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Church wraps quads in love

GRAND PRARIE, TEXAS — Suzanne Steece was eight weeks pregnant when she and her husband, Joe, learned they were expecting ore than one baby – four, to be exact.
Tears streamed down Suzanne’s face as the doctor pointed to the flashing heartbeats of babies A, B, C and D on the monitor positioned beside the bed.
Joe feared for his wife’s health, the babies’ lives and wondered how he’d provide for everyone.
“We were so afraid,” Suzanne said. “Afraid for them.”
Members of the North Davis church in nearby Arlington didn’t know the Steeces very well. The couple had placed membership only a few months earlier, having come from the Bering Drive church in Houston and the Crestview church in Waco before that.
But what they did know was this” A young family needed help.
And so, six months later, the North Davis Quads were born.
Benjamin, Savannah, Andrew and Ethan arrived on Aug. 1 at 30 weeks gestation. The two sets of twins (Drew and Ethan are identical, Ben and Savannah are fraternal) spent several weeks in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and came home in reverse birth order to the family’s two-story brick home in September.
Every day since, some of the 40 church women who comprise the “Diaper Darlings” come to feed and burp babies, change diapers, fold laundry and help however they’re needed.
They hail not only from North Davis, but also from the Pleasant Ridge, Park Row and New York Avenue churches in Arlington.
North Davis member Marcie Gibson, paralyzed from the effects of Lou Gehrig’s disease, inspired the creation of a computer program that matches volunteers with specific babies and shifts. Her mother, Linda Gibson, makes sure slots are filled.
“I have so enjoyed doing this for Suzanne and Joe and their four ‘gifts from God,’ as I call them,” said Linda Gibson, who counts the Steece quads as her family, along with another daughter, son and two grandsons.
Suzanne, who until recently was a surgical charge nurse, answers the door holding her daughter, Savannah, upright on her shoulder. The doorbell is working again after an electrician’s visit earlier that day. “We wore it out!” Suzanne laughs.
Upstairs, three women smile and chat as they feed, burp and change Drew, Ben and Ethan in a living area that has comfortable recliners and a miniature refrigerator full of formula.
Suzanne, 27, and Joe, 28, were eager to start a family a few years after marrying, but had difficulty conceiving. Suzanne’s doctor prescribed a small dose of a drug that stimulates ovulation. The next month, they were pregnant.
After counting four heartbeats, Suzanne’s doctor immediately advised the Steeces to consider reducing the pregnancy to two babies. The answer, despite their surprise and new concerns, was an immediate and emphatic no.
So the couple set out on a trip they had never dreamed of taking. Joe wore a stunned look most of the time, by his own admission. One Sunday morning, North Davis minister to adults Scott Hamm saw Joe at church and asked how the family would manage transportation.
“I really don’t know,” Joe said.
Through word of mouth, Hamm raised about $20,000 — half of which came from one individual. The family now treks to three doctors’ appointments each week in a late-model Chevrolet Suburban with, coincidentally, quad seating.
“It was a blessing to be able to identify a need,” said Hamm, a father of two. “If it hadn’t been me, someone else would have.
“We don’t see it as any big thing. … It’s just what you do as a church family.”
Suzanne’s longtime friend Lacy Underwood, who also grew up in Waco and attended Crestview, was the first familiar face the Steeces saw at North Davis. Underwood quickly became the Steeces’ personal public relations coordinator, serving as a contact person for those who wished to help while Suzanne focused on eating, resting and growing four babies.
“Lacy was truly a life-saver and the mastermind behind all the help,” Suzanne said. “Shehas three young children herself and is an elementary school teacher … so, needless to say, her life is hectic enough!”
Underwood and Carrie Foster, another North Davis member, helped organize a large-scale shower for the Steeces, printing out the couple’s gift registries and making tags with individual items.
The two ladies and members of the Steece’s Bible class also delivered food and DVDs to Suzanne while she was on bed rest. During her visits, Foster often painted Suzanne’s toenails with bright colors, since the mom-to-be couldn’t see her feet, much less reach them.
The visits now are much more chaotic, Foster said, laughing.
Shiloh, the couple’s beagle, barks her greeting as volunteers from North Davis push open the seemingly revolving door of the family’s home.
One night a week, a volunteer comes and gives the couple a night to themselves. “We grab a movie, go into our room and cuddle for a little while,” Suzanne said.
She’s thankful not only for the constant help, but also the companionship and connection to those who share her faith and desire to give the babies the best possible care. “They come here, work, bring things, and then when they leave, they’re thanking me,” Suzanne said. “It’s crazy! It’s amazing to see how God is using my babies to bless a whole lot of people — us included.”
Dec. 1, 2007

Filed under: People Staff Reports

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