Scott and Sherri Cook had always wanted to be parents. Dreams aside, they didn't expect the number of their children to increase from two to six in just seven months.
But the parents of Utah's newest quadruplets aren't complaining. The four healthy new additions, they say, are an answer to their prayers."As a young girl I always dreamed of becoming a mother, but always worried that I would never have that chance," Sherri said. "I remember scanning my patriarchal blessing to see if it said anything about being a mother. It said I would have that opportunity."
Even though she admits that the thought of caring for four babies is overwhelming, "We feel that four is an extra blessing for us," she said, dabbing away tears of happiness. "But when one has wanted children as much as we have, it's really special."
Sherri, with help from a team of 23 doctors and nurses, gave birth March 15 - 10 weeks premature - to two sons and two daughters.
The babies - Gregory John, Jordan Scott, Heidi and Amy - were delivered by Dr. Kent Rasmussen at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City by Caesarean section. Born less than a minute apart, the babies ranged in weight from 2 pounds, 12 ounces to 3 pounds, 2 ounces. The longest was 16 3/4 inches.
All four are in fair condition in the newborn intensive care unit at the hospital, where they'll receive specialized medical care for the next several weeks.
Meanwhile, their happy, but tired, 28-year-old mother has gone home - to rebuild her strength, care for the Cook's other children - Heather, 5 1/2, and Ashley, 2 - and to prepare for the quads' joyous homecoming.
It will be a celebration shared by the Cook's strong support group, who have pitched in to help from the moment Sherri, at 15 weeks pregnant, learned she was carrying more than just one child.
Following an ultrasound at a Salt Lake Clinic, a technician told the suprised couple he thought they were having triplets. He recounted and confirmed there were four babies.
Sherri's amazed response: "Please don't tell me there are five."
Most of their friends and neighbors knew Sherri was having an ultrasound that day - and that there was a possibility of the couple having twins.
"When we got home, they all came out to the car to greet us," Scott recalled, laughing.
But nobody believed the big announcement.
"They thought we were kidding," Sherri reported. "But the second they realized we weren't, there was instant support. From that second on, everybody rallied."
That included the Relief Society of the South Cottonwood 11th Ward, which insisted on bringing dinner to the family "twice a week whether you need it or not."
"The women were wonderful," Sherri said. Janet Jameson, Relief Society president, and Donna Winters, compassionate service leader, called regularly to make sure the meals arrived and the family's needs were met.
"It was an incredible feeling," said Scott, the ward's gospel doctrine teacher. "They didn't desert us; they realized we needed help, and they were there."
Sherri gratefully added, "Our neighbors and the people in our ward have felt like these aren't just our babies - but their babies, as well."
Also prayerfully monitoring the quads' progress are their grandparents - Jack and Betty Cook, Bob and Mary Brewer and Bud and Ruth Raleigh - who gave an emotional standing ovation to the babies when they entered the world.
Along with Scott, the grandparents were in the delivery room.
"It was a total miracle how organized the delivery was," said the appreciative mother.
The moment each child was born, he/she was placed in an individual bassinet and wheeled into the newborn intensive care unit by special medical teams. Each child had his/her own respiratory therapist, nurse, pediatrician and neonatologist.
Their unfaltering faith in God and in the priesthood have given them strength throughout the entire pregnancy.
"We felt like there were too many unknowns, and we had to rely on the feelings that we had that things were going to go smoothly," said Scott, who recalled their nightly family prayers.
"Little Heather would constantly pray for the four babies," Sherri said. "She would always pray that they would come soon so we could protect and take care of them. It brought tears to my eyes to see a 5 1/2-year-old be that sensitive."
Sherri admits it was Scott's strenth that pulled her through the difficult pregnancy, especially during her last three weeks when she was hospitalized. Even though caring medical personnel altered the rules a bit and allowed family gatherings - complete with movies and popcorn - occasionally in the hospital, Sherri was understandably lonesome for her other children and husband.
Although they hadn't expected the babies to be born on March 15, Scott has fasted that day. He's grateful that he was guided to put forth that special effort - to offer another blessing for Sherri and their babies.
"When it was all over there was definitely a feeling of peace, because we visually could see that each baby was fine," said Scott, who, with his own father, gave each child a blessing.
The parents realize there could be setbacks - complications common with premature infants. But they are confident they will have the opportunity to rear all four children in their Holladay, Utah, home where gifts - including cases of baby food and formula - from an extended support group, have been given.
They're even receiving encouraging messages from long-lost friends, including a couple Scott met on his mission to Canada, who offered to send their teenage daughter to Utah to be the quad's nanny.
Scott and Sherri have found the love and assistance of famiy, friends and medical personnel overwhelming.
"We don't expect people to give us anything, but we are grateful for their generosity," said Scott, an independent painting contractor.
An elated mother added, "It's amazing how everyone unifies themselves on an occasion such as this."