After four years trying, Limerick couple have quadruplets

By David Raleigh

James Slattery will forever be known amongst his family and friends as "The Quad Father".

On Monday, after trying for four years to have children with his wife Grace, he became a father of five, literally overnight.

James, from Dublin, has another child from a previous relationship called Joshua (aged 13).

Grace, 31, gave birth to healthy quadruplets on Monday morning, 24 hours earlier than the couple and their consultant had planned.

The couple's three bouncing baby girls and a darling boy entered the world at 3.54am at 32 weeks and six days weeks old.

But, despite being premature, the Co Limerick quads ranged in weight -- from the biggest, Amelia Helen, at 4lbs 3oz, to the smallest Mollie Rose at 2lbs 15 oz-- who were born within minutes of each other at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin along with their brother Lucas James (3lbs 10oz) and Lily Grace May (3lbs 4oz).

The Quadruplets and parents James and Grace Slattery from Caherconlish, Co Limerick. Pic: Press 22

Proud Dad James had to get a garda escort from Limerick to Dublin after getting a phone call from his wife late on Sunday night that she had to have an earlier than planned C-Section that night.

"From now I will be know as James 'The Quad father'. They can't take that away from me," he joked.

James thought his wife had gone mad when she ordered him to get a garda escort or face missing the birth of his four new children, however he dutifully followed his wife's call and rang Henry Street gardaí who willingly cleared the path along the M7 motorway getting James and his parents to the hospital in time.

"I got a phone call at 12.30pm from my wife in the Rotunda to say that her waters were after breaking, and (for me) to be on stand-by and get ready to go. So I got myself sorted and eventually I was told it was 3am that she was going to have them. It wasn't supposed to happen until Tuesday. So, my parents picked me up, I got in the car and we headed to Dublin, and we rang the gardaí to see what they could do for us and they literally gave us an escort all the way to the Rotunda, and I literally ran in the door and I just made it in time," he explained.

"She was the one who came up with the idea to ring the guards. We didn't know what to do. We were literally getting in the car and driving, and Grace said to me: 'Look, you're not going to make it here on time. See if you can get onto the guards and see what you can do and see if you can get an escort up'.

"Sure, I thought she was away with the birds. I didn't think it would happen at all. So, eventually, we rang Henry Street garda station in Limerick and they were brilliant and they put us onto someone in Nenagh (Tipperary) and they looked after us all the way up. They were brilliant," he said.

"I was lucky enough, because the garda in Limerick was happy enough, because his wife only had twins recently, so he said, 'not a bother, I'll look after you'," added James.

"We left at about 1.20am and we got up to the Rotunda at about 2.40am. My dad was pretty much motoring along the motorway."

Despite all the fuss and effort to get to the hospital in time, when James arrived at the hospital, his wife was calmly doing her hair up to look her best for her impending arrivals.

James laughed and said: "She was actually sitting on the end of her bed straightening her hair."

"I literally had got out of my car, opened my dad's boot, took out the video camera and I ran up to the first floor and I asked where would I go, would I go to the theatre or would I go to her room or where would I go. I just ran into her room quickly and there she was. She said: 'Hi, how are you, how's things', and I was like, 'yeah, what are you doing?', and she replied, 'I'm just fixing my hair, just give me a couple of minutes'."

James said he and his wife have gone through hell to finally have children of their own. The couple have suffered through four miscarriages in the last four years.

"We've been trying for a while to have a baby and so on and for the last four years we haven't been successful. We've had four miscarriages in the last four years. We're married four years as well and we're together ten years next month. So, literally, things haven't been great for the last four years, especially on Grace, things have been tough on her," he added.

James said they had the children naturally, despite rumors that they may have had IVF fertility treatment.

"No, we didn't do IVF. We were in bed one night and we just said to each other we'll literally have one last go at it. We had made our minds up, that after the fourth (miscarriage) we wouldn't go again and then we changed our minds and we said we wanted to try once more, and it was natural."

He joked: "No you don't have to do it four times to get quadruplets, luckily enough. She'd be waiting all night on me if that was the case."

Delighted with his new family James added: "They're premature, yeah. Grace was supposed to have them on Tuesday morning at 11am, and on Tuesday she would have been 33 weeks, so they weren't waiting, they were coming."

James said the reality of their new situation hasn't yet sank in.

He said: "I don't know how you prepare yourself for four babies. I'm still trying to figure that one out myself. Luckily enough, our friends and our family have been brilliant and they have all been helping us out. All my neighbours have been inside my house, decorating my house for the last three weeks. They have been brilliant, from painting the babies rooms to building units, the whole lot."

Childminder Grace, will need all her professional skills to cope with her new brood. Having spent the last 11 weeks in hospital between the Maternity Hospital Limerick and Dublin's Rotunda, she is "looking forward to sleeping in her own bed".

A jubilant Grace said the new deliveries "all came out kicking and screaming" and that "all are doing well at the moment".

She thanked her friends and family for all their "good wishes" and asked them to "keep praying for the babies".

She added: "Our family of three is now a family of seven. Amazing".

Despite the multiple births, Grace said she was "feeling much better today".

The new mum of four added: "I'm up and about now. The pain is manageable. I (even) got up to see the babies last night. They are amazing. I can't believe they're all mine."

James was full of praise for his wife, adding: "Grace was in hospital in Limerick for about five weeks and we thought we were going to have them there and then we got shifted to Dublin, so she's been in hospital now for a total of 11 weeks. So, she's looking forward to sleeping in her own bed."

"She's been talking to a lot of people for the last few months and getting support so there has been a lot of people helping her out and giving her advice. She (also) got friendly with another girl who had quads, that she got in contact with through the internet, and they got talking, so that has helped her out," he said.

In an amazing twist, it's emerged another set of quadruplets -- believed to be one of the oldest living set of quads in the world -- were born a few miles from the Slattery's home in 1965.

Pallaskenry woman Eileen O'Connell, 36, gave birth to two boys and two girls on January 23, 1965.

Babies, Catherine (990g), Margaret (1360g), Gerard (1530g), John (1675g), were born at the Maternity Hospital in the Limerick Regional Maternity Hospital.

According to official Oireachtas Debate records, the births was raised in the Dáil when Minister for Social Welfare at the time, Kevin Boland, gave assurances that "all necessary assistance" be given to the family who had seven other children. The debate heard that the children's father, who is not named, was "only on a road worker's wages".

Minister Boland told the Dáil the family would receive Social Welfare Assistance in the sum of £13 four shillings per month.

"I understand the County Manager has indicated that everything possible will be done by the public health authority and that some extra facilities and amenities are being provided," Mr Boland said.

Limerick County Council provided the family with a home extension and the provision of hot water.

  • Click to stay connected with more stories like this
  • Sign up here to receive news by email. Once per day, no spam.

Most Read in Ireland