What is it like being the mother of quadruplets?
Utah couple Ashley and Tyson Gardner had struggled to conceive for eight years, but they eventually had two sets of identical twin girls by IVF treatment.
A photo of Ashley holding the ultrasound scans had already attracted huge attention online so shortly after the girls’ second birthday, she posted a video on YouTube, that went viral, to show what her everyday life is like.
The film, suitably called “Sums up motherhood in 34 seconds”, shows Ashley having a brief break from the constant job of looking after her children by sneaking into in the pantry and treating herself to a stick of red liquorice.
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“They don’t ever go away. They want everything you have,” she says in the video and to prove her point, after only a few seconds, one of her daughters peeks under the door and calls out to her.
‘Pure terror and pure joy’
The couple have a large social media following and their pages are littered with photos of smiling babies, but when they were told they were going to have four children at once, they did not know what to think.
“When we first found out we were having quadruplets, it was pure terror and pure joy at the same time,” Ashley explained.
“The doctors said we only had a 40% chance of having one baby, so to have all four to come at once was a huge blessing and a huge miracle.
“The odds of both eggs splitting are literally one in a million.
“But I didn’t know anyone who’d had quadruplets. I didn’t know if it was physically possible for a woman, I knew nothing about it.
“I had vertigo and morning sickness for the first 16 weeks. I couldn’t eat anything and I lost 20 pounds in my first trimester.
“My body hurt, my bones hurt and my hips would dislocate every time I rolled over.”
Working from home
In order to support the family, the couple run four businesses from home.
“We work when the girls are asleep – during their naptime and then after they go to bed, until one or two in the morning, every single night.
“It’s really helpful we both work from home, because every other morning one of us takes the girls and the other gets to sleep in.
“Having quads was expensive in the first months.
“They were on a high-calorie formula that cost $25 (£20) a can and needed lots of nappies.”
The couple’s social media fans helped to ease the expense.
“My heart was truly touched by the amount of nappies and baby outfits that turned up by our door when they were born,” she said.
“There really are amazing, kind, good people out there and I’m so grateful to those who follow our story and love these babies.”
Ashley and Tyson regularly blog and vlog about their children’s progress.
“When my pregnancy announcement went viral, so many people prayed for me and my babies. Now I feel it’s my duty to show these people what they prayed for,” she explained.
Ashley insists that she goes about her daily life “like anybody else, it just takes a bit longer”.
“We do everything times four. We take them shopping with us and load them into the car several times a day.
“Just because there are four of them, we can’t let that stop us living our lives. We don’t just stay at home.”
Ashley described the “special relationship” that the toddlers share.
“There are four of them and they work together to conspire against you, which is really funny. They’re definitely tearing the house down.
“Each set of twins has their ‘own language’ and talk to each other.
“If one girl steals a toy from another one, her twin will steal it back for her. They protect one another.”
At times, the quads can be overwhelming for Ashley and Tyson.
“We’re first time parents and we’re learning as we go like anyone else. There are definitely anxieties.
“Not many people have raised four toddlers at the same time so you’re kind of on your own.
“I feel like we’re doing a good job. Just the fact that there’s four of them and they’re all healthy and happy and growing and thriving is an amazing miracle to science and to God.”