Three years ago, George and I began researching Neonatal Intensive Care Units in our area in preparation for the quads arrival. Knowing they would be delivered prematurely meant they would have a NICU stay, and we wanted to be educated with our options. When we toured Cook Children’s we were thoroughly impressed and knew it was the place to care for our babies. After the babies were delivered, they were immediately transported to Cook and it did not take us long to bond with the staff there. While NICU life was stressful and emotionally charged, our experience was a positive one because of the care we received.
Each spring, the hospital hosts a NICU reunion where families get the opportunity to see the staff who cared for their once tiny babies as well as other patients who were in the NICU at the same time. Shortly before the babies turned one, we were able to attend our first annual NICU reunion. Because we were in the process of moving last year, we missed the annual reunion.
Thankfully, this year the weather was nice and we made it to the shindig. The kids were stoked about going since it was a super hero themed event. A few days prior, I managed to grab Batman and Batgirl shirts for the quads and a Wonder Woman shirt for myself to wear. Instead of wearing his Avengers shirt, George sported a Star Wars tee to which Rylin remarked, “That is NOT a super hero shirt!” Although we don’t let the quads watch Justice League shows, they are fascinated with superheroes and recognize the high-profile ones. At the advice of readers, we started watching Super Why on PBS kids; it’s a beloved, age-appropriate show about a super hero.
Upon our arrival at the event, on of our primary nurses, Tiffany, spotted us in the crowd. Ironically, a few days prior I found a scripture containing each of the quad’s middle names given to us by Tiffany before discharge. It’s clear that some people are put into our lives for a reason, and touch our hearts forever. Tiffany was one of several nurses we will always cherish because of the nurturing touch given to our babies.
After reuniting with Tiffany, it was time to meet and greet a band of super heroes. Despite being enamored with super heroes, meeting them in the flesh proved a bit too intimidating for everyone except our tiny powerhouse, Sydney. She strutted right up to Batman (who was a rather tall guy) and examined his gloved hand. The other three only approached the super heroes while being held by Mom and Dad.
Next, everyone sat curbside to enjoy their first snow cone. I was amazed at how long these four were willing to sip and slurp snow cones. As we enjoyed this little treat, we stumbled upon our triplet buddies who were born just five days after the quads. Over the years, we’ve maintained contact and held a few play dates, which we call “Quatriplet” play dates. It’s always nice to be around other families with high order multiples because we feel “normal” together. Getting seven toddlers to sit next to each other was quite a task. Perhaps one day we can a few of them to also look at the camera. Out of seven kids, you’d think at least one would be looking, but not one did.
Even though the quads are usually reticent to try new things, Harper, Mason, and Rylin each conquered the ginormous bounce house slide. Harper went so quickly, I missed his adventure, and he was not willing to repeat it.
Before leaving the party, each of the quads received a super hero mask kit and a set of stickers, which Sydney instructed the volunteer to “put on my cheek, and here on my arm.” Of course the other three then made the same request and left with a nice collection of stickers.
On our way out, we stopped on our favorite hallway in the hospital to watch Tinkerbell dance on the wall (there is a silhouette of a castle affixed on he wall and a fairy is projected to the roof of the castle). The quads were absolutely fascinated by this little pixie, and seeing them in awe reminded me why Cook is the place for children. It doesn’t seem like a hospital….it’s almost magical.
Back at home, we assembled the masks and the quads had great fun modeling them. The girls had even more fun looking at each other in the masks.
As the years pass, the memories of NICU life fade every so slightly, but going back to reunions like this is a good way to remember that time in our lives, and thank those who touched our family.