PERRYSBURG - When an ultrasound exam revealed Lauren Hablitzel-Lake was carrying twins, she and husband Nicholas Lake worked to wrap their heads around the unexpected news.
|Nick Lake and Lauren Hablitzel-Lake, parents of quadruplets. (Photos: Aaron Carpenter/Sentinel-Tribune)
It would be a tight fit in their one-bedroom home, and a tight fit financially, but two of Lauren's cousins had had twins so it seemed "do-able" to the first-time parents.
A little sentence the doctor added at the end barely registered. He had noticed something in the image that looked a bit like a small third embryo, one that had never developed. So he told her to come back 10 days later just to be sure.
"When I had that second ultrasound they saw quadruplets!"
Hablitzel-Lake stared at the doctor in shock.
Her husband "just started laughing. What else could he do?"
The couple, both 2002 graduates of Perrysburg High School, now believe that she was indeed carrying triplets and one of the three embryos split into two.
Evidently not content with the already-considerable notoriety being a quadruplet would provide, the babies ended up making their arrival just minutes after midnight on Jan. 1 in an emergency Caesarean section surgery at Toledo Hospital.
"They were the first babies of the new year born in Northwest Ohio!" said proud grandfather Chuck Hablitzel of Perrysburg.
James Houston was born at 12:17 a.m., weighing 3 pounds, 3 ounces. He was followed at one-minute intervals by Isaiah Parker, at 2 pounds, 6 ounces; the lone girl of the group, Michaela Ann, 2 pounds, 12 ounces; and "big" brother Dakota Perry at 3 pounds, 9 ounces.
Despite arriving 10 weeks early, "they're doing extremely well," their grandfather said. "None of them need any breathing assistance, and none need any IV assistance anymore. All the doctors are surprised how well they are doing."
"Only Dakota was on a ventilator, initially," said Lauren.
When she and her mom arrived at the hospital Tuesday for her daily visit with the babies, she was thrilled to learn that Isaiah, Michaela and Dakota have all regained or slightly surpassed their birth weight, and James is just one ounce away.
As tiny as they are, the quads are developing distinct personalities, notice their parents, who may hold them whenever they are awake.
"Dakota likes to play with his hands up by his face. James has the loudest cry before his feeding. Isaiah is definitely the quietest."
They are likely to be hospitalized for another six or seven weeks, allowing their mother some time to recover from her surgery 13 days ago.
|James Houston Lake, from left, Isaiah Parker Lake, Michaela Ann Lake, and Dakota Perry Lake.
"Every day's better, a little less pain," she said.
Using a breast pump, she is managing to provide all breast milk for all four babies. They are fed through nasal tubes, since simultaneously breathing and swallowing on their own is a skill they have not yet developed.
The Lakes, both 25, had known since last summer they were expecting four babies.
Lauren, a 2005 graduate of Bowling Green State University with a B.S. in Mathematics, is a junior high math teacher at Horizon Science Academy-Springfield, a Toledo charter school. In the fall she tried to start the new school year despite her "very high-risk pregnancy" but "I worked five days and realized I could never do all that standing."
She was put on medical disability.
"I came into the hospital at 24 weeks with contractions. They were able, with medication, to slow those down but I had to remain hospitalized and on bed rest" from Thanksgiving on.
Nick Lake, a civil engineer with DGL Consulting Engineers, Maumee, would join his wife at her bedside every day after work.
How long would the pregnancy continue?
Doctors couldn't tell her whether it wold be a day or a month. As it turned out, "I was in the hospital for five more weeks," she said, before one of the babies' water broke at 10:45 p.m. on New Year's Eve, necessitating the delivery of all four.
Her medical team was "very impressed, very happy" she made it to 30 weeks.
Together since they began dating as sophomores at PHS in 2000, the couple wed in June 2006. Both wanted to start a family right away, but nothing happened. After a year of waiting, they sought infertility assistance. "First they try oral drugs, like Clomid. then they go to injections. That's a little stronger."
Should their treatment succeed, the Lakes were told it would have only a "one in 1,000" risk of producing quadruplets.
Of course, that's exactly how it turned out.
The couple realize they have new mountains to climb in the very near future - financial, logistical, practical and emotional.
They've moved out of their 1,700-square-foot house in McClure and into the larger home of relatives in Perrysburg "until we get a routine, get on our feet," said Lauren.
They are looking, so far in vain, for a minivan or SUV model which can hold their new family of six, plus four baby seats and two twin strollers.
Never mind how they will pay for it, with only one income for the foreseeable future.
That's all secondary to the fact that they have four healthy New Year's miracles.
"I wouldn't change a thing," the new mother added.