John and Laurie Hansen spent last weekend in Washington, D.C. - just the two of them. It was their first opportunity to spend time by themselves in several months and probably the last for several months to come.
Shortly after midnight on Aug. 1, Laurie, 26 weeks pregnant, gave birth to quadruplets. Since then the Hansens have experienced every emotion possible that goes with having children. Their lives have not been the same since and never will be."This whole experience has been opposite ends of emotions. We've been very happy and sad almost in the same breath," John said.
John Christopher was born first, weighing 2 pounds and a half-ounce. Jason Kent was born second, weighing 1 pound and 14 ounces. David Alden was next at 1 pound and a half-ounce. Nathan Seth was born last and weighed 1 pound and 3 ounces.
John Christopher came home from the hospital last month, after spending nearly four months in the newborn intensive care unit at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. Jason has improved to the point where he may come home in January. Nathan is still very sick and likely faces several more months in the hospital. David died Oct. 6 after a nine-week struggle for life.
Laurie's pregnancy and the birth of the four boys has made the past year of the Hansens' lives an emotional roller coaster. Married for seven years, they tried everything to have children. Finally doctors put Laurie on a high dosage of metrodin, a fertility drug.
Laurie conceived during a time when doctors said she had a slight chance of conceiving twins. Eight weeks later an ultrasound revealed she was pregnant with quadruplets. Doctors immediately put her in bed, and she had to go on disability from her job at Brigham Young University. John, who is a part-time assistant coach for the BYU basketball team, had to take a second job at NuSkin.
At 20 weeks, Laurie was hospitalized. Twice doctors were able to stop her labor. But the third time labor came on too fast, and her cervix became dilated to the point that doctors had to take the babies by Caesarean section. Laurie knew it would be difficult to give birth to quadruplets, but she had no idea of what was ahead.
"I really didn't think they would be as sick as they were," Laurie said.
Since that day, the Hansens have spent most of their time at the hospital watching each child fight to overcome a different problem. John had a brain hemorrhage and now has a shunt in his head, a tube that relieves brain pressure by draining fluid. Jason had a long battle with broncho-pulmonary dysplasia, a chronic lung disease caused by long periods of time on a ventilator. Nathan has high enzymes in his liver and has lung problems that doctors are having a difficult time diagnosing. David died from bleeding gastric ulcers.
"Since they have been born, we have never had a period of time where one of them has not been critically sick," John said.
"At the same time your experiencing joy over one's progress you're anguishing over the pain of another," Laurie said.
In fact, John was taken off the ventilator about the same time that David died.
David's death makes it difficult for the Hansens to relax. They are constantly worried about the same thing happening to one of their other boys, and they wake up often during the night expecting the phone to ring.
"It's like the pregame jitters except you never play the game. The game is over a period of three or four months, so you never get it out of your system," John said.
"The most difficult part is now knowing the end product," Laurie said. "With Jason we now see something, we see improvement, we see a time when he'll come home. With Nathan we have absolutely no idea still, after four months, what is going to happen with that boy. We have a lot of hope he is going to make it, but how long will he have to be in the hospital and what are the complications going to be?"