Thursday, August 19, 2010

Follow BargainMoose to WIN AN iPAD! - A wonderful Canadian website!
Follow the link to enter!
I follow @bargainmoose on Twitter.  Anna, the site owner, posts Canadian only content, which is really nice because often online contests are for the U.S. only.  This way, I know I am eligible.  She also has some incredible deals posted from retail sites as well as links to coupons to print out if you wish to visit a store.  Check it out and follow @bargainmoose on Twitter or subscribe to her email newsletter.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Early Years with Quadruplets...

My babies at 3 months; upper left - Nicholas; upper right - Shannon; lower left - Kirsten; lower right - Erin
Those early days were doubt about it.  I would not wish the lack of sleep on even my worst enemy (well, maybe to them I would!). 

There wasn't a lot of problems getting sleep the first three weeks my children were in the hospital, obviously!  I did manage to get to the hospital from my home to visit them twice a day when they were transferred to the second hospital the second and third week.  The first time in the morning, and the second around dinnertime.  I spent time feeding them, cuddling them, changing them, and bathing them.  We used a stainless steel bowl (yes, the kind you put a salad in) to bathe them.  They were so tiny.  I had a lot of visitors in those early days.  They were very helpful.

I brought my babies home, two at a time.  First Shannon and Nicholas; then two days later, Kirsten and Erin.  Shannon and Nick got a ride home from the hospital in a limo!  A limo company offered to take them home in their limo in exchange for some pictures for adverstising.  How could we say no?  I just wished they could have come back for the other two! 

As I had indicated in my last post, even just having the two home first was extremely difficult.  I was exhausted, overwhelmed, a little depressed even, and in all the mix, everyone wanted to come and visit.  During this time, our local Parents of Multiple Births Association (POMBA) coordinated some help for us as the volunteers started coming.  There were a few that were just curious onlookers and only came out once, but for the most part, there were a lot of regulars that came out every week.  We made the upstairs off limits to the volunteers so that we had a place to retreat to.  As much as we appreciated having them around, we needed some time to get away.

Those first months, we had a crib in the living room.  Our house at the time was quite small, so we cleared out the room of couches and the coffee table.  All that was left was a crib and a couple of rocking chairs, in addition to baby swings and car seats.  We kept track of their feedings and diaper changes with a chart.  I'd been known to change the same baby twice and forget to change another so it was at that time we decided a chart was the best option for keeping track. :)  I still have those charts in their keepsake boxes.

Most of them time there was a volunteer or family member holding a baby but there was the very odd time that I was by myself to care for these four small preemies.  One afternoon, when they were around 4 months old, I was by myself, and all of them started to cry.  They wanted to be fed.  I went to the fridge to get some bottles out, brought them back, propped two of them up in swings each, and held the bottle for the other two while they laid on the floor.  It's easy for me to talk about so nonchalantly now, but at the time, I was a mess.  When some of the volunteers started showing up after they were done work, I called my husband at work and asked him to come home and get me out of the house.  He did come home, and we went for a beer.  I was in tears this whole time.  Choking down a beer and crying and saying that I didn't want to go back. that was an option!

I did make it back, and managed the next few months with not too many issues (good meds will do that for you).  I lost weight, mostly because I had so little time to eat, which I was not adverse to!  I was down to lower than my pre-pregnancy weight within a few months (naturally, it's found its way back since).  During this time as well, we decided to move into a larger home.  We built a four bedroom bungalow in a small village not too far from the city we were living in.  We moved in when the kids were 10 months old.  At this time, some of our volunteers decided not to make the 20 minute trek out to our place, but it worked out just fine.  By this time, I was managing a little better, and we still had the help of a few volunteers, and of course, family.

Soon it came time to go back to my job.  I was lucky enough to be granted some extra time off that I had requested.  I had to appeal, however, as they first said no.  My argument was that if I had four children born at four separate times, I would have had two years off (at the time, maternity leave was 6 months), but I was only requesting an additional 6 months off, for a total of 1 year.  Luckily it worked so I was able to stay at home with my babies.  I had also tacked on some vacation and lieu time I had saved up.  I went back to work when the kids were 16 1/2 months old. 

While I was at home with my children, I did get to see them take their first steps, utter their first sounds, first discover each other (that was the best ever!), eat their first solid foods...most of the typical firsts.  Because they were 6 weeks premature, most of the milestones were hit just a touch later than a typical infant, but overall they were very healthy and normal.  I was so grateful for their health even though things were so hectic.  To this day, I still feel the same.

Ahhh, going back to work was not the same.  I didn't want to be there.  It's not that I hated my job, but I also didn't love it either.  I wanted to be at home with my kids, but we needed the second income so I really had no choice.  We hired someone in the neighbourhood to look after our children.  That was the beginning of a string of childcare providers.  I hated looking for daycare.  I'm sure every mother feels that way; it's the worst job ever.  I felt really guilty that I had to go to work and have them looked after by someone who didn't love them as much as I did.  I really resented my husband over that.  I never verbalized it to him and I'm not sure it was fair of me to blame him, but I did.  He was irresponsible with money, and I truly think, now, if I had put my foot down, and said no to some of the purchases made over the years, I could have stayed home with my babies.  At the very least, only work part time.  That wasn't going to happen, so I had to suck it up. 

I'll likely interject some moments of their early days here and there in future blog posts, but in a nutshell this was what it was like.  Some good times, some hard times...but still happy that my babies were born healthy.  I kept telling myself "It's only a stage; I'll get through it".  Each stage I tell myself that, and that my children are only 'temporary residents'!  Eventually they will be out on their own, but until that time, it's my responsibility to make sure they get through life without hurting themselves or each other! :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Of course!

As usual, I got too busy to post yesterday but said I would tell you a bit about myself.  So many people have asked over the years how this came about, and as usual the same questions pop up over and over again.  Hopefully I can answer any questions that arise by telling you how this all started up until the (insert sarcastic tone here) wonderful pre-teen years, which are going on now.

I'm a 43 year old mom, who just happens to have quadruplets.  Three girls and one boy.  My ex (yes, I'm on my own now!) husband and I were having difficulty getting pregnant, so we enlisted the help of a wonderful fertility clinic in London, Ontario; University Hospital.  To make a long story short, after many vials of blood drawn, and self-administering needles of egg-boosting juice, I got pregnant.

I took a home fertility test because I couldn't wait for the visit to the doctor to confirm.  I woke my husband up at 6 am to tell him it was positive.  You know the response I got for what was one of the most exciting things in my life?  That's good.  And then he went back to sleep.  Of course.

So, after confirmation from the doctor, I went to have an ultrasound to confirm the "number" of fetuses.  There they counted 3 when scanning.  As the nurse was marking on the printouts "Triplet A, Triplet B, Triplet C", the doctor was scanning some more, and said "oh wait, I think there is one more".  He confirmed it so the nurse had to correct the printouts to read "Quadruplet A, etc".  My sister and girlfriend were with me, and as they joked about it, my mouth hung open for the next hour.  I ended up having to have an additional ultrasound a little later that day to confirm that there wasn't five, as they might have thought.  Good God.

Called my parents to tell them after I called my husband at work.  My dad had said that mom was quilting with a bunch of ladies at a friends house.  Later he told me he said to her "Are you sitting down?".  Ha...found that pretty funny.  My mom is very social and often spends time with friends.  I'm sure her bitch-and-stitch group had a lot to talk about that day!  Of course.

Over the next few months, I had many ultrasounds and doctor's visits to make sure that everything was ok.  I ate quite a bit, and drank a TON of milk.  I love milk to begin with but for some reason, I craved it even more.  In the end, when my tummy started getting very heavy, I had a tougher time walking for any length of time.  I was hospitalized from 27 weeks on just as a precaution, because our home was an hour away from the hospital.  Should I have gone into labour early, I was there for the babies to have full access to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU for short.  Six and a half weeks in the hospital and you get to know the nursing staff quite well.  They were all so wonderful to me.  One of the staff even regularly brought my favourite Tim Horton's treat; a chocolate croissant.  They don't make those anymore.  Of course.

D-day came, and it was quite the spectacle.  Fourteen doctors and nursing staff in the delivery room, just for little ol' me, although I wasn't so little at that point!  The night before, one of the interns measured my "fundus" or the measurment from your pubic area to just under your breasts, and it read 55 cm.  I guess a full term singleton pregnancy measures 40 cm.  I was 6 weeks early!  Can you imagine if I had to wait another 6 weeks.  I might have looked like Kate Gosslin did, yikes. 

That day my children were born at 12:27 pm, 12:28 pm, 12:29 pm and 12:31 pm.  Shannon came first weighing in at 3 lbs 7 1/2 oz (have to get the 1/2 in there when they are so small!), then Nicholas at 3 lbs 14 oz, then Erin at 2 lbs 15 oz and finally Kirsten at 3 lbs 12 1/2 oz.  My sister videotaped the entire procedure and when I watched it at a later date, I realized that when they cut into the amniotic sac that Kirsten was in, it burst out like a geyser...HOLY funny!  Then when they pulled her out, the cord had been wrapped around her neck two how it would have affected her if they had stayed in longer?  Erin was the tiniest but had the loudest cry, Shannon the chubbiest cheeks, and Nicholas was the largest.  People still assume to this day that because he was the largest, and still is, that he was born first.  Of course.

The following week was spent in that hospital (McMaster Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario).  The babies were thriving, and doing really well.  I went to the NICU several times a day to see them.  I cradled them, I fed them, I changed was all very new to me.  I was not used to babies and suddenly, here I was faced with four babies.  Mine.  To say I was feeling scared to take them home was an understatement.  The NICU staff were very helpful.  I tried to breast feed but just found with the fatigue, the media coverage and everything surrounding having quadruplets, was too much.  The staff did not make me feel guilty at all for ending up choosing to bottle feed.  They sent me home with preemie bottles, which are only 2 oz bottles.  I put one in each of their keepsake boxes so they can see some day how small an amount of formula they drank in the beginning.

Speaking of formula, we got very lucky!  One of the nurses from the research centre of McMaster, which is affiliated with the University there, approached me one day while I was in the hospital.  She said that two of my children qualified for a study in which I would receive ready-to-pour formula free from the company for a full year corrected age of the babies.  I asked if I could get all four of them on this program.  She said she would talk to the company, which she did, and they agreed.  I guess she poured my "sob story" to them about having quads.  The only thing with this was, I was never to know what the formula was or what company it was from.  I was ok with that.  Of course!

After a week in McMaster Hospital, I was discharged and my babies were transferred to Grand River Hospital in Kitchener, Ontario, which is right next to Waterloo, Ontario.  Nicholas and Kirsten, being the two larger ones, gained the most weight, and were sent home first at around 3 weeks of age.  I remember being so exhausted even with just the two of them there.  Remember that at this point I was still healing from the c-section, and my milk was coming in, so I was trying to dry that up with some suggestions from friends.  My boobs were sore!  I was almost asleep one night, when suddenly one of the two that were home started to cry.  I can't remember which one, but it didn't matter.  Whoever it was wanted to be fed, and be fed now.  I stood in front of the crib and just started to cry.  My thought was, "If it's this difficult with two, how the hell am I going to handle four".  My mother-in-law came in as she was staying with us, and told me to go to bed and that she would handle it.  At that point, was I ever thankful she came to stay with us the first couple of weeks.  As for the rest of the time, well, that's another story!

I think I'll save those first days at home for my next post.  Those days seem like a blurry memory now.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Day one of what I hope to be many interesting posts!

I'm just about at the end of my workday, so I have almost no time to start my new blog!  (Oops, did I say that out loud).

Will post later tonight from my new iPad.  I won it a contest through Virgin Radio (  Quite like it.  The only thing I'm not crazy about is the fact that I can't play anything with flash, which sucks big time.

This first post will be an introduction of me, my kids and my boyfriend and anyone else I deem important in my life....
(ok, have to leave work now!)