Any trepidation or fear we have is overwhelmed by the love we have for our kids. —Anthony Consolo
MURRAY — Anthony Consolo clearly remembers what he discovered the night he took his newly pregnant wife to the emergency room.
"It was a bit of shock mixed with excitement," he said. "A dash of disbelief with a quart of exhilaration. But I think the doctor was more shocked than I was."
It was only then that he definitively learned the couple was having a baby. And another baby. And another. And another. He and his wife, Natalie, without the help of any fertility treatment, conceived quadruplets.
Natalie Consolo said she noticed some spotting early on and feared she was having a miscarriage. Instead, the trip to the emergency room revealed that their family of three, including daughter Dorothy, 22 months, would soon become a family of seven.
"We are thrilled," Anthony Consolo said. "We see it as a blessing. A great opportunity to bring four babies into the world at the same time. Any trepidation or fear we have is overwhelmed by the love we have for our kids."
Sitting together in Natalie Consolo's hospital room Tuesday at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray on a day devoted to love, the couple appeared a more powerful picture of it than any Valentine's Day greeting card. Too uncomfortable to conduct a full interview, Natalie Consolo and her husband said she is determined to carry the babies as long as possible before delivery.
"Every day they're in there, it's three days that they're not in intensive care," Anthony Consolo said, his hand on his wife's stomach. "We know the babies are going to be born healthy, born strong and they have a fantastic mom that they're coming from."
Dr. Cara Heuser, a maternal fetal medicine specialist and Natalie Consolo's doctor, said the chance of conceiving quadruplets is 1 in 500,000. Ninety percent of those who do conceive quadruplets do so with the assistance of medical technology.
Heuser said the average gestation for a quadruplet pregnancy is 30 weeks. Natalie Consolo hit the 31-week mark on Monday.
"Not all pregnancies make it as far as Natalie has already," Heuser said. "She's been quite a trooper."
The goal is to make it 33 weeks. Four teams have been prepared to handle the delivery. This will be Heuser's second time delivering quadruplets — the only two in the hospital's history.
"I think we'll be ready and we're excited to meet them," Heuser said.
Anthony Consolo has been charged with making sure the family is ready for them as well. He said he had the foresight to buy cribs on the day after Thanksgiving to get a good deal, but the couple still needs car seats and a quadruple stroller.
"The home is still unpacked; the cribs are still in the boxes," he said. "Taking care of those things is going to be secondary until she gives birth to those babies and then I'm going to be building cribs for two days straight."
The couple was married three years ago, on Feb. 7, 2009. They met through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and though Anthony was living in Los Angeles and Natalie was in Utah during the couple's courtship, Anthony Consolo said he knew it was the real thing and relocated.
Natalie Consolo was working as a microbiologist, but after their first child, Dorothy, was born, the couple decided Natalie Consolo should stay home to raise her. Anthony Consolo said they were "comfortable" when they had two incomes, but had to make adjustments to allow Natalie to stay home. They sold their home and started renting a two-bedroom place in Provo. Anthony found work as a restaurant manager that provided better insurance.
"We felt very guided and inspired for her to quit her job and for me to find another job, because without that insurance, we'd be up a creek," he said.
Early on in her pregnancy, the couple said a doctor talked to them about "selective reduction." The couple said it went against their beliefs and Natalie Consolo had faith they would be fine.
The couple was helped out immediately by those in the Bonneville 5th Ward in Provo, Anthony Consolo said. Bishop Steve Breinholt said most of the credit went to the Relief Society, which went "all out" once they heard the news.
"Everybody was really excited when they found out," Breinholt said. "(The Relief Society) brought meals came over … We did a couple of things to bring church to them instead of them coming to church."
They were also there in January, when the couple decided to purchase a home in northern Utah with four bedrooms on a fenced acre of land where they hope to one day keep sheep and chickens. Natalie Consolo was in the hospital when Anthony Consolo chose the home and made the move and she hasn't seen it.
"She's a very trusting wife," he said.
For the time being, the hospital room is the couple's home. Dorothy has been staying with Natalie Consolo's parents while Anthony Consolo has spent the last six weeks sleeping on a couch in the hospital and managing to stay close to his wife's bedside while still working 50- to 60-hour weeks.
For Valentine's Day, he bought his wife the newest Twilight DVD and a box of candy, among other things.
"Those few items cannot compare to what she's given me every day, which is strength and which is love," Anthony Consolo said. "We feel like we're made for each other because of this."
They're preparing themselves for the day when Lucille, Anabell, Charlotte and Daniel are born. That's when their lives consist of five children under the age of two and they undertake 60 daily diaper changes — using cloth diapers, they said.
Until then, they're counting their blessings.
"The fact that she's come this far is a complete answer to prayer," Anthony Consolo said. "We can't fathom exactly everything that lies ahead. There's going to be sleepless nights. There’re going to be a lot of messes to clean up. We've basically just prepared by bettering ourselves."