It was seven days before Ashley Crandell could hold all four of her quadruplets, who were born 9 weeks early. But the wait felt much longer than that.
Crandell, 36, and her husband, Lance, 41, struggled with secondary infertility for nearly four years, after getting pregnant right away with their first child, Isla, who is now 5.
“There was a point where I thought we were never going to be able to give Isla a sibling and I was devastated. I always wanted a big family,” Crandell told TODAY Parents. “I tried to stay positive, but at certain points I was like, ‘OK. This just isn’t going to happen. Our bodies aren't working."
Crandell noted that she has polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS, and Lance has low sperm motility, and both conditions contributed to their fertility issues.
Crandell and Lance weren’t sure if they wanted to proceed with in vitro fertilization (IVF) but decided to give IUI a shot. An IUI is when healthy sperm is placed in the uterus as close to the time of ovulation as possible.
Crandell was convinced it wouldn't work. But six weeks later, Wesley, Emma, Leah and Nora appeared on the ultrasound screen.
“I remember looking at those four heartbeats and thinking, ‘Should we be excited or should we be terrified?’ I decided we could be both all at once," she recalled.
The quadruplets were born on Feb. 11 at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona. All four babies spent 10 weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), learning how to eat and breathe on their own.
“But all things considered, they were pretty healthy,” Crandell said.
Each day, she'd visit them and marvel at their beauty.
"I couldn't believe they were finally here," she said.
When Wesley, Emma, Nora and Leah were all finally placed in Crandell’s arms, she was overcome with emotion. All those negative pregnancy tests, all the heartbreak, and now four beautiful babies were resting on her chest. It was almost too much to bear.
“I’m gonna start crying just thinking about it,” Crandell said. “When you’re pregnant with quadruplets, it’s hard to fathom that there are four humans in there. I saw them on ultrasounds every week, but it’s not the same. So when I held them, it was like, ‘Wow, these are all my babies. They all belong to me.”
"Somehow, I was gifted with this amazing blessing of having all four of these perfect babies at one time," she continued. "The only thing that could have made the moment better is if my oldest had been there, too."