One day, Lily, Mae, Samford and Griffin Armitage will be old enough to understand the impact their simultaneous arrivals have had on Sherri and Paul Armitage’s lives.
But on Monday afternoon, the month-old quadruplets spent much of the afternoon sleeping or nursing from bottles in their Richmond Hill home as their parents talked about the births of their first children, who came into the world Nov. 28 at Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah.
“I knew at seven weeks that it was quads,” said Sherri, an addiction and substance-abuse counselor. “We went in for ultrasounds and were told there were four …. but that one didn’t look like it was going to make it because one was way smaller than the rest. Obviously, they all made it.”
Word of the couple’s quadruplets was great news to Paul, a real-estate agent, avid golfer and Redskins fan.
“I was like, great, get it done. We have a whole family instantly. We can knock it out in one shot,” he said.
Sherri also was excited — and worried. It was her first pregnancy, and a big one.
“I’d always wanted a lot of kids, I just wasn’t sure I wanted them all at once,” she said.
“Not knowing if I’d be able to carry the babies for long enough, or is the one that was smaller not going to make it, what if I lose one, what if I lose all of them? It was a good deal of worry,” she added. “I was super-excited because I wanted kids, and I wanted a big family, too, but I was worried, too.”
The odds of Sherri having quadruplets was 1 in 800,000, she said she was told by her doctor while undergoing fertility treatments.
She also knew they’d arrive early.
Early deliveries are the rule with quadruplets, who are often born at 31 weeks, according to www.parents.com. Sherri’s quads — two boys and two girls — arrived at 31 weeks and one day. Lily weighed 3.7 pounds and measured 17 inches; Mae was 3.11 pounds and 18 inches; Griffin was 3.9 pounds and 17 inches; and Samford was 3.4 pounds and 15 inches.
If you’re counting, that’s more than 14 pounds and 4½feet of baby.
They came home Dec. 31, putting quite the exclamation point on 2014.
Since then, the quads have led sheltered lives, cocooned in their Sterling Links home. Because premature babies’ immune systems are believed to be weaker than full-term babies’ systems, visitors are asked to wear masks and use hand sanitizer.
But the Armitages haven’t been on their own. Sherri’s mother, Sharon Spires, is chipping in. So is Paul’s mother, Laura, and sister, Lee. They’re working in almost round-the-clock shifts, feeding and changing and taking care of four babies. The diaper count alone is worth a mention — so far, the Armitage quads average about 15 diapers per day, each.
“It’s four times everything,” Paul said. “Four times the joy, four times the diapers. But it’s also four times the fun.”
Spires said when she got the news her daughter was going to have quadruplets, it took her a while to wrap her head around that.
“At first, it took a while to sink in,” she said. “Initially, I worried about her health, but with the babies here now it’s just …. I’ve got one other grandson, he’s 2½, and now that we’ve got these. It’s just indescribable. The joy, the relief that they’re all here and they’re doing so well.”
The Armitages have lived in Richmond Hill since they married in 2011, which was a compromise of sorts, Sherri said, since she liked smaller towns and Paul was used to more metropolitan areas.
“Richmond Hill still has the small-town feel, but it’s close enough to the mall or whatever we need in Savannah,” said Sherri, who is a Georgia Southern graduate from McRae in central Georgia. “And Richmond Hill has the best school system. We knew if we had kids, we wanted a good school system.”
They also want the best for their kids. Paul wants them to get the opportunity to go to a good school and have a good life.
“We were just talking about that earlier, how we want good health and a good life for them,” Paul said. “We’ll start putting our pennies away and one day, we’ll get to quarters.”
In the meantime, they’ve gotten support from friends, family and church members at Waterfront Church, where they attend. Donations of diapers and other baby essentials have been appreciated.
“Everyone has been really generous,” Sherri said. “Everybody was super-nice, from the hospital until we got home.”
Sherri also got support from another mother who knows something about dealing with quadruplets. Nancy Auclair and her husband, Maj. Chris Auclair, had quadruplets in 2006. They lived in Richmond Hill, and Sherri was able to talk to Auclair, who gave doctors permission to give her contact information out to others with quadruplets.
“She was great with advice, like color-coding things for kids and having systems, and how to deal with rude comments,” Sherri said, though she’s also quick to point out there haven’t been many of those, and none intentional.
The kids have their own personalities already, and a lot of thought went into their names. Lily is named in honor of Sharon’s grandmother Hilda, who loved to garden.
“She grew the prettiest flowers ever, and her birthday is in April, and the April flower is the Lily of the Valley, so naming our daughter Lily is in her honor,” Sherri said.
Samford is named in honor of his maternal grandfather, while Mae is both Sharon’s grandmother’s middle name and the name of one of Paul’s aunts.
And Griffin, well, there’s a story to that name.
The Redskins, Paul’s favorite team, have two players on their roster named Griffin. Also, Griffindor, which is literary character Harry Potter’s house at Hogwarts school, has the same colors as the Washington Redskins, and Sherri likes Harry Potter books.
But it’s also a good name for a boy, because there aren’t that many Griffins out there, the Armitages said. And theirs, they know, is special. Just like his brother and two sisters. The babies being home and with their parents is the most natural thing in the world, Sherri said.
“People kept telling me all along, you’re not going to know the difference between having one baby and four,” Sherri said. “It all just seems natural, and it’s not that difficult. I’m tired sometimes, but I think I’d be tired with one or two. You just to what you need to do. And there’s not really a dull moment. There’s always somebody you can hold. Somebody crying. Somebody smiling.”