{Quad Squad} Frequently Asked Questions!

Life with multiples is not your everyday experience, to be sure. Especially when said multiples are your first foray into parenthood ever. Plus, it seems anything more than twins and triplets is cause for gasps of disbelief, excitement, curiosity and endless other emotions that family, friends and strangers encounter when trying to imagine handling that many babies. Needless to say, the husband and I have already received countless questions about our quadruplets and I figured it was time to shed some light on our ever-changing life with our fantastic four. :)



-Do you have help?
Yes. Though we haven't hired a nanny of any kind and are considering bringing in help a few days a week (we're still in talks about it), both of our moms have alternated spending weeks with us and helping care for the babies.  My mom and step-dad are temporarily moving down to our area in their RV for several months to help us on a more regular basis. It's completely doable with two people during the daytime, it's the night feeds every 2 to 3 hours that wear you completely out. I've never been so sleep deprived and delirious and happy all at the same time.


-What kind of vehicle do you have?
While I was still in the hospital pregnant with the quads, we purchased a used suburban (black with tan leather interior, a sunroof and DVD player—just what I wanted!). It was in great shape and perfectly fits four car seats with captains chairs in the middle row and a bench seat in the back.

-How did you balance having both babies at home and babies in the NICU?
This was one of the hardest parts about the whole thing. Before any of the babies came home, I would drive up to the NICU late morning and the husband would come up after work. Then we'd both leave between 7 and 9 pm, come home late, take care of all the pets and eat dinner and finally go to bed. Once babies started coming home, we couldn't take them back into the NICU. So one of us would watch the ones at home while the other would go visit the ones still in the hospital. Toward the end, we were only able to get up there every other day or so but that was only a one-week span before the final kiddo was discharged.




-Do you have four of everything?
Just about. We have two cribs and the babies sleep two to a crib. It works fine since the cribs are so big and should last for a few months, then we'll purchase two more cribs. We have four boppies, four bumbos, two pack and plays, two swings, one cradle swing, one bouncer, 32 bottles, 436 pacifiers (or at least it feels that way!), various tummy time mats, four car seats, two twin stroller frames (the car seats snap to the frame, it's simple and awesome) and various light-up toys, mobiles, etc.

-How do feeding times work?
The babies all get fed every three hours during the daytime, no ifs, ands or buts. At night, we let them sleep until they wake up to eat (which is anywhere from 2.5 to 4 hours) and then once the first one is awake and crying they all get woken up and fed. This keeps us from having to feed one, then another one an hour later then two 20 minutes after that—otherwise we'd be feeding around the clock and never have a break. While in the hospital, the NICU got them on a great three-hour feeding schedule and they follow it like clockwork during the day. On the rare occasion we have four people at the house, then all the babies get fed together, which is fantastic. Normally, though, we have two to three people per feeding and the first two babies that are crying or most awake get fed first, burped, then put back down while we feed the others. We have pre-made bottles in the fridge for 24 hours at a time (that's 32 bottles!) and they get warmed in a tupperware of hot water prior to feeding.


-Did you purchase a quad stroller?
No. They either come with four seats in a row making up a very lengthy stroller with stadium-like seating, or two-by-two that basically looks like two twin strollers put together with a huge canopy over the top. We chose to keep things simple and purchased two Baby Trend twin stroller frames. The Baby Trend car seats we have easily and quickly snap to the frames that are a breeze to pop open and closed. Once we've outgrown this arrangement, we'll sell it all and buy bigger car seats and two "regular" twin strollers. 

-Can you tell the babies apart?
Yes, I can! The husband gets a little fishy now and then, especially if the girls are dressed in the same outfits or one is wearing an outfit that another girl was wearing two days before that. But I can easily and quickly tell each kiddo apart, to me their faces are all very individual. One girl has a birthmark on her leg if we get desperate, one looks similar to the boy and one is thicker with a bigger head. :) But I still laugh when I remember the day the husband picked up our son and said, "Good girl, Harrison!" Priceless.

-Are you planning on having more kids?
Let me answer plainly: hell no! Initially, when beginning our journey to have kids, we found out that my egg count is extremely low and I'll likely hit menopause very early. I had two miscarriages and had issues staying pregnant and two minor surgeries to help rectify the situation. We were told that once we did get pregnant, we'd have to have however many kids we wanted in quick succession. After one round of IUI (intrauterine insemination) and ultrasounds showing I'd only produced two eggs, we were completely floored to discover that we had quadruplets! Four has now become our perfect—and final!—number.



-Did you plan to have quadruplets?
Not at all. As my previous answer indicates, we didn't do IVF where you retrieve eggs, fertilize them and then put several back in. I could get pregnant but it didn't ever stick very well. So we wanted to improve our odds by doing an IUI but ultrasounds prior to conception showed I'd only produced two mature eggs. The conclusion is that I must have produced two more overnight somehow and that's how we ended up with four individual babies (no identicals).

-Are you pumping breast milk?
I was, but recently stopped. At first, when they were only two and three pounds I was able to provide enough breast milk for everyone because they were eating tiny amounts. But as they increased to one and then two ounces and now three, I only made enough to give one baby a single breast milk feed each day. Pumping every three hours at night while they were all in the NICU was absolutely exhausting and nearly threw me into a depression from lack of sleep. Then as we brought babies home, I quickly realized that taking 30 minutes to sit down and pump and be attached to a machine that made it difficult to jump up and tend to the babies was going to be more trouble than it was worth. I tapered down by pumping fewer times each day to avoid as much discomfort as possible. The babies are now on full formula feeds and growing great!

-Do you chart everything?
Yes. We have a printable chart courtesy of a fellow quad mom who designed it that we use to chart how much each baby eats at each feeding, if they had a wet or dirty diaper, if they received medication of any kind (like reflux meds), if they were particularly fussy or difficult, their current weight (we weigh them once or twice a week) and length when we measure them. It's incredibly helpful to have this information on record so we can quickly identify why someone might not be gaining weight as quickly or if someone might be getting constipated—helpful to know when a massive poop might be coming, ha. It's also great because we can just take the book to the pediatrician with us and have all relative information at hand for their appointments.



-What does a typical day look like for a mother of quads?
Like massive, semi-organized chaos! Daytime starts with a feed at 8 or 9 am followed by naps in their pack and plays in the living room. There's three hours between each feed and feedings take around an hour or so, thus we end up with roughly two hours or less of time to nap, work, clean, do laundry, eat, etc. in between. It goes quick. The next feed is followed by tummy time and I usually cram in some work, a blog post or a quick errand after that while they spend a little time in their swings. We give baths every other day so if they are due up, we do that after the next feed. Depending on how awake or fussy/not fussy the quads are, they get swaddled and put in their cribs for bed anywhere between 9pm and midnight. We're still working out that last part as they grow, eat more, sleep more, etc!

-How can we (as friends/readers etc) best help you?
Having someone come by on the weekends to help with feedings is great because it means one—or occasionally both of us—gets out for an errand or to eat or go to the movies. Because the quads' immune systems aren't up to par yet, we've had to ask anyone that wants to come by and see them to have a current DTap vaccination. It covers diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus. The whooping cough is a great preventative for having preemie babies as a simple cold could land them back in the NICU. Soon we'll have to add the flu shot to that requirement as those become available for the season. They now include the H1N1 vaccine, another important precaution. We're not hoping to avoid the babies getting sick, we're just attempting to prolong it as much as possible until they are big and strong enough to handle it.

Otherwise, I love reading everyone's encouraging comments and emails—they always bring a smile to my face and motivate me to continue sharing our quad journey!

-How do you find time to blog?
Ha, I'm not sure. Right now, for instance, I found myself with 20 spare minutes—if you even want to call it that—and decided to sit down and bang out these answers. Basically, I chose not to do laundry, dishes or whatever and tackle a blog post instead! Sometimes they are easy to do, other times I go days without getting to log on. Fortunately, because I'm a writer I guess, it usually doesn't take me to long to create a post.

-How many diapers a day?
The babies get changed before each feeding and each baby is fed 8 times in a 24 hour period. Then there's a few extra diapers thrown in when things get particularly, um, messy. So roughly 40 diapers per day. Which is 280 diapers a week, which is 1,120 diapers per month. And yes our bills in the diaper and formula department are immense.

-What is your favorite color?
Pink! Just kidding. My friends and family give me a hard time because I ended up having three girls and I myself am not the girliest of girls. And I despised pink. But the other day I looked in the pack and play where the girls where napping and they were each dressed in pink onesies covered in pink blankets. It didn't even happen on purpose. It's just like pink manifests when there's that many baby girls in close quarters! Needless to say, I'm getting used to it. :)

-How much are you going to miss your favorite nurses?
A lot!! It was really emotional to leave the NICU for the last time. We had some truly amazing nurses that touched our lives forever. You can certainly create a special bond with someone who is caring for your children at their most critical state. They shared many ups and downs with us throughout the babies' two month stay in the hospital and it was hard to tell them goodbye. We keep in touch with several of them—including some of my nurses I had while I was still pregnant in the hospital for 57 days—and I'm glad they are able to see the quads continue to grow and flourish. They'll forever be a part of our lives and in our hearts.

-When will you go back to work writing articles? Or are you going back?
I actually worked while I was in the hospital pregnant and finally stopped a couple weeks before having the babies. Then a few weeks later I resumed some of my usual assignments (I write for magazines, copy edit newspapers, etc.) and have been working part-time at home ever since. You can actually take a gander at my monthly fashion and shops feature in Houston magazine here. And my professional website is here, if you're dying to know more about what I do. ;)

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Well, folks, that's all I got! Thanks for sharing your questions with me. I'm sure I'll do another FAQ post so if you have a question that wasn't answered here, please leave it in the comments section and I'll make a note for future. Then come on back for my next post with two month pictures and an update on our crew!

12 comments:

  1. Your "hell no" answer to having any more kids literally made me laugh out loud, ha. I love this post, I've been working on a similar one for a month or so but I doubt I'll ever finish... I'm lazy. ;) The babies are getting so big and are so cute, you are doing an awesome job! Maybe one of these days we can find a way to get together for lunch or dinner to catch up... Each meeting we have a completely different stage to talk about! :)

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  2. Sounds like y'all have it all under control! I really want to see them, but I'm not sure about which shots I've had...I know I just got tetanus, but I'm not sure if it was the whole she-bang.

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  3. I can't believe how much they are growing. They are just precious. Thanks for taking time to answer the million questions everyone has. I am curious how your fur-kids are handling everything?

    Thanks and have a very blessed day!

    Sherri

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  4. Wow Amber, you continue to amaze me! Those little babies are so blessed to have such wonderful surrounding family! It is so good to hear you are all doing well and they are growing and thriving....I look forward to your posts and seeing how they grow, a couple of them do look so much alike and I know you'll are really enjoying thid stage, even as hard as it is. Take care and thanks for sharing your story! A friend in East Texas, Pam

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  5. Hey amber! I have been following yall since 17 weeks! Not sure if you remember me, we emailed a few times but I'm now 28 weeks prego with my quads. I would love a copy of that chart! Iv been looking for one online! I'm so happy all your kiddos are doing well and are home safe! Reading your blog has really helped give us inspiration threw this pregnancy, and now we are almost there!!! My email is ashley3642@gmail.com if you wouldn't mind sending me a copy of that chart and if you have any quad tips!!!

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  6. I love your blog and the quads are awesome! It's great to see you're still blogging and working. Good luck and I hope you get some sleep!

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  7. I am so happy for you and your husband, Amber! It has been so much fun following your unusual journey into motherhood snd now seeing your adorable quads growing and flourishing. I know they will always bring you joy and that they are lucky to have such devoted loving parents and grandparents. God bless you all!

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  8. Do you remember how big your eggs were right before the IUI?

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  9. Thanks for a peek inside your world now adays. Hope you and the Hubs are able to grab some free time for a dinner, or just a stroll something with just the two of you away from all the organized chaos.
    How are the "fur" babies handling the newest additions to the house, and all that organized chaos.
    Take care, and enjoy every minute they grow up so quickly.

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  10. if you have time, my question was what were other options for the quadruplets names? Such as if it were two boys and two girls, three boys and a girl, four girls or four boys?

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  11. Organized Chaos? That sounds like me with quads. You're amazing.

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  12. So happy to hear you are getting adjusted to your new life and that everyone is doing well! Thank you for sharing the new pictures of the babies, they are so beautiful and so perfect! God bless!

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