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They’re Now a Family as Last Quad Goes Home

Times Staff Writer

Three were enough for the rear seat of Bill and Bridget Lach’s car.

Lined up across the car’s back seat outside Northridge Hospital Medical Center on Thursday were three baby carriers, each holding one of the 15-week-old Lach quadruplets, who were all going home together for the first time.

Kenny, Matt and Kathy filled the seat of the medium-sized sedan.

So the leftover baby, Rachel, squinting from beneath a ruffled bonnet, made the trip home in a carrier buckled into the passenger seat of a nurse’s two-seat sports car.

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Plans for Bigger Car

“I’m definitely going to have to get a bigger car--or maybe a van,” observed Bill Lach, who became an instant father of four in February.

The children, born 11 weeks prematurely, have been going home individually since then, as each was judged healthy enough to make the move.

Thursday was an occasion, the release from the hospital of Matthew Evan, last of the infants to be declared fit to leave. That united the Lach family for the first time.

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The Lachs took the other three children back to the hospital so nurses and other members of the staff, who had become attached to the infants, could say goodby.

“You’re ours now, Matt, yes you are,” Bridget Lach crooned in her son’s ear after the nursing staff somewhat reluctantly handed over the last of her children. “Mommy’s so excited.”

Gift of Scrapbook

The hospital staff presented her with a scrapbook of photographs of the quads in their earliest days and clippings from newspapers and magazines about the birth.

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The hospital is also assembling a videotape for the Lachs of television news coverage of the event--the last of a statistically improbable burst of multiple births that saw quadruplets born to four Los Angeles area women in a six-month period, including two sets in the San Fernando Valley and one in Glendale.

Nurses who had helped to care for the quads since birth followed them out of the intensive-care nursery and through the hospital halls, cooing at them, fussing with their blankets and gravely giving their tiny fingers “bye-bye” shakes.

It is not easy having four infants at once, especially when they need round-the-clock nursing, Bill Lach said. The Lachs’ modest two-bedroom home in Van Nuys is a crowded place, housing him and his wife, four babies and a nurse or two, he observed.

Costly Nursing Care

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The nursing care, needed because infants born prematurely are especially susceptible to “crib death,” or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome--in which they suddenly and inexplicably stop breathing--costs $10,000 a week, said Colleen Evans, director of in-home nursing care programs for Star Healthcare Services, which is supplying the nurses.

Expensive as that is, it is still “only half as much as continued hospitalization,” she said. The nursing care will be phased out over a six-month period, Evans said.

The cost of the nurses is being borne by the Lachs’ health insurance carrier, he said, and a number of companies have donated free help in one form or another, from four cartons of disposable diapers to the four car carriers, donated by a car dealer.

Bill Lach, 36, works as a property coordinator at Hughes Aircraft. He had to be taken off the job when his blood pressure shot up after his wife entered the hospital two weeks before the quads were born, while doctors tried to delay the birth. But he returned to work a week after the babies’ arrival, he said.

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“Once my wife goes back to work, we won’t have any financial problems,” he ventured. Bridget Lach, 31, is a saleswoman for General Telephone Co. She said she expects to return to work late this year.

Rapid Weight Gain

The quads, who all weighed less than four pounds at birth, have gained weight rapidly, and Kenneth is now the heaviest at 10 pounds. Both his sisters weigh nearly nine pounds. Matthew--who underwent cardiac surgery to repair an open vein near his heart--is the smallest at 6 pounds, 13 ounces.

The quads have already developed definite personality differences, according to their parents and the nurses. Kenneth is the most aggressive “and he’s always hungry,” his father said. Matthew has a cheerful disposition, Kathryn is alert and watchful and Rachel is imperturbable.

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As the family boarded a hospital elevator, trailing a stream of nurses holding infants, Bridget Lach for the first time went through an exercise that will eventually become second nature:

“Wait a minute,” she said. “Hold the door. Are we all here? One . . . two . . . three . . . four,” she counted.

“OK, we can go now.”


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