Our Precious Four!
Long Quads
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Are they the same age? Are they two sets of twins? Are they related? Did you use fertility drugs? We don’t get as many of these questions as we did in the beginning, but we still hear them occasionally. One favorite is "better you than me," to which our thought is "yes - better us than you." We have four beautiful, healthy, and very active children, and we couldn’t be more blessed with our wonderful gifts from God.

We started our lives together late in life. Although we went to high school together and even graduated in the same small class, we did not date in high school and were not high school sweethearts. We actually began dating at our 10-year reunion. We were married not quite 2 years later, at the young age of 30! It was Marla’s bright idea that we wait a couple of years before starting our family so that we could spend time together alone. Little did she know that we would go through so much before finally having a baby in our arms. God knew what he was doing. He knew that waiting was okay because we would never be alone again for the next 20 years!

Six years into our marriage, and after multiple miscarriages, many tests, and several surgeries, we still did not have a baby in our arms. We think the grandparents were just about to give up on us. The real fun then began. Only 6 weeks into Marla's 4th pregnancy, we rushed to the doctor, fearful that we had miscarried yet again. The screen did not show a miscarriage, however … but instead there were 7 sacs, and 4 of them had babies in them with solid heartbeats! The room was silent as we all tried to digest what we were seeing. Charlie finally broke the silence with “Is that what I think it is?” The doctor told us to wait a couple of weeks before rushing to judgment. He said they may not all survive.

At 8 weeks into the pregnancy, the doctor said, “Okay. Four it is. You need to reduce down to two.” Reduce to two? Didn’t that procedure bring about its own complications? Did we really want to take away two babies that we had tried so hard and for so many years to have? But – our fertility specialist was insistent. He said reducing down to two would increase our chances of carrying the pregnancy to term and of good health for the remaining two. We didn’t know what to do … until God showed us the way.

Charlie was teaching a young adult group at our church at the time we were going through this turmoil. He initiated a prayer request by telling the young adults what was going on with us and asking that they pray for guidance. There was a young girl there that night – attending for the first time – who stood up and said, “I am a quadruplet.” She told Charlie that her mother was very involved in support groups for mothers of multiples and that she would enjoy talking to Marla. She called Marla that night, and they talked for over an hour. She pointed her in the direction of national multiples groups who specialize in triplets, quadruplets, and other higher order multiples. This family was instrumental in helping us get through this very difficult decision-making process. They showed us that it is possible to carry four babies to a healthy gestation, and that it is possible to raise four children of the same age at one time. We truly believe that God sent this young lady to Charlie’s youth meeting that night for the very purpose of showing us what to do.

That initial decision was just the beginning of a very long road ahead. Due to Marla’s history of miscarriage, she began partial bed rest at home at 6 weeks. Her doctors said that she would be hospitalized at 24 weeks no matter what. But – her cervix wouldn’t hold out, and she had to be hospitalized beginning at 18 weeks. She spent the duration of her pregnancy in the hospital, mostly on her left side. She was allowed to get up to go to the bathroom and take one shower per day, but that was it. Marla was on the terb pump and even experienced the dreaded magnesium a couple of times. Complications due to the magnesium almost caused an early delivery at 27 weeks – but thankfully, the children were not ready. Sarah, Zachary, Samantha and Jacob were born on August 1, 2001 at 30 weeks. The total weight of the babies was 11 lbs. All were born as healthy as they could be, given that they were 10 weeks early. Only two had to be on the vent, but were off in less than 24 hours.

Our next scare came 2-3 weeks later, when the doctors diagnosed Jacob with coarctation of the aorta (an area of the aorta too thin to allow adequate blood flow). Once again, God was watching over us. Jacob’s condition was discovered quite by accident. If not discovered and treated in time, he could have experienced blood loss to his lower extremities and would have been extremely ill. As it was, he had to reach at least 4 lbs. before treatment, then underwent heart surgery to repair the aorta. His surgery was at 7 weeks, and he was home one week later. They tell you to expect that your children will be in the hospital until their original due date (which would have been 10 weeks for us). But – our children did so well, that two came home at 5 ½ weeks, and two came home at 8 weeks.

Coincidentally, during the 13 weeks that Marla was in the hospital, producers on behalf of The Learning Channel asked our hospital staff if they could film footage for a Maternity Ward show and if they would ask as many of their pregnant patients carrying twins or more if they would be willing to be filmed. We were hesitantly willing. Marla was followed for much of the last 6 weeks of the pregnancy, including the delivery. The birth of our children was shown on a Maternity Ward show called “Baby Boom,” which first aired on The Learning Channel in January of 2002. Thank you Daniel Bernstein and Jeanny Tsai for this awesome footage!

Our children are the absolute joy of our lives. To our wonder and amazement, they are doing everything that happy, healthy and very active children their age should be doing. Praise God! To expectant mothers out there, we say to you … It can be done! You are all special, chosen mothers of multiples! And to those that would say, “Better you than me!”, we all say, “Exactly – better us than you!”

We would not be where we are today without the wonderful help and prayers from so many family members, friends, and even prayers from people we have never met. We would like to say a special thank you to Dr. Tim Norwood, Dr. Frank Andersen, Dr. John Putman, all of the exceptional nurses and staff at Baylor hospital, including those serving the high-risk pregnancy patients and most especially the Baylor NICU doctors, nurses and staff, as well as all of the exceptional doctors, nurses and staff at Children’s Hospital. We would also like to say a special thank you to all of our friends at Collin Creek Community Church, most especially all of the volunteers who stayed overnight with us for the first 7 months after the babies came home. Our love, appreciation, and thank you also goes to Papa and Nana (our parents) for allowing us to invade your home for the first 3 ½ years of our children’s lives … what a tremendous gift! Equally, our love, appreciation, and thank you goes to Gram (Marla’s mother) for visiting every month and taking care of Marla during the pregnancy and then all of us after their birth … you are a special Gram! And our lives wouldn’t be complete without the love, prayers, and much needed help from Grandpa, Bob-Bob, GranJan, Aunt Mary, and all of our other family members and friends (too many to name). Aunt Ruth – you are our angel, and our extreme appreciation, love and prayers are with you always!

The Long Family

We can be reached at longquads@yahoo.com