Almost exactly eight years ago to the day, I started writing Four to Adore. It became my place to share our story, one of uncertainty with our friends and family. I also hoped to reach others who may be in a similar position. In February 2012 we found out that we were expecting quadruplets. It was a joyous, exciting time, but also one that was riddled with unknowns and fear. We did not know whether the babies and I could all survive the pregnancy, or after. We did not know if we could support four infants financially. We did not know what the future held for our family. Yet, we held close to our faith and prepared in ways we could, letting go of what was outside of our control.
A poster on my office wall read,
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of it’s troubles. It empties today of it’s strength.”Corrie Ten Boom
I thought of this often as my mind constantly tried to shift from optimism to a mindset of fear. I continued working full time and things seemed to be going well, until they weren’t. At 21 weeks, I began showing signs of early labor and was put on strict bed rest. I was to stay at home, in bed, all day. The only exceptions were to use the restroom and shower. Otherwise, it was me alone in bed. This went on for TEN grueling weeks.
At first, bed rest sounds like a nice opportunity to catch up on reading, to binge watch Netflix shows, and to nap leisurely. It’s none of those things, ya’ll. Bed rest is lonely and isolating. It’s hard giving up the normal things you manage independently: working, cooking, exercise, shopping, etc. Plus, it’s a lot of time spent alone. I was fortunate to have friends and family who periodically stopped by, often bringing food, but I was solo more often than not. I quickly learned a few tricks to help pass this time.
- Developed a schedule: I woke up about the same time daily I ate meals, completed tasks like reading and writing, and took a nightly bath.
- Let the light shine: I couldn’t get outside, but I made sure to open the windows letting the sun bathe my room signaling when it was daytime.
- Contacted others: I played a lot of Words with Friends, found other moms expecting quads, and of course chatted with my friends and family.
- Took care of my appearance: Few people saw me, but each day I always got dressed into actual clothes in the morning, brushed my hair, and sometimes applied make up. It just feels better to take care of these things!
- Stayed healthy as possible: I couldn’t follow my normal exercise routine, but I continued trying to eat healthy foods, drank water, took vitamins, and followed a modified exercise routine from bed.
I will never forget the ten weeks I spent on bed rest, they were extremely humbling. I do not take my health for granted because of that time.
Following my ten weeks of “house arrest” as I called it, we were thrust into NICU life with four infants born nine weeks too soon. They were all fragile, requiring a staff of nurses and doctors to oversee their care. We quickly became enmeshed in hospital life, scrubbing in and out when visiting our children and managing cares. Upon the babies’ discharge we had not only become institutionalized, but were were again terrified.
We didn’t want the babies returning to the hospital so we took extreme precautions known as “lock down” to keep them healthy at least until they developed stronger immune systems. Visitors were extremely limited and required a protocol. We only allowed visitors who were vaccinated, had not been ill or show signs of illness, hands had to be washed, shoes removed, and if anyone had smoked, they had to change clothes. It was stringent, and it offended some of our friends and family. In fact, we lost some friends due to the measures we required. In addition to these Draconian rules for visitors, we went very few places and almost no where with the babies.
We felt it necessary to protect their health, but also because taking four infants anywhere is practically an Olympic sport. For the first two years of the kids’ lives we went to work, grandparents houses, and the grocery store. Otherwise we were mostly home. It was not easy, but somehow we managed to weather those difficult times, and to fill them with happy memories. When I think of our kids as babies and toddlers, I do remember everything I just described with vivid detail, but I also remember the sound of their belly laughs, them exploring the world with wonder, and watching them thrive. If we could rewind time, I think we’d take the same precautions again.
Here’s the irony….in many ways we are doing it all over again. I feel as though I’m repeating the experience of bed rest followed by premature infants with the current state of our nation. At this time, most of our state is closed from schools to gyms and restaurants due to the rapid spread of COVID-19. Our county is under shelter in place, severely limiting anyone from leaving home except for medical care and groceries. No more than ten people should gather, and in public people should maintain a distance of at least six feet.
Everything is uncertain, particularly our health and the economy. It is unsettling and stressful for everyone. Each person has a different experience with the state of things, but I am certain it is easy for no one. Unlike my past experience, we share this experience. My hope is that like with my bed rest, this is a temporary situation that one day we can reflect upon as something that helped us grow. From this, I hope we learn gratitude, humility, and grace and that one day it is part of our history no longer our normal.
In the meantime, please stay home unless it’s absolutely necessary and WASH YOUR HANDS.
P. S. I realize this blog is LONG forgotten. Once the kids started kindergarten and I increased my hours at work, blog time diminished. As we figure out this work and school from home bit, I’m hoping to carve out a little time to blog, and perhaps share how we’re coping with COVID-19 quarantine. After all, writing is my unicorn space. We shall see!