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Smithsburg quads nearing first birthday

May 08, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

SMITHSBURG - Last Mother's Day was terrifying for Denise Davis. She went into labor after carrying her quadruplets for only five months.

Doctors were able to stop the labor and, two weeks later, she gave birth to four tiny babies, each weighing less than two pounds.

This Mother's Day, Davis is thankful that the preemies are relatively healthy. She and her husband, Craig Davis, reflected on the year that changed their lives.

"It's just a great feeling. I just feel so grateful to have all four of them," said Denise Davis, 30.

Taking care of quadruplets has been a challenge. In addition, the couple is raising a teenager. Denise Davis' older daughter, Danielle Ryan, is 13.

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But Denise Davis relishes in the time she has been able to spend with her babies - Maverick Warren, Dallas Michael, Marisa Ryan and Deidra Nicole.

She has been there for milestones, which so far have included sitting up, laughing and crawling. Maverick is the furthest along. He can stand up and has said his first words, "ma ma" and "da da."

Developmentally, the babies are doing things at an 8-month-old level - their age had they arrived on their due date.

The babies' first months were spent in the hospital, where it was touch and go for a while. All were home by October.

Since then, two have been back to the hospital. Dallas had pneumonia and Marisa got dehydrated during a bout of diarrhea. Doctors also are worried that Marisa might have hearing trouble and they have scheduled her for tests.

Their personalities are starting to emerge.

Maverick is the mischievous one.

"He always looks around before he does something," says Craig Davis, 24.

Deidre is the most easygoing. Dallas is laid back also, but he won't hide when he wants something.

The red-haired Marisa is the smallest of the four and, with a dimpled smile, bound to be a heartbreaker, her daddy says.

"They play together. They laugh at each other," Denise Davis said.

Recently, the quads took their first trip to Valley Mall so the girls could get their ears pierced.

The Davises got their first clue of the attention having quadruplets brings. People were fascinated by the crew, asking questions like, "Are they all yours?"

On their first birthday, May 20, they plan to have a party with family and a few friends. They'll get their first taste of cake, even though doctors said it's a little too early for them.

For the most part, the couple just takes things one day at a time. They barely have time to think about how everything gets done. They just do it.

"You wake up in the morning and all four are crying. You think, 'How am I going to do this?'" said Craig Davis.

But one by one, they get the babies up and fed. Being a multiple has taught each baby how to be patient and wait his or her turn.

"It's really not a big deal to us. We're just normal parents who just happen to have four kids," Denise Davis said.

One casualty has been the housework. After taking care of the babies, Denise Davis said she has little time to clean.

Thankfully, the babies all sleep through the night. But during the day, there's not a moment when all four are asleep at the same time. Every day, they go through 16 to 20 diapers, 16 bottles of formula and 12 jars of food.

Financially, it hasn't been easy for the Davises. Both had to quit their jobs at Reeders Memorial Home in Boonsboro to take care of the newborns.

Craig Davis is a full-time student at Hagerstown Community College, working toward an associate's degree in business administration.

Denise Davis tried working, but her employer got upset when she couldn't come to work one day because one of the babies was admitted to the hospital, she said.

They have been able to make ends meet with a monthly disability check for the babies because they were premature.

They moved from a townhouse apartment on Doub Way in Hagerstown to a larger two-story farmhouse in Smithsburg that they rent from Denise Davis' aunt.

Members of Craig Davis' church - Middletown (Md.) United Methodist Church - raised $3,600 toward a van so the family can ride together for doctor's visits in Baltimore.

The community also has given donations. A trust fund has been set up for them at Home Federal Savings Bank in Hagerstown.

When Denise Davis took fertility drugs, she knew there was a small chance of having multiples. When doctors told her there were four, they proposed selective reduction. The Davises rejected that and have never regretted their decision.

The quads' conception was different from that of the McCaughey septuplets, who were conceived through in vitro fertilization.

For support in raising multiples, the Davises have found other parents of multiples on the Internet. The babies' pictures are posted on America Online's Web site.

"To this day, I can't believe there's four of them," Denise Davis said.

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