Family’s fourfold ‘miracle’ rang in New Year’s 2010Written by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | email@example.com
The first baby born each year always generates a lot of attention, but New Year’s Day 2010 brought four times the usual excitement as quadruplets were the first to arrive in Lucas County.
“They are a miracle. They are,” said mom Lauren Hablitzel-Lake of Michaela, James, Dakota and Isaiah Lake of Perrysburg, who will turn 4 on Jan. 1. “From being preemies, they have some developmental delays, but they don’t have any major medical issues. To have four healthy babies, they are the minority when it comes to quadruplets.”
The siblings, who started preschool this year, share the same birthday, but their parents said that’s pretty much where the similarities end.
“They are each their own individual and really have their own personalities, their own strengths, their own weaknesses,” Lauren said. “Within a week their personalities were completely different, right away, even as babies.”
Michaela is “all girl,” said dad Nick Lake. She loves princesses and the colors pink and purple.
“We thought she’d be a tomboy, but she’s a complete girlie girl,” Lauren said. “She’ll do everything [her brothers] do, but in her skirt.”
Dakota loves animals, planes, cars and Nerf guns. Isaiah likes trains and bells. James is into firetrucks and dragons. In terms of personality, James is the take-charge leader while Dakota is more laid-back — and it’s been that way since they were babies, Lauren said.
“I just love watching them together, watching them play, watching them talk to each other,” she said. “They could talk to each other before they could talk to me. They had their own little language and they could understand each other.”
The couple, both now 29, said they were ecstatic to find out Lauren was pregnant with quadruplets.
“I thought something was wrong the whole time because the way the doctor acted [during the ultrasound],” Lauren said. “He stopped and pulled back and said, ‘I need her chart,’ and he’s flipping through papers.”
Instead, he pointed out four separate heartbeats.
“By that point, I was already crying because I thought something was wrong. So I was just relieved,” Lauren said. “[Nick] just laughed. Delirious laughter. The doctor kept looking at him like, ‘Are you OK?’ We’re like, ‘Yes! We’re great!’ Life is a blessing. It’s precious.”
The Lakes, who were Perrysburg High School sweethearts, moved back to their hometown shortly after the babies were born, having outgrown their one-bedroom home in McClure overnight.
“Both our families live in Perrysburg and that was always our ideal end location,” said Lauren, who left her job as a middle school math teacher to care for the kids, but plans to return to work once they start kindergarten. Nick is a structural engineer with DGL Consulting Engineers in Maumee.
The easiest part of having four kids the same age is that all are at the same developmental level and interested in similar activities, Lauren said. The hardest part is finding ways to give them individualized attention.
Although the boys still let their mom dress them alike — which she said she plans to do until they protest — Michaela is already having none of that.
“When they were little, they always had coordinating outfits, but that ended real quick because she’s extremely independent and wants to do everything herself,” Lauren said. “She dresses herself every day.”
Lauren was 30 weeks pregnant and had been on bed rest at ProMedica Toledo Hospital for six weeks when her water broke around 10:45 p.m. Dec. 31, 2009. The babies were delivered via cesarean section: James was first at 12:17 a.m., followed by Isaiah at 12:18 a.m., Michaela at 12:19 a.m. and Dakota at 12:20 a.m.
The couple’s one request was that all four be born in the same year, even though it meant missing the deadline for that year’s tax deductions.
“Basically, a difference of 18 to 20 minutes was thousands of dollars,” Nick said, laughing. “The money would have been nice, but it was fine.”
The couple said they found out pretty quickly they had the county’s first babies of the new year.
“People ask me all the time if I planned that. No, I did not,” Lauren said. “As soon as I delivered, they were like, ‘OK, let’s call whoever and see.’ I guess it’s a big deal for them. The nurses were so excited. And with it being quads, I think that just elevated everything.”
The couple said that, as news spread, they were showered with well-wishes and gifts, including a six-month-supply of diapers from a local church and baby clothes from other parents of multiples.
Nick said the distinction of having the first babies was “the cherry on top,” but he was mainly just relieved to be finished with the stress of Lauren’s high-risk pregnancy and moving on to the next phase.
The babies weighed between 2 and 4 pounds each at birth. Including Lauren’s bed rest and the time they spent in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), the Lakes stayed at the hospital for 114 days. Michaela and Isaiah went home Feb. 28. Dakota was released two weeks later and James three days after Dakota.
Lauren said it was an amazing feeling when all four children were finally home.
“Relief. Just like — finally. The family’s together. We’re all home,” she said.
The family turns heads and fields questions everywhere they go, Lauren said, which can be frustrating at times, like when people take pictures of the kids without asking.
“Questions I don’t mind, as long as it’s nice,” Lauren said. “But we need to put up a little sign on our wagon: ‘Please refrain from photography.’ I would never take a picture of someone else’s child. Why are you taking pictures of my kids? They are not a circus act. These are my children. Yes, there’s four of them and I know that’s a lot, but …”
The Lakes haven’t really talked to the kids about their “celebrity” status yet, but plan to when they are older.
“This will follow them now for life, which is kind of a nice little bonus,” Nick said. “It doesn’t define them by any means, but it’s neat.”
Tags: 2010, DGL Consulting Engineers, Lauren Hablitzel-Lake, Lucas County, Maumee, neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), Nerf guns, New Year's Day, Perrysburg, Perrysburg High School, ProMedica Toledo Hospital, quadruplets