When we are out in public, we tend to attract a lot of attention. These days, there are a lot of stares, some pointing, lots of questions, and lots of interruptions. When people find out that our kids are quadruplets, one of the first questions I hear is “what is it like to have quadruplets”? I typically respond with something generic like “it’s just like you’d expect, crazy” or “they keep me on my toes.”
The truth is, quadruplets are my norm.
For us at least, life is not like what you see on television. While most people can’t imagine what life is like with quadruplets, I can’t imagine what life is like with a singleton. However, because I rarely have time when I’m out and about with my kids to fully answer this $64,000 question, allow me to tell you about life with quadruplets:
It’s a crash course in budgeting:
Before they were born, we had to consider all of the changes that we’d need to make: a different home, a larger vehicle, a washer and dryer that could handle the amount of laundry we’d go through, cribs and car seats for four, and more. We had to make decisions in regard to careers and income and how they’d most affect our family. Daycare for four small children runs at a minimum $24,000 a year which means decisions must be made in regards to who works and who watches the kids. When they were newborns, we went through about 230 diapers per week.
Our monthly formula bill was $700 higher than our home payment for the first year of our children’s lives.
I thought that as we transitioned out of diapers, we’d have extra money in the budget, but that’s just gone to toilet paper and a higher grocery budget as the quads get older and eat more. We are already preparing to finance some of the big ticket expenses that families face like braces, prom, first cars and college… times four!
It’s time management at its finest:
I survived on three hours of sleep, in one-hour increments for the first eight months due to feeding schedules and how long it took to feed four preemie infants along with pumping. I’ve had to learn how to do at least ten things at any given time. In fact, I’m making pancakes, supervising time-out, scheduling pediatrician appointments, ironing my husband’s pants, mopping my floor, listening to my son tell me about each of his toy cars and playing a game of Frozen Match with my girls while I write this blog.
Everything I do is done in an assembly line of fours. Seriously, sometimes I even catch myself getting out four coffee mugs when I make my morning coffee.
I’ve learned that what should take us 15 minutes, usually takes 30 and the importance of planning for that. This usually means staying up late the night before in preparation for the next day. Family calendars and careful planning are absolute musts in our family for everything from grocery store trips to doctor visits.
It’s about crisis management:
Since we found out we were having quads in August of 2013, it has felt like I’ve been on crisis management duty 24/7. Someone once compared it to running a sprint that never ends. I’ve been forced to live on the front lines, making necessary decisions so that our family and our children can survive under circumstances that very few people can even begin to comprehend. I’ve learned that even in the midst of what probably appears to most as complete chaos, it’s best to remain calm and collected because if I lose it, I’ll inevitably have four babies or toddlers losing it as well and believe me, that is NOT a pretty sight. By prioritizing the immediate needs, managing our other needs are and then considering the wants or a nice-to-haves, we have adapted into what has become our new normal.
Speaking of, adaptability is key:
We’ve had to take ownership of a situation that few others live in. Adaptation is necessary in order to give ourselves and our children a sense of normalcy. When I think of all of the things I have learned and done in the past four years, I sit back and am often amazed at all I’ve learned I can do. I’ve put my body to the test asking it to create and sustain four new lives all at once (I still can’t get over the fact that at one point my body had five heads, fifty fingers, fifty toes, ten legs and ten arms.) I’ve learned the roll of a NICU nurse and learned how to take care of four premature infants at once. I’ve learned creative ways to bring income into our family and creative ways to cut our living expenses. I’ve learned how to manage illnesses and how to take care of four little people while I am sick myself. I’ve learned alternative ways to keep us all healthy so I don’t have to mom while I’m sick. I’ve learned that in a pinch, it’s okay to just make do; that sometimes you have to rely on the kindness and compassion of strangers just to get by, and that there are some people in this world, who just won’t get it no matter how hard you try.
It’s enough to need some serious counseling:
Did I hold them enough? Did I hold them equally? Am I meeting all of their needs? Will not having one- on-one time with their parents affect them later in life? Do they know they’re different? Will hearing strangers ask if they are natural or telling me they don’t know how I do it affect their self esteem later in life? These are just a few of many questions I ask myself on a daily basis. There’s also the other areas of my life that have taken a back burner including my marriage (we once went two years without an actual date,) my friendships (I can’t even recall the last girls’ day I had,) and sadly, at one point myself. (I don’t mean to brag, but I once went a full week without an actual shower.)
It’s lowering your standards to some degree:
Crying (and whining) often happen in surround-sound. I have laundry piles as high as the ceiling and basket loads of unfolded laundry. Some days, I seriously wish I could afford to hire someone to come in and get me caught up on laundry alone. I’ve had to accept that it might be a few years before my house is what I’d consider “clean” again. I’ve also had to accept help from strangers and rely on those around us more than I would really like to. It took a long time to adjust to the fact that I am still a good Mommy and they will still love me if I am not the only one tending to all of their needs. I’ve had to go without having as much alone time as I’d really like and I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have girl time because it’s hard to make friends with quadruplets in tow.
And while it can be trying, having quadruplets does have a few perks:
None of my children sleep in our bed and they’ve been sleeping through the night since they were eight months old (adjusted.) I only have to plan one birthday party a year (although they do each get their own cake). There’s also the tax break that comes with having four children. My children have built in “friends,” they play together and have never known life without one another. I get to watch my children grow and develop bonds with one another that very few other parents get to see. I won’t have to worry about my kids being alone for big days like the first day of preschool or kindergarten. It’s comforting to know that your children will always have each other. Life is never boring around here and I always have a story to tell. I have an amazing network of high order multiples mom friends all around the world that I’ve never met in person, but in spite of so many differences, completely get me because of the unique bond we share. I call these women “my tribe.”
But probably my absolute, most favorite part of having quadruplets, is the amazing feeling of having four little people wrap their arms around you, plant kisses on your face, and tell you they love you all at once!
All in all, having quadruplets is an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. Just like every family, we have real life struggles, we have our fair share (and then some) of crises, we have good days and we have bad days but in the end, we are family and we love one another. Our life isn’t like most other people, but I feel blessed that God chose me to be a quad mom and even though it hit me by surprise, I’m definitely up for this challenge!