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 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

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