This past week has been the most incredible one of our lives! Just one week ago George and I finally met our quadruplets and officially became parents of four. It is hard to even know where to begin with the story of their birth.
Last week Dr. Tabor bumped us up from once a week appointments to two. On Monday we went in for our first appointment of the week and he did a growth scan for the babies. At that time, Sydney had grown but was still measuring small for her gestational age. He didn’t make a big deal about it, but decided it was time for me to get steroid shots to help the babies develop needed surfactant for their lungs. I returned on Tuesday for the second round of steroids (two doses are administered 24 hours apart when delivery will likely occur soon). From what George and I read through Dr. Google, steroids are given when delivery is expected within a week. Dr. Tabor said there was no research about steroids and surfactant so he wasn’t necessarily planning to deliver within the week. When Sydney started pulling stunts around 24 weeks we told her to wait at least until 30 weeks and we would be okay if she wanted come meet us. Little did I know, Sydney would behave and I would unravel.
We returned on Thursday for another growth scan and Doppler to check on Sydney. At this point I was getting extremely large and uncomfortable, plus I was scared to be home knowing that anything could happen at any time (water breaking, contractions, ect). I was surprised I made it 30 weeks without being admitted to the hospital, but was ready. Many mothers expecting high order multiples are admitted around 20-25 weeks. I don’t know how I managed to escape, but I did every week. Perhaps it was all of your prayers?
Anyways…we went back on Thursday for our second appointment of the week. I went in feeling uncomfortable as usual, but nothing seemed different. However, when I was waiting for Dr. Tabor I started feeling “off”. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I just didn’t feel good. As usual, my vitals were taken. This time, things were different. My blood pressure was really high and there was protein in my urine, which are signs of pre eclampsia. Dr. Tabor went on with the ultrasound and was satisfied with all four of the babies. He was concerned about me, however. Based on my blood pressure and protein he wasn’t ready to admit me to the hospital. On the other hand, I was ready and was going to start begging to stay out of pure fear. He ordered a blood panel to check platelets and said I would be admitted if they were low. We waited an hour for the results in the meantime Dr. Tabor delivered a baby (or maybe two). I was actually relieved to find that my platelets were low and he was admitting me. He let us know he would repeat the platelet count that evening and if they were too low, delivery would occur that night. Say what???? I was ready to deliver but hadn’t prepared for it to happen that night. We called our parents and my sister just in case and waited.
After admission, I found out that Dr. Tabor had a special project in store for me….24 hour urine analysis. This meant I had to document all fluids I took in, measure urine output, and collect urine for analysis. Let me tell you, that was fun times! GROSS! Anyways, that night my platelets were low but not too low so Dr. Tabor planned to order another panel in the morning to check them. Around 4:30 am, I was rudely awakened by a lab tech with harsh fluorescent lights and a nice blood draw. I managed to steal a few hours of sleep after that and continued the fun urine analysis. Around 7:30 am my nurse let me know that Dr. Tabor was stopping my urine analysis (it was supposed to finish around noon so we knew something was up). He came in just before 9:00 am and let us know that my proteins were really high and platelets were really low so it was D-Day! This time we were ready.
Within a short time from learning it was D-Day I was wheeled into surgery prep.I could not believe we made it to delivery day at 30 weeks, 5 days. I had two incredibly sweet (and excited) surgery prep nurses, Violet and Mary Walker. As part of my surgery prep, an IV of magnesium sulfate was started to prevent seizures after delivery. Let me say, I don’t wish that stuff on anyone, it’s awful. They buzzed about me getting everything ready and once I was prepped they took me into the OR. The whole time Violet and Mary Walker were prepping me I felt totally calm. That calm only lasted until we entered the bright sterile operating room and I looked around. It was intimidating and George could not be with me at this point. I felt totally alone. I started to panic when the anesthesiologist began to work on my spinal block. Mary Walker was so compassionate with me, knowing I was terrified. She hugged me while I got the spinal block and whispered a prayer into my ear. It made a HUGE difference for me and then I was ready. Thankfully, the spinal block worked quickly and I found my calm because it wasn’t long before the action started. There were exactly 30 medical professionals in the OR and they were also using the adjoining OR for us. George was situated right next to my head, which was very comforting. Dr. Tabor let him know he should stay there and not look over the surgical barrier.
This is when it was like having an out of body experience. I couldn’t see anything or feel any pain, but there was a lot of tugging and pulling. I knew preemies often are not able to cry so I didn’t expect anything (or know what to expect anyways). Within a few short minutes I heard a tiny cry and someone said, “baby A, girl!” I heard my sweet baby Rylin crying. It was an amazing moment. Within the next minute both Harper and Sydney were born. Just like with Rylin, someone shouted “baby B, boy! baby C, girl!”, and both babies gave me the precious gift of crying. They cried! I also remember after Sydney was delivered that someone said, “This is supposed to be the little one?” I knew that was a good sign. Finally, Mason was born and he cried too. They were all born within just a few short minutes. Meanwhile, the delivery team worked rapidly to wrap each baby up settle them in an isolette to begin transportation to Cook Children’s. Each baby’s isolette was brought beside my bed briefly so I could see it before they left. I was allowed to touch little Mason’s hand for a moment since he was last to leave. It was all so fleeting.
Once my surgery was completed I was taken to recovery. Because I was on a magnesium IV I was incredibly uncomfortable and quite groggy. I remember family members coming to visit me and George going over to see the babies. By that evening, I was out of recovery and finally got to see our babies. Since I was still on IV’s I had to stay in bed. Violet and another nurse, Katie, wheeled my bed through labor and delivery then through the sky walk to Cook Children’s hospital. Taking a bed through a hospital that way is no easy feat and they didn’t know the layout of the hospital. Needless to say, there were lots of twists and turns along the way, which made me carsick. We finally arrived at the quad suite and they rolled me up to Sydney first. When I saw her little tiny hand, tears flowed. I just could not believe how tiny and beautiful she was and she was ok. After all those scares, she was here. I couldn’t stay long so then I got to meet Mason, Rylin and finally Harper. They were all so amazing. I kept thinking to myself, “Are they ours? Did we really deliver today?” It was the most surreal experience of my life. I waited so long to meet them and once they arrived I simply could not believe it. I felt as if I were watching someone else’s life unfold. I was able to stay just a few precious moments then had to return to my hospital room for more recovering.
I’m not going to lie, the night after delivery was perhaps the most miserable of my life, but at the same time I was overjoyed. I was on “NPO” orders, which means NOTHING by mouth. However, magnesium causes a horrible unquenchable thirst like I’ve never experienced. After a few hours of writing, my nurse, Phyllis, managed to get ice chips approved. If I could have lept out of bed, I would have bear hugged her. Ice never tasted so good. I ate ice chips all. night. long. They were so good that I would have taken a bag of them over any gourmet fare offered. Bless Phylis!
And, July 20, 2012 marked the first day of the rest of our lives as a family of six. We will be forever changed by the wonderful addition of forty tiny fingers and forty little toes.
3 lbs, 7.68 oz
3 lbs, 1.28 oz
2 lbs, 5.28 oz
2 lbs, 14.46 oz
(and George, Rylin, Harper, Sydney, and Mason!)