Tiny hands and feet flailed and chubby cheeks prevailed Sunday at the annual reunion of the Methodist Women’s Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.

“This was home for me for three months and then two months for the boys,” said Sabrina Negus of Tilden, Nebraska. “It’s like a second family, with a lot of people we still keep in touch with. They’re tethered to us.”

Sabrina and her husband, Lucas Negus, were in town with their quadruplets for the hospital’s fourth annual NICU gathering. It was the first time the parents and their four 19-month-old boys — Logan, Mason, Porter and Connor — had been back since being released.

“We meant to come back last year, but the boys were sick,” Lucas Negus said. “Today is a good chance to get back, say hi and see how everyone is doing.”

The two-hour, circus-themed reunion in the hospital cafeteria drew 516 visitors, including 170 babies and one set of quintuplets, one set of quadruplets, five sets of triplets and 25 sets of twins. There were so many babies that a politician’s lips would have gone numb in minutes.

Visitors enjoyed cookies, lemonade, face painting, sidewalk chalk drawing, a coloring contest and free photographs.

Carrie Furley, a NICU nurse, couldn’t wait to see the quintuplets born to Jose and Bianca Garcia of Sioux City, Iowa, on July 25, 2013. Furley, 47, cared for the four girls and one boy for about six weeks.

“The satisfaction for me is that you become like part of the family,” said Furley, who had triplets herself 21 years ago. “Some babies are here for weeks or months, and you can’t wait to see them come back. You have to watch for the parents, because the babies have changed so much.”

The Garcia family also was making its first return trip to the hospital. Jose said the long drive isn’t easy with the quints and their two older brothers, Jose, 10, and Abrahan, 8.

“We wanted to come back because the people here were outstanding,” Jose said. “On a scale of 1 to 10 they were an 11.”

His wife wanted to show her perinatologist, Dr. Todd Lovgren, how much the children have grown. Marah, Christobal, Arleth, Jimena and Rosalyn weighed a little more than 10 pounds — combined — at birth.

Lovgren wore a ball cap, T-shirt and a wide grin as he held the lone boy, Christobal. The doctor, who also delivered the Negus quadruplets, gently deflected the praise parents heaped on him.

“The mothers do all the work,” Lovgren said. “This is what it’s all about and the goal of everything we do here. It’s my favorite day of the year.”

Proud grandmother Lori Graham of Lincoln helped her daughter tend to her triplets. Sam, Leah and Virginia were born to Mallory and Theodore Leverett of Omaha on Dec. 8, 2013.

Graham said two of the children also spent time at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and the Nebraska Medical Center before going home. Omaha is lucky to have so many good hospitals for babies, she said.

“I was so impressed by the professionalism and care everywhere we went,” Graham said. “When you have babies like this, you don’t know what any day will bring. You have to lean on the experience of professionals, and they really came through.”

Contact the writer: 402-444-1272, kevin.cole@owh.com

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