Life with Quadruplets at Home
By Rebecca Ishum
One of the scariest moments of my life was walking down the hall at Saint Luke’s to pick up our son, Elijah, from the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit. What would normally have been a moderately stressful transition home with one baby was multiplied due to his being the first of our quadruplets to make the move. Within the next four days, Abigail, Elizabeth and Caleb were ready to go as well. After 86 days of commuting to the hospital to visit our babies, we were finally able to all be at home.
When we wanted to start a family, I imagined motherhood would begin very differently than life with four premature babies has proven to be. Other than the fact that there are four infants to care for, the most obvious difference between our babies and full-term singletons are the medical precautions that we have to take. All of our babies are on apnea and bradycardia monitors that alert us if they forget to breathe or have drops in heart rate. When the alarms sound, we respond as quickly as we can in case the baby doesn’t self-correct and pull himself or herself out of the problem. One of our daughters is also on oxygen to provide her extra support. As a precaution, the hospital had us learn infant CPR, but we pray that we never have to use it. We also have to keep them at home and away from large groups of people during their first year of life. Our babies have almost no immune systems, so our outings consist of walks in the neighborhood until they are a little older.
Because of all of the monitors and oxygen that our babies are on, our living room has become a temporary nursery. To make everything more accessible and to reduce the risk of tripping over the cord that our babies are still hooked up to, we also moved two cribs from their bedroom to our living room. Right now, we have two babies in each crib until they either start rolling or they no longer have to use monitors and we can move them back upstairs. I now sleep on an air mattress right next to their cribs so that I can be close in case their alarms sound.
The first couple of nights that our babies were home, they didn’t sleep very well at all. It took us a few days, but we eventually figured out that it was too quiet for them. After listening to NICU sounds for so long, they were used to sleeping with background noise. Common household sounds and conversations help, and at night, we use a sound machine that plays ocean waves to signal to them that it’s time to sleep.
With four babies, just feeding them is an event! Bottle feedings take about a half an hour per baby, so with a 3-hour schedule, we are constantly in feeding mode. Bath time is a similar feat—it takes us about an hour to rotate through all of the babies. The key for us has been keeping them to a schedule. While we let them sleep as long as possible at night, we hold them to a 3-hour schedule by day. We also have the rule that if one baby eats, they all eat. It helps keep us on the sane side, and the babies have started to expect a routine.
Many helpers have blessed us tremendously. They assist with everything from helping us feed babies to bringing us meals to washing our laundry. Honestly, there is no way that we could do this without the many gracious people who use their free time to help us wrangle our kids. We have at least one extra person here besides myself all day during the work week and most overnights. We are so appreciative of our friends who love our family enough to pitch in with extra hands!
Because we go through almost an entire can of formula a day, we mix it two pitchers at a time and warm bottles using a crockpot. Nothing is simple, but we love having all of our babies at home! We may have poopy diapers in multiples of four, but we also get to enjoy the preciousness of four beautiful babies.
Our house and lives have been overtaken by babies and their things for the foreseeable future, but we love getting to be parents to our quadruplets!
Quads by the Numbers…In a day, we use
½ package of wipes
60 burp cloths
Rebecca Ishum is an expert diaper changer, formula mixer and spit-up wiper living in South KC with her husband, Sean, and their 4-month-old quadruplets.