Almost five months ago, Carlos Morales achieved one dream and lost another.
His wife Erica, pregnant with four babies through IVF, went into labor on Jan. 15.
“I still think back to that moment every day and it was wonderful,” Carlos, 29, who works in manufacturing, tells PEOPLE. “Erica did so well, the babies were healthy. It was perfect.”
But just a few hours later, after all four babies – three girls and one boy – were safely delivered, Erica, 36, went into hypovolemic shock, an emergency condition when the patient has a severe amount of blood loss. She died on Jan. 16 at 1:50 am.
“I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t speak,” Morales, from Phoenix, Arizona, says about the moment his life turned into a nightmare. “I didn’t know how I would survive without her. But almost five months later, I understand why I am still here. My babies are four beautiful blessings.”
The Past Five Months
Since that day, almost 13,000 people have donated to his GoFundMe page, and even more have been captivated by his story – including Steve Harvey.
On Thursday, the Steve Harvey show surprised Carlos with numerous gifts, including $10,000 per child from Sallie Mae to start a college savings account.
“When Steve Harvey told me that, I couldn’t believe it,” Morales says. “Everything I do is for my children and their future. Education is so important. I worry about money and this just made me feel so relieved.”
All four were born around 3 lbs., and since then, they have more than tripled their weight.
“They are becoming little humans,” Morales says, laughing. “I just wish Erica could see them grow up.”
Morales has since gone back to work, and although he says it’s been good for him, it’s also the hardest part of his day.
“That’s when Erica used to text me and ask how my day was going,” he says. “It’s on my way home that I realize she won’t be there when I walk in the door.”
But any sadness soon turns into joy when he sees Carlos Jr., Tracy, Paisley and Erica, named after his wife.
“They have such potential and it’s my job to give them a great life,” says Morales. “But I couldn’t do it without my family and friends.”
Before Erica died, her mother, Sondra, made a vow to her that she would move in for the first few years of the babies lives and help out.
Now, that vow means even more to her mother who relocated from Memphis, Tennessee.
“She said she will be here for as long as she needs to be,” says Morales. “She’s such a protective and loving grandmother. It’s a real team effort. Her mother has even come to help out so the babies now have their great grandmother around as well.”
The quadruplets are now not only on formula, but also baby food, and showing more emotion.
“They make a lot of cute noises,” Morales says. “I just want them to say ‘DaDa’ already.”
Although it’s been five months, it sometimes feels like it’s been five minutes for Morales. He thinks back to his early 20s when he met Erica at a nightclub in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2006. She didn’t speak Spanish and he didn’t speak English, but they bonded immediately. The next year, they drove to Vegas and got married.
“This wasn’t the plan. Erica was supposed to be here. I still come home after work and look at pictures of us together. I go to her Facebook and I look through our text messages,” he says. “But I know I’ll be okay. I have to be. I have four beautiful children to raise.”