YAKIMA, Wash. — At an age when most women are going through menopause, 54-year-old Arcelia Garcia is once again dealing with diapers and night feedings.
She gave birth to triplets over the weekend--16 years after her last child was born.
"To receive a child, no woman is too old," Garcia said in Spanish at a news conference Monday. "My love for my children that just came here is the same as for the first one."
She said learning that she would have triplets was a big, but wonderful, surprise. Since their birth, she has seen them three times.
Arianna, the first born and smallest at 3 pounds, 7 ounces, is in an incubator. Brianna, the second born, is in a crib and taking a bottle. She weighed 5 pounds, 12.5 ounces at birth.
Third-in-line CeCelia, 5 pounds, 1.5 ounces, is in an incubator like her big sister Arianna.
Garcia of Sunnyside delivered the three healthy girls by Caesarean section about 5 p.m. Saturday at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital. The babies were conceived without fertility drugs, a rare occurrence.
Garcia and her husband, Guillermo, 60, now have 11 children and 13 grandchildren, with two more grandchildren on the way.
She said she never worried that she might be too old to rear three more little ones.
"This is a very extraordinary case," said Dr. Diana Smigaj, Garcia's obstetrician.
The average age for menopause is 51, and Garcia was showing some signs, such as several consecutive missed periods, Smigaj said. A single "menopause baby" isn't all that uncommon, but triplets are, she said.
"She just hit the Lotto," said Garcia's third child, Guadalupe Garcia, 30, of Mount Vernon.
Seven of Garcia's eight older children attended the news conference with her. Her husband was at home, but he has seen pictures of the triplets, said son Francisco Garcia, 34, of Sunnyside.
"He's very proud," the son said.
While Garcia earlier said she planned to return to work on the family farm soon, her children have already nixed that idea.
"Maybe after six years," said son Miguel Garcia, 35, of Santa Rosa.
The babies were born in the 35th week of Garcia's pregnancy. A full-term pregnancy lasts 40 weeks.
Rafaela Rodriguez, 29, was present when her mom's triplets were born.
She said her first thoughts were: "It's a miracle, for one, and I'm glad it's over for my mom."
Originally from Michoacan, Mexico, Garcia and her family moved to Sunnyside, a town about 30 miles southeast of Yakima, in 1976. She has been a U.S. citizen since 1996.
Arceli Keh of Highland, Calif., who gave birth at 63, holds the record as the world's oldest mother.