Justina Kopp stands 5 feet tall and weighs a mere 100 pounds. So you’d never guess just by looking at her that a little over a year and a half ago, this 27-year-old woman carried not one, not two, not three, but four babies all at the same time. But she did.
Kopp, who lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband Matthew, 26, is the mother of 15-month-old quadruplets — Cora, Raphael, Theodore, and Benedict. And somehow, with a smaller than average size and a larger than life pregnancy, Kopp made it work.
“This truly defied the basic laws of physics,” she laughs.
After suffering a miscarriage shortly after they were married in October 2015, the Kopps received the surprise of their lives when they found out they were expecting quads at their first ultrasound appointment.
“We both just laughed,” Kopp says of their reaction. “We laughed for two solid days until all the panic set in.”
Carrying four babies at one time with a small stature should have been a lot more difficult than it proved to be for Kopp. She notes that her pregnancy was actually “pretty calm” and that the only difficulties she really had were two kidney stones and a fast heart rate.
At the beginning of her pregnancy, she even worked as a nanny chasing around toddlers, which Kopp admits did leave her feeling completely exhausted. She had a cervical cerclage placed at around 13 weeks to help prevent preterm labor (which is more common with multiples), but she never even needed to go on bed rest.
“Each time I went in to appointments, especially in the third trimester, the doctors would say how shocked they were that I wasn’t on bed rest or in the hospital,” Kopp says.
Although she avoided bed rest, the physical aspects of carrying four babies at once were still challenging. By the 26-week mark, when she and her husband “conveniently” decided to move, she was measuring a full 40 weeks. Seeing a pelvic floor therapist helped her focus on keeping her core healthy and dealing with the pain of her symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD).
She explains that even moving around was tiresome and painful, and she needed help to get out of bed to use the restroom all night long. And by delivery day, at 33 weeks, Kopp was measuring a whopping 52 weeks, which, if you’re doing the math in your head right now, is the equivalent of a YEAR of being pregnant.
Kopp and her husband were initially advised to perform a selective reduction on their pregnancy to take the number of fetuses down for a better chance of survival, but the couple was determined to see her entire pregnancy through. “We chose four the moment we knew there were four, plain and simple,” she explains.
Eventually, the medical team working with Kopp and her babies got the message that this mom meant business. Despite some frustration from a few of the specialists, reduction was never brought up again. Kopp made it through her pregnancy with all four babies born via C-section at 33 weeks, two days after she was admitted for preeclampsia.
The babies — three boys and one girl — were all were all breathing room air and were out of the NICU by day two. They spent three weeks in a special care nursery, focusing on eating and growing. And they all came home on the same day, without a single complication since. Because the babies were in the hospital for three weeks, Kopp was able to go home and focus on resting, pumping, recovering, and healing.
“It would have been absolute madness if I had to care for four babies right after having a C-section,” Kopp comments.
Thanks to what she calls an “amazing” village that included a team of postpartum doulas, family, and friends, the new parents had plenty of support as they made their transition into life at home as a family of six. Heck, Kopp says that, believe it or not, she even had regular naps back then, thanks to her babies all napping at the same time.
These days, Kopp spends her days caring for her four kiddos and hoping that those simultaneous naps continue. As for the future, she notes that although she and her husband are focused on the four babies they have right now, they are open to having more in the future. Matthew comes from a family of 10 kids, so the pair is no stranger to having a large brood around.
Having four babies at once is no easy feat, but this mama almost makes it look too easy. Kopp is quick to add, however, that the support of her family, friends, and community, along with her and her husband’s faith, have been important components to expanding their family and learning to adjust with quadruplets.
“We know that these babies are a good and beautiful gift, one that we sometimes don’t understand,” she says. “I know that this life is uniquely difficult, but it is also uniquely joyful. In seeing life as a gift, we never considered reducing the number of babies we had. We chose four when we knew there were four. God’s plan is big and mysterious to us, but we trust in his abundant grace and mercy every single day.”