The birth of quadruplets occurs in only 1 in 700,000 pregnancies, but recently, that rare event took place at a Fontana hospital.
An Upland couple has full hearts and hands after welcoming quadruplets home from Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center following a complex delivery and a six-week stay in the hospital’s Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Callie and Gabriel Smith had a complicated and difficult road to welcoming their four new little ones.
Already rearing three children — one 7-year-old and a set of twins — they wanted one more child. So, Callie underwent Intrauterine insemination (IUI), a fertility treatment that gives sperm a better chance at fertilizing an egg. Over the course of a year, she underwent seven IUI cycles, ultrasounds, OB appointments, a trip to the ER, and then to the Operating Room for removal of an ectopic pregnancy.
A follow-up post-surgical ultrasound found the four fetuses in her uterus. Panicked giggles turned into cheers and happy tears when the couple finally shared the exciting news with their friends and family members.
They were certainly aware of how unusual their circumstances were. Of the more than 4 million births recorded in the United States in 2021, only 148 were quadruplets, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Like most women carrying multiples, Callie’s delivery wasn’t easy.
“I felt 100 percent supported and guided by the various KP staff and doctors throughout the process. Even from month 1, I felt like they saved my life and the lives of my babies,” said Callie. “I felt like every doctor and nurse in the NICU had our best interest at heart.”
On June 16, Callie and Gabriel welcomed Selah, Ezra, Norah and Abigail into the world.
Callie was glad to talk about the delivery experience and how prepared the team was.
“Even in the delivery room, there was a team for each child. They had been practicing the delivery ahead of time. It felt like they had the process down perfectly. Positive communication. Went off without a hitch. We had so many fears and the professionalism of all the staff was reassuring. Felt supported through every step. We were given the confidence to get across the finish line,” she said.
The babies were born at just 31 weeks (about seven months) gestation, and it took a village to make the births a success.
Since they were nine weeks early, each newborn had a dedicated team of NICU nurses, physicians, and respiratory therapists on hand in the operating room to provide them with the immediate care they would need after birth.
According to Dr. Huy Truong, chief of neonatology, there were more than 15 medical staffers in the delivery room when the quads were born, including two obstetricians, four neonatologists (physicians who are specialists in caring for critically ill newborns), four NICU nurses, and four respiratory therapists. The respiratory therapists were on hand to provide respiratory support for the infants, as frequently the lungs are not fully developed in premature babies.
Even after birth, each one of the babies had a dedicated team of physicians, nurses, respiratory and occupational therapists in the NICU caring for them.
“The delivery could not have gone better. After all the routine preparation and other precautions, it all occurred without any hiccups,” said Dr. Truong.
The care of these quadruplets was well-coordinated.
“Caring for the family’s four babies certainly highlights the unwavering dedication and team effort in providing exceptional care. Helping our babies thrive and having them go home with their parents is the greatest blessing and gift we can give to our families,” the doctor said.
For seven weeks, Callie and Gabriel made the trip to Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center to watch their four babies grow outside the womb. They celebrated each milestone, such as when they were weaned off their oxygen tanks, moved to an open crib, started to take a bottle, and when Callie was able to hold all four of her babies at the same time.
They remained in the NICU to gain weight, improve breathing, and learn to feed from a bottle. The first two babies were able to go home after six weeks, and the last two after seven weeks.
During the 42 days (about one and a half months) the quadruplets were in the NICU, they continued to gain strength and were finally ready to go home and meet their big sister and the twins in early August.
“We are grateful to finally have all of our children under one roof,” said Gabriel, the quadruplets’ father. “We are so excited to watch them become their own people, and to see what the future holds for our family.”