered the quintuplets at Banner Desert Hospital, Mesa, Ariz., on Dec. 25 and 26.

The hospital was picked because of its experience delivering multiple babies. In April, the Luceros lost a set of twins during childbirth, only a few weeks after Ms. Neri-Lucero’s 24th birthday.

The pair had struggled for years to have children, because of a series of medical issues for Ms. Neri-Lucero, including polycystic ovary syndrome and a damaged ovary.

Though the first of the quintuplets, Laila Maxine, died during birth, the four other children survived. The Luceros said that Laila’s fight in the womb allowed her siblings to make it to 29 weeks and survive.

“Because of her, she carried hope in this pregnancy,” Ms. Neri-Lucero said.

The children’s names, taken from American and military history, are Adrian Normandy, after the D-Day landing site; Drew Neil, for astronaut Neil Armstrong; Amada Barbara, after the patron saint of field artillery, St. Barbara, and Pearl Harbor, for the Navy base in Hawaii attacked during World War II.

Laila Maxine’s name was inspired by boxer Muhammad Ali’s daughter.

Ms. Neri-Lucero said an urn with Laila’s ashes will be in her home as a reminder of her connection to the family.

“She’s a part of their group,” she said. “They all need to be together.”

Standing next to her husband, Sgt. Esdras M. Lucero, Ms. Neri-Lucero described the past year as “very bittersweet.”

Ms. Neri-Lucero and the children on Wednesday flew on a pair of Learjets arranged by Angel MedFlight from Scottsdale, Ariz., to Syracuse. Ms. Neri-Lucero’s mother, Guadalupe Neri, came from her home in Los Angeles, Calif., to be on the second plane.

Arriving in Syracuse, they were taken by a Rural/Metro Ambulance to Samaritan Medical Center.

The plane would have flown directly into Watertown, but the airport’s approximately 5,000-foot-long runway was just of short the jets’ need for 5,600 feet to land.

Sgt. Lucero, had been away from his children for a few weeks as he returned home after the delivery. Noting that his own father had been in and out of his life, Sgt. Lucero said he looked forward to playing an active role in the lives of his children.

“I’m excited to raise them,” he said. “I’m excited to change their diapers.”

He said he already enjoyed playing Spanish guitar and reading to them.

Ms. Neri-Lucero said she looked forward to sharing her children with hospital staff, who were there for her when she lost the twins last year.

Though the children will be at Samaritan Medical Center for an undetermined time, they soon will be welcomed into a refurnished home, with work being done by Operation Homefront and Home Depot over the last few months. Before the work, the house was essentially unlivable because of poor insulation and dangerous wiring.

Ms. Neri-Lucero said she had “promised not to look” at any photos of the renovations in progress, despite being teased about it by some of her family, but she said she was excited to see the finished home later that night.

The new children come as Sgt. Lucero ends his seven-year Army career. His last day in uniform is today.

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