Expecting Quadruplets

The day we found out I was pregnant, we were actually going hunting; so our babies were true little Alaskans from the start! My first positive pregnancy test was at 5:00 that morning as we were getting ready for our day in the mountains. I wanted so badly to put it in my pack and show Harlen when we got to the summit of the mountain, but I was just too excited to keep the news to myself 😆

We laughed all day as we hiked, stopping along the way to look for wildlife. We were still in shock over the positive test, knowing that our lives would be changed from that day forward. But little did we know, we were in for such a bigger surprise! 👶🏼👶🏼👶🏼👶🏼

We told a few family members but generally tried to keep the secret until at least our first ultrasound. Experiencing a miscarriage before (which I’ll talk about in a later blog) made us reluctant to share our news, but we also tried not to let that tamper with the joy of this experience.

In mid-November, we had our first ultrasound at 8 weeks and 6 days. We anxiously waited and prayed that we would see a heartbeat that day.

We had a weird start to our ultrasound. The main room was occupied, so we were in what felt like a closet with an ultrasound tech that was less than friendly, which made us hesitant to ask questions.

I’ll always remember my confusion as I noticed what seemed to be multiples on the screen, but after seeing there were more than two, I figured I didn’t know what I was looking at. The ultrasound tech never led us to believe anything was abnormal. Time suddenly felt like it was in slo-mo as we waited to see or hear a heartbeat, the first sign of life that we dearly prayed for. I had to pee soooo bad that the tech finally agreed to let me go, still not leading us on to believe that there was anything alarming about what she saw. 

I wasn’t thinking much of it at the time, but when I returned, my husband had a unique glow to his face with a little secret. When I laid back down and saw what appeared to be multiples again, I finally asked “It looks like there’s more than one?” My husband’s face appeared over the shoulder of our tech with a smile I’ll never forget, as he held up 5 fingers and whispered, “Five.” 

Honestly, I’m not sure how to explain how it felt, other than it was a tornado of emotions. The excitement and joy that I had hoped and prayed for that day, suddenly mixed into a whirlwind with fear and disbelief.

After intensely observing, we counted four heartbeats and a sac that was completely empty. We left the hospital with a stack of photos and a ton of texts from our family, wondering why our ultrasound took over 2 hours!? We were so excited to call our families with news that we just couldn’t contain ourselves, although I was still hesitant to believe it myself. Could the tech have been wrong..? Clearly since you’re reading this, you know she wasn’t!

We were immediately referred to a Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) clinic in Anchorage, Alaska (an hour flight from Kodiak). Our doctor was nothing short of a miracle to our testimony, and we all believe that he was chosen to care for us and deliver our quadruplets. We had a phone call with him a few days later during which he explained that we would wait for our 12 week ultrasound to know more and also briefly educated us on the risks of high order multiples and the option to reduce.

We gratefully declined. I’m not granted the power to decide who lives and dies and it makes me sick to my stomach to think about which of my babies wouldn’t be here had we not given them the chance at life. We knew that God gave us these sweet souls and he would knit them perfectly in my womb. I felt blessed to be a vessel of his goodness, delivering life.

Amazingly, our lives returned to normal as we waited (and prayed) for our 12 week ultrasound in Anchorage…

…which revealed that we had 4 healthy, growing babies! It already appeared that we had all fraternal quadruplets, each with their own sac and placenta. Two girls and two boys! Now to spread our news!

Our doctor was relieved that each baby had their own placenta and sac but explained that we would want to carefully watch them grow. He wanted us to return to Anchorage at 16 weeks for another scan and then again at 20 weeks, when we would most likely stay until delivery. Our home of Kodiak Island does not have the medical capabilities to deliver or care for quadruplets, and we didn’t want to risk any emergencies. So we were advised to pack up some of our belongings and make a temporary home in Anchorage. We brought two of our dogs and left one behind in Kodiak with family. It was scary leaving home and separating from our family for such a big feat, but we found comfort in knowing we would return home together soon.

We pushed our fourth ultrasound to 22 weeks and continued to be monitored in Kodiak between appointments. Our doctor was so relieved that we were finally just a few minutes away from his care, if anything were to happen. He explained at our ultrasound that my cervix was shortening and causing him concern and that he wanted to perform a cerclage to be safe. We had a unique trust in his decisions, as we felt God worked through him. 

Our lives became very uneventful as we got comfortable living in a temporary apartment, as family passed through to visit. I was basically on house arrest, as I protected our bodies by resting. Our weekly ultrasound’s passed with prayer, grace and very limited concern. 

As we approached 28 weeks, our doctor wanted to schedule our c-section for 32 weeks as he felt that was the safest decision. The average gestation for quadruplets is 29 weeks. At this point, my uterus was already measuring 8-10 weeks over a normal 40 week pregnancy and he worried my body would become too distended at that point, increasing everyone’s risk. Unknowingly, he scheduled it on our 2nd wedding anniversary. 

We checked into the hospital just a few days before delivery to be safe, since my body was getting more tired by the day. I received 2 steroid shots (for lung development) and had a few ultrasounds to get an idea of where the babies were positioned before delivery.

Words can’t describe the morning of delivery – the fear that tried to cripple me but more powerfully, the prayer that protected us all. What would become of this day? 

By 1:00pm, we had 4 beautiful gifts from God that were each perfectly different. Suddenly every fear we had was discredited, and we were rewarded for keeping our faith.

I felt a breakthrough that day that I waited my whole life for. Giving them life and becoming their mother is the greatest purpose I’ll ever serve.

Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her. Luke 1:45