My Daughter Gave Birth to Quadruplets!

Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments! His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Psalms 112:1-2

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Love the Snow Reason # 1 / Love the Snow Reason # 2

Devon got a SNOW DAY!

School and basketball were canceled today, so we were snowed in with Callie and the quads. Cold weather always manages to create good family times. I often hear people complain about the cold weather, but I love the snow for two reasons. On snow days we eat homemade chicken and noodles, make snow ice cream, drink steaming hot chocolate, and break out the boots/gloves/sleds. Family togetherness is the first reason I love the snow.

Miss Isabella wants to play. She is happiest on her belly.

We are getting lots of Samantha smiles these days. My mom says that means she is a happy baby.

Landon follows us around the room with his eyes. He is quiet but content. He is getting a dimple like Eric's in his chin.

Jackson is very entertaining at 6 AM. He has the cutest crooked grin and a contagious belly laugh! Jackson has a dimple in his cheek and his chin.

Callie is having fun sledding with Daddy. She keeps reminding me that it's "six minutes to Christmas, Mamaw!"

Tom is getting pretty good at working on the IPad while entertaining two babies at the same time. Now if he will just learn to use his feet to jiggle the other two in baby seats at the same time, Sarah and I can have a break.

Callie and Tony Trimming Number Two Tree

We are looking forward to Christmas. Pictured above is Christmas Tree Number Two. Tree Number One is rogue. It tripped me, sent me flying, and I body slammed it flat on the ground. The impact hurt like crazy, but made the tree much easier to put back in the box. Sleep deprivation can be dangerous!

Snow brings a gentle hush over everything. Today, I went out to clean the snow off the cars, and I savoured the silence. After a big snow, I used to enjoy going out to the barn early in the morning to feed the horses. It would be so quiet, except for the rhythmic crunching of the horses chewing their sweet feed. Periodically they would shake their manes and snort in appreciation, sending bursts of steam through their nostrils into the frigid air. Horses make me calm. They don't worry about much except eating and running. I used to sit on a bale of hay to watch them. It helped me get a perspective about the time I waste worrying.

One snowy morning, I was tossing flakes of hay to the horses just as the sun was coming up. Rays of light filled the barn loft and hit an old rusty cage. Instantly, it was transformed. The inside of the barn began to sparkle as if it were filled with thousands of twinkling diamonds suspended in mid-air. I was intrigued, so I put down the hay and climbed up the homemade ladder to get a closer look. What I discovered amazed me.

Undisturbed for years, spiders had labored to fill that entire cage with intricate webbing. When the sun peaked in through the barn slats, it warmed the air, causing moisture to condense in tiny droplets all over the webs. The rays of light hit the drops turning them into sparkling prisms of light. It was a beautiful work of art, and the horses and I were the only ones to see it. I watched until the sun moved past the cage, leaving no evidence of the former display of light.

What kind of God takes the time to create such incredible beauty that is rarely--if ever--seen? Even in the quiet of the morning, a web-filled cage shouted of His glory. I walked out of the barn onto the blanket of fresh snow that was making everything clean and new, and remembered.

When I was seven, my widowed grandmother drove all the way to Michigan for a visit. She was on a mission. She came up in my room to tell me how Jesus had died on the cross so I could live with Him forever in Heaven. Together, we knelt by my bed while I asked Jesus to make my heart clean from sin for all the times--past, present and future--that I would fall short of God's plan. In little girl fashion, I pictured God sending a heavy Michigan snow to make my dirty heart perfectly clean.

I have never been the same. That is the second reason that I will always love the snow.

"Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." Psalm 51:7b

Thanks for praying,

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Three Months/Along for the Ride

I haven't had much time or energy to blog lately. I went to bed last night at 4 am and Callie woke me up at 8:45 am, so forgive me if I ramble.

We must be doing something right, because the babies are getting bigger. They are three months old. Here is what they weigh:

Landon- 10 lbs. 4 ozs.
Jackson- 9 lbs. 1 oz.
Isabella- 10 lbs. 10 ozs.
Samantha- 8 lbs. 4 ozs.

They are awake more during the day, and it is hard to entertain them all. We use molded foam Bumbo seats that support them so they can sit up for a change.

They are starting to smile and coo at us. Landon is the most alert and awake. Isabella is the sleepiest.

Everyone but Samantha is taking more formula, which means we go through about 10 cans per week. They also moved up on the diaper size, going from preemie to newborn. Samantha and Jackson still fit in their preemie clothes, but the other two are in newborn.

Doctor visits keep us busy, sometimes two or three per week. We don't mind because we get out of the house. If we weren't so sleepy, we would probably find our departure preparations amusing. We try to time everything between the three hour feedings and diaper changes.

First, we pack enough blankets, bottles, diapers, wipes and spare clothes to last. Second, we bring the car seats inside. Third, we warm up the car. Fourth, Samantha needs her oximeter alarm and portable oxygen tanks. (We bring a spare tank in case we get delayed.) Fifth, we need snow suits for all. Sixth, we need four clean pacifiers and straps to attach them. Finally, we are ready to strap the quads in their seats. While we are making trips to the car, it is hard to keep anyone happy. By the time we load up, Sarah and I are worn out. To make it worse, Sarah's quadruple pregnancy was very hard on her feet. She has been in a lot of pain since she delivered the babies.

All appointments except for the eye doctor involve undressing the babies and dressing them back again, while keeping an eye on Callie. She keeps us entertained while we work.

"Look Mamaw! I'm makin' vegetable soup."

"What are you putting in your soup?" I murmur distractedly.

"Ummm...Yucky stuff. And crackers!"

We had our regular visit to Good Sam. We were excited when the neonatologist turned down Samantha's oxygen. Later that day, however, Samantha ate only half of her bottles and cried most of the night. We turned her oxygen back up and called the pediatrician. A blood test showed that Samantha's white cell count was up, so the doctor sent us to Children's right away. With her history, he wanted to rule out meningitis. We were very worried. It brought back so many bad memories.

My mom, family and church all began to pray for Samantha. I was especially touched by the prayers and encouragement from my extended family members in Florida because my fifteen-year-old cousin Britton had just passed away from a brain tumor. In spite of their unbearable grief and the agony of funeral planning, they stopped to ask God to heal little Sammy Jo. Their faith is immovable.

Britton Ballard (1995-2010)

At Children's, Samantha's blood was drawn and she had to be catheterized to rule out a urinary tract infection. Before the tests began, I gave the nurse the third degree to make sure he had experience with small babies. He assured me that he has worked on babies Samantha's size and smaller. He gave me the "honor" of holding Samantha down while he worked. It turned out that he was very good and the procedures went smoothly.

I was supposed to return to the doctor's office to wait for the results in case antibiotic shots were necessary. Before I made it back, the doctor called with good news: no meningitis and no UTI, so it was probably viral. She started to feel better almost as soon as we got home and had a good night.

Two days later, we loaded up the quads for the next doctor appointment. Samantha and Jackson had another eye exam. Prematurity and oxygen can cause premature infants to have damaged or lost sight. (Musician Stevie Wonder lost his sight to retiniopathy of prematurity shortly after his premature birth.) The quads are at risk, so they have regular check ups. We like the eye doctor and nurses, but we dread the exams. They are such an ordeal! Once we arrive and get settled in a room, the nurse comes to put the first of two sets of drops in their eyes. Then we have to sit for half an hour to wait for their eyes to dilate. Keeping four babies and a three-year-old quiet during that time makes 30 minutes seem like an eternity. Somehow, we always manage to bump into feeding time, which adds to the challenge of keeping everyone happy.

The exam itself is uncomfortable, even though the nurse gives numbing drops. The doctor has a spring-loaded prong thingee that holds their eyelids open while he examines their eyes with a very bright light. Obviously, the quads resist the procedure. For some reason, the eye medicine makes them very crabby for a couple of days. The doctor doesn't know if the medicine irritates their eyes, or if dilated pupils irritates the babies. Either way, it's rough for 48 hours.

The appointment before last revealed that Isabella's and Landon's eyes had finally matured. Jackson's and Samantha's were still at risk, with Samantha's worse than Jackson's. This time Jackson went first. His eyes were mature, so he was released until next summer. Hooray!

Samantha was next. We held our breath while she was examined, hoping she had at least improved a little and had not hemorrhaged. She is the most at risk due to her trio of eye-affecting problems: prematurity, septic shock and extended oxygen use.

The nurse wrapped Samantha's arms tightly in a blanket and held her down while the doctor went to work. Samantha's crying made the oximeter go off, which made us even more nervous. The exam seemed to take a long time.

"She's finished," announced the doctor as he switched on the light. "I don't need to see her again until she is one year old. Her eyes are mature!"

Sarah and I stared at each other, totally speechless. We asked him to repeat himself, not sure we'd heard correctly. We had.

As we pushed the strollers out to the car, I wondered when God had actually healed Samantha's eyes. It could have been a gradual process that happened since the last appointment. But I doubt it. I choose to believe that there were so many prayers going up for Samantha's illness that God let them spill over onto her eyes, too. Apparently, He has plans for Miss Sammy Jo. I'm just glad to be along for the ride.

Thanks for praying.

"I love the Lord because he hears my voice
and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen,
I will pray as long as I have breath!"
Psalm 116:1-2