Quads back home after a six-month fight for their lives
Fab 4 reunited: Quads back home after a six-month fight for their lives
By Claire Ellicott
They may look the picture of health, but this awesome foursome have spent six months fighting for their lives.
This is the first time the quadruplets have been together since their birth in January.
Gillian Holden, who defied odds of 750,000-1 to conceive them naturally, was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia during her pregnancy and doctors were forced to perform an emergency caesarean to deliver the babies when her organs began to fail.
Little fighters: The first time the quadruplets have been together since their birth in January. From left, Bethany, Millie, Ellie and Lucy.
The four were born at only 28 weeks in January and weighed just 7lb 6oz between them.
Doctors separated them at birth to give them specialist care for the first few months of their lives.
They were reunited as a foursome after Ellie was allowed home at the weekend to join sisters Lucy, Millie and Bethany.
The girls, three of whom are identical, are back with their delighted parents and older sister Abbie, aged nine, in Bolton. Miss Holden, a former nursery nurse, said: 'I'm absolutely over the moon - I couldn't be happier.
Happy family: Gillian Holden and Marc Hanley with their eldest daughter Abigail and (from left to right) Lucy, Bethany, Millie and Ellie after they all finally returned home, seven months since the quads were born
'It's been such a long wait and now all my babies are home.'
Miss Holden, 35, had been trying for a baby with her partner Marc Hanley, 48, for nine months before she conceived.
An 11-week scan showed triplets, but five weeks later doctors revealed there were actually four babies.
She added: 'Initially, I was a bit upset. I thought, "How am I going to cope?"
'Marc was shocked, really shocked. But happy. I felt both scared and happy, lots of mixed feelings.
'When we came home we talked about it, comforted each other.'
But the pregnancy did not run smoothly. Miss Holden soon became ill with pre-eclampsia and her kidney and liver began failing at 27 weeks, which meant the quads had to be delivered on January 28. Doctors had told her the tiny babies needed to make it to 28 weeks to survive.
Pictured: Gillian (left), Abigail and baby Lucy during one of the family's countless visits to the hospital to see the quads since they were born in January
Within three minutes, all four babies were delivered and placed in incubators at St Mary's Children's Hospital in Manchester.
Bethany was the first to be born, arriving at 3.12pm on January 28, and weighing 1lb 15oz. Millie (2lb 2oz) and Ellie (1lb 7oz) arrived in the next minute. All three are identical, and Lucy, who throughout the pregnancy had been separated from her sisters by a tiny membrane, was born a minute later, weighing 1lb 14oz.
Miss Holden said: 'All you could see were their faces, the size of a 10p piece. So tiny.
'That's all you see because they're covered up. They could have fitted in Marc's hand. We had visited the neonatal unit a couple of weeks before giving birth. We both cried, all the babies were so small and we were so scared.
Newborn: Baby Bethany (left) was born first weighing 1lb 15oz, with sister Millie next at 2lb 2oz
Tiny: Next to be born was baby Ellie weighing 1lb 7oz and last of all was Lucy who tipped the scales at 1lb 14oz
'They gave us the tour because they knew that's where our babies would end up.'
Lucy was finally allowed home in May, and Bethany and Millie, who have chronic lung disease and require daily sessions on an oxygen generator, were discharged in June.
But baby Ellie, who also has chronic lung disease, was forced to remain at Royal Bolton Hospital until last Friday as doctors helped her overcome her sleep apnoea.
The babies were named by their sister Abbie.
She said: 'Before, I didn't really have anyone to play with and now I have four sisters.
'I love them. I probably won't love them so much when I'm a teenager when they're getting into my makeup, but I'll always love them really.'