The featured blogger this week is Jami of Mom’s Flight School. Jami is the proud MoM of 15 year old quads Matthew, Mark, Anneliese and Andrew. Jami’s blog is amazing, inspirational and a great reminder that we will survive the toddler/preschool years.
After three years of trying for a baby, how surprised were you to find out you were having 4?
We were pretty shocked! With our one, determined try at IVF we had 3 embryos transferred and were given a 45% chance to become pregnant with one baby, which was our dream. We were given a 10% chance of having triplets…quadruplets were never mentioned and had never happened at UCSF. God has a wonderful sense of humor and generosity! We walked around in shock for quite sometime. We were thrilled, too, and scared. We experienced some big lessons in faith and trust back then.
What was your pregnancy like?
I was so excited the whole time. After so long of never becoming pregnant, it just made me feel so blessed, even though I knew we had a long haul ahead of us, with no guarantees. To finally be pregnant felt like winning a lottery. Within the first week, the eating began-like a whole pint of my mother in laws green beans in one sitting! Then shortly into it, I was really sick, but SO happy and thankful each day. For a time I only ate things that tasted “good” twice…my 2 foods of choice (my stomach’s choice, anyway) were Creamcicles and Spaghettios. I hadn’t had Spaghettios since I was a teenager and my best friend’s Italian grandmother caught us and cursed at us in Italian. I was put on bed rest at Christmas of 1995 through their birthday, which ended up being April 2nd. I had a few months of severe “morning” sickness that lasted throughout the day. I went to the ER a few times for IV fluids, since the medication wasn’t working that helped me keep food and liquids down.
Once the sickness passed, I did better and continued to grow “Mt. Belly”. It was not a cute round belly like women get with singleton pregnancies! When I was on my back, it looked like a crazy mountain range. I had to wear a brace when I got up to use the facilities, which was pretty much all I was allowed to do.
Once, when flat out on my back, toward the end of the pregnancy, I had my hand over where my belly button used to be. Things were stretched thin and my abdominal muscles had split down the middle. I was just feeling the babies kicking around a bit, then all the sudden, I felt some tiny fingers or toes beneath my one of my fingers. I couldn’t believe it! I called for Steve so he could see if he could feel what I felt…he did! It was such an incredible moment, I won’t ever forget how that felt.
The pregnancy was cut short when Mark started having problems. He had stopped growing at week 25, then after a long 2 weeks with a lot of praying, we went back to the specialist for another ultrasound. Miraculously, he’d grown. I think they thought we’d lose him. A few weeks later, at 30 weeks and 3 days, his fluid was lessening and we all made the decision to go in and get everyone so we could try to save Mark. He was our smallest, born at 1 pound, 11 ounces.
What were some of your biggest challenges and triumphs in the first few years?
Surviving the NICU was challenging and going home night after night without any of our babies felt awful. It was a wondrous and heart-wrenching time practically living at the NICU. Two came home at 6 weeks together, then 1 more at 8 weeks, and our last, at 10 weeks old. It was a wild ride emotionally and practically. Thankfully we had grandmas, aunts, and some other great ladies helping us out!
Nursing was a riot. It took a long time. When we first got them home, they ate every 3 hours. It went like this for each one: nursed by mommy, then a bottle (for them, from a helper), then a bottle for me (pumping a bottle of milk, that is) and by the time they had their diapers changed, it was halfway to the next feeding start time! I only got to 4 months, then it became too difficult to pump throughout the night, I was so tired!
Potty training was brutal! We learned at that time that we don’t get to have a say in when our children would decide to “do the thing”! We thought we were so smart. How funny young parents we were. Our daughter was first done-no surprise from what I’ve heard. One of our sons took a long time to get it. Oh, the nights of sleepwalking into their room to change bedding! I got so good I barely had to wake up. I know there are a lot of moms who know exactly what I’m talking about. The things we learn to do half asleep!
Each day felt like triumph! Retaining my sanity during the toddler years also felt like victory. 😉
What is the best advice you could offer to a new MoM?
Hmm…I don’t have a lot to offer here, but this is a great bit. Make plenty of noise when you get them home and it’s nap time! My mom told me, “Vacuum (not in their room, of course) when they nap, do whatever you need to do.” My kids could sleep through anything as babies and still can!
Also, I must say to the mommies with little ones, cherish every stage, no matter how brutal it might feel at the time, like potty training. It goes far too fast, beyond what you can fathom, so savor it. I miss that cuddly toddler size of a 3 or 4 year old. Whenever I see one when I’m out, I just want to scoop them up and give them a squeeze! lol Every age and stage has it’s pros and cons! Far too soon, they will be walking the halls of your old high school, becoming adults! It hasn’t gotten more surreal than that for me and Daddy.
Did you keep your kids in the same class in school?
Well, most of the time there were only 3 classes to work with! In pre-K they were all together, though. They all traded of being in class together. My identical guys felt better together, so for about half of their grade school years, we let them.
Do you think it’s easier now with your kids being 15 or was it easier when they were younger?
It was far easier psychologically, but more difficult physically. Now it’s flipped for us. We wish we actually had psych degrees sometimes, especially for our son with Asperger’s Syndrome. He’s remained pretty challenging; it’s like having a perpetual 2 year old in some ways with the lack of understanding for “why” things are the way they are. His brain neuropathways for understanding cause and effect seem to never have formed. It’s emotionally exhausting at times. The other three are typical teens and all 4 are amazing to me!