Love squared: Ogema couple discusses life with quadruplets, who remain in hospital
After taking reproductive medications, Matt and Margo Jensen knew there was a good possibility they'd have multiple babies.
In fact, a nurse told them there was a 30 percent chance they would have twins and only a .3 percent chance they would have triplets. When Matt asked the possibility of quadruplets, "the nurse laughed and said, 'you don't even have to know'" that percentage.
After the Ogema couple found out Margo was pregnant with four babies, Matt made sure he told that nurse.
Margo said when she was only a few weeks along, "We slightly anticipated (multiple births) because I was very sick." When she heard it was four though, she was in disbelief. In April, only four weeks into her pregnancy, Margo was told she'd be having four babies. So she and Matt were able to prepare "basically from the get-go." Until she was 10 weeks along, Margo made weekly trips to the doctor. After 10 weeks, it became every other week check-ups.
She said she read everything she possibly could on multiple births. She knew there would be bumps and hurdles along the way.
At 20 weeks, Margo was placed on bed rest and at 23½ weeks, she was sent to MeritCare hospital because she was having early labor. She spent 12 days in the hospital, having the quadruplets on Aug. 21.
When she entered the hospital, doctors got her labor stopped and contractions under control.
"I can't have these babies yet, they are way too little," she said, thinking back to less than two months ago.
At 24 weeks, a milestone in her pregnancy, her babies were given a steroid shot to help speed along their lung development. A few hours later, Margo had the babies via C-section.
In the delivery room were 32 doctors, nurses and other assistants. Each baby had a team of five people, plus Margo's doctors and other assistants. That afternoon, beginning at 2:47 and following one minute after each other, Taelyn Marie, Kade Matthew, Hoyt William and Avery Madeline joined the world.
With that many people in the room, the Jensens said they weren't able to hear their first baby cry, but heard the remaining three. The babies were intubated immediately and stabilized. Matt got to see their children while still in the delivery room, but Margo, who had gotten sick, couldn't see her babies until the next day.
At birth, Taelyn weighed 1 pound, 5 ounces; Kade was 1 pound, 6 ounces; Hoyt was 1 pound, 10 ounces, and Avery weighed 1 pound, 4 ounces. Their skin was transparent, and thus started just some of the bumps and hurdles the Jensens would face.
"Right away it was really hard because we didn't know what the outcome was," Margo said. "It's overwhelming."
Since birth, three of the babies have had heart surgeries, and two have had intestine surgery. They all have had brain bleeds, Kade still having issues with bleeding.
"It hasn't gotten worse, but it hasn't gotten better either," Margo said.
"They're so little, and stuff started happening. To see them cut open and stick tubes in them is hard," Matt said. "There's stress, but the support from everyone makes it feel like everything is going to be OK, even if something bad happens."
With a Caring Bridge site (www.caringbridge.org/visit/margojensen) for everyone to stay updated, Matt and Margo said they have read messages from people they don't even know.
"It's so touching to know so many people who truly do care," Margo said.
After the babies were born, Matt said he was unable to hold or touch the babies for a period of time, because he was sick and didn't want to risk any chance of infection. But just this weekend, he was able to hold his daughter Avery "kangaroo care" style, where he opens his shirt and holds her against his chest, skin to skin.
"I could have done that all night," he said.
Margo said when people ask about the babies being born, she said "it's all there" -- meaning they had the hair, nails, etc. -- they were just much smaller than babies carried to full term.
"They're perfect, they're just small," Matt said.
The babies are still listed as "critical," and will be for a while longer. At 34 weeks, doctors can start doing tests on the babies to determine sight, hearing and other problems they may face in the future.
But happily, they are finally past the stage where they feel like "when something does happen, we don't feel like we're going to fall off the face of the earth," Margo said.
Margo goes up four days a week to see her babies, and Matt is able to go on Sundays. Being in isolation, Margo said it's hard to be told when you can and can't hold your baby. There is also a phone number parents can call 24 hours a day to check on their babies.
There will be struggles ahead, but each baby has his or her own issues. For instance, Kade isn't eating right, but on the plus side, his lungs are doing great. On the other hand, Taelyn and Hoyt are good eaters, but their lungs are struggling. The Jensens said they have learned more medical information in the last six weeks than they thought they would in a lifetime.
Thinking ahead to when they'll be able to bring their babies home, Margo said typically, if babies are carried to 28 weeks, they can come home by the mother's actual due date. Since she went in earlier than the 28 weeks, it will be by or after the due date -- which was Dec. 9.
"Our goal is to have them all home by Christmas," she said. "There are more good days than bad. That's reassuring.
"After we've been down the road we've been down, it'll be a good chaos," Margo said of bringing the four babies home.
While thinking positively, the Jensens point out they are experiencing matters no parent should have to experience.
"We're blessed. We have four beautiful babies, but we can't hold our babies," Margo said.
Milestones are different too. Most parents look forward to a child's first tooth, first steps, first birthday. The Jensens mark the milestones of their babies pooping or their eyes opening.
With all the concentration on their babies, Matt said the two have become even closer, going through the ups and downs together.
"As a couple, we've done a lot of leaning on each other. We've grown as a couple in the last few months," he said. "I've been worried, but never really stressed out."
He added that the words "thank you" can never fully be enough to thank those who have helped the Jensens along the way, from the hospital staff -- "you can cry with them and they understand," Margo said -- to the community and everyone else for their support and prayers and thoughts.
A benefit for the Jensens and their quads is scheduled for Nov. 2 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Waubun High School. There will be a free-will offering meal, silent auction, country store, raffle, games and a diaper drive. Bring a package of diapers or $10 and get your name in a drawing for a butcher hog.
An account is set up for the "Jensen Quads Benefit" at Community Development Bank, P.O. Box 38, Ogema, MN 56569.