If you happen to become the parents of quadruplets, you'd better not live in a one-bedroom apartment.
That's the message from Norair Dereghishian, a Glendale resident whose wife, Rubina, gave birth to one boy and three girls last week at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena.
The Dereghishians say they have received promises of free nursing care, donations of baby clothes and lots of congratulations. But they are still looking for the thing they need most: a two-bedroom house they can afford to rent.
"We have to move," said the new father, who says he takes home less than $1,000 a month as manager of a gas station and convenience store near Los Angeles International Airport. "We need at least one extra bedroom but have to look at houses because, with four babies, we don't want to bother other tenants."
The Dereghishians, immigrants from the Armenian section of Iran, live in a one-bedroom apartment near Glendale Community College and want to stay in the Glendale-Pasadena area to be close to the babies' doctors and friends in the Armenian community.
However, it is difficult to find a suitable rental house in the area for less than $700 a month. Dereghishian hopes to find a second job for nights or weekends, but such a rent "will be very difficult," he said.
The couple, who have no other children and no immediate family in the United States, have been getting help in the house search from the Armenian Evangelical Social Service Center in Hollywood. The group is hoping to find a landlord who will rent a house at below market rates, center volunteer Rosine deCervantes said.
"We are going directly to the Armenian community, to the churches, to the women's guilds, making them aware that this phenomenon took place and that there is a limited income," deCervantes said. "We hope to find someone who is willing to extend themselves in this fashion because certainly the rent they can pay is not equal to what normally would be required."
The quadruplets are expected to leave the hospital--one at a time as each gains enough weight--within a couple of weeks, hospital spokeswoman Nelsa Brodie said.
The babies, who have been moved out of the neonatal intensive care unit, and their 27-year-old mother are all doing fine. One girl who was on a respirator for a few days is now breathing on her own, Brodie said.
The quadruplets, the first in the 92-year history of Huntington Meorial Hospital, were delivered Jan. 15, about six weeks prematurely, by Caesarean section after doctors became alarmed that an umbilical cord might be wrapped around the neck of one of the girls. At delivery, they ranged in weight from 2 pounds, 15 ounces to 3 pounds, 12 ounces.
They are no longer referred to as Babies A,B,C and D. The boy has been named Narbeh. The girls are Armineh, Melineh and Nairy.
The Dereghishians, who have been married five years, began trying to have a child about a year and a half ago, the father said. After several months of not conceiving, they went to a fertility clinic where the wife was given a fertility drug, which increases the chance of a multiple birth. Six months later, she was pregnant. About seven weeks after that, quadruplets were diagnosed.
"When my wife called me at work to tell me the news, I thought she was joking. I told her I couldn't talk to her and that I would call her back," recalled Dereghishian, 33. "But, after knowing that she was carrying four babies, we got ourselves mentally prepared. We had no doubts."
Ironically, his wife--who has been in the hospital's high-risk maternity section since November--always wanted four children, he said, adding that he would have settled for two. Nevertheless, he said: "I'm happy, very, very happy."
Relatives have been telephoning from Iran as frequently as two or three times a day. "I keep telling them it's too expensive to call. But they are so worried and excited about the babies," Dereghishian said.
Relatives on both sides are trying to leave Iran but are facing financial and visa problems, he said.
The hospital started a fund to help the Dereghishians and about $200 has been donated by the public. The hospital and Armenian Evangelical Center have been accepting gifts of clothing, housewares and furniture.
The Riegel Textile Corp. of Los Angeles sent three cartons of quilts, crib pads and pajamas and Bethanis TV & Appliance store in Burbank donated a clothes dryer. Nurses at the hospital threw a baby shower and have promised to help with home care.
The babies still need some furniture, especially cribs. And, of course, there is the problem of the house.
"Somehow we will manage," Dereghishian said. "I don't know how yet. But first we need a house."