Sunday, May 13, 2012

1st Birthday Party

It was about this time of  night a year ago that things started changing.  The day was as normal as any that I had spent in the hospital.  An ultrasound showed that all four babies were doing great, all growing at a good rate.  I felt like I could keep going for at least 3 more weeks!  I was so excited that my friends, Anne and Sarah, had come for a visit, but as soon as they left, it started.  I was having back to back contractions, and was in a lot of pain.  Medicine was not making it any better.  And then, the dreaded Magnesium...I HATED that medicine.  I knew it was for the best, but never have I felt like my body was so on fire.  By morning, it was decided, by my doctors, that it was time.  So, May 14th, 2011, Oscar, Benjamin, Jaylyn and Harrison came into the world at 9:41, 9:42, 9:42 and 9:43.
I can't believe that these little babies, who spent the first few weeks of their lives with tubes, wires, alarms and sensors in their own little incubators, have grown so quickly and will turn 1 tomorrow.

We celebrated yesterday with a Dr. Seuss themed party at the Mulberry park...
I don't think Benjamin was feeling the best, so he wasn't really into his cake.
The other three LOVED it!

Oscar about to take another bite!

Benjamin is looking for someone to save him from the table.

Harrison kept getting so excited!

Jaylyn was the most fun to watch!  Look how intense she looks. 
She did more smearing than eating, but it was still entertaining.

So glad that our feeding grandmas could make it.
Elaine, Nancy, Vickie, Barb (pictured), Marlene, Betty and Bonnie
have been wonderful!

So many cute gifts!  Here they are in their new patio chairs from
our friends, the Ades'.

Don't Jaylyn and Harrison look cool in their new hats and shades from
Aunt Amy and Brianne!

Our wonderful friend, Brenda Thomas, made these adorable
smash cakes for the babies.
We are so thankful for all of our family and friends who came out to celebrate.  We are blessed beyond words!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hey Batter, Batter

 Last night was our first t-ball game.  Yes, I said OUR first t-ball game.  It was Lilya's first time playing in a game, and my first time as the assistant coach during a game.  Being the youngest on the team, she took up most of my time and energy.  After less than an inning and a half, I was exhausted and sort of glad that the rain started coming down hard enough to call the game.  The kids all did a GREAT job in that short amount of time...maybe God knew that we needed to be eased in to these games a little at a time. :)  I'm looking forward to our next game tomorrow evening.  (Thank you to my friend, Amy Perez, for coming and taking these wonderful pictures for us!)
Taking the field for the first time!
First time batting.
Listening to Mommy's advice
She almost got a "live pitch" hit, and then blasted it off of the tee!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Oh, the Emotions!

These were even our little bottles...
the big bottles take up more room!
Wow, I can't believe it is already time for this post.  I have spent the last month and a half planning a 1st birthday, and now that all of the details are covered (cakes, decorations, pictures, invites), it is starting to sink in what this celebration actually means.  This weekend, we had a garage sale, and sold almost all of our baby, baby stuff.  It's hard to believe that soon there will be no bouncy seats, no swings, no boppy pillows, and NO more bottles in the Stewart House...what will I do with all of that extra counter space!?! 

I didn't get emotional when Lilya turned one, but something feels different this time. 

Is it normal to cry at a 1st Birthday party?

I feel full of emotions...excited, happy, nervous, sad.

I am thrilled to be having a party that will allow us to get together with the many of people that have supported us over this last year.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again, God sure blessed us with more than just 4 beautiful babies this year!

This Saturday, May 12th, we will celebrate with a Dr. Seuss themed open house at the Mulberry Park.  We are expecting anywhere between 70-100 people to make it...ALL of whom have played an important roll in our lives this year.  It will be such a wonderful day.

On their actual birthday, May 14th, we'll celebrate at the park...cheering on big sister, Lilya at her t-ball game!

I guess there'll be no time for crying!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Call us CRAZY!!!!

Lulu and Lilya
I was on Christmas Break in 2010 when I took our miniature daschound to the vet because she was breathing funny.  The vet sent us to Purdue to have what he thought was a hernia fixed.  At the time, we were about 16 weeks pregnant with the quads, so when they came out and told me that it wasn't a hernia, and the surgery to fix what would save her life was going to be $4000, maybe I shouldn't have paid for it (or gotten the carecredit card to cover it).  I just HAD to.  She was my baby.  She was only 6 years old, but I had her before I had any of my children, and she was like the oldest child.  I'm surprised that the worrying I did over those next few days didn't end up putting me in the hospital.  She was in the ICU at Purdue for 3 days, and still had a chest tube when we brought her home on Christmas Eve.  I was sure that we had just paid and arm and a leg for a surgery that was going to fail to save her life, but she pulled through.  She was much better, and back to her old self for about 3 months.  Then, we noticed she was beginning to look pregnant.  Since she was not able to have puppies, we knew right away that something else was wrong with her.  By this time, I was being admitted to the hospital so they could keep a closer watch on the contractions I was having, so Tony was in charge of taking care of Lulu (the dog) and Lilya.  When it got to the point that she could no longer get up and down stairs by herself, he took her back in to the vet.  Draining some of the fluid, he was 99% sure that she had lymphoma.  It was then, that we made the very hard decision that we didn't want her to suffer.  The day before we brought home Benjamin, Jaylyn and Harrison, we put Lulu to rest.  It is still hard to think about as I wanted so badly for there to be something that we could do for her.  I swore that I would never get another dog, I would never go through the heartache of losing again...

Well, meet our new puppy!  Skippy Jon Jones-Stewart (aka-Skippy) is a full blooded Chihuahua...the runt of the litter.  The kids are absolutely in LOVE with him.  The parents...well, we are second guessing ourselves already ;).  Crazy how much having a puppy is like having a baby, and I'm thinking maybe this would have been easier if we would have taken all 4 from the litter!
Benjamin loving on Skippy
Lilya loving on her new best friend.

Go ahead, call us crazy!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Wow, a look back at this time last year

 It's hard to believe that this is what I looked like at this time last year.  Trying my hardest to keep those little ones in for as long as I could.  I was 30 weeks in this picture, and still would not completely let myself believe that all would be well, and we would go home with four healthy little babies.  The staff at St. Vincent Women's Hospital in Indy were wonderful.  I was very well taken care of in the short 3 weeks that I was there.
 I LOVED when Lilya could come and visit me.  I'm so glad that when we look at these pictures together, she doesn't really remember that I had to stay away from her.  She asks if we were sleeping in that bed together. :)  This was a little over a week before delivery, and I'm amazed at how NOT pregnant for quads I look here.  I guess that's why I'm sharing the one photo below this.
 WOW!  This is what I looked like 5 days before delivery.  It's the last picture taken that shows how big I was.  Amazing that there were 4 little babies in there.

I can't believe that just two weeks from tomorrow, the babies will turn 1!  As unreal as that sounds, these stats sound even crazier.  In the last 365 days we have:

 -changed aprroximately 8000 (yes, 8000) diapers
-clipped approximately 2500 fingernails
-clipped approximately 2500 toenails
-fed approximately 7000 bottles
-fed approximately 800 jars of baby food
-given approximately 520 baths
and the best of all
-received countelss smiles, coos, hugs and kisses!

Just notice that I said WE.  I don't just mean Tony and I either.  We are blessed with wonderful people in our lives.  We have wonderful family and amazing friends that we would be lost without.  Looking forward to celebrating this first year with so many!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Looking Forward to Spring

We have been lucky to have some really nice days over the last couple of weeks.  We are ready for it to warm up and stay warm, so we can take many more walks in the choo-choo wagon.  They look so cute in it, and are sitting up so well that we are finally able to give each baby their own car.  Now, if they would only make a motor to attach to is pretty heavy.

Friday, March 9, 2012

NICU Recheck

We made the trip back to Indy today to visit Dr. Escobar to see the progress we've made over the last 6 months.  It was a two hour visit, and I have to thank Anne again for taking the time out of her day to come and help out.
 Here is what we know from our visit:  Oscar weighs 17.2 lbs and is 25 inches long.  Benjamin weighs 20.7 lbs and is 27.2 inches long.  Jaylyn weighs 14.1 lbs and is 25.2 inches long.
Harrison weighs 18.6 lbs and is 27 inches long.  No, it didn't take 2 hours to weigh and measure them.  They also completed developmental evaluations of each child.  I loved hearing about how far they've come.  Everyone is on track congnitively!  My favorite part of the eval was seeing what they'd do when given a book.  They turned the pages, and their eyes scanned the pictures...I was so proud of my little pre-readers!The boys were right on track during their gross motor evaluation.  Benjamin showed them how he could crawl all over, and only fell on his face once. :)  They were very entertained with Oscar's own form of crawling.  They refered to it as the frog crawl...I call it the worm.  They also reinforced what we arlready knew about Jaylyn (low muscle tone), but I felt much better when Dr. Escobar talked about how high her congnitive scores were.  He is sure that she will catch up quickly.
Tonight, I was looking back at our pictures from the NICU.  I know milestones are a big deal, even when you just have one baby, but to look back at these 4 little miracles and think about how far we've come over the last 10 months is amazing.  I sometimes look at all five of my little ones and wonder why He chose me.  Tonight, I just want to thank God for the gifts He's given me.
Most recent group picture. (9 months)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Another School Visit

Poor Harrison is just not so sure about the whole
school thing.
 Today, we visited a school that we had never been to (well, that they quads had never been to).  We visited Mrs. Albitz's Avanced Child Development class.  Lilya was just 6 weeks old when she visited the class in 2008.  It is such a great way to introduce teenagers to what life is like when you have a little one.  Today, they saw the extreme...a set of quads, a set of triplets, and a singleton.  It made the small classroom a little chaotic as the girls in the class rushed immediately to help get the babies out of their jackets and settled into the room.  There were boys in the class too, some were quicker than others to get to know the kiddos.  It was interesting to sit back and watch the students interact with the babies. 
Part of the visit was an question/answer session.  I gave names, birth weights and length of NICU stays.  I loved talking with the students about the unconditional love that comes when you're a parent, and hearing the other moms talk about the smiles they get from their little ones when they walk in the room.  I also think it was very important for them to hear the struggles that come with being a parent.  You can't just get in the car and run to the store (even if you just have one).  You have to load up a little one and make sure that you have everything you might need for a trip out (bottle, diapers, wipes,etc.)  There are many expenses...formula, diapers, clothes, baby food.  There is not much time to sleep during the first few months when the baby wants to eat every 3 hours.
I am so glad that high schools offer this learning oportunity to young teens.  I see so many stories in the news of children that have been injured, and most of the time it is by a very young parent (or partner of a parent).  I hope that educating teens on the reality of parenthood will help them make better decisions in their lives.  We're so glad that Mrs. Albitz used us to help educate today!

Of course Oscar would be held and surrounded by beautiful girls.  ;)

Benjamin looks like he's checking out the assignment book and text book there.  I think he looks a little worried.  :)
Lilya was hanging out in the stroller enjoying some Dora snacks while the babies were being held.

I'm so sad that I didn't get a picture of Jaylyn with any of her new friends.  I'm sure that Mrs. Albitz will share some of hers with me, and I'll share them later.

P.S.  I couldn't have made it this morning without Nancy Doyle.  She was kind enough to come down at 7 a.m. to help me feed everyone early, get them dressed and loaded up to go.  I'm so proud that we made it to school right on time.  Thanks, Nancy!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Baby Food Stage

Playing after dinner.
In the last month or so, we started feeding baby food.  When I look back at pictures of Lilya at this age, her face was stained orange.  The only thing the child would eat was carrots or sweet potatoes...a lot healthier than what she eats now anyway.  Having to find things that a 3 year old will eat, makes me grateful the 3 times a day that I put the quads in the table and them baby food.  Here are some of the favorites right now.

Breakfast:  oatmeal cereal w/fruit (usually applesauce, mangos or a mix (apples, mangos, kiwi)

Lunch/Supper:  rice cereal mixed with a vegetable (peas are their favorite, but we've been working with carrots and sweet potatoes) and a jar of fruit.

They are working on drinking some water out of a sippy cup, and still take bottles 4 times a day (8,12,4 & 8).

Lilya has some favorites too...cookies, cake, ice-cream, pancakes (she would eat for every meal), tacos, chicken nuggets (from McDonalds only), mini corndogs and just about any kind of candy.  I can't really get her to eat much as far as vegetables, but she does love fruit.

Even though she is able to feed herself, I would say that the quads are at an easier feeding stage.  They have been so good, and will eat just about anything I try.  I'm dreading the day I have to find something that all 5 kids will like to eat.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

60+ Degrees on the Last Day of January...We'll Take It!

Not very often does it get above 60 degrees on the last day of January here in Indiana.  Even less often does the Super Bowl and all of it's festivities come to Indianapolis (In fact, this is the first year).  So, of course on this beautiful day, we chose to go check out the atmosphere of all of the Super Bowl hype in downtown Indy.
We were so happy to meet up with one of our favorite NICU nurses, and walk around for the afternoon.  I'm sure that you could guess with so many people in the area, we heard many, MANY comments on the quads.  The usual, "Oh, you have your hands full!",  "Wow, she has FOUR babies.", "You are so blessed.", and the not so usual, "Wow, I've never seen a four banger!", "And, I'm never having kids (random guy).", "You want one more (offering their own kid)."
Most of the time, I tried to smile and keep eye contact is the key.  Check out the memories we made.

The Quads with the Colts Super Fan!  We still love the Colts!

Welcome to the circle!

Posing on the circle.

The stadium.

Jaylyn stayed awake the entire time, and took it all in.

Harrison liked taking in all of the people.

Lilya was so good the whole time we were downtown.

Benjamin was our only fussy one...think he might have been a little hungry. (looks like I starve him, huh?)

Such a happy boy.  Laughing at me during a feeding stop.

I am so glad that we were able to get out and enjoy the day.  I wish the little ones were old enough to really take it all in and enjoy the events, but at least they will have a few pictures to remember it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

I knew the time would come.  See, the plan had been to have ONE more child.  If I got pregnant in October, that would be perfect.  I would be due at the beginning of July, and could start back to teaching at the beginning of the year.  Instead, it was November that we were told we were having FOUR.  We were faced with the first of many decisions.  We could go to Chicago and reduce the pregnancy to one or two, or we could take the chances with a very risky pregnancy of quadruplets (it was a very easy decision in my eyes).  I would work through December, and had all intentions of working until Spring Break (March).  My body had another plan.  Another decision I had to make...continue to work, or go on modified bed rest at home.  I chose to listen to my body, and did not work the rest of the school year.  Once the babies were born in May, I made the very quick decision that I would not go back to work this year.  I am so glad that I get to be home with my little ones, watching them grow and change every day.  Now, I am faced with the next big decision of this journey.  Go back to work or stay home.  I have gone back and forth in my thinking over the last 8 months, but I have made up my mind.  In every decision I've made so far, I have thought of my family and what would be best for us.  I have done the same now, and have decided that I will go back to work in August of next year.  I will soon begin my search for child care, as I want someone that will come into our home.  I ask for prayers on this journey.  Any ideas or suggestions would be appreciated. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Where does the time go?!?

Yesterday, while we were getting ready to feed the four o'clock bottle, I mentioned to our help that the babies were going to be 8 months old today.  She said, "Well, I'm sure it hasn't seemed to go by quickly to you, but I can't believe they are already that old."  Funny thing is, I'm not sure where the time has gone.  I want to take a little time to tell you about each of the little ones and their adventures over the last 8 months.
 Oscar James was born first, and weighed just 2.15 pounds.  He was the smallest yet feistiest from the very beginning, and he didn't stay small for long.  He loved to eat, and even when the doctor thought that they were ready to take as much as they wanted, they had to put a cap on his feedings.  He just wouldn't stop...has his mama's appetite! As you can tell in the picture, he had a head full of dark hair and a darker complexion than the other three.  He had a temper from day one, and not much has changed.  He smiles the easiest, but when he isn't happy, look out!  One day, when I was visiting them in the NICU, we had quite the scare with Oscar.  His heart rate jumped to over 220 bpm (and he wasn't even throwing a fit).  Before I new it, there were doctors and nurses all around him.  They held a bag of ice on his head, and the heart rate began to drop.  The next day, he had another episode.  This time, it required medication to bring it down.  He was diagnosed with SVT's, and spent 2 weeks longer than the others in the NICU while the doctors made sure they had his medication and reflux under control.  We have come such a long way in the last 8 months.  At our last trip to the heart doctor, he let us know that he is going to let him outgrow his medicine dosage.  In March, we will begin weening him off all together.  While he is still our feistiest, he is definitely no longer the smallest.  Weighing over 15 pounds, he still LOVES to eat.  This last month, we started feeding baby food.  Oscar will eat anything I feed him.  I am yet to find a food that he doesn't like!  He can roll from his belly to his back and back to his belly, and he uses rolling as his way to travel around the living room.  He pushes himself up, and looks like he would love to start crawling all over.  He found his voice at about 5 months, and of course says mostly, "dadadada".  He still has a head full of dark hair, and is such a charmer.  He is quite the flirt for an 8 month old!  He has a very pitiful fake cry and a very adorable smile.  My heart just melts now that he has started to reach for me while he's sitting in the feeding table or the bouncy chair (which reminds me...we've now traded the swings that were so popular when they were younger for the bouncy/play seats.)
Next up, Benjamin Ryne.  He has been our biggest from Day 1.  Weighing in at just 3.8 pounds at birth, he now weighs over 18 pounds!  His hospital stay was so easy.  He was on a ventilator for the first couple days, and the rest of his 32 days in the NICU were spent feeding and growing.  Things were a little different when we came home.  I noticed that he sounded more wheezy than the others.  At one of our wellness checks, I asked the doctor, and she said that his tonsils were bigger than the other's.  It didn't seem to be a problem until the first time we all got colds.  After a night at Peyton Manning Children's Hospital, and another trip to the emergency room, we now have a Nebulizer that we use when we notice that his breathing is labored.  We have been very blessed that this is all it has taken.  No more trips to the hospital for Benjamin.  Benjamin is also progressing very well.  He can roll both ways, and pushes himself up while he scoots backwards...can't quite crawl forward yet.  He followed suit with his brother, and started saying "dada" shortly after Oscar.  He loves to eat too! He really likes veggies, and makes the funniest faces when I feed him fruit.  He really likes to be with his brothers and sister in the feeding table.  He will sometimes look at the others and just laugh.  He has a laugh that comes straight from his belly.  It really sounds like something you would hear for a ring tone.  His favorite seat is the jumparoo.  He bounces until he falls asleep, wakes up, and bounces some more.  I can't imagine what all of that energy is going to get me when he is able to run around!
Then, we have our precious little peanut, Jaylyn.  She was only 3 pounds at birth, and now weighs just a little over 12 pounds. She is a dainty little thing, and everything about her lets you know that she's a girl.  Her NICU stay was very uneventful as well.  She came home at the same time as Benjamin and Harrison, just 32 days in.  Our biggest issue since she's been home has been her reflux.  She has always been a pretty big spitter, and of course, I worry since she is so little.  Just like all of the boys, she takes Prilosec to help with the burning, and since they are eating more solid food now, she has been doing much better.  A few months ago, we had First Steps evaluate the babies to see where they were developmentally.  No one qualified for services, but she did qualify for a recheck for her muscle tone.  I am really hoping that they come back soon to check her.  She isn't quite keeping up with the boys.  She doesn't roll over, and she doesn't use her arms to push herself up and hold her head up.  When I put her in the bouncy seat, she picks her legs up instead of pushing to stand.  She seems to be liking baby food better now that we've been trying it for the last week or so.  At first, she would just spit it out, or gag until she puked it up.  Now, she seems to tolerate pretty much anything I feed her.  She makes me smile everyday with the noises she makes.  She has definitely found her voice, and says things like "dada".  She will click her tongue, mocking me when I do the same.  She also has started entertaining herself with a gurgling sound.  I love to hear Lilya talking to her.  She always says, "Hi, JayRae...Hi, my pretty girl."  I know they will have so much fun together some day.

Last but not least, Harrison Kerry.  He's the baby of the group, and in the beginning, it seemed as if he would be the one to lag behind.  He was the second biggest of the group, weighing 3.5 pounds, and now weighs 16 pounds. But, in the NICU, he was on oxygen longer than the others, and had his food put on a pump because of reflux.  Just when we thought that he would need a longer stay, the doctors decided he was ready to come home with Benjamin and Jaylyn.  He hasn't slowed down since.  He and Jaylyn are so much a like.  They look the most alike (other than size), and they make all of the same sounds.  They are the only two that suck their fingers (no one takes a pacifier).  Harrison shows a lot more strength though.  He can roll to get to wherever he wants to go, but he is also pushing himself up like he will be crawling soon.  He is also standing on his own now!  If I put him next to something that he can hold onto (couch, bouncy seat, etc.), he will stand for long periods of time without me holding on to him.  I really think that he will be our first walker.  He enjoys the feeding table like the others.  He is a good eater, and flaps his arms to let me know that he's ready for another bite.  He has also started reaching for me, but seems to be patient when it's someone elses turn.
This is it...It's all I've ever wanted.  I am so blessed in so many ways, and I give thanks to God.  If you are not a mother to high order multiples, I can imagine how difficult you must think my life is.  It is not.  Sure, we may have more dirty diapers and a little more crying than the average household, but I have more love, smiles, babbles, hugs, kisses, laughs, than a mother could ever dream of! I wouldn't trade this life for anything in the world!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What it's like

One of the most common questions a mother of multiples is asked (besides, "How do you do it?") is, "What is it like?"  I thought I'd post a few pictures to give you a peek into what it is like.

It's loading and unloading four carseats when you want to get out of the house.

It's saving space anyway you can.  Even if that means that you go with the stackable crips that when the gates are down, look like monkey cages.
Four of everything!
It's turning your dining room into a functional space for babies...filled with a changing table, feeding table, rocking chair, baby seats, baby toys.

It's knowing that there are so many people that will help out whenever, wherever they can.  Having so much love coming in from so many different people.

It's knowing that crying is normal, and there are going to be times that not everyone is happy.  It's ok for them to cry.

It's finding ways to still get out and let the older sister have fun.  Again, it involves being surrounded by so many people who love us!

It's finding stores with big enough aisles that our stroller can fit down.  Knowing that it is going to draw attention wherever we go.

It's having furniture that you would usually only see in a daycare, but it looks much cuter in your house because it is filled with the cutest faces you have ever seen.

It's being contacted by complete strangers who have seen you in the newspaper or on the local news, and have been inspired by your story.  It's feeling like you personally know other moms who are in the same or similar situations even if you have never met them personally.

It's taking turns...getting shots, taking baths, eating, changing diapers, snuggling with Mommy, and the list goes on and on.

Best of all, it's the love, smiles, and giggles that our house is filled with everyday!

Is it hard work?  Of course it is.  Raising one child is hard work.  Would I trade it for anything in the world?  Absolutely NOT!  I am in love with these beautiful children, and I wouldn't want it any other way!