Monday, November 23, 2015

Learning to count on others...and finding friends you can count on!

On the day we found out we were having quadruplets, Adam and I knew that our lives were forever changed but we didn't really have a clue what things were going to be like. We left the fertility clinic in shock and confusion and didn't really know what to do or where to turn, other than God. I remember sitting in my husband's tiny red Honda Hatchback and praying over the four little heartbeats we had just heard and then going back to my office, closing the door, and the feeling of pure panic overcoming me. 

Growing up as what some have termed the MTV Generation, I immediately did the only thing I knew to do, I googled "what to do when you're having quadruplets". If you clicked on the link, you'll see that there's not a whole lot of information to rely on. After much searching, I finally stumbled upon the blogs of several amazing quad moms that I am not proud to call "friends". 

Early on, I learned that things would be different for me and fitting in was something that I'd have to give up on. This wasn't easy for someone who'd spent pretty much their entire life trying to do just that. I had stepped onto a very real roller coaster ride that didn't have a way off. I was made very clear of the very real dangers of higher order multiples to both their health and mine from the get-go by various doctors but one thing remained constant in both my and Adam's mind: God gave us four babies for a reason. Almost immediately, my entire focus became doing whatever I could to keep them safe and help them develop properly. Having an established career (I'd been at my company for about 9 years), I knew finances would play a huge role in providing for my family that was growing by eight feet practically overnight. I focused heavily on my job and trying to keep up even though what I really wanted to do was sleep! Growing four babies is really as much work as it sounds and my body was working overtime. I was constantly tired and constantly hungry. 

We were overwhelmed by the sincere desire of so many people truly wanting to help us, praying for us, and offering their love and support. As the pregnancy progressed, things got harder and harder. At 12 weeks, it became difficult and uncomfortable for me to drive or sit upright for long periods of time. By about 18 weeks, it had become difficult for me to breathe. Walking became painful and my ligaments stretched and tore. With each passing week, I grew more excited and more anxious to meet the four people I now affectionately call "my turkeys". Eventually, I couldn't ride in a car or sit in traffic for long periods of time and I moved to working from my couch which was still uncomfortable yet manageable (my couch still shows the wear from the hours I spent on it during my pregnancy too as it quickly became the only comfortable place in my life). We did everything we could to prepare for having four babies at once but as you can imagine, other than a few books, and the doctors' advice, there wasn't much to go on. Adam and I went to some pretty drastic measures trying to relate and understand what we were really in for. I remember curling up in bed with him one night to watch National Geographic's Multiples in the Womb which turned out to be a huge mistake because we both walked away from it terrified of the c-section we knew was to come eventually.  

I remember very clearly how alone I felt. Even though I had so many people who loved me praying for me, encouraging me, and surrounding me, I felt completely isolated. So many people could share their pregnancy stories with me and give me their advice and while I was truly grateful and clung to every word, none of them had ever carried four babies at once. I tried so hard to relate to mothers I knew that had twins, but even their stories were so different than mine because I had two extra living beings inside of me that I was responsible for. I longed so desperately just to meet one other person who'd actually delivered quadruplets.I just wanted to hear from someone who'd done it and lived to tell the tale. And then, someone I will always keep in my heart found another quad mom on social media. This quad mom was linked to an entire network of quad moms. She was able to verify that my story was legitimate and I soon joined an online group of women who are also quad moms. I was among my people. 

Finally, I could open up about all of my fears, the pain I was experiencing, the questions I had about what to expect, what equipment I needed most, logistics, how to handle the NICU and so much more. Things that I'd kept bottled up for months because no one could understand, were finally able to be released, answered, and dealt with.  

Eventually, at 28 weeks and five days gestation, having already spent several days in the hospital, the moment I'd both longed for and feared at the same time arrived and my beautiful babies were born. Thanks to those women, I was mentally prepared that I may not see my own babies for several days after they were born. I got to briefly see all but the most critical one as they wheeled them from the operating room and a full 25 hours later, I finally got to meet them in person. 

I had the support and encouragement of women who'd been in my shoes throughout the 52 days in the NICU. When the babies came home and reality set in that we were on our own with four babies, I STILL had their support, tips, tricks, and encouragement at my side. When I questioned something like how on earth do you feed four babies bottles at once, if I was being overprotective, why people I truly thought would be by my side through things weren't there, if it's okay to put up childproof locks or what to do about biting one another, how to break up arguments, when and when not to intervene, or even how to juggle quadruplets and a marriage, these women are the women that I turn to. 

But here's the crazy part: in person, I've met three of them. We are spread out all over the United States and the globe. We all live our crazy lives on our own. We all have the same nightmarish shopping experiences and get pounded with the same crazy questions every time we go out in public, yet few of us live in the same city. We have different lifestyles, different setups, different levels of help, different stories about how we became quad moms, we did different things before we had quadruplets yet we all come together with very similar stories and experiences. And still to this day, when I feel like I am completely alone in this world with no one who gets me and no one who has been in my shoes, I can turn to one of them in confidence, spill my guts about what is really going on and be met with "I've been there sister; all of us have". Those words...I cannot tell you the sweet music to my ears they are. 

Having a strong support system is so important to everyone no matter what you're going through. Just knowing there's someone to call, can make a world of difference. I am blessed. Not only do I have my quad mom friends to help, I also have the love and support of my husband, my parents, my in-laws, a really, really long-term best friend, an adopted quad-grand mommy and new friends God brought to me to help me down this road. After I had the quads, I later found an amazing group of triplet moms who all gave birth in the same year as me. Sometimes, things do get overwhelming. Sometimes, at the end of the day, I want to throw in the towel. More than once, I've made calls and had to be talked down off the ledge. Sometimes, I'm stretched so thin in so many areas that I forget about things I need to do, people I need to call/text, or I lose things like my wedding ring, credit cards, or other important papers. It's those times when you realize just how important friends are! So in this season of thankfullness, I just want everyone reading this that has ever prayed for me, helped us prepare for our babies, hosted or attended a baby shower, encouraged me, given me advice or counsel, talked me down from a close call breakdown, washed the babies' laundry, brought us a meal, sent a care package, helped out in an emergency, carried a baby to the car,  or any other of the numerous kind acts of love we've received to know, near or far, close or not, I appreciate you! Without your act, no matter how tiny or grand, I don't know if we'd be at the point where we are. Thank you! 



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