Mighty Blog

From the NICU to living life to the fullest 

Anyone that has given birth knows, as exciting as it is that you finally get to meet your bundle of joy, the experience is never guaranteed to be a smooth ride. Martha and Dan Klopp knew that all too well when Martha gave birth early to quadruplets, three girls and one boy, at just 27 weeks. The moment the babies were born, there were ups and downs. 

When the quadruplets were born, the care team at Children’s Minnesota had to resuscitate each baby. Martha remembers being told by her care team that the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) would be a rollercoaster ride. 

The NICU rollercoaster 

The four Klopp babies, Madeline, Sofia, Josie and James, all had their own unique experience in the NICU. Madeline was just 2 days old when she had to get surgery to repair a tracheoesophageal fistula, an abnormal connection between the esophagus and trachea, and esophageal atresia, a birth defect where the esophagus doesn’t develop properly. Although Madeline was the smallest patient the surgery team had ever operated that specific surgery on, the surgery was a success!  

Like Martha and Dan were warned by their care team, the NICU is full of highs and lows. Every day there was something positive that happened, but oftentimes there was a setback,said Martha 

Sofia started off being able to breathe on her own with a little support. However, her condition worsened and she ended up needing a jet ventilator, a special ventilator to better support her tiny lungs, to help her breathe for about a week before getting weaned off to a normal ventilator. 

Madeline, Sofia and Josie in NICU

When it came to Josie, Martha remembers being heartbroken that she and Josie couldn’t physically bond as much in the NICU. This was because Josie’s breathing was so temperamental that Martha’s holding time would often be cut short. Josie had many scary moments where she needed a lot of support and help from her care team to breathe.  

Despite all the lows of the NICU, watching the babies grow stronger and be able to no longer need breathing support was an indescribable feeling for Martha. Another high was when they finally were able to get breast milk feedings. Madeline and Sofia were able to go home after 89 days in the NICU, with Josie shortly following just 12 days later. 

In loving memory of James  

While the Klopp family was in the NICU, a day came that no parent could ever prepare for. Their baby boy, James, had passed after having grade 4 brain bleeds on both sides, struggles with seizures and having no brain activity.  

“This was our ultimate low in the NICU but we were treated with so much compassion and sensitivity. We were never pressured or rushed,” recalled Martha. “We attended a memorial service that Children’s Minnesota put on later that year that meant so much to us.”  

Life has gotten busy but over a decade later, the Klopps have never stopped thinking about their baby and brother, James, every day. They have a picture of James from the photo service Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep framed in their den in his memory, and Josie has a piece of art the nurses from their NICU care team made for the family hung up in her room. Three years after the girls and James were born, the Klopp family added a new member to the family and his name is Will James Klopp.  

Life today 

Today, the girls are in seventh grade and live a life Martha could’ve never imagined while they were still little babies in the NICU. Besides maintaining good grades, spending time with friends and family, the girls also participate in multiple sports. Madeline, Sofia and Josie are all on their school’s basketball, track and cross-county teams and excel at the sports.  

“In the NICU, I wanted to envision their future like that but it was too scary to be that optimistic,” said Martha. “How the girls turned out was something I would only dream and hope for.” 

A special thank you 

Thank you to Annette Klein, clinical educator at United Hospital, for being there for the Klopp family during a difficult time. Annette is a grandmother to triplets and had reached out to Martha when she heard that Martha had given birth to quadruplets at the United Hospital. Annette also attended the memorial service that Children’s Minnesota held for the Klopp family and to this day, Martha is still connected to the mother of multiples. 

Last but not least, Martha is extremely grateful and credits the NICU care team at Children’s Minnesota for her and Dan being able to watch the girls live out their wonderful life.  

“Because of the constant care of the doctors, physician assistants and most importantly the nurses who responded to each little alarm, we are watching the most amazing lives. Thank you NICU team!” said Martha.  

Klopp family with Annette Klein at memorial service
Mai Songsawatwong