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Margo Jensen holds Hoyt, left, and Avery at MeritCare's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit before getting ready to take them home after five months in the hospital. Jay Pickthorn / The Forum

'Little fighters' go home

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'Little fighters' go home
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

One of Jensen quads remains in hospital

You've come a long way, babies!

Five months ago, Matt and Margo Jensen of Ogema, Minn., saw their four children come into the world at Fargo's MeritCare Hospital.

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They had been in the womb just six months and two days. Doctors in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit put their chances of survival at 50-50.

But the foursome turned out to be 100 percent tough.

On Monday, sons Kade and Hoyt and daughter Avery were bundled up in car seats. While daughter Taelyn still has some issues to work through on feeding and oxygen intake, she's expected to occupy a crib in Ogema soon, too, her parents said.

"It feels a lot like it did in the beginning. Very emotional, a lot of different feelings. Excitement to be going home," Margo Jensen said. "Sadness for leaving our NICU family here. (It's) hard to be taking three home and leaving one here. But this is where she needs to be."

The babies were born Aug. 21, and their struggles were documented in a CaringBridge online diary that Matt and Margo, both 30, faithfully maintained.

The children had immature lungs and intestinal tracts, heart and eye problems - issues tied to their being born far too soon. Matt and Margo said the children underwent a dozen operations between them, and each have had several minor procedures.

"Bringing four babies home was never a given, and now we're there," Margo said, tears in her eyes. "Having quads, it has touched our lives and blessed us ... They're beautiful."

Margo said she and Matt relied on the support of the hospital staff, their friends and families, and the power of prayer and their faith in God.

"They started so tiny and so sick. They're big babies now. They're all little fighters," said Karla Johnson, a longtime NICU nurse, as she cradled Taelyn.

Margo said her foursome stubbornly fought for life.

"I see the stubbornness as him. He says it's me," Margo said. "I guess they've gotten a double dose. They needed every bit of it."

At birth, Hoyt and Kade were 1 pound, 10 ounces and 1 pound, six ounces, respectively. They're now 10 pounds, 10 ounces and 6 pounds, 2 ounces, hospital staff said.

Avery was 1 pound, 4 ounces and Taelyn was 1 pound, 5 ounces at birth, They are now 7 pounds, 13½ ounces and 8 pounds, 11 ounces, respectively, staff said.

"It is somewhat miraculous. We did not expect for all of them to make it. And the complications that they had. They had some incredible complications of prematurity, I'm thinking, they were just meant to live," said neonatologist Dr. Lina Sapiegiene said.

Sapiegiene said that the parents and MeritCare clinicians will track the development of the children. She said they look healthy and eat well, but as preemies they are at higher risk for developmental delays and learning disabilities.

She said she has confidence in their parents.

"I think they are amazing. There were situations when they (the babies) were so sick. And sometimes you do lose hope. And they were always, always upbeat. Always understanding. These kids are going to a very, very good family. And we cannot ask for better parents for them," Sapiegiene said.

Matt seems comfortable with the multitasking ahead of him, cradling Kade in one arm while gently giving a crying Hoyt his pacifier.

He said he didn't know when Taelyn would join her siblings, but he was ready to make the next 90-minute drive to MeritCare.

The Jensens said they were thankful for all the help that's come their way. A fundraiser at the high school in Waubun, Minn., in November brought in $20,000, Matt Jensen said. Many people brought them clothing and other items for the babies, he said.

And as far as more kids, well, only time will tell.

"You never know," Matt said. "Three years down the road" we might say "that was a piece of cake. Let's have some more."

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