World Prematurity Day

Years ago, when we were newlyweds, my husband and I used to talk about having babies like it was as easy as baking a pie. The thought of having a premature baby never crossed our minds, because even if we don’t live in a perfect world, we tend to create our own and so we never thought we could end up having a premature baby (or four!)

Life is unexpected, as we all know. For my hubby and I, life followed an “untraditional” route and God choose us to deliver 4 miracles and to show His glory – for that we are forever grateful. Because it was such a unique situation, we knew from the early days of my pregnancy that the quads will be born premature. How many weeks was I going to take this high risk pregnancy? We hoped for as many as possible. Thankfully, we reached all the milestones we hoped for and we passed the 28 weeks mark which was so important. I did get some steroids shots in order to rush the development of the babies lungs and some other organs, which greatly increased their chances of survival. No one knew how much longer I’d still be pregnant.

At 29 weeks and 4 days, the quads were born. Tiny little peanuts, 2 and 3 pounds babies, that started their lives in a battle. We were not allowed to hold them, not even touch them right away. We couldn’t see their faces for days because they were covered with the CPAP tubes or oxygen cannulas. Healthy babies but small and fragile and not quite ready for the real world.

Quads from Heaven <3

Quads from Heaven ❤

They all spent some time in their own incubator and they each had a special cushion that was soft and kept them warm and comfy. The incubators were covered with a large blanket, just to keep them dark. This way, they felt somewhat like in the utero. Usually babies move on to an open crib once they are able to mantain their body temperature; that happens around 34 gestational weeks, or even earlier. The incubator protected the babies from infections. A mother’s antibodies don’t cross the placenta until 32 weeks, so the immune system of a baby born before that doesn’t protect him much. We washed hands SO much. Besides that, we used hand sanitizer A LOT. By washing hands I mean a good 15-20 seconds of handwashing with soap and water, every time we entered the nursery and every time we wanted to get close to an incubator. Even when we were just moving from one incubator to another, without touching anything, we had to at least use hand sanitizer. If we touched our phones, purse, keys, a water bottle, pretty much anything and everything, even our own hair or clothes, we had to wash hands. It felt crazy in the beginning, nobody was used to that, I mean it was hard to teach ourselves and not forget that we always had to wash our hands. Even after we brought the babies home we continued this habit as crazy as it sounds. But we managed to keep the babies healthy through the flu season and throughout the first year of life.

Isaac sleeping peacefully in his warm and comfy incubator

Isaac sleeping peacefully in his warm and comfy incubator

It’s pretty scary to see your babies attached to all these machines. But it is even scarier when a machine goes off and the beeping doesn’t stop; that means something is wrong with the baby. There are many frightening moments in the NICU, everything is uncertain. As a parent, you would give ANYTHING to help your baby, you would do EVERYTHING that it takes to help their situation. But you can’t do much. Usually the nurses teach the new parents how to handle their preemies, but I remember that for a good amount of time we were only allowed to change diapers (at specific times that were called “touch times”) under their supervision of course. Later on, after spending a few weeks in the NICU, I felt brave enough to give my babies baths and both Oly and I were allowed to take them out of the incubators/open cribs by ourselves. Still, we felt better knowing the nurse is near by just in case we needed her. There are many things to be said about the NICU but thinking about those days that we spent there, is pretty hard on my heart.

Baby Hannah in her incubator

Baby Hannah in her incubator

Yesterday we went back to visit  the Northside NICU and say another “thank you” to the doctors and nurses that took care of our babies. I knew there will be a lot of emotions and flash backs but I was really hoping it will not affect me that much. It did… Even though I was there with my family, our four thriving preemies that are now 14 months and absolutely perfectly healthy and beautiful! Seeing that first nursery where Isaac was admitted right after delivery… it was very hard on me. Even after we came home, the thoughts in my head were giving me a headache.

Daddy next to Alexis' incubator

Daddy next to Alexis’ incubator

While we were there, many parents walked by to get to the nurseries where they had their babies. Moms of singletons that had emergency deliveries due to different complications, that were not prepared to bring a premature baby into this world. I could see the sadness on their faces. I could see their uncertainty and worry. There was a granddad in the lobby, playing with his grandson. He told us that his granddaughter was born at 24 weeks weighing 1 pound 8 oz. This micro preemie has been in the NICU for over 50 days now and she still has a long way to go but they really hope she will make it home in time for Christmas. 40 gestational weeks is a full term pregnancy. 24 gestational weeks is considered the point of viability and the baby has 50-70% chances of survival after reaching this milestone. Premature babies often deal with different conditions, some of them are treatable but some can stick with them for the rest of their lives. To have all four of our babies perfectly healthy is such a blessing and we know that only God was able to make that happen.

Kangaroo Care with baby Andrew

Kangaroo Care with baby Andrew

When you go through the NICU journey and have a preemie baby (or more), the only things that can help you from going nuts is a good support system and your faith in God. Many times the support system is not that strong and that’s just because people are not familiar with the NICU life and they don’t know what the parents of preemies have to deal with. And that is understandable. Without our God… we would have lost our minds, that’s all I can say. But believing His word and His promise, made us tackle one day at the time. He is in control at all times and that was proven to us. This is what the Bible says in Matthew 17:20 ~He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”~ and it is true! Instead of letting fear and desperation take over, we had our hearts full of gratitude and we embraced our faith will all our strenght.

Today is World Prematurity Day and it is special to us. There are a lot of parents of premature babies out there. People that never thought they will end up in this position. But premature births happen so very often. It could happen to any pregnant woman at any given time. But I am praying and hoping for less and less premature births. I am praying for the research teams and organizations like March of Dimes, that work hard to find ways to stop and help premature births.

Tonight, in honor of World Prematurity Day, at 5PM Eastern Time, Fox 5 News will air a story about preemies! And the story is ours! We are excited to tell the world about our miracles and how blessed we have been to have the March of Dimes Organization on our side.

Fox 5 crew at our house

Fox 5 crew at our house

Preemies are superheros!

Love,
Lori

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Happy 1 year homecoming anniversary to our super girl, Alexis!

Alexis Madeline Lupei ~ 12 months old

Alexis Madeline Lupei ~ 12 months old

I wish I would have taken time, a year ago, to put my thoughts down and write about one of the most amazing days of our lives, when the last baby in the NICU, finally came home. There was an overwhelming amount of mixed feelings from happiness to uncertainty and so on. It was exciting to have all four babies home. A new chapter about to unfold…

I will never miss the days when half of the babies were home and half in the hospital. I wanted to somehow clone myself so I can be with all 4 at the same time. Once the boys came home, we were not able to visit the girls every single day. And they were getting slower and slower in learning how to take a bottle (and finish a whole feeding by bottle) among other important things that kept them from coming home. The NICU nurses and doctors have told us that the babies knew our voices, recognized our smell and it did make a difference if we spent time with them in the NICU or not. In the beginning I didn’t think it mattered that much or that the babies really knew I was with them the whole day. But later, I realized that they did know I was there, they did know when Daddy was there. And so this dedicated father went to visit the girlies by himself after work while I was home with the boys. On the weekends we always took the boys with us back in the NICU and spend a whole day there with Hannah and Alexis.

Family picture before we left the NICU. The babies were 70 days old

Family picture before we left the NICU. The babies were 70 days old

You would probably ask me “what in the world did you do 10 hours (or more) a day in the hospital?!”. I was SO busy that sometimes many times I didn’t even have time to grab something to eat! Taking a lunch break meant leaving the NICU nursery, because I wasn’t allowed to eat there. But my meals were also important because I was pumping around the clock, every 2 hours at that time, to get my body to produce more and more milk so I can keep up with all 4 growing babies. And even though it was hard and time consuming and I was dreading it, I was happy to do it because it was one of the few things I was able to do for my tiny babies those days. Along with that, I did Skin to Skin therapy (also known as Kangaroo Care) with each baby daily. This practice helps babies maintain body warmth, regulate their heartbeat, and gain weight (and also gave us the opportunity to hold and cuddle with them). I had days when I couldn’t cover all 4 because I needed at least 1 hour with each and in between that and pumping and trying to eat, there was just not enough time. I always felt very guilty for the days when I couldn’t do everything I planned and I felt very bad when I wasn’t spending the exact amount of time with each baby. But again, super daddy was there to help out, every day after work. He would stop by our friends house to shower and change (they lived 10 min away from the hospital) and come spend time with our little peanuts. At the end of each day, both of us would do Kangaroo Care with a baby, sometimes in the same nursery, and that felt awesome (we had 4 babies in 3 different nurseries in the beginning). That was family time for us. The time didn’t matter anymore; the fact that we were very uncomfortable sitting on those wooden chairs for an hour without moving an arm, did not matter; all the noises that the machines in the nursery were making on and on and on didn’t matter; not even the wires and the tubes that were in our way and all the things that were making it so hard to hold our babies, didn’t matter anymore. We were spending precious time with the most precious little people in the world. After that, we said good night to everyone, grabbed the laundry bags and headed out to get some dinner in the hospital cafeteria if it was still open. Oh those nights… when you are hungry but don’t want to go out and sometimes don’t even have the money to go out for dinner, but there is nothing at home to eat. I don’t think I made time to cook dinner in that period of time. Stopping by the grocery store? Ummm that would have taken away from the time I needed for my babies. Don’t ask how we survived, we just did. We were getting so tired of those long drives to the hospital (we lived about 40 min away from Northside at that time). We just wanted everyone home, under the same roof.

I feel like my mind is all over the place. While I try to stick to Alexis’ homecoming story, I jump to many other things, hopefully you can keep up with me 🙂 Glad I still remember these things, but then… how could I forget?

NICU nurses rock! Kaitlyn and Lori saying goodbye to the Quads

NICU nurses rock! Kaitlyn and Lori saying goodbye to the Quads ~ November 16th, 2013

Lori & Kaitlyn today with the Quads! November 16th 2014

Lori & Kaitlyn today with the Quads! November 16th 2014

Alexis took her car seat test the day Hannah came home, right before we left the hospital . At least one of the parents was supposed to be there for that so we were glad that she passed and we got that out of the way. We were really hoping that in a few days she will come home too. And she did. 5 days later Alexis finally got discharged! After spending 70 days in the NICU, our super girl was coming home! We took our time leaving that hospital. You would think we wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. Not really. We made friends and memories for life. There are some very special people that work there and had a huge impact on our lives and they will forever be special to our family. We took some pictures with some of our favorite nurses that were at work that day. It was kind of crazy 🙂 But thankfully we had auntie Ada with us to help out while auntie Lois was out and about, shopping for some last minute stuff that we needed at home for the quads.

Ready, set, go! A full load :)

Ready, set, go! A full load 🙂

My heart was pounding as I was getting pushed in the wheelchair, with my little fighter in my arms and 2 strollers with the other 3 babies were following us. My hubby and Ada were trying to get everything on camera, push the strollers, don’t lose the balloon, make sure we have all the bags and all the stuff with us. We were leaving the NICU for good. Wait, what ?! Really? Finally we were saying goodbye and talking about maybe visiting our Northside friends one day… we were going home. All six of us were going home !!! Oly and I no longer left the hospital empty handed but with our hands full and our hearts even fuller! I cannot help myself but cry just remembering those moments…

Going home!

Going home! November 16th, 2013

Our family, a year later, in the same spot :) November 16th, 2014

Our family, a year later, in the same spot 🙂 November 16th, 2014

We strolled our way out on the Northside Hospital’s corridors and there was the Quad Taxi waiting for us. Oh how I dreamed of that day…  I used to see families leaving the hospital with their babies, daily. Balloons and flowers, excited parents and tears of joy. I wanted that every single day of our NICU stay. Finally it happened! Our minivan was packed. And off we went!

Home sweet home <3

Home sweet home ❤

First night at home, Hannah reached out to her sister as they were sleeping. Love this picture!

First night at home, Hannah reached out to her sister as they were sleeping. Love this picture!

I would like to talk about our Alexis since it’s her homecoming anniversary. Maybe you wonder why I call her our super girl. It is because I feel like she fought the hardest throughout the NICU journey and even after she got discharged. This whole year has been a complete transformation for her and we praise God for answering our daily prayers. Each and every one of the quads has their own pace and their own way of learning things and reaching milestones. Like I said before, we need to give them extra time to accomplish things (because they were born premature) but also we work with them to get there. Andrew has been the leader and sometimes we call him the big brother just because he has a faster way of learning and figuring out things. It is funny because he is our baby, he is baby D of our set of quads.

Our little elf!

Our little elf!

Well, Alexis is the one that needs more time than the others and she is also an observer. Before she tries anything new, Alexis needs to make sure she knows exactly what to do (Andrew just goes for it, such a risk taker). And I think she is also a perfectionist (ahem, like her mama) because she easily gets upset if something goes wrong. On the other side, she has been a leader herself! First one to sleep through the night! (sleep training was so worth it!!) We were waking her up when the others wanted to eat (that was one of our rules – one for all and all for one). First one to say bye-bye and also wave. First one to get over baby formula and eat big kids food!  I have to say that a lot of her progress happened because of a very special person, Ms. Aimee. I mentioned in my post about Hannah’s homecoming anniversary, how this amazing lady works weekly with our girls. She puts her whole heart into it and loves our babies so much! We are very thankful for her.

Alexis is one of a kind ❤ She is so friendly and ready to play even with people she sees for the first time. She is Daddy’s girl (I think a very strong bond was built back in the NICU when Daddy spent his nights with her) and loves him so much that sometimes calls him “Mama!” 🙂 . We are truly blessed to have her as our daughter. Her sweetness is contagious!

Four peas in a pod

Four peas in a pod

1st Christmas

1st Christmas

IMG_3747Dear Alexis,

Even when you were a tiny baby in your Mommy’s belly, we knew you have a big personality because you were taking your space by kicking everyone all over the place! You are such a strong girl and we are excited to see God’s plan for your life. The first time I got to hold you in my arms, I felt like God is pouring his grace all over us… You transformed from this tiny helpless preemie baby into a strong, beautiful and gracious little lady. Coditza, you are and always will be our miracle baby, along with your sister and brothers, and we will never stop thanking the Lord for you guys. Mommy and Daddy love you so very much and we are SO proud of you!

Love,
Mommy & Daddy

Love her so much!

Love her so much!

Those eyes!

Those eyes!

6 months old

6 months old

Busy bee :)

Busy bee 🙂

Our little piano player!

Our little piano player!

Cutie!

Cutie! Look at that hair!

Out for a walk

Out for a walk in the Runabout stroller

March of Dimes with Daddy

March of Dimes with Daddy

Her smile.... <3

Her smile…. ❤

Coditza :) (pony tail)

Coditza 🙂 (pony tail)

1st time at the pool

1st time at the pool

our little crawler! so proud of her!

our little crawler! so proud of her!

Best friends :)

Best friends 🙂

Sisters <3

Sisters ❤

Alexis Madeline Lupei ~ 14 months ~

Alexis Madeline Lupei ~ 14 months ~

We wanted to do something special today, to celebrate this day. So we took a trip to Northside Hospital to visit our friends. It felt surreal to be there, to see everyone. Tears of joy and hugs and cuddles with the babies – pretty much sums it up. We stopped by the NICU first and then we made a quick visit to the High Risk Pregnancy floor, where I spent two and a half weeks. Loved seeing everyone and it was well worth going back.

Some of our NICU nurses, I wish we could have seen all of them today!

A few of our NICU nurses, I wish we could have seen all of them today!

Some of the nurses that cared for me on the HRP floor and Brandee (first on the L) that made sure I always had plenty to eat so I can keep the quads growing big and strong in my belly :)

A few of the nurses that cared for me on the HRP floor and Brandee (first on the L) that made sure I always had plenty to eat so I can keep the quads growing big and strong in my belly 🙂 

We had such a busy, fun but full of emotions day, I feel drained! Taking a peek through a window at one of the NICU’s nurseries made my heart sink… I couldn’t help but tear up because I will never forget those days spent there with our miracles. God is so good!

Love,
Lori.

March of Dimes 2014

Last Saturday we walked in the March for Babies (part of March of Dimes), for the first time ever! We are proud to say that we managed to raise $680, way over our goal of $500. It wasn’t easy but we definitely learned a lot and gained experience for next year. Why March of Dimes? Because our babies benefited a lot from this organization and we believe other babies should be helped too. Our preemies spent a good amount of time in the NICU and we remember clearly how hard that was on us. This wonderful organization is committed to help babies that are born too soon. So, to honor our Quads and to support March of Dimes, we’ve gathered a little group of wonderful people that wanted to join our team and we spent a great day together! Thank you, to all who participated in any way!

Ready to leave our house

Ready to leave our house

Our little (big) family :)

Our little (big) family 🙂

Loved our team shirts!

Loved our team shirts!

Team Quads from Heaven

Team Quads from Heaven

Our awesome team!

Our awesome team!

With our Quad friends <3

With our Quad friends ❤

Daddy & Isaac

Daddy & Isaac

Mommy & Andrew

Mommy & Andrew

Auntie Ada & handsome Isaac

Auntie Ada & handsome Isaac

We found our Quads' picture on the trail

We found our Quads’ picture on the trail

MOD Leslie 042614-2122

Our family

Our family

Love!

Love!

So blessed!

So blessed!

Our miracles :)

Our miracles 🙂

We were happy to see one of our favorite NICU nurses, Kristi. She took care of baby Andrew many, many times and we love her! Also, my amazing husband did an awesome job raising a lot of money at his work and some of his coworkers joined our team, so thank you baby! As always, you got my back!

See you next year, March of Dimes!

Lori

 

Lori.

 

 

Life lately ~ in pictures

The babies are gaining weight and that is good news! Our heaviest is Isaac – 4 pounds 1 oz!!! You probably think it is funny that we are so excited but it is a huge deal for us 🙂 Then comes Andrew right at 4 pounds, way to go baby! Alexis is next with 3 pounds 11 oz and Hannah right at 3 pounds 7 oz. We’re getting there! Oly said something really sweet the other day. The advantage of having preemies is that we are going to have babies at our house for a longer time! True 🙂 Here they are!

Big boy Isaac, after bath time

Big boy Isaac, after bath time

Mommy & Isaac

Mommy & Isaac

cute little feet <3

cute little feet ❤

with Hannah, after bath time

with Hannah, after bath time

Daddy love! with Hannah

Daddy love! with Hannah

Alexis and Daddy

Alexis and Daddy

Daddy next to Alexis's incubator and Hannah's is in the back

Daddy next to Alexis’s incubator and Hannah’s is in the back

Andrew and Daddy

Andrew and Daddy

The boys in their cribs!

The boys in their cribs!

Andrew without his oxygen cannula

Andrew without his oxygen cannula

Sweet Isaac! He did not take his eyes off me, he made me feel so special!!

Sweet Isaac! He did not take his eyes off me, he made me feel so special!!

Baby Isaac's IV. But he is our little champ!

Baby Isaac’s IV. But he is our little champ!

Little angel, Alexis

Little angel, Alexis

A smile from Alexis :)

A smile from Alexis 🙂

We still don’t know the final results about Isaac but so far, everything that came back looked good. No sign of infection!! The Dr. thinks he might be ok and maybe he will start getting his feedings again by tonight. I really hope so, he obviously is hungry. Thank you for keeping him and all the babies in your prayers! It’s amazing to see God’s work in their lives!

Lori.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Quadville

These 3 days have been the busiest days ever! The pregnancy is behind us already and we have entered the second phase of this amazing journey. All babies are doing good – Isaac, Alexis and Andrew are on CPAPs , only Hannah needs a little more help with her breathing and she is on a mechanical ventilator. But they all look great, each day better than the day before.

Last night I got to see all the babies for the first time and spend some time with them. I was a little overwhelmed… the NICU is a new territory for us and only the parents that had babies in there can understand what I am talking about. But just like we did when I was pregnant, we have to continue to take one day at the time and pray for the best. One day can be great and others might be a little less. The staff in the NICU is amazing. They were waiting for our Quads with open arms. The nurses on our level have told us that days before the babies were born, the NICU staff would call to check on us and see what’s going on, if there are any signs of the babies arriving soon. There were absolutely no signs and so the babies surprised all of us!

Today I got to hold both Isaac and Alexis, precious moments!! Daddy changed their diapers, so maybe this will become a routine 🙂 It’s so fun to hang out with the babies. But we are limiting that to family only, at least for now. I hope everyone understands that these babies need some extra time to grow and get stronger. We appreciate every single person that wants to know what is going on and cares about their well being and we will do our best to keep you updated. Also we apologize if we can’t return all the phone calls or messages. I am trying to do everything the doctors tell me to do in order to recover faster and Oly has been amazing, helping me and giving me all the attention I needed, day and night. My body is recovering well but we need time. So now it would not be the best idea to “surprise” us with a visit at the hospital. Plans made ahead are welcomed in this circumstances. We will probably get to go home in a couple of days anyway. The babies will stay here and we will come to see them everyday. But we do want to limit their visitors. Being preemies, they are very sensitive to germs and bacteria. Even we exaggerate with washing hands and being very clean and careful around them. But that’s how it has to be. These days were so exhausting for us! The nurses made a note on our door in order to not be disturbed, we really needed to rest. It is a very exciting moment in our lives but we need to take it easy.

Can’t wait to see the Quads tomorrow again. We are so happy that they are here and that they are real champions! What a mighty God we have!

Lori.