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Sunday, April 27, 2014
April has been designated “Multiple Birth Awareness Month”. According to the CDC, the number of twin births in 2012 was 131,269, triplets were 4,598, quadruplets were 276 and the number of quintuplets and other higher order births was just 45. The twin birth rate was 33.1 per 1,000 live births and triplet or higher order birth rate: 124.4 per 100,000 live births
In honor of Multiple Birth Awareness Month, the quadruplet mom community is trying to bring awareness to our unique lifestyle and remind those who are unfamiliar with higher order multiples that we’re still people with feelings and our babies, have feelings, and can hear just like your babies do.
While we’ve only just begun our journey as a high order multiples family, I can personally tell you that although we may have four babies, we still have needs just like every other family. We still need to go grocery shopping, we still go to the doctor, and every now and then, we would like to get out of the house! The thing is, getting four babies dressed, strapped into their car seats and loaded in the car is a feat in itself. Once we get to our destination, we’re busy putting strollers together and loading babies into them. We’re making sure every baby is warm, has a pacifier and that all their needs are met. Trust me, we get that we are a sight to be seen and that you’ve probably never seen anything like it before with so many babies. We get that. But if you could keep in mind that everyone who isn’t us, is probably just like you. So when I take 3 minutes to stop and talk with you, I’m going to have to do it again for the person that walks by only a minute later. And the one after that. And the one after that. Things that once took us 20 minutes, now take an hour. I understand your curiosity, and if I can, I will try to answer questions but it would be nice is everyone could also understand that quad moms are already four times busier than many moms caring for four babies at once, and that when we are hit with the same questions over and over, sometimes, it can just push us over the edge.
Not only are we stopped often, but many times, people are very insensitive with the things they say to us. On my last pediatrician visit, I had a lady chase me in the parking lot, yelling “how many babies do you have”? Not only was I concentrating on pushing a stroller full of babies through a parking lot and trying to pay attention to for cars, now I also had a lady chasing after me and yelling. On the third time she called, I turned my head and held up the number four on my fingers. She then yells, “oh, my word. Are they all yours”? At this point, I had hit my breaking point and just kept walking. Conversations and statements like this are common in the HOM (Higher Order Multiples) world. My quadruplet mom friend, Amber, has written a post for the Fort Worth Mom’s Blog regarding things you should never say to a mom of mom of multiples. Here’s a link to her article: http://citymomsblog.com/fortworth/2014/04/25/moms-of-multiples-i-bet-you-were-as-big-as-a-beluga-and-other-verbiage-to-avoid/
Amber is able to provide an accurate first-hand account of things we’ve all heard when we try to take our babies out in public. For Adam and I, we haven’t gotten to go out of the house together for a month and a half now unless it’s to a doctor’s appointment. Having to split everything up and take turns going to the store isn’t easy. We went from living in a world where it was just the two of us, to a world where four other beings are completely dependent on us. It’s definitely not an easy place to live and in another article to come, I plan to write about the relationship challenges couples with multiples face (there’s a reason the divorce rate is so high amongst families with multiples). Hopefully, with more education and awareness, perhaps the general public will be able to be a little bit more sensitive to our unique lifestyle and next time you see us in public, unless you know us, admire us from afar! It’s nothing personal; it’s just that we already have a lot on our plates.
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Since coming home on March 17, it’s been round the clock work managing feeding all four babies every three hours. For most people, looking after one baby is challenge enough with sleepless night, endless feedings and constant diaper changes. Our family has to work in shifts during late night and early morning feedings. We have had to rely heavily on our moms for support during this time. Adam’s Mom has moved in with us for a few months to help us get through this hump.
Meal time for the babies takes about an hour to an hour and a half depending on how many people are available to help at the time. The babies are on a three hour schedule, which means every three hours, we wake them (if they aren’t already awake), change their diapers, kiss/love on them, and then feed and burp them before the whole process stars over again. Routine is very important in our lives otherwise, it would be impossible to accomplish feeding everyone along with the long list of other jobs that have to be done. It’s amazing how being as little as 30 minutes off schedule can completely disrupt our day.
On top of feeding babies, the an endless list of other tasks that must be completed each day includes: emptying day diaper genies (yes, there’s two) must be emptied, stocking diapers and wipes, washing and folding blankets and burp cloths along with baby clothes, and making bottles. Right now, we go through almost four quarts of formula, approximately 40 diapers, and a package of wipes a day. We wash and fill 32 bottles and at least two loads of laundry each day. Bath nights look more like an assembly line as one of us bathes each baby while the other handles putting on lotion, diapering, dressing each baby.
All this work leaves little time for anything else! Days seem to pass by in a flash so I’m constantly reminding myself that this time will end too quickly and it won’t be long that I can’t hold them in my arms this way anymore. Every night, when my head finally hits the pillow and I say my last prayer of the day, I always remember to thank God for His grace and for having so much faith in me that He gave me four babies to care for all at once. While He may not exactly promise us that He won’t give us more than we as humans can handle, He does promise that He will be there to get us through. I am often told how amazing I am or that I’m superwoman. To that, I can only respond, you are wrong. Without Christ, I am nothing. None of this is done on my own strength, but I rely on the strength that only God can supply to be able to get through.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Whew! Sorry that I haven't been able to post in a long time. My Mom pointed it out to me the other day and I had to let her know, I just don't have the time lately.
As you may know, our babies made their entrance into the world on January 25, 2014. We spent 52 days in NICU and on March 17, all four babies came home. It's been a whirlwind for sure. The best way for me to explain it is that we were hit by a freight train and then grabbed on and held tight for the ride!
NICU life was challenging to say the least! We were blessed in that we didn't have a lot of the huge hurdles to climb and all our babies were pretty healthy overall; we just had a lot of feeding and growing to do! They had to learn to breathe on their own without a CPAP machine first. Then they had to be able to keep all their feeds down through their tubes. Then we introduced the bottles and the breast to them. After that, we just continued to feed/grow slowly weaning them off caffeine and other support mechanisms so that they could finally survive unassisted.
We still have a few battles ahead of us. Premature babies need to receive extra care and we have to be extra careful not to expose them to germs or they could have to be back in the hospital. We've had to follow up with various doctors and continue to do so. Our smallest baby has a duplicated collecting kidney system so we will soon meet with a urologist to follow up and see if it will require surgery. She also had some trouble passing the newborn hearing screen in her right ear. We will follow up with an audiologist on that same day.
Other than that, life with quads is beyond description. We've been told by other quad families that we are in the thick of things right now. We feed at 3, 6, 9 & 12 around the clock. That means we are surviving on very little sleep and lots of caffeine! If I had known that this is what life would be like, I'd have asked the doctors to prescribe me the caffeine when they took the babies off of it! During the day, I primarily handle them by myself but sometimes my Mom is able to stop by to help with a feeding or two. Adam helps at night and is usually the one to make dinner. It's constant cleaning, preparing bottles, changing the diaper genie, etc. In fact, I don't think my washing machine has stopped since we came home!
Here's a few random facts about quad life:
We go through 32 bottles a day. That's a lot of washing!
We also go through about 38 diapers a day.
We go through one normal size package of wipes a day.
Last night, we were able to have my Mom watch them in between feeds so we could make a quick run to the grocery store. I was a little overwhelmed at the realization that grocery shopping as I knew it was forever changed. Gone are the days of walking through the aisles. It's now a "run" through the aisles, dodging people and baskets, scratching things off my list, and shouting to Adam across the aisles "I got the milk".
There have been many nights when neither Adam or I have eaten a thing until about 10 PM at night. There's also been days when I don't shower until around that time either.
We know it will get better and we will get more efficient. In the meantime, we are so thankful for everyone whose been there to support us in this journey! Whether you sent us diapers, wipes, or clothes or you brought a meal by for us, your gesture is so appreciated. You cannot imagine the load you take off of us with something that may seem simple. For that, we are forever grateful!
In the meantime, it's feeding time over here so I must close this post. We certainly appreciate all of the continued prayers for us on this journey! I will definitely try my best to update my blog more often but if you don't hear from me, it's because I'm covered in a sea of dirty diapers, bottles that need washing and filling, and most importantly, smothering four tiny little babies with my love!
While we try to give each baby as much personal attention as we can, here's what a 3 AM feeding looks like: