The world of premature and sick babies is still taboo. People don’t talk about what it’s really like to go through emotionally and how it affects your weeks and months later.
The Turner quads are just a month old, but they’ve already become used to overcoming the odds. Julian and Sharon had to go through four rounds of IVF – and spent all of their funds – to conceive them. Then, as their mother’s pregnancy became complicated, they were born by emergency cesarean more than 11 weeks early, each weighing a little over 2 pounds. And to cap, it all, James, Joshua, Lauren, and Emily are two sets of identical twins – a one in 70million occurrence.
Mr. and Mrs. Turner married in 2007 and when their attempts to conceive naturally were unsuccessful, they decided to try IVF treatment. The first three rounds failed but finally last year, after spending a total of £40,000, 36-year-old Mrs. Turner fell pregnant at the fourth attempt. Until the 12-week scan, the couple, from Upper Lambourn, Berkshire, believed they were having only one baby.
When nurses revealed they were expecting quadruplets, sales director Mr. Turner, 43, and his wife were overjoyed – and stunned.
‘I just couldn’t believe it. It was like it was a dream,’ said Mrs. Turner, a foreign exchange team leader at Heathrow. ‘I was over the moon, so happy, but at the same time it didn’t feel like it was happening to me.’
But specialists at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford put a dampener on their happiness by pointing out some stark realities about the difficulty of carrying quads.
Mrs. Turner said: ‘They gave us three options: get rid of all of them, get rid of two of them, or keep them. There was no way we could get rid of them. We were happy to let nature take its course.’ Then during a routine check-up last month, doctors found that Mrs. Turner, who had not been due to give birth until June 13, had pre-eclampsia – a dangerously high blood pressure complication – and a low blood platelet count.
Doctors performed an emergency cesarean. ‘There were no guarantees but they said they hoped they would all survive and be okay,’ said Mrs. Turner, who was 29 weeks into her pregnancy.
James came in first, weighing 2lb 4oz, followed by Joshua, who weighed 2lb 4oz, Lauren, who weighed 2lb 6oz, and Emily, who weighed 2lb 4oz.
‘It was slightly like an out-of-body experience, being there and seeing it was incredible,’ said Mr. Turner, who was there for the deliveries.
I was mostly excited, but I was worried about how everything would turn out. It was wonderful that they were sobbing and out in public, but there was still a long way to go.’
Mrs. Turner said: ‘What was hard for me was that I couldn’t see the babies until the day after. I heard each one crying as they came out and then they got whisked away and checked over and taken to the special care baby unit.’
On the second night after they were born, both the boys developed difficulties breathing but quickly recovered.
‘After approximately day five or day six, we began to feel a little more positive,’ Mr. Turner recalled.
Within weeks, the couple expects to be able to take their quads home from the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading’s special infant ward.
‘We are overjoyed, words can’t explain the sensation,’ said Mr. Turner, who is one of the triplets. It’s all good news at this point. They are doing well and are growing in size and strength, which is the most important factor. We’ll get them home eventually.’
They are confident of coping with the demands of mass late-night feeds and nappy changes. Now, the twins are slightly delayed in hitting the usual milestones, but their mum has high hopes for the future.