By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
She was known as “Baby C” in the beginning.
Now better known as Laura Koke, clinical program manager for nursing practice at Riley Children’s Health, she is one of the Taylor quadruplets who caused quite a stir among Indianapolis media back in 1983.
Koke and her three siblings arrived on the scene to much fanfare at IU Hospital in Indianapolis (now IU Health University Hospital). They were the first set of quads born at University and just the second surviving four-some born in the state.
“All four of us are doing well and are very grateful to Riley for all we have been given,” Koke said.
On Friday, June 9, the siblings and spouses celebrated their 40th birthday with a surprise trip to an Escape Room planned by their parents, Phil and Theresa Taylor of Indianapolis.
It’s been quite a ride for the family since that early morning in 1983 when Theresa Taylor delivered four tiny babies into the hands of a team of physicians and nurses. Actually, there were multiple teams – one for each baby and for mom.
Out came David, Katie, Laura and Julie – weighing a combined 11½ pounds. They were born 10 weeks early and were rushed over to Riley Hospital for Children’s neonatal intensive care unit.
But the “womb-mates” needed only a week of NICU care before being transferred back to University for a few weeks to continue growing.
Phil Taylor likes to tell the story of how the number of babies seemed to keep multiplying while his wife was pregnant.
One early ultrasound showed twins, he recalled. An ultrasound a month later showed triplets, and still another the next month indicated quadruplets, Taylor said.
“No more ultrasounds!” he jokingly pleaded with the doctor.
Even so, up until the delivery, there was a question whether there might be a fifth baby in there, Theresa said, but the two-dimensional ultrasound had picked up one baby twice.
“They were wonderful,” Theresa said. “We could not have asked for more kind-hearted, knowledgeable doctors.”
When the quads went home, they joined big sister Lynn, who was 2½ at the time. It made for a busy household.
“We were doing the same as all parents,” Phil recalled, “just a little more intensely. We would change all diapers at the same time and the same with feedings. If one woke up hungry, we’d wake them all up and feed them.”
It was the only way they could get any rest themselves.
“When they first came home, it took an hour and a half to feed all four of them, with two of us feeding them. And they ate every two hours,” Theresa said. “That at least gave us a 30-minute break.”
Fortunately, those frequent feedings didn’t last for too many months. Still, sleep was hard to come by.
“We didn’t sleep for about five years,” Theresa joked.
About a month after the babies came home, a group of nurses who had cared for them in the hospital offered to babysit. It was an exciting time for the young parents, who planned where to go and what to do, while also writing out a detailed schedule for each baby.
They forgot just one thing. “We forgot to tell them which baby was which,” Theresa said, chuckling at the memory.
As they grew, she said, she sometimes would regret that she and her husband couldn’t give them more individualized attention, but it worked itself out.
“No matter your situation, you’re not going to give your kids everything, and that’s good,” she said. “You try to give them what they need, and even then you might come up short. But they had each other.”
Koke, who had health issues as a child, was in and out of Riley frequently. It made an impression on the youngster.
“I knew from the time I was 5 that I wanted to be, not only a nurse but a Riley nurse,” she said. “And I really never wavered.”
She began her Riley career in 2008, working in the PICU and hematology-oncology clinic before being named to the nursing practice team. Koke received the coveted Margaret Martin Award for nursing in 2016.
When she started in hem-onc, her preceptor that first day just so happened to be Susan Litts, who had been a nurse at University Hospital when Koke and her siblings were born.
“I said, ‘I’m Baby C!’ She couldn’t believe it.”
Phil and Theresa Taylor couldn’t be prouder of all their kids, but they are especially pleased to see “Baby C” follow her dream back to Riley.
When she was little, she had a cry that demanded attention, her mom said.
Today, “she’s still advocating not just for herself and her siblings but for all the nurses in the hospital,” Theresa said.
Looking back, the couple say they can’t speak highly enough of their experience with Riley and feel blessed to have a children’s hospital in their backyard.
The quads – David Taylor, Katie Sullivan, Laura Koke and Julie Critser – are all married and parents themselves now. The four have given their parents 13 grandchildren, plus three more grandkids from older sister Lynn Glass.
Asked what goes through her head when she looks at her family today, Theresa doesn’t hesitate.
“How lucky we are, how blessed we are. I don’t even buy lottery tickets because I’ve already won the lottery.”
Indy’s First Quadruplets: Baby No. 3 Just Had Twins And Is A Nurse At Riley - Laura Koke never forgot the nurses who took care of her at Riley as a little girl. And she vowed from the age of 5, she would be one of them some day.
Indy’s First Surviving Quadruplets Turn 34 Today - They were born in the wee morning hours of June 9, 1983 and promptly made headline news. Riley set up a special telephone number for media to get recorded updates.