24 bottles, 30 diapers, 12 outfits, 4 times the love|Garrett family grows quickly
Published 2:00 pm Monday, May 11, 2009
story by Lydia Grimes
Brewton natives Gray and Kate McDowell Garrett have four reasons to celebrate Mother’s Day today — their four newborn babies, home from the hospital after their Feb. 23 birth.
Since the beginning of their pregnancy, the Garretts have been surrounded by support from friends, family and even strangers.
Kate, 26, a fifth-grade teacher at Vestavia Hills Central Elementary School near Birmingham, is one of three children. That’s the same number she wanted in her own family.
After having some trouble conceiving, the Garretts chose to use fertility drugs. Kate took the lowest dose and became pregnant that first month.
That September day, the couple received the shock of their lives.
Kate quickly learned the risks of multiple births, but she hoped she could continue to teach at least through the Christmas break.
Around that time, Kate started a blog online to keep friends and family updated on her pregnancy.
Help from strangers
In November, some problems with the pregnancy forced Kate to leave the classroom.
Sick days and personal days would help her earn a paycheck — and allow her to keep her health insurance — only until Christmas break.
Kate knew she needed more time, so her mother, Jane McDowell, herself a retired school teacher, placed an article in the December issue of the Alabama School Journal, asking teachers with extra sick days to consider donating them to her daughter.
Alabama teachers can use the state’s catastrophic leave program to accumulate sick days, and they can donate them to other teachers.
Several teachers — some Kate didn’t even know — donated their sick days to her, enough to last through the school year and even through the summer.
Through this program, Kate was able to obtain enough days to last through the school year and through the summer.
Becoming a family
The babies were due May 5, but in February, one of the birth sacs ruptured and Kate went into the hospital.
A week later she went into labor and within a few minutes, Gray and Kate were the proud parents of four little miracles.
The babies were delivered by C-section, all within a time of five minutes.
Broox Gray, weighing 3 pounds, 7 ounces, was the first to be born.
He was followed shortly by Virginia Katherine, weighing 2 pounds, 10 ounces.
James Rainer was the next to come and he weighed 3 pounds, 3 ounces.
The last baby was Elizabeth Jane, weighing 2 pounds.
Considering their number, and their being premature, the babies all arrived without any serious problems. Their birth weights made it necessary for them to remain in the hospital when their mother was released.
A new home
Each baby came home separately, giving the new parents some time to adjust to life at home with four babies.
The growing size of the family presented a new problem.
The house in which the Garretts were living was not quite large enough, so they had to look for a bigger place to live.
Right in the middle of the babies all coming home, their house sold and they had to move into a new home.
After several weeks of settling in, Kate and Gray and their four babies are working to establish a routine.
Having four newborn babies means four times the bottles and diapers and every other baby need.
The numbers might seem staggering, but Kate said she and Gray are adapting to their full house.
The new parents have also learned to multi-task so that the babies get attention at the same time.
Kate said she plans on taking off the rest of this school year and the next school year. She hopes to be able to go back to work in 2010 with the help of a nanny. Right now she said there are a lot of people who have offered to help with the babies. “We have had other people offer to help, but we have to be very careful,” Kate said. “The babies will be susceptible to colds and other viruses for a while, and we have to be careful.”
But the Garretts have taken advantage of the help from their families, especially the grandparents who now have four new grandbabies. Kate is the daughter of Alex and Jane McDowell, and Gray is the son of Broox and Liz Garrett.
As she watches the babies grow together, Kate said she is seeing each emerge into his or her own little person.