Pleasant Grove couple Ashley and Tyson Gardner caught the attention of the world when an online photo of them holding four sonograms went viral.
But it wasn’t the fact that they were having quadruplets that made their story special.
It’s the infertility side that reaches people, Ashley said in a press conference held Wednesday.
“People identify with our story because there are hundreds, thousands of people out there struggling with infertility,” Tyson said. “Ours is a story of hope.”
Ashley is on the mend and their babies are doing well after a Cesarean delivery on Sunday afternoon. Now the couple are focused on caring for the girls -- Indie Mae, Esme Jane, Scarlett Elizabeth and Evangeline Faith -- and preparing to bring them home.
Instead of stressing about changing diapers and coordinating sleep schedules, Tyson joked the biggest challenge of parenting the quads will be not choosing a favorite.
Between family members and friends who are “itching” to help, taking care of babies is what the Gardners have been dreaming of for eight long years.
“All of our fears disappeared a long time ago about bringing babies home,” Tyson said. “Our fears were if we could. But that’s not a fear anymore, so we’re happy”
Dr. Stephen Minton, one of the neonatologists caring for the baby girls, said working with Ashley and Tyson has been a wonderful experience. In the last 36 years, he’s worked with four sets of quads, including the Gardners.
“I’ll never forget being in the room, the girls were really doing well and Tyson turned to me, grabbed my shoulders and said ‘I have a family,’ ” Dr. Minton said. “And did he ever. They went from two to six in a very short time.”
Earlier this year the couple weren’t sure if they’d ever have any kids at all. In early July, after a round of IVF, they got their one and only positive. At their seven week appointment, unsuspecting Ashley and Tyson received the good news. They were pregnant with quadruplets, due March 11.
After that original online photo received so much attention (and Ashley was overwhelmed with friend requests) the couple made a special Facebook page for the quads. During the next six months, they received support from Europe, Japan, Australia and right next door.
“It’s incredible, the support we’ve gotten from people we don’t even know,” Tyson said. “We have a Facebook page; that’s our family.”
That online family has seen them through ups and downs, from routine baby bump posts on Wednesdays to an emergency surgery in late October to cure one set of the twins from twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.
When news of a possible delivery came early Sunday afternoon, fans, friends and family cheered.
From Texas, Emily Morgan wrote to Tyson, “You’ve waited 8 years for someone to say ‘CONGRATULATIONS DAD!!' ”
From the UK, Georgina Briers wrote, “I’ve never been so relieved and overjoyed for two strangers in my life. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I feel privileged to be a part of it. Congratulations to all.”
The girls were delivered in order, baby A, B, C and then D. They weighed between 1 lb and 13 ounces and 2 lbs and 10 ounces. Indie Mae, often called the gatekeeper because of her place in the womb, weighed the least.
All of the babies are doing great, said Dr. Minton, making special note of Indie.
“She immediately started telling us who she was and that she was in charge, kicking and screaming right from the word 'go,' ” he said.
The babies were all delivered within about two and half minutes.
Though a fast-happening and scary situation, Tyson said he knew almost immediately that the babies were OK.
“When you see neonatologists and doctors and nurses smiling in the delivery room, I took that as a good sign,” he said.
After the babies were born, he and the doctors and nurses shared hugs and pats on the back. It was an emotional experience, Tyson said.
According to Dr. Minton, the babies required very little resuscitation and now, at three days old, are receiving Ashley’s milk and are breathing room air with the help of a nasal cannulae.
“They’re doing absolutely ... phenomenal,” he said.
Tyson and Ashley have had skin-to-skin contact with each baby. On Monday, Ashley held Evie, short for Evangeline, first.
“She’ll get to hold that over her sister’s heads,” Tyson said of the bragging rights the baby will have when she’s older.
The quads are expected to be in the hospital at least another six weeks.
“There are not words that can describe [holding your baby for the first time],” Tyson said. “It’s something you hope for, wish and wait for. It’s emotional. It’s a special moment. Our babies were miracles.”
The couple has documented their journey, from initial fertility treatments to a gender reveal party held in honor of the quads. On Wednesday, Tyson and Ashley said it feels only fitting to continue the recording.
The couple has partnered with TLC to document and share their “amazing adventure.” Throughout the upcoming months, the network will follow the family in a series about first-time parents and their newborns. The series will premiere in late 2015.
Tyson said he and Ashley are excited to bring their followers along during the journey.
“TLC has been incredible to us. They’ve helped us out a lot,” he said. “We have the best birth video ever. We have the best home footage to show our daughters when they want to see how they came into this world. There’s no way I could’ve got that on a GoPro or iPhone.”
Ashley said she wants the show to be something their daughters will treasure.
“For me personally, I don’t have very many baby pictures. It was just different back then,” the 27-year-old mom said of her own birth. “It just makes sense to keep documenting.”
Tyson said he isn’t worried about caring for the girls and doesn’t feel pressure from TLC about the show. He thinks he and Ashley will be just fine.
“God has a plan for us and he’s trusted us with four babies,” Tyson said. “We have faith in him and we have faith in each other.”