It was love at first sight for Candace and Aaron Smith.
The Omaha couple welcomed quadruplets, delivered via cesarean section, at Methodist Women’s Hospital earlier this month. The four newborns — Aaliyah, Cassadee, Aaron Jamaal Junior and Skyler — are the first quadruplets born in the state this year, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
“I was very excited when I saw them. My heart just melted,” Candace, 32, said. “I fell in love with them.”
It’s likely that the Smith babies will be the only quads born locally this year: A spokeswoman for the health department said one set of quadruplets is typically born in the state each year. No sets were recorded in 2016.
The parents, who used fertility treatments, said they visited the doctor two weeks after Candace took a pregnancy test. Finding out they were having four babies was a shock.
“(The doctor) said, ‘There’s a lot going on in there,’ ” said Candace, who stopped working at Woodmen Life in December. “It took me awhile to come to grips with it.”
During the pregnancy, Candace visited her doctor almost weekly. She was monitored closely to make sure she didn’t develop complications, including gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and preeclampsia. The only symptoms she did develop were swelling in her feet and legs, and back pain.
“I was a little uncomfortable, but I can’t really complain,” Candace said.
Candace delivered the quadruplets on Feb. 9.
Seeing the babies in the delivery room was a relief — for doctors and the parents. Dad was nervous in the delivery room, but hearing the cries of all four babies was a great sound.
“I give her mad props for what she’s been through,” said Aaron, a warehouse manager. “There were tears of joy. It was a moment of happiness.”
Name-picking was a right given to dad, but mom liked all of his choices. When it came to naming the only boy of the group, it was a no-brainer.
“Of course, the boy’s going to be a junior,” Aaron, 33, said.
The babies each have bold personalities, and that helps in telling them apart, the parents said.
Aaliyah, the oldest, is the “tough one,” her mother said. She weighed 3 pounds, 9 ounces at birth.
Cassadee, who also weighed 3 pounds, 9 ounces, has been “nosy.”
Aaron Jamaal, or AJ, has a bit of an attitude. He weighed in at 4 pounds, 4 ounces.
Skyler, the biggest of the bunch at 4 pounds, 12½ ounces, is “the lazy one,” her mother said.
The Smith babies are the third set of quadruplets born at Methodist Women’s Hospital since it opened in 2010. The last set was born in 2015.
Dr. Khalid Awad, a neonatologist at the Omaha hospital, said the babies are doing “extraordinarily well.”
Experts at Methodist said quads are typically delivered at 29 weeks. Candace delivered at 34 weeks. Because of that, the babies avoided many complications that come with premature birth.
To be released from the hospital, the newborns must meet three milestones: breathing on their own, eating well and regulating their temperature in an open crib. All the babies are breathing on their own. Two need to work on keeping warm outside of an incubator. All are at different eating levels, with most taking some tube feedings.
Awad estimated that the babies will be able to go home in two to three weeks. There, they will join their 14-year-old brother, Keion Scott. Initially, Keion wasn’t happy to hear he’d have four new siblings. But upon meeting them, he was a smitten big brother.
The Smiths are optimistic that the babies will have a close bond as they grow up, though they’re prepared to deal with some bickering along the way.
The family’s home is bursting with baby gear and a bigger ride — a new van. They’re still in the process of collecting extra diapers. Many of the thousands of diapers they’ve acquired have been donated, Aaron said.
They have no shortage of baby clothes.
“I finally got to shop for a girl. Three times,” Candace said.
Right now the new parents are taking things day by day. But there’s a lot to look forward to. At the top of their list, Candace said, “Loving them 24/7 and cuddling them 24/7.”