{Quad Squad} Survival of the Fittest!

Raising four babies is not easy. No one said it was, no one tries to make it look that way and I certainly don't want to leave you all with the impression that I carry on with work, raising babies, crafting and cooking without breaking a sweat on my brow. 'Cause the brow is sweatin', y'all.

It's a good thing they're cute! Clockwise, from top left: Trystan, Logan, Kailey and Harrison.
I've come to the realization that to-do lists are lifesavers—because I can't remember what I was thinking about two minutes ago—but the lists aren't dictators. In the beginning, when we were still adjusting to having quadruplets at home after they'd been in the hospital for two months after I'd been in the hospital for two months before delivering...it was chaos. Sleepless chaos. We were doing 32 feedings every 24 hours and never getting more than two hours of sleep tops, day or night. I feel asleep standing up in the middle of the living room one time. It was awful. The husband and I really weren't sure we'd make it. Even with the gracious help of our parents, it was incredibly hard. On top of being new parents and freaking out over things new parents do, we had four babies to freak out over and they were all premature—coming home at a whopping five or six pounds and still learning how to bottle feed. Stress!

My computer gathered dust because the blog wasn't getting updated, our recliners had permanent butt indentions because we were sitting in them so much feeding the babies one at a time and the kitchen counters were always full of bottles and formula. When you're in such a repetitive, sleep-deprived state around the clock, you lose all track of time. There's no light at the end of the tunnel and you don't even know what day it is. We didn't make plans for the weekend or the next week or even the holidays, we could only see as far as the next 24 hours and that was it. But that's all we needed to do. Because then one day, the babies slept for six hours in a row. It was like a fog had lifted from our eyes and we could begin envisioning ourselves as people again. I started cooking a little bit and we began having sensible conversations instead of exchanging groans and mumbles like zombies.

Slowly, we felt like we got a little bit more of our life back. The babies started sleeping more, eating better, feeding two at a time, interacting with us and so on. Bit by bit, we found ourselves getting rest at night, stressing less about the premature infants we'd brought home and enjoying our growing babies more. Now we've gone from 32 feedings to 16 feedings each day during the actual day time. And sleeping 12 hours at night. It's amazing! All of this in only a few months. Which makes the husband and I realize how quickly babies truly do transition from one stage to the next. We spent forever in that "newborn phase" because the quads were premature. So it was drawn out considerably since most parents don't have their babies for nearly three more months from the time ours were born.

We relish the fact that we can walk through the room and catch one of the babies eyes and they smile a big, toothless grin at us from ear to ear. They're so aware of their surroundings and are keen on interacting with them any way they can. Often, we count down the hours until the babies' bedtime on days that have been more challenging—knowing that once they are in their cribs, they will stay there for the next 12 hours. It doesn't mean we're always getting tons of sleep ourselves, since there's still a million things to do after the babies go down, but at least we know what our window of time involves!

But back to the to-do lists. These days, I have learned to stop feeling like a failure just because the list didn't all get marked off that day. I wake up with lofty aspirations, sometimes, about all the things I'll accomplish during the quads' naptime or playtime. But diaper blowouts, difficult feedings, temper tantrums and smiles to cute to resist often conflict with my aforementioned plans. At the end of the day, when I'm so worn out it's difficult to pull myself off the couch, I tell myself I did a good job and I put away the list until the morning. There's always, always tomorrow.

Each day holds unknown challenges for us and we're constantly adapting to them. Literally, about every two weeks, the husband and I discuss things that aren't working as smoothly. Like a few days ago, we switched the bottle nipples from Level 2 to Level 3. We'd noticed the quads weren't drinking their bottles as quickly and seemed to be sucking loudly, which probably meant it wasn't flowing fast enough. And it worked—they suck 'em down like a charm now! (Most of the time.) Right now we're discussing how we'll handle feedings over the next few weeks as it's only a matter of time before the babies learn to pull themselves up to a sitting position and we'll need to drop the cribs and the pack-and-plays so that they can't reach the edges.

And then sometimes we just need a pass. This morning, the husband got up and went to work early after several glorious days spent home with me taking care of the crew. We didn't need a huge chunk of time off for the holiday, so we just enjoyed a few spare days together. I love it when it's the two of us. We have such a good time with the babies and it's easy for us as a team. When one starts getting worn down or tired, the other quickly jumps to the rescue to give them a break, a nap or a chance to get out of the house. Unfortunately, they don't pay couples to stay home with multiples so back to the office he went.

I got up and began changing all the babies, feeding the pets, preparing bottles for the day, letting the dogs out and opening all the blinds (we try to be sure we have daylight in the house for the babies). First I gave them all their bottles then I spoon fed them. Harrison has had a cough so I fed him with his own bowl and spoon to try and quarantine any extra germs. Which meant I had to feed Kailey her own bowl and then fed Trystan and Logan out of a bowl last, since they're the better and faster spoon feeders. I was exhausted when I was done. They have gotten more active, which means more flipping and twisting in their boppies, trying to talk with a mouthful that then ends up everywhere, blowing bubbles (of food) and wailing in between bites if you're not doing it just right.

I got finished then sat down and answered a few work emails before putting them in their cribs for naps. After a short 40 minute interval they all woke up at once and they were all pissed. It was a mad dash to get them all into jumpers or swings and a Baby Einstein DVD on TV to keep them entertained for a bit. At which point I called my husband. I realized I hadn't eaten anything yet and I was dying for a hamburger and I could use a little bit of help if he didn't mind spending his lunch hour at home. Soon as he answered the phone, he said he'd be there in 20 minutes and was all too happy to grab me some lunch. He changed diapers, administered reflux meds and started the bottle feeding at 11:45 while I ate and answered some more emails. It was just the help I needed and I wasn't as tired after this second feeding. Now he's back at work and I've got tummy time/mat time with the babies in 10 minutes, bottle washing to finish, a feeding to do at 3:30, baby food to make for the freezer stockpile and a tad bit of work before he gets home this evening. I know I can make it. ;)

Not everything goes according to plan, but changing up the plan has really saved our lives. Even when the babies are supposed to be eating like you planned, but instead they do this...


...while I'm trying to do this...


....and I feel like this. (Yes, I know. It's an awful photo.)


But it's all worth it when you realize the hard work is paying off and the munchkins are starting to learn how to sit...


...and the girls hold frequent team meetings, likely plotting against their brother, Harrison. Good thing he's the biggest.


On the upside, my skin is glowing from the frequent steam facials I get after opening a hot dishwasher to take out clean baby bottles. And my hands are wonderfully exfoliated of all skin cells from applying Purell a million times a day. 

See? There's a silver "survival" lining to every quad cloud in the sky...

5 comments:

  1. You continue to amaze me! Along with all you have to do and you can continue to update your blog.....I love reading your journey and the babies are just precious. Keep up the good work, God has truly blessed you and he knew what you could handle! Happy New Year! A friend in East Texas, Pam.

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  2. Great post, and Girl you are doing a Fantastic job,how you handle all that you do is amazing. I would gag if I had to change two diaper blowouts in a row,would be crying along if two babies were screaming for attention at one time, and getting out jars of baby food instead of taking the loving time to make their food after a rough day.
    Is that Logan sitting, and who tipped the boppie? I feel for poor Harrison with 3 sisters.
    Thanks for sharing, and keep up the great work.


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  3. Every time I read your posts I'm just amazed. I have a toddler and newborn at home plus a teenager & my days seem to never end sometimes. I can't imagine how you juggle 4 babies! You do a wonderful job!!!

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  4. Nice post. I'd probably be stark raving mad by now but we all do what we have to to get through. This is the first blog post I've read in 3 weeks. I'm glad to see you're surviving and you have a great support team. I try to catch the pictures you post of those amazing Little Bells.
    Sorry I'm so slow at my quilting but hopefully all 4 will each have a quilt before they turn 1. Hugs

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  5. LOl, this is all so true! Just the other day we were remembering those fog filled days and the mubbled meaningless conversations we had. I wish someone had recorded them because they'd be hilarious! We still catch each other saying goofy things and having trouble with word finding, but the more the quads sleep, the better it gets. We added "feed dogs" to our baby feed chart because we could never keep track of whether the dogs were fed. Now, we just need to remember to check it off if we actually fed the dogs! A few days ago the got breakfast twice because George fed them and didn't check. And, just like you guys when the quads go to bed at 8, we dash around until WAY too late trying to get the list done. In fact, I should be paying bills at this moment, but reading your blog was much more fun! I so can't wait till we are neighbors!
    Oh yes, I LOVE how big the Bell babies are getting and that the sit up! Better get hubs busy on making that quad table. We got our seats yesterday!

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