Eight months on Friday, the Quad Squad girls are growing like weeds.
As if in a competition, the two sets of twins are each rolling over and some are even testing out their knees as if they’ll try crawling soon, said Tyson Gardner, the girls’ father. Recently the Pleasant Grove parents started the girls on solid foods, though only Esme will finish her rice cereal.
“She’ll eat the whole bowl and the others will just make faces,” Tyson said, laughing.
Born in December at 29 and a half weeks gestation — about three months early — the quads weighed less than a combined total of 10 pounds at birth. But at their last appointment, the girls’ doctor was “blown away,” Tyson said, noting the fact that despite being preemies, the girls don’t look it.
“With four infants you’d expect some sort of delay or something,” he said. “But the doctors call them fat, smart, happy babies. And of course we love hearing that.”
The family of six is moving past survival mode and into a routine that may help save their sanity. A little more than two weeks ago Tyson and Ashley decided to try sleep training. With the encouragement of the girls’ pediatrician, they cut the quad’s midnight feeding.
“It was hard to let them cry,” Tyson said. “Really, really hard.”
But now if they wake at all, the girls will only cry for a few minutes before falling back to sleep. After storytime and a bottle, each goes down in their own crib at 8 p.m. They’re up at 4 a.m. for a quick feeding and then back asleep until 8 a.m.
“It’s been amazing because now we’re actually getting sleep ourselves,” Tyson said of he and Ashley. “And we’re getting time to ourselves, which is vital for a married couple. Those first few months we really neglected each other because everything revolved around the babies, as it should have. But now we enjoy having time to just sit and talk while they’re asleep.”
After announcing their sleep training plans on Facebook, the couple quickly received thousands of comments, some supportive and some critical.
“We knew we would get everyone’s opinions and we actually like to read all of them,” Tyson said. “We may not agree with every opinion, but it’s good to see different perspectives.”
And they have access to lots of perspectives, with nearly 500,000 Facebook friends and plenty of local fans. Recently while shopping at Costco, the family got “bombarded” with people wanting to say hi, take pictures or ask questions, Tyson said. And despite what some may think, the couple doesn’t mind — they’d prefer to be approached rather than just stared at.
“These are very social babies who like to interact with other people,” Tyson said. “People come talk to us and the girls will smile and light up. People get a kick out of that.”
When out and about shopping or walking through the park, the couple usually push the girls in a quad stroller. But when attending public events, and when they have friends or family around to help, the couple prefer to wear the girls in baby carriers.
If the girls attend a fertility awareness run in Salt Lake City with their parents this weekend, that’s likely how they’ll be carried. Earlier this summer the family participated in a Pound the Pavement for Parenthood fertility awareness event held in Orem where they sold blankets and gave the proceeds to a local couple struggling with the disease.
“We enjoy going to these because it takes you back to a place where you spent a lot of time,” Tyson said. “It’s where our roots are and it’s a subject and community that are near and dear to our hearts. We want to give hope to those who are struggling.”
Saturday’s Footsteps for Fertility 5K run will be held in Liberty Park in Salt Lake City from 8 to 10 a.m. Tyson and Ashley will be there, but because the girls have been battling their first sickness they may not be. For updates, check the Gardner’s Facebook page at facebook.com/gardnerquads.