Spontaneous identical quadruplets occur anywhere from 1 in 11 million to 1 in 15 million live births.
Jenny and Chris Marr were thrilled to welcome their first child, but they never expected that it would be during a global pandemic. Much less that they would be welcoming spontaneous quadruplets, which is the rarest of rare occurrences.
When Jenny went for her first ultrasound exam in November, she noticed that her doctor passed a strange look and thought something was wrong. She asked Dr. Lauren Murray if there was a problem.
“I was like, ‘Oh no, there’s no heartbeat.’ And, she’s like, ‘No, there is a heartbeat,’” the 35-year-old mom recalled to TODAY. “She goes, ‘Y’all, there’s three babies in there.’ And we were just absolutely floored.”
A week later, they visited a maternal-fetal medicine specialist for a follow-up appointment and were gobsmacked when the technician told them that they are having not three but four babies!
The Marr couple did not have a history of multiple births in their families, so the news of having spontaneous identical quadruplets came as a shock. “I made the joke that I am not coming back because there are going to be five babies next time,” Chris said. “We were just shocked."
Not just the first-time parents but even the doctor was in shock to realize that the quadruplets are identical because it is so rare. Murray and her colleagues estimate that identical, spontaneous quadruplet births occur in 1 in 11 million or 1 in 15 million births. They found a mere 72 cases of it in published literature.
“It’s unbelievable. It’ll never happen again in my career. I said, ‘Girl, go buy a few lottery tickets because those are the kind of odds we’re dealing with,’” Murray, an OB-GYN at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, told TODAY. “What a miracle it was.”
However, shock and worry clouded the parents when they were told that the babies share one placenta which means they all depended on one placenta for nourishment and may not share well. This made Jenny's pregnancy complicated.
“The risk was that one of the babies can develop stronger and basically take away from the other babies,” Chris explained. The doctor said that surgery might be in order which made the couple anxious again. But their doctors reassured them that they would address issues if they arose.
“The babies shared incredibly well. There were no incidents on the sonogram even leading up to that where we were worried that one of them, or two or three of them, would be significantly smaller,” Murray said.
When Jenny slipped into labor in March 2020, she worried that the change in hospital policies die to the pandemic might impact her treatment and delivery. “For the first time (during my pregnancy) I anticipated the worst,” Marr said. “Maybe we were going to have sick babies and they were going to be in the NICU.”
But her cesarean section delivery went well as her husband and mother watched the doctor pull the babies out one by one. “They were all born in three minutes. It’s incredible,” Jenny said. “We called them our baby birds because they really looked like baby birds." Three of the babies needed oxygen and all four stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit for about 10 weeks.
Identical quadruplets Harrison Foy, Henry William, Hudson Perry and Hardy Smith Marr were born at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas on March 15. The newborns spent 10 weeks in the NICU, and about a month in the Special Care Nursery before they could be taken home.
“They each have little bitty characteristics,” Chris said. “When we sit down and look at them we can figure out who they are but if you just look at them from a distance, they all look the same. Thank God, Hudson’s a little smaller than everybody else and quieter.”
After two months of their sons' birth, the couple brought their babies home and they say the safety of the infants was their top priority. “Having babies during a global pandemic has been quite the experience. Everyone at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas made us and our babies top priority for care and safety,” Jenny wrote on Facebook. “I only hope that one day I can hug each of them and say thank you.”
Right now the couple is quarantining which has allowed their family to grow closer. “It was a very surreal time and it’s one of those things that we will probably look back on in a couple of years, hopefully, when everything's back to normal like, ‘Wow that was crazy,” Chris said.
“We never knew how in love you could really be until you have a love for your child, or children all at once in our case," Jenny wrote. She added, “We just hope that this little story and our boys bring as much joy to everybody as they bring to us.”