Ellen and John Staab were blessed four times in December -- Blake Patrick, Brent Gerard, Shea Elizabeth, and Shannon Noelle. Since then, the Bel Air family has been blessed at least four-fold again by the generosity of friends and strangers.
"I was excited, but when I first found out, I was shocked," said Ellen Staab. "I was a little bit concerned about how we were going to make it. But I just feel like they were given to us and that was what's meant to be."
The babies remain hospitalized at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Towson, where they were born Dec. 29. A hospital spokeswomansaid one of the infants might be well enough to go home this weekend.
In preparation for the babies' homecoming, the Staabs have been busy trying to get their four-bedroom house ready for multiple diaperchanges, four wardrobes, and four times as many baby toys and accessories.
The couple, who have two other children, a daughter, Kendall, 4, and a son, Glen, 5 1/2, had decided to try the fertility drug Clomid in an effort to have another child. They were told multiple births were rare, she said.
When they found out there were going to be four babies -- three more than they had planned and were prepared to feed and clothe -- the couple began to contact baby product manufacturers through a network called Triplet Connection.
The network provides mailing lists of companies that make baby food and other products and sometimes assist families with unexpected multiple births.
The response from the companies -- and friends and strangers -- has astounded the Staabs, who say their house is starting to look like a one-stop shop for baby necessities.
The Carter Co., for example, sent free undershirts and one-piece pajama sets. Playtex provided bottles and pacifiers. They received four cases of Luvs and Pampers disposable diapers. Gerber sent coupons for 3,000 jars of baby food.
"We'll probably not have to buy baby food with our own money. It was very generous," Ellen said.
Relatives on each side of the family have thrown baby showers and given them money.
But one of the biggestsurprises was when John Staab's co-workers gave the couple a post-baby shower Wednesday.
"We decided to take up a collection. We called it the 'John Staab Four is Better than One Fund,' " said John Flaherty, vice president and manager of Ryland Homes' Baltimore division, where John Staab works as customer service manager.
"They certainly needed the help," Flaherty said, noting that what began as small collection from division co-workers expanded to a companywide effort that raised nearly $1,000. Flaherty said his wife and co-workers got a list of what the couple needed and went bargain-hunting for baby equipment.
When the owner of A & B Furniture Inc. in Beltsville encountered the shopping group and heard the Staabs' story, he made a donation, too: four cribs.
Maria Torres, manager of A &TB's children's section said the store owner gave the group everything at cost.
"They were so excited, it was very touching," said Torres.
Because of the generosity, Ellen said, "we've made out pretty well."
As forthe newborns, she said, "They're all doing fine. We've had a lot of ups and down with them, but life goes on.
"We're going to do fine.We're going to make it. We're just going to keep babies on a routineschedule and keep everything organized."