MORGANTOWN — For Chelsea Raley, it begins with a 7 a.m.-3 p.m. weekday shift as a Maryland state trooper. Then her attention shifts to raising new quadruplets with her wife, Miranda.
Raley gave birth to their four children in Morgantown on Nov. 25; two boys (Tatum and Gabriel) and two girls (Kamden and Lily).
Only three of the infants are at home.
Gabriel has been hospitalized since birth, undergoing seven surgeries for short bowel syndrome. More procedures are expected.
Since May, he has been treated at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, Md. Soon the family plans to transfer him to Boston Children’s Hospital, where an elite team of intestinal rehabilitation doctors await.
“It’s definitely been a very long eight months of dealing with this,” said Raley, who regularly makes the three-hour commute to Baltimore to be with Gabriel.
“Unfortunately, we don’t even have a plan as to when he will be home.”
Gabriel was diagnosed at birth with necrotizing enterocolitis, a condition common in the early weeks of premature infants.
NEC affects the intestinal tract, which is invaded by bacteria and causes infection, inflammation and can lead to destruction of the bowel wall.
Later came the diagnosis of the less-common short bowel syndrome.
SBS can reduce the ability to absorb needed vitamins and fats vital to the body. Raley said normal babies have 200 centimeters of bowels, but Gabriel has only 55 centimeters.
“He’s working with a lot less bowel to try to absorb nutrients, and that’s why it’s so hard to get him up on feed,” Raley said. “It’s going to be years of requiring special medical condition, so it’s going to be a long road.”
For Gabriel, Raley is expecting more to come.
“In terms of his health condition, the reason he’s so complex and such a mystery is he was diagnosed with different things when he was a baby — surgeons aren’t 100 percent sure ‘Did he have what he was diagnosed with?’ ” Raley said. “We’ll probably never know the real answer.”
While the separation is hard, Raley said she’s thankful her other three are healthy. She and Miranda continue accentuating the positives while dreaming of someday bringing Gabriel home.
“We haven’t even gotten their pictures professionally done because we don’t want to leave him out of it,” she said.
“We just try to cope with it, but you can only do so much. We’re very happy that the other three don’t have any issues like that, and developmentally, they’re doing very well for being premature. You just have to take it day-by-day and look at it as one day he will be home, even though we don’t know when that will be.”
Raley’s mother started a GoFundMe drive, noting that her daughter has benefited from fellow troopers donating some of their leave time. Soon, however, she will be forced to take unpaid leave in order to visit Gabriel in Boston.
You can donate to the Raley family’s medical bills at www.gofundme.com/gabriel-liam-raley