Wyatt’s story was even rockier than his brother’s!
Wyatt did remarkably well for the first week, which was amazing since he was the smallest of the quads, weighing only 1 lb 2oz at birth. But within the first week, Wyatt developed what to you and I would have been a minor cold; for him, it was almost deadly. He was put on a special ventilator, a high-frequency oscillator that made his chest breathe in and out as fast as a humming bird’s wings flap. Shortly thereafter, he developed intracerebral hemorrhages (Grade III on the L and Grade IV on the R); the news was devastating. We were told that these tiny babies do not often survive the trauma of these bleeds, and if they do, may have lives severely impacted. The bleeds ultimately led to the development of hydrocephalus, for which Wyatt had to undergo serial intraventricular taps (the NICU team would insert a long needle through his head/soft spot and drain fluid from his ventricles). He had his first brain surgery at around 3wks of life to insert a reservoir to make the daily tapping of fluid more palatable for him, but unfortunately, the reservoir eventually became infected leading to Wyatt’s development of bacterial meningitis, a veritable death sentence.
The diagnosis came over the 4th of July weekend of 2010 and was filled with uncertainty; poor Wyatt had seizures and tremendous difficulty breathing and maintaining appropriate oxygen levels. But God was good, and our warrior pulled through to see another day and another fight. He ultimately has had about 8-10 brain surgeries, now with three VP shunts that drain fluid from his brain down into his abdomen. He was our last to come home – we welcomed him home after 198 days. We were told that he would almost certainly have severe disabilities secondary to the tremendous trauma his brain had endured at such a pivotal time in his development. But with prayers, the love of his family, and his own incredible dedication, Wyatt has learned to sit up and crawl; he has been the first to say a “big” word (‘bubble’!). He dances to music and is a delightfully happy and gentle boy.
Who can say what difficulties either of the boys will encounter as they continue to grow but I can say that just seeing them alive gives me so much joy, to see them accomplish even small things so much hope, and to look back at from where they came, so much faith. Thankfully, Edda and Lily had easier journeys than their brothers…
As can be the case in micro-preemie multiples, some babies do better than their other siblings and we were told that girls usually do better than boys. That held true with Anne and Rob’s quads: their girls were given the gift of less difficult hospital courses. They were spared the multiple surgeries the boys endured, but both were faced with early and aggressive ROP requiring multiple laser procedures. The laser had to be used so early that the girls were given little hope of anything but limited central vision and certainly no peripheral vision. That said, both are able to see, for which we are incredibly grateful, and neither are at all limited in their daily tasks by their lack of peripheral vision. As our pediatric ophthalmologist tells us, these babies will never know a life any different and will not in any way be limited in their future endeavors. Of course, there were other problems, too. Lily became septic (overwhelming infection) half way through her NICU course, but again, like the boys, she overcame, survived and is thriving. Edda and Lily were the first of the babies to sit up and crawl; today, they chase each other around my daughter’s house. They learned like Timmy to play peek-a-boo and now play hide-and-seek around the living room furniture. They are starting with their first words and are wonderful playmates for our boys.
After nearly 18 months, I am so blessed to report that all four of the babies are thriving and doing amazingly well. Sure, they are small, lagging behind in their development, have eating issues (all of them are on feeding tubes) but their progress has been a joy to behold. We are so grateful. You all know so well what a veritable minefield the parents of micro-preemies go through. A year and a half ago, getting to where we are now seemed utterly impossible! We hope others can find hope in our experiences. The foundation’s mantra of “hope, resilience and miracles” really provided us all with a framework for surviving such a difficult time. We will always be grateful for that.
Here’s a recent video of the quadruplets playing in the bath, looking every bit as healthy and as happy as can be:
We at Graham’s Foundation are so grateful to Anne, Rob, and Tim for sharing their family’s unique and inspirational account of their children’s road to home. We love publishing real life stories of extreme prematurity, whether those stories warm our hearts or break them. To share your story on our blog, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A SPECIAL NOTE FOR OUR SUPPORTERS IN THE NORTHEAST U.S.: We’re holding one of our signature Micro-Tinis for Micro-Preemies fundraisers in Boston and would love for you to attend. For more information or to purchase tickets, click the above link. We look forward to seeing you there!