Couple waits four years for a baby, then four arrive in four minutes
They had waited four years to become parents, but when James and Grace Slattery's four babies arrived they came within the space of four minutes.
The couple from Caherconlish, Co Limerick, are celebrating the arrival of healthy quadruplets on Monday morning, 24 hours earlier than had been planned.
The proud father had to be rushed by garda escort from Limerick to Dublin so that he could be there when the babies were born at the Rotunda Hospital.
At five months into the pregnancy, Grace was transferred from Limerick's Regional Hospital to the Rotunda where a special care team was on hand to deal with the multiple births.
Grace (31) gave birth via C-section to three baby girls and a baby boy just before 4am. They were born at 32 weeks and six days – just a day before they were due to be delivered by C-section.
"From now I will be known as The Quad Father. They can't take that away from me," said Mr Slattery (33).
The quads ranged in weight from the biggest Amelia Helen at 4lbs 3oz, to the smallest Mollie Rose at 2lbs 15oz, along with their brother Lucas James (3lbs 10oz) and Lily Grace May (3lbs 4oz).
Recalling the drama just before their birth, Mr Slattery said: "I got a phone call at 12.30pm from my wife in the Rotunda to say that her waters were after breaking, and to be on standby 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.
"Grace said to me, 'Look, you're not going to make it here on time. See if you can get on to 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.
"I was lucky enough, because the garda in Limerick was happy enough – his wife only had twins recently, so he said, 'not a bother, I'll look after you'.
"So my parents picked me up, I got in the car and we headed to Dublin, and we rang the gardai to see what they could do for us – and they literally gave us an escort all the way to the Rotunda.
"I literally ran in the door and I just made it in time.
"We left at about 1.20am and we got up to the Rotunda at about 2.40am. My dad was pretty motoring along the motorway.
Amelia Helen was born at 3.54am, Lucas James at 3.55am, Molly Rose at 3.56am and Lily Grace May at 3.57am.
Mr Slattery said that when he arrived at the hospital, his wife was calmly doing her hair up to look her best for her impending arrivals.
He laughed: "She was actually sitting on the end of her bed straightening her hair."
Mr Slattery, who has a son Joshua (13) from a previous relationship, added: "We've been trying for a while to have a baby . . . 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 10 years next month."
Mr Slattery said they had the children naturally. "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," he explained.
"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.
"I don't know how you prepare yourself for four babies. I'm still trying to figure that one out myself."
Childminder Grace will need all her professional skills to cope with her new brood. Having spent the last 11 weeks in hospital, she is "looking forward to sleeping in her own bed".
She 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".
The new mother-of-four added: "Our family of three is now a family of seven. Amazing.
"I'm up and about now. The pain is manageable. I got up to see the babies last night. The are amazing. I can't believe they're all mine."
In an amazing twist, it 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, at Limerick Regional Maternity Hospital.