Mora's Abundance Of Fatherly Joy

Quintuplets Still A Handful For O's Third Baseman, Wife

June 21, 2009|By Mike Klingaman | Mike Klingaman,

They compete in Little League, play computer games and swap their baby teeth at bedtime for crisp $1 bills.

Genesis plays a mean third base. Matthew wants to be a veterinarian. Christian likes sushi. Jada is a budding gymnast. And Rebekah has a crush on the Orioles' Brian Roberts.

The Mora quintuplets turn 8 this summer.

On July 28, 2001, Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora became a biological father for the first time. Also the second, third, fourth and fifth. When they finally wheeled Gisel Mora out of surgery, exhausted, she had mothered an entire infield.

FOR THE RECORD - A quotation displayed with the continuation of a Page One story in Sunday's Baltimore Sun about Baltimore Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora was incorrectly attributed. It should have been attributed to Angela Wigginton, wife of Orioles infielder Ty Wigginton.
The Sun regrets the error.

The quints were born 10 weeks premature; none of them weighed more than 2 1/2 pounds. But they have blossomed into healthy, active youngsters with private dreams and distinct personas.

"They are growing up fast," Mora said of his brood. Then he rolled his eyes. "I could write a book," he said.

The quints have reached the age where they'll weigh in on the play of their bigleague dad. If Mora strikes out, for instance, Genesis greets him at breakfast the next morning with, "Keep your eye on the ball, Papi."

"You're right," he'll say.

An active brood

Rising third-graders, they attend Youth's Benefit Elementary School in Fallston and keep their mother on the run. All five take piano lessons. Four play baseball. Two do gymnastics. Softball claims a couple more. And that's just in the spring.

The pace might drive some parents batty. Not the Moras.

"Motherhood is neat," said Gisel Mora, 34. "I thought it would be non-manageable, but it so not is. Every day, I'm taken aback by the things they do and say."

As she spoke, Genesis, the eldest of the five, sidled up to her mom and, out of the blue, declared, "You have to be in your 30s to be a mom."

Gisel Mora looked startled, then smiled approvingly.

"You keep thinking like that," she told Genesis.

Last month, on Mother's Day, each of the kids gave Gisel a hand-drawn card. She oohed and aahed. They beamed and giggled.

Today, the Mora clan motors up to Philadelphia to watch the Orioles-Phillies game and celebrate Father's Day with Papi. That the youngsters are hale and hearty is his gift, Melvin said:

"Every day is Father's Day for me."

' How many babies?'

Gisel was 27 when the quints were born at Johns Hopkins Hospital during Melvin's first full year as an Oriole. Spring training was when the Moras learned that the pregnancy, helped by fertility drugs, was a special one.

"One morning I woke up lying in a pool of blood," said Gisel, then seven weeks along. "I was hysterical; Melvin started crying. At the doctor's office, once I was settled, he returned to the car and prayed for half an hour."

When Melvin finally set foot inside, he found everyone smiling - including the nurse, who congratulated him. Five times.

"Melvin's face was like a Kodak moment," Gisel said.

"How many babies?" he kept asking. His reaction was understandable.

"I checked my wallet to see if I had enough money," he said.

For Gisel, the next few months were rife with episodes of bleeding and bed rest and five counts of premature labor. She had been hospitalized for several weeks when the moment came. The Orioles were in California.

"I couldn't have been farther away," Melvin said. At 3:30 a.m., he rushed to the airport and caught a flight but did not arrive until after the babies were born.

Trusted doctor suddenly gone

The quints' cesarean delivery went smoothly under the care of Dr. David Nagey, an expert in high-risk pregnancies.

"I remember focusing on [Nagey's] face the whole time," Gisel said. "He made me feel at ease. I always envisioned keeping him up to date on how the children were doing."

That hope was short-lived. Exactly nine months later, Nagey, 51, died of a heart attack while running in a road race.

"I still miss him," Gisel said.

For more than a year, the quints' own health was uncertain. Each required separate formulas and took six medications a day until they got stronger. For 2 1/2 years, the Moras employed a nanny to help with their care.

"My parents helped as well, when [the kids] were younger," said Gisel, who was raised in New York City.

And now? Fifteen times a year, the whole lot will pile into mom's Mercedes minivan, take in a game at Camden Yards and then enjoy a family dinner at a Japanese steakhouse downtown.

"They are growing up, but they are still my babies," Melvin said.

Christian protested.

"I'm not a baby, I'm a boy," he said.

"Doesn't matter," Melvin said. "When you are 45, you'll still be my baby."

Much to Gisel's chagrin, the kids' old stroller, a five-seater, is still taking up space in the garage.

"Melvin won't give it up," she said.

Their family of eight includes 11-year-old Tatiana, Gisel's daughter by a previous marriage. Melvin chips in with the kids' care when he can. During Orioles homestands, he rises at 6:30 a.m. (after four hours' sleep), drives Tatiana to school and returns to pick up the quints. Then it's home to nap before he heads to the ballpark at 2:30.

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