Lorraine Cusack, a 35-year-old online advertiser, and her husband Johnny Byrne, a 38-year-old painter-decorator, experienced profound sadness with the death of their baby shortly after his birth. However, their lives took an unexpected turn when they were joyfully blessed with quadruplets at Dublin’s Coombe Hospital in December 2020. These four rainbow babies have brought immeasurable happiness to the couple, filling their hearts with joy and gratitude.
The couple admitted their “shock and disbelief” when Lorraine became pregnant less than four months after her first born sadly died at birth.
She told the Irish Sunday Mirror: “Our little boy Dylan passed away in January of last year, he was only nine hours old when he died.
“It was absolutely devastating, he was our first and we’d been trying to get pregnant for about a year.
“I had a really easy pregnancy, no sickness, the scans were perfectly fine, no issues, I even went over my due date.”
Doctors had no concerns and let Lorraine go three days over before inducing her. Labour was normal and there was no cause for concern.
Lorraine said: “When he was born he didn’t cry. We could tell straight away that something was wrong.
“He couldn’t clear his lungs and went straight to ICU. They took out his tubes and he just passed away.”
Lorraine and Johnny later found out that little Dylan died of meconium aspiration which happens when a baby inhales amniotic fluid and meconium gasping for air.
For 95%of babies they just cough it up; but Dylan was in the 5% who can’t clear their lungs.
Lorraine said: “We got to spend a lot of time with him. We were in the hospital for a few days.
“We had his name picked out early on. Going to the hospital I said ‘we’ve done it now we’ll be leaving here with a baby’.
“It was the shock of it, even when they took him away we thought he’s going to be fine.”
In the midst of the heartache the couple decided they wanted to try again and just four months later Lorraine discovered she was pregnant.
She revealed: “For me I was desperate to have another baby. I felt that every part of me just wanted to have that baby in my arms.
“I found out I was pregnant at the start of May, just from doing a test at home.”
Because of what happened with Dylan the hospital classed it a high risk pregnancy and kept a close eye on Lorraine.
She was brought in for an early scan at eight weeks – but Johnny had to stay outside due to Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions.
Fighting back tears as memories of Dylan flooded back Lorraine was asked by the scanographer if she’d done IVF.
She said: “I thought that was a weird question and wondered if it was twins, wouldn’t that be great.
“She said ‘okay there’s a baby and a heartbeat’, I was delighted. Then she moved the wand and said ‘and another’.
“She moved it again and said ‘and there’s a third heartbeat’. I said ‘triplets, really?’
“And she moved it again and said ‘and there’s a fourth heartbeat’. I was in pure shock. I just couldn’t believe it. I said ‘four, four babies?’.
“I couldn’t comprehend it. It was like somebody telling me aliens had landed in the back garden.”
A consultant confirmed the news and a shell-shocked Lorraine broke it to Johnny.
Then came months of worry as two of the quads were identical and sharing the same amniotic sac, and risks of twin to twin transfusion syndrome were factored in.
However Lorraine admitted that the pandemic lockdown had one advantage – for her it was the perfect time to cocoon at home.
She said: “Coming up to the end of my pregnancy I was the size of a house.
“It was scary, we knew from the get-go that the babies were going to be premature, the latest they would let me go was 32 weeks.
“We had a C-section planned for December 11, that was 32 weeks and two days.
“I went in on Friday December 4 for a routine scan and the doctor noticed issues with the cord so they said let’s just deliver them today.”
Lorraine arrived at Dublin’s Coombe Hospital at 8.30am and three hours later the babies were delivered, arriving at one minute intervals.
Nathan was born first at 11.40am and his identical sibling Cooper arrived one minute later, both weighing 3lb 15oz.
Erin came next, weighing 2lb 13oz, while Eve was born at 11.43am weighing in at 2lb 12oz.
All four were doing great until Eve picked up a blood infection followed by a blood clot. She has spent half of her first three months in hospital.
Lorraine said: “With Covid rules changing by January Johnny was not allowed to come in and see Eve.
“That was probably the worst time. You just felt guilty. It felt wrong leaving the others to go to the hopsital, then it felt wrong leaving her to go home.
“She was so much smaller than the rest, they were just thriving.”
The Byrne family was completed on January 29 when Eve joined her three siblings at the family home in Ballycullen, south Dublin.
For now life is a never-ending cycle of feeds and nappy changes with 24 bottles and at least 26 nappy changes each day. Lorraine admits it’s “full on” but she and Johnny are head over heels in love with their “four little dotes”. She revealed: “The boys we think favour my side and the girls take after Johnny. The boys are identical so it’s hard to tell them apart.
“Cooper is the biggest and his right ear is pointy. He is definitely the most chilled out, while Nathan is a bit more of a drama queen.
“The girls look different, and Eve is the smallest.”
Lorraine and Johnny say they’re only coming up for air three months later as the reality of the situation sinks in.
She concluded: “It’s always on our minds that Dylan isn’t here as well – as happy and as great as everything is there’s always one missing.
“It’s only been a year and we are still grieving – but we have four babies.