Ogema quads all healthy, happy for first birthday
Margo and Matt Jensen drive a larger than average van. They push a larger than average stroller. They have a tighter than average nursery, and they have larger than life 1-year-olds to explain all the larger than average things in their lives.
Taelyn, Kade, Hoyt and Avery turned 1 on Aug. 21. And while the Ogema quads struggled a year ago, "their health now is incredible," says Margo.
To celebrate the milestone, the family visited the NICU in MeritCare, Fargo, to celebrate with those who cared for the babies for nearly five months after they were born at about 24 weeks, quite a bit shy of the typical 40-month pregnancy.
They spent so much time there, in fact, two of the nurses are Avery's godparents.
Strapped into their quad stroller, which draws a lot of looks, the boy-girl rotation fits. On one side are Avery and Kade, the intestinal babies. On the other side, facing them, are Hoyt and Taelyn, the respiratory babies.
Those, of course, are in reference to the problems they had when they were born.
A better reason for the separation, though, is that Hoyt and Taelyn are pegged the "toy stealers."
In spite of all the surgeries and touch-and-go situations after they were born, the quads are healthy and happy now. Taelyn is still on oxygen to help her lungs, but she has a medical appointment in October, and Margo said hopefully she'll be off the oxygen after that.
When the Jensens finally were able to bring their babies home -- Avery, Hoyt and Kade on Jan. 21 and Taelyn on Feb. 5 -- Margo said she enjoyed a lot of help.
For several months, she had family, friends and volunteers from their church with her, at least three of them, sometime four, including herself.
"It's gone really, really well. I've been by myself since June," she said.
With the living room fenced off, the kids like to be on the floor playing and crawling.
But that's not to say it doesn't get hectic either.
"When you're changing a diaper and someone else thinks they need to be held," she said, that's when they can be a handful.
And of course, like with any young child, when they are tired, everything is worse.
"But that's true with every kid, it's just that there's four of them," Matt added.
It's that four that make them noticeable though. Matt said, "We get a lot of people who come up to us," when they are out around town, thanks to their Caringbridge Web site.
"I thought those 89,000 hits were from my mom," he added with a laugh.
Besides a stroller built for four, and four cribs in one small bedroom -- there is just a path between them -- the Jensens also have a unique, kidney-shaped table, where the quads can all be seated together rather than sitting in individual highchairs.
As for housing all the extras times four, the Jensens are in the process of building a new house. Located on the same land they live on now, their house will swell from about 1,000 square feet to 4,000 square feet.
"We never would have guessed we would have four fabulously healthy babies," Margo said, looking back a year ago.
The babies, while they are a year old, are judged on a development chart for 9-month-olds, which is what they would be if they had been born when they were supposed to be in December. So according to the 1-year chart, they are slightly behind, just now being introduced to fruits and veggies. While according to the 9-month chart, they are right on.
They also have therapy twice a week, which basically entails playing and learning to crawl properly, building muscle tone.
But the babies aren't the only ones learning.
"We've gotten trained too," Matt said. "Not every noise (they make) needs to be jumped at."
While it can be hectic to care for four babies at once, there is one definite plus, Margo said. Had they had one child, she'd be back to work and the baby would be in daycare, while this way, she gets to stay at home with the kids.
And while that isn't the plan at this point, more kids certainly aren't out of the question in the future.
"I wouldn't change it for the world," Matt said. "I wouldn't change anything."