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Wednesday, June 26, 1991 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Quadruplets' Parents Prepared To Go Four-Ward

BELLEVUE - The hospital progress report might read: "Mother and babies doing fine. Father still in shock."

Gregg Mattson, 38, stood surrounded by television cameras and microphones at Overlake Hospital Medical Center yesterday. His wife, Caren, 36, was six floors above in the Childbirth Center, recovering from delivering four babies - three boys and one girl - just five hours before.

Asked to sum up the feeling of having quadruplets, Gregg Mattson offered: "Amazing."

"The first time I saw them, they were all hands and feet," he said.

The babies were delivered by Dr. Michael Lawler, an obstetrician and gynecologist with Overlake, and a team of 20 other doctors and nurses.

They were delivered by Caesarean section that started shortly after 9 a.m. and was completed in less than 35 minutes. Lawler said everything went off without a hitch, although one of the boys - the first one out - was sent to Children's Hospital and Medical Center in Seattle as a precaution against possible breathing problems.

At first the doctors thought two of the boys were identical twins, but Lawler said he now thinks each baby came from a separate egg - meaning none are identical twins. (The one question getting the best laugh at yesterday's news conference came from a television reporter who was puzzled about what makes identical twins - it's one egg split in two - as opposed to fraternal twins - it's two separate eggs.

"Can you explain," she asked Lawler, "how these babies came to be?")

Lawler, who delivered another set of quadruplets in Montana four years ago, said 97 percent of the quads born in this country these days were conceived with the help of fertility drugs.

That was true the last time quadruplets were born in Washington state, just a year ago.

But it wasn't true for the Mattsons. Gregg said they weren't even thinking about having any more children to join their 8-year-old son.

Caren Mattson was admitted to Overlake Hospital on April 17, shortly after it was discovered she was going to have four babies.

The doctors decided that she needed complete bed rest until the babies were far enough along to survive. They were delivered at 34 weeks, 2 days old, which is a few weeks older than most quads are when they arrive and a few weeks younger than a single full-term baby.

Lawler said concerned medical staffers did tests over the weekend to see if the babies' lungs were developed enough to survive outside the womb.

There were also concerns about the babies running out of room inside Caren, who had gained 60 pounds.

Caren said she was having a hard time breathing because the babies had taken up so much room.

The first baby, a boy, arrived at 9:19 a.m., and weighed 4 pounds, 2 ounces; the second, a boy named Michael Curtiss, arrived a minute later and weighed 4 pounds, 5 ounces; the third, also a boy, came at 9:21 a.m. and weighed in at 3 pounds, 12 ounces; and the fourth, a girl named Stacia Olivia, came just a few seconds later and weighed 3 pounds, 10 ounces. Two of boys don't have names yet.

Caren Mattson will be able to go home in a week or so, doctors said, and the babies will be able to go home in three weeks.

Gregg, a self-employed computer consultant, said he plans to have an assembly line for changing and feeding them. "It will be mass production," he said.

He also said he didn't know what they would do about the diaper situation, except that they will go through about 350 a week.

But Gregg said they plan to use any kind of diaper they can get.

His parents live in the area and Caren's twin sister flew in from Denver to help out.

The most encouraging thing, he said, is that he and Caren have met several parents of triplets and found "those kids were fairly well-behaved.

They were like little ducklings and seemed to mass around each other.

"Plus the families seemed to be well-organized - but that may have been out of necessity."

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BABY AID

Overlake Hospital is accepting donations to help Gregg and Caren Mattson with their new family. People can call 462-5177 to donate.

Copyright (c) 1991 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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