Parents of a young son and daughter, John and Ellen Staab thought one more child would make their life perfect. So they tried for another.
They got four: Blake Patrick, Brent Gerard, Shea Elizabeth, Shannon Noelle, born at 4:43, 4:44, 4:45 and 4:46 p.m. -- "one a minute," John Staab says -- last Sunday at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
The babies ranged in size from 3 pounds, 11.2 ounces to 2 pounds, 12 ounces. All four are in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit, with Brent still on oxygen. The babies will remain in the hospital four to eight weeks, but the outlook for the quadruplets is good, hospital officials said yesterday.
Quadruplets occur once in every 73,000 pregnancies, according to the American Medical Association. But the odds are far greater when the woman takes fertility drugs.
A year ago, when the Staabs were having trouble getting a third pregnancy started, Mrs. Staab's doctor prescribed a fertility drug. "I asked him again and again about multiple births," Mrs. Staab, 29, said yesterday. "And he told me it was very rare."
"Twins," said Mr. Staab, 31, a service manager for Ryland Homes. "He told us twins were a possibility."
Last July, about six weeks into her pregnancy, the doctor told Mrs. Staab she might have more than one baby. At seven weeks, a sonogram confirmed it. "The technician got very quiet" and kept peering at the sonogram screen, Mrs. Staab recalled yesterday. "I said, 'Are you having a problem?' And she said, 'No, I'm not having a problem. I'm picking up a lot of babies.' "
The doctor came into the room, and he and the technician counted together. Then they went outside to get Mr. Staab. "You looked at me," Mr. Staab recounted to his wife, "and said, 'Four.' And I said, 'Four what?' "
Mr. Staab said they've talked to other multiple-birth parents to get some suggestions on feeding, diapering and managing four new babies. So far, they've got three cribs and three bassinets. They expect to buy a van and hire full-time help.
Today, Mrs. Staab expects to return to the family's four-bedroom home in Bel Air. The Staabs' daughter Kendall, who turned 4 yesterday, and their son Glen, 5 1/2 , will help out.