Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ain't no dad like a quad dad

Ted, ever since the day we decided that we were ready to start a family, you've been a great dad. From the beginning, you made sure that I took my vitamins, that I ate the right things, and that I took good care of myself so that our future child would have the best start in life.

Then we found out that we were having four children:

With Dr. C, a few days after finding out about the quads

You were instantly worried about me, worried that I was too small to carry these babies. And you were equally concerned for the babies themselves. As I got bigger, you did everything you could to keep me off my feet—even though sometimes I did not want to listen!

After I went into the hospital, you were there for me every evening and weekend, helping me to do basic things like eat, shower, and stay sane. Without you, I could not have carried these babies for as long as I did!

In the hospital at 29 weeks
(a month before delivery)

You had no previous experience with children, so when the babies came, you were subjected to a crash course in fatherhood. You handled the NICU like a pro. As soon as we were allowed to touch the babies, you learned how to cradle them in your arms:

Holding Lucia for the first time

... how to change a diaper (in an isolette, no less!):

Changing Lucia for the first time

... how to give a bottle to a baby that was still learning to suck:

Feeding Isaac for the first time

... and how to burp a tiny baby that couldn't hold her head up:

Feeding Dahlia for the first time

Then, when it was time for the babies to come home, you were the one who buckled them safely into their car seats:

Getting Jude ready to leave the hospital

In the months since the babies came home, you've grown more and more comfortable as a father of four. The hours are long, but the rewards are great:

Tuckered out and snoozing on the couch
with Jude and Lucy

You now know there's nothing like making your baby smile:

Cuddling with Jude

Or being greeted first thing in the morning by a sweet little face that's so happy to see you:

Saying good morning to Isaac

The babies know you and love you. When you talk, they listen (for now, anyway!):

Tummy time with Jude and Dahlia

And they count on you to teach them new skills:

Demonstrating to the girls how to burp a baby

Showing Isaac what a lawnmower looks like
(so that he can take over lawn duty someday!)

Like any good dad, you occasionally even encourage them to try new foods:

"Trust me, Dahlia, this tastes better than formula!"

Most impressively, you have learned to multitask like nobody's business:

Entertaining Jude while feeding Lucy

Taking a phone message while holding Isaac

Bringing both girls out from their nap

Feeding Isaac and Dahlia at the same time

And after all you do for our family, you amazingly still have enough energy left to get dressed up and take me out on a date once in a while:

Ready to attend Boss Tammy's wedding last month

You truly are a Super Dad. I love you, Ted, and I couldn't do this without you. Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Anniversary of an earthquake

A year ago today, Ted and I looked at an ultrasound screen and received the SHOCK of our lives as we saw something that we never expected to see: Four sacs! Words alone cannot describe how, in the minutes and hours that followed, all of our plans, hopes, and dreams for the future flashed before our eyes and then vanished, leaving in their place cautious excitement, a jumble of unknowns, and a long road ahead.

Ted and I spent the rest of that day in a stunned fog, telling only a few family members our news and laughing at their disbelieving reactions. We went to bed thoroughly drained from the wide-ranging emotions of the day, and I slept hard until a vivid nightmare jerked me from my slumber at 4am sharp. Although I have never been a journal-keeper, I felt compelled to get up and record what I had just dreamed. Here's what I wrote:
This morning I woke up from a nightmare. I was in a break room at work, where several women were heating up lunch. We were on the second floor, and I could see the street outside. All of a sudden, the room started shaking violently up and down and side to side. The quake lasted for a long time, and I was shouting out, "Jesus, help us! God, help us!" Outside, the road split open, and I was terrified for Ted and my parents. Then the quake ended, and everything was fine. When I woke up, it occurred to me that this is the first time I've understood the meaning of a dream. I've had an earthquake in my life, and all I can do is cry out to God.

A year later, the earthquake has passed, but the aftershocks continue in every part of our lives. The doctors told us that having and raising quads (even healthy ones like ours turned out to be) would be the hardest thing we'd ever done—physically, financially, emotionally—and they were right. It's impossible to grasp just how difficult it is until you've done it, and no one will ever understand what it's like (except for the other quad moms and dads out there). When the strain starts to get to me, and I feel like life will never feel normal again, it helps to go back and read what I wrote that night. The upheaval is temporary, and everything is going to be okay. In the meantime, all I can do is cry out to God.

The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.
(Psalm 145:18)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Four babies and a cat mom

Three years before Ted and I became the parents of quads, we adopted a stray kitten and bestowed upon her the name of Pepper (after the Beatles album, of course!). Despite our efforts to tame this beautiful beast, she was a feral kitty and would not let us forget it. My hands daily bore the scars of her aggression, the veterinarian (and his entire staff) dreaded her checkups, and to say that she was skittish with anyone besides me or Ted would be a gross understatement—even our regular cat-sitter Jana never failed to get the hiss-and-swat treatment. So we were understandably concerned when we found out that we were having not one baby, but FOUR. How would this not-so-cuddly kitty adjust to a house full of infants?

It did not take long to find out, and her reaction has been fascinating. Although she still refuses to come within arm's reach of the babies (smart kitty), she responds to their cries as any cat mother would: She brings them food! Watch as Pepper retrieves Scooby (a toy that alternately serves as her playmate and prey) in an effort to comfort Jude while he waits for his lunch. (Don't worry, no babies were harmed in the making of this video.)

Has anyone else ever seen a cat exhibit this type of behavior? She does this when one of the babies cries (usually before/during feedings and sometimes during naps). After announcing her approach with her signature "Scooby cry," she will drop the toy near the crib or bouncy seat, peer at the baby (standing up on her hind legs to look in the crib, if necessary), and then look up at us, as if to say, "Why don't you do something?"

I think it's so cute, but we'll see how things change when the babies start crawling and grabbing everything in sight (it won't be long now). Watch out, Pepper!

Friday, June 12, 2009

We're singin' the acid blues

Feedings have been rough around here for the past couple of weeks. Not only have the babies started to exhibit "stranger anxiety" (occasionally screaming when someone other than Mom or Dad picks them up, refusing to let anyone else feed them, etc.), but also we are still dealing with the dreaded acid reflux.

I don't remember exactly when reflux entered the picture, but I do know that it manifested itself early on as projectile vomiting. Lots of it. In addition, Dahlia would scream during feedings, and she would only eat if I walked with her while singing. Our first plan of attack involved placing wedges in the cribs. We also kept the babies at a 45-degree angle while feeding, and we made sure to sit them up for a while (in swings or Boppys) before laying them down. When these measures weren't enough, the pediatrician put all of the babies on Zantac (periodically increasing the dosage to adjust for weight gain). Because Isaac continued to exhibit nearly constant discomfort, the doctor eventually added Prevacid to his treatment plan.

This regimen seemed to be doing the trick. Projectile vomiting? Hadn't seen it since Johnny and Holly's visit in late March. Crib wedges? We removed them several weeks ago with no apparent ill effects. Screaming during feeding? Not anymore.

But about a month ago, things suddenly changed. Jude began moaning all night long, while Isaac tossed and turned and grunted in the crib across from him. Lucy started refusing to drink more than half her bottle without a lot of coaxing (again, walking and singing proved helpful), and the boys soon followed suit. In the past couple of days, even Dahlia (our most consistent eater) has stopped taking a full bottle. And Lucy has projectile vomited twice in the last 24 hours.

Since the current treatment has clearly ceased to be effective, the pediatrician is recommending that we take Jude and Lucy off of Zantac and put them on Prevacid. Isaac is going off of Zantac and Prevacid and starting Prilosec. Because Dahlia's issues are so recent, she is sticking with Zantac for the time being. I am desperately hoping that this new treatment plan will make a difference. If you've had a baby with reflux, you know how frustrating it can be to deal with this condition. Now multiply the exhaustion and feelings of helplessness by four, and you'll have an idea of what we're going through!

At least the reflux doesn't seem to be affecting the babies' growth or development. And I am grateful that we aren't dealing with anything other than relatively mild acid reflux—from what I've heard, things could be so much worse! I thank God every day for giving me such beautiful, healthy, rock star babies:

Isaac, Lucy, Jude, and Dahlia (clockwise from bottom left),
modeling the outfits my cousin Tiffany gave them

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

It's normal to us

A week ago, my cousin Glenda moved in to help take care of the babies over the summer. She's been helping us every Friday since January, so she knows a lot of the ins and outs of how we run things around here. She had yet to see me prepare formula, though, so her expression was priceless when she walked into the kitchen on her first night here and saw me mixing this:

A gallon a day keeps the doctor away!

Being first-time parents, Ted and I sometimes forget that we're "different." We just don't know any better until someone points out the freakish amount of [insert baby item here] that we own/use. More examples:

Bibs for 1 day (if it's not a messy one)

A basketful of burp cloths (enough for 2 days)

These diapers will be landfill in about 5 days

A day's worth of bottles, bottles, bottles!

You mean other people don't keep four dozen pacifiers on the coffee table?


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