Our hospital stay started when I was nearly 23 weeks pregnant. My doctor admitted me as a precaution because he wanted so badly for me to make it as long as possible and wanted to be prepared for any setbacks. This turned out to be the best call he made because shortly after I was admitted I began having strong contractions every few minutes. Fortunately they were able to stop them and that's when I began my 7.5 week stint on a magnesium sulfate IV, as well as other medications like Indocin and Procardia and a constant IV of fluids, to help keep contractions at bay. The magnesium relaxes the smooth muscles in your body, like the uterus, and was effective for me as far as helping me have as few contractions as possible when you are only 20-something weeks pregnant with four babies but your body thinks it's past due for delivery. But it also causes unpleasant side effects that I seemed to get full-on, like body aches, sweats, headaches, blurred vision and such. It was not fun to say the least. But as I lay there in my hospital bed for two months, trying to hold off on delivery as long as I could, I knew I'd do anything to provide for my unborn babies.
And then they arrived. Our precious quadruplets were born on May 31, 2012 at 29 weeks and five days and weighed from 2lbs 6oz to 3lbs 6oz. My heart couldn't have been fuller that day and I could not have been more in awe at God's infinite grace and mercy and His many blessings on our family. Not to mention, I'd been so touched by all the warm comments from you lovely readers!
I stayed in the hospital for a few more days and then finally went home. It was a hard transition for me because I'd become so accustomed to my environment there and the nurses' care. Even though I wanted more than anything to get out of the hospital, it was hard to go home and take care of myself again. It was also hard to leave the babies behind, though I certainly knew they were in the best place possible. And so began the second part of our extended hospital stay, the NICU. We knew that our babies would likely be there two months and probably more. Their original due date (for a normal nine month pregnancy) was August 11, 2012 and the general rule is that premature babies will be kept until they are considered full-term and then longer as necessary.
We quickly fell into an exhaustive pattern that involved making the 45-minute commute each way to the hospital on a daily basis. The husband dropped me at the front door then went to park while I was given a wheel chair. Then he'd walk all the way to the drop-off and meet me to wheel me up to the NICU. I'd leave any breast milk I'd pumped at the front desk then we'd head back to see the babies. It was only a few days before they were all put in the same pod, which made our lives much easier so we could see them all in the same room and not have to run back and forth. Or decide which kiddo to see first!
|The babies at about two weeks old.|
Then after several weeks they began to make their way out of their isolettes and into their cribs. By this point, we had our routine down and I was able to drive and wasn't relying on friends to take me or the husband on the days he wasn't working. I would head down late in the morning and head straight to the pod or straight to the pumping room to pump before heading in. Once I was with the babies, I was pretty distracted and didn't do much else! I would drop my stuff in between their cribs then go around and say hello and kiss each kiddo and get an update from their nurse.
|Four cribs! Photo taken around four to five weeks, after all the babies had moved out of their temperature-controlled isolettes.|
|The husband putting away a batch of clean laundry in one of the quad's closets. We always had clothes to clean with four babies!|
While the husband and I loved spending time with the babies, the NICU was really exhausting. Just the environment and all the constantly beeping monitors can cause anxiety, it's not the most relaxing of places. And there's always other babies coming and going—some much, much tinier than ours or very sick and some just stopping by for a brief stay before going home. There was a baby that was in our pod the entire time we were there that was very sick. She was eventually released on hospice to go home with her parents before passing away. Seeing those types of situations, and others suffering for so long, kept us on our toes and made us so appreciative and feel so blessed to have our four healthy babies. The tough week we spent with Harrison made it even more real as to how quickly things can take a turn for the worse and his recovery made us realize how much the situation is out of our control and how we must rely on God's strength and grace to carry us through. I prayed often as I held my babies in the NICU and prayed for those around us as well.
For the long days or overnight stays, we often visited the Ronald McDonald House—a great place for NICU parents to get a reprieve from the hospital. There was a full kitchen for meal prep and storage and they occasionally provided dinners as well. And they had rooms based on patient needs that you could sign up for to stay the night in. We did this several times so we could spend extra time with Harrison when he was sick and also on the occasional weekend to avoid commuting back and forth several times—and because checking in on four babies can took up a good chunk of your day!
|The Ronald McDonald house, with overnight rooms for NICU parents.|
Most of the time we like to think we're fairly organized and have a solid
Well, I finally finished this post after typing on and off for three days and I just had to break for a feed then sat down to bang out these last few thoughts and now it's time for baths. Always always something. And boy are they cute. Like I said, it's a good thing... ;)