In early pregnancy, a visit to the sonographer is nerve-wracking and exciting. For Grapevine resident Jenny Marr, it was those things and more.
She’s still trying to wrap her mind around the surprise she got toward the end of her first trimester: Marr wasn’t carrying one baby, and she didn’t have twins. Not triplets either. She was pregnant with quadruplets—spontaneous (no fertility treatments), identical quadruplets.
The odds of that happening are estimated at somewhere between 1 in 11 million to 1 in 15 million births. Marr’s doctor came across just over 70 documented cases of spontaneous, identical quads in medical literature.
Marr miraculously delivered all the boys safely on March 15, 2020—the day before the COVID-19 lockdown went into place. The quads are now a year old, and Marr reflects on her life of four times the love, laughter and diapers.
First of all, happy birthday to your boys! They’re just over a year old now. When did you find out you were having quads? I found out I was pregnant September 30, 2019. We were told we were having triplets on November 11. On November 19, we found out we were having identical quadruplets.
Do multiples run in your family? Chris and I are only children. Multiples run only on the female side of the family, and we have no history of that. Identical babies are not a hereditary thing at all. One egg released, and then just continued to split. It splits and then splits again. You could have quadruplets, but having identical quadruplets just makes it even more rare.
What a shock! Tell us more about your early sonograms. I told Chris going in, “We have to be prepared that my body is telling us that we’re pregnant right now but there’s no heartbeat. That is 100% a possibility, so we have to go in knowing that—because otherwise, we’re going to be heartbroken.”
My doctor is Lauren Murray at Walnut Hill OB-GYN in Dallas. She’s really amazing. We’ve always had a really fun relationship. [At the ultrasound,] she had this funny look on her face, and she took the screen and turned it away from me.
I was like, “Hey girl, if there’s no heartbeat, I came fully prepared for that.” She replied, “Well, there’s a heartbeat.” And I said, “Oh my gosh, it’s twins.” Dr. Murray turned the screen around. She’s like, “There are three heartbeats.” I said a lot of swear words. Unfortunately, Chris fully passed out in the chair—slumped down ghost-white. It was crazy.
Fast forward one week later, I made the appointment [with specialist Dr. Brian Rinehart of Maternal-Fetal Medicine Consultants of Dallas]. I absolutely adore that man. We saw the sonographer at the appointment, and she’s taking a really long time. Again, I’ve prepared myself [for the worst]. The sonographer has a funny look on her face.
I said, “Honey, is everything OK? If one of the babies didn’t make it, it’s OK.” She was like, “Oh, no. The babies made it.” And I said, “Then what’s the problem?” She said, “I’m not supposed to tell you this—you have four babies in here.” And she counted their heads, “One, two, three, four.”
How did you react? We were like, “What’s one more?” That’s when [Dr. Reinhart] informed us that they were identical, the rarity of the pregnancy, how dangerous the pregnancy was going to be and how we could possibly—I get emotional over this—not lose one baby but lose them all, because the chance of survival was 0.01% for all of our boys to be born. Our chance of survival was 0.01%.
Were you a nervous wreck after that? Chris did all the reading. I said, “I don’t care; I don’t want to know. I want nothing to do with anything negative. God gave me four babies, and I’m having four babies.” I’ve never read a thing about it.
[Chris] told me all the statistics after they were born because I just couldn’t [handle it before]. I said, “I’m going to do what I can, and God’s going to give us what he’s going to give us, and we’re going to make it through this. I’m having four babies.”
What was your pregnancy like? We were so lucky. I went every four weeks to Dr. Murray and every two weeks to Dr. Reinhart. Every appointment, he would say, “You’re doing great, sweetie. Keep doing what you’re doing.”
I remember the day he told me I had to eat 3.000 calories a day. I was like, “What?” He said, “You’ve got to eat 3,000 calories a day. I don’t care what you put in your body; if you want it, eat it.”
Beyond that, they had me on double the amount of folic acid and 81 milligrams of aspirin. That was what I had to do to help out. The babies grew so well. It was truly amazing—to have it happen to me and witness it all each appointment, and just to see how healthy they were, and the fact that I never went on bedrest.
How many weeks along were you when you had the boys? I delivered on March 15 at 28 weeks, four days. I was trying to get to 33 weeks. March 13 was my last day of work. I was planning on taking a few weeks off, stopping working and just resting.
That Friday I went for my appointment and said to Dr. Reinhardt, “I’m not feeling great.” I was kind of tired, swollen ankles. I packed my hospital bag Saturday night just so it would be ready. And then about 1am on Sunday, I started having contractions.
I texted Dr. Murray, “The contractions are about five minutes apart. They’re lasting about a minute and a half.” She said, “You need to get to triage.”
We went to the hospital. They were trying to stop my contractions from happening, my labor from progressing, because they were waiting for more nurses and doctors to get to the hospital to receive the babies. They weren’t ready for 28-week quadruplets that weren’t supposed to be healthy.
At 28 weeks, quadruplets should be sick and have a really hard time breathing. They should have a ton of complications.
Everybody got there, including Dr. Murray, who had a 3-month-old baby of her own. She delivered the babies, and then they had to send all those other people home, because we didn’t have sick babies!
How old were the boys when they got to come home from the NICU? They spent eight weeks in the hospital.
How was it to bring home such high-risk babies during a pandemic? I do feel bad for the boys, and they’ll never remember this because obviously they were babies, but we didn’t get the big welcome home. We brought the babies home to just us. Nobody could really see them. We didn’t have people bring us meals and coming to help us out with things, because you couldn’t.
One year later, what are the boys like? They’re all crawling. I have two who will be walking in the next month probably, which means the other two aren’t far behind. They’re into everything. They’re dirty and messy. They’re already such little boys! Eating is just shoveling food into their face as fast as they possibly can. They’re funny and just sweet as can be.
What is your schedule like with four little ones? Right now, it’s so repetitive, but I guess that’s kids in general.
I feel like all I do is feed them, change them, play with them. We usually wake up around like 7:30am, that’s when the first one is moving. They go to bed around 7:15pm and typically sleep through the night. It’s amazing—that, I think, is the only reason I’m a functioning adult!
In the morning, I get them all up. I wait until almost everybody’s up to start feeding them. This week, three of four are holding their own bottles, which is incredible. Earlier on, I would bottle prop feed them.
Then they started getting active and moving everywhere, so prop feeding didn’t work anymore. I’d have to hold each baby and feed them all individually, which is a lot. A regular day is wake up, play, eat, play, change diapers, change outfits in between that, solid foods, clean up, nap time—they nap from 10am to noon, typically. From noon until 2:30pm we’re up and do the same thing: bottle, play, hang out. Then we usually nap between 2:30pm and 4pm, then they’re up until bedtime.
Some days I’m like, “You know what? If you nap the second nap, fantastic. If you don’t, you don’t.” We’ll usually go for a long walk those days, or I’ll maybe go do something where everything’s drive-through or pickup.
You have to get some kind of award for going from zero to four babies instantly. You know, so many people ask, “How do you do it?” I don’t know anything different, and I don’t really have another option!
My family had preschools when I was growing up, and 8 weeks was the starting age. I used to sit in with the preschool babies. I was around kids so much that it is like second nature to take care of children.
It is what it is. You’ve got to roll with the punches. I remember asking my doctor, “Do I need to go to parenting classes?” She said, “No, you’re going to learn things in the NICU. And there are four of them. Nobody’s going to teach you how to do this.”
Have you met anyone else with quads? I reached out to Lindsay Hay on Instagram; she also has quads. I asked her random questions, just things that I was concerned about. “What do I do with this?”
I remember one night I had sent Chris to go out. I said, “You need a break. Go out with a friend.” He left and of course the babies started crying and screaming. I was losing my mind. I texted Lindsay, “What do you do?” She goes, “Take a deep breath. You’re going to figure it out. If they’re fed, they’re changed and they’re still crying, there’s nothing you can do. You’ve got to get through it.”
She’s been great and just a good source of help, because not everyone gets it. Some days are crazy and nuts, and one baby can just be an absolute jerk some days. I have no problem saying that. Babies can be jerks.
What has been the biggest surprise of having four babies? I think the thing that’s been the most surprising to me is just how wonderful they are. [Despite what I said about occasional jerk behavior,] they’re great babies.
People ask me, “Are they always that happy or is that just in their pictures?” No, they’re legitimately always that happy. They’re the best kids. I’m so happy that they are, because could you imagine four babies that are just absolute awful and crying and upset all the time? That sounds like the worst thing ever. I would have left! (Laughs.)
Lives in Grapevine
Hails from San Diego
Career Dental assistant (prior to the quads’ birth)
Partner Husband Chris, who works in real estate
Children Harrison Foy, Hardy Smith, Henry William and Hudson Kerry, 13 months
Where You Can Find Her @themarrthemerrier on Instagram
Photo courtesy of Nick Prendergast.