“They’re an instant party.”
That’s how Brian Baddorf described his quadruplets, 3 girls and a boy, as they entertained themselves frolicking around furnishings in the lobby of Kay Jewelers Pavilion.
“It doesn’t matter what toys or objects they have, they just make believe. They just talk to each other for hours on end,” Brian said.
The kids, Sam, Ellie, Becca and Anna, just started kindergarten at Medina’s Ralph E. Waite Elementary School, where they are all in the same classroom. The quadruplets are popular with their classmates. Sam, the comedian, makes his sisters laugh. Anna is the boss.
Brian and his wife, Katy, are thankful. Five years ago, the quadruplets were born prematurely at 28 weeks. The Medina County couple was not sure what would lay ahead.
Anna was the biggest at 2 pounds, 5 ounces. Becca was smallest at 1 pound, 14 ounces. The quadruplets spent between 77 and 98 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Akron Children’s Hospital.
Those first days were filled with high emotion. Katy had gone into labor at 23 weeks and 6 days. Doctors at Cleveland Clinic Akron General put her on bed rest and delayed the labor. But on May 25, 2012, Sam’s heart stopped because it was not receiving enough oxygen. Katy underwent an emergency C-section. Sam’s heart restarted, but the babies were at high risk. Katy and Brian feared their first children could have significant disabilities.
“We didn’t know if they would walk, if they would have cerebral palsy,” said Brian, a tire engineer who met Katy when they were students at the University of Dayton. “All these possibilities were on the table and ran through our minds all the time.”
The quadruplets did just fine, and they are as healthy as Katy and Brian could hope for.
In November, Katy and Brian found themselves back at the NICU after the birth of their fifth child, Evan. Because of a complication in utero, Evan wasn’t growing. He was born healthy at 38 weeks, but underweight. After 5 days in the NICU, he went home.
“I knew he was healthy, but just the emotion of being there – it all came back,” Katy said. “I wondered how long is he going to be in here? In my mind, he was going to be here for 6 weeks and I’m going to have to leave my kids at home. The nurses and doctors helped me get through it. They kept me down to earth.”
The family remains friends with two other families of quadruplets who were in the NICU in 2012. Katy, a high school math teacher, has helped raise money for NICU families through the Walk for Babies fundraiser. This year, she will be a guest speaker at the event.
The 11th annual Walk for Babies is Oct. 1 at Canal Park. Organizers hope to raise $125,000 for the NICU.
Katy said she wants to speak about her appreciation for the NICU staff.
“They were able to get me through it, make me comfortable to the point where I felt my children were going to be okay,” she said. “Their cause in the NICU is not just focused on the babies. They make sure parents and their families are okay.
“It was time for me to step up and tell our story.”
When: Oct. 1, 9 a.m.
Where: Canal Park, 300 S. Main Street, Akron, OH 44308
Time: Gates open at 9 a.m.; walk begins: at 10 a.m.; presentation and awards ceremony at 11 a.m.
Details: In addition to a non-competitive walk, the event features speeches, a raffle and a kids fun zone full of activities, games, entertainment and snacks.
Sam and Shelby Snellenberger created the event in 2006 after their daughter, Amelia, spent the first 26 days of her life in the NICU. To show gratitude and help other families, they set a goal to raise $1 million for the NICU and established Walk for Babies. To date, the event has raised more than $800,000. This year’s goal is $125,000; 100% of donations are donated to the NICU. It’s not too late to attend or donate. Learn more on their Facebook page or website.