Wednesday, August 19, 2015

FAQ's About Our Family

I've been working on this post for over a month now. I've been trying to think of all the questions we've been asked since the news broke about my quint pregnancy. Please remember while reading my answers, these answers are only a reflection and the truth about our family. All families with HOM (higher order multiples) are different, so please don't compare us to other families with HOM because I promise you, no two journeys are the same.

I don't mind people asking us questions about our kids. I love talking about my kids; all six of them are beautiful blessings from God. However, I will say, some questions are very intrusive and are too personal for my comfort. It is very uncomfortable to talk about how we make our babies. I understand, most people automatically assume we did fertility treatments, but that's not necessarily the case. There are people who say mean or rude comments about us having to use fertility drugs. Trust me, I never wanted to have fertility issues. It was the most heartbreaking thing I've ever gone through. Thankfully, I was able to take medicine to help me get pregnant and stay pregnant. Neither Steven or I nor our doctors were being careless or stupid with the use of the fertility medicines I took. I'm more than happy to talk to women who are facing infertility issues and share my story, but I would say, when you encounter parents with multiples, try not to bring up how the "made" their babies. That is a very personal matter.

Also, Steven and I have been blessed beyond our wildest dreams with our Six Sweet Seals. Brady, Mia, Tessa, Brant, Gracie, and Rayleigh are beautiful people who are loved very, very, very much. It is very rude for people to say comments like, "I'm glad it's you and not me", or "I'd kill myself if I had that many kids", or "that's what you get for doing fertility treatments". Please remember, that you're talking about children, our children. And though they may be small, they listen to everything that adults say. I never want my children to think there is something wrong with them or that they're not loved and wanted. They are very much loved and they are very much wanted. I know my hands are full. I know I'll never have much money in my savings account. I know all this and I still love my kids and I thank God for them. So, I guess my point is, be careful what you say to others. I love it when people see us and tell me how blessed I am. That's the best complement you can give me.

So, here we go, I'm going to attempt to answer the questions we are most frequently asked.
  1. How do you do it?
    1. I should be on a Nike commercial... We just do it! When a kid is dirty, we clean them. When a kid is hungry, we feed them. When a kid is sick, we nurse them back to health. When a kid is sleepy, we put them in bed. The only difference is that we do it times 5 (or 6 counting Brady, but he can do a lot of stuff on his own now).
  2. Did you use fertility treatments?
    1. It depends on what you mean by fertility treatments; I did use fertility drugs. I had three miscarriages before I had Brady. With Brady, I took a fertility drug called Clomid (lowest dosage) and we ended up with a healthy bouncing baby boy. I tried to get pregnant again, so I took Clomid again, and I had another miscarriage. So, my fertility specialist prescribe Clomid (lowest dose) and Follistem (lowest dose) and I took at medicine to make me ovulate. That's all we did. No IUI; no IVF; no procedures what-so-ever. I can get pregnant on my own, I just can't stay pregnant.
  3. When did you find out you were having quints?
    1. I knew immediately I was pregnant. I've never tried to get pregnant and not gotten pregnant. I was about 3 weeks along when I knew something was wrong (too early to take a home pregnancy test). My ovaries had overstimulated and my belly was really swollen. I went to my doctor, took a pregnancy test and it was positive. They did an ultrasound and the technician thought she could see 2 dots (we thought twins). A week later, my stomach was still full of fluid from my ovaries being overstimulated. I went back to the doctor and they saw 4 sacks (we thought quads). I went back the next week and they saw 8 sacks. The next week 6 of our babies had heartbeats. The next week, we lost one of the babies and that's when it became quintuplets (I think I was around 6-7 weeks when it was officially quints).
  4. How did you react when you found out you were pregnant with quints?
    1. Unlike a lot of people who go in for their first OB appointment around 6-9 weeks pregnant and get the news they are carrying multiples, we found out at probably the earliest possible moment that we were having multiples. Every time I went back to the doctor, they kept finding babies! If all our babies would have survived, I would have given birth to octuplets! We were It was not a joyous moment or a funny moment, there was no laughing, it was terrifying! Our doctor told us about all the scary statistics and it didn't look good. We were in shock. It seriously didn't seem real. We were worried sick about the babies' health, my health, Brady, our finances, everything! It was a lot to wrap your mind around. There were a lot of tears shed during the early weeks of my quint pregnancy. I honestly didn't think all five of the quints would make it. My whole infertility issue isn't getting pregnant, it's staying pregnant that I have problems with. Two of the babies never developed; there were two sacs but that was it, we lost them really before we even knew about them (if that makes sense). The other six babies measured bigger and had a heartbeat when the other two didn't. When we lost baby F, I seriously thought, I'd come back each week and find out we'd lost another baby, because that's what had always happened in the past. I'd get so far and for some unknown reason I'd miscarry. Thankfully, after losing baby F, the other five hung on and we got them here safe and sound. Even though we were terrified at the beginning, we were in love with our babies and were going to do everything possible to get them here as healthy as we possibly could.
  5. Did you do this on purpose?
    1. People ask this about my quint pregnancy... And no, we did not get pregnant with quintuplets on purpose. Like I said earlier, we did not do any fertility procedures, all I did was take fertility medicine. I would say finding out about our quints was the biggest surprise of our lives! I seriously didn't even know what you called having 5 babies at one time was called, the doctor had to tell us. lol
  6. Are any of your quints identical?
    1. Nope. All our quints are from different eggs.
  7. When did you tell people you were pregnant?
    1. I waited until I was 16 weeks pregnant with Brady to share the news. With my first two miscarriages, I hadn't told anyone I was pregnant because I miscarried so early (6wks & 8wks). With my third miscarriage we announced the pregnancy at 12 weeks, and I miscarried at 14 weeks. I preferred people not knowing about my struggles, because I didn't have to talk about it all the time. After I lost my third baby, I felt like everyone felt sorry for me and pregnant friends didn't want to tell me they were pregnant or talk about their pregnancy with me. So, I kept quiet about Brady's pregnancy until I had an obvious bump. 
    2. With the quints, I immediately looked pregnant because of the fluid in my abdomen. We told our family around 8-9 weeks and we announced our pregnancy at church because we wanted our brothers and sister in Christ to pray for us. Word quickly spread after that...
  8. Did you have a cerclege?
    1. Yes, at 18 weeks.
  9. What hospital were the quints born at?
    1. Our quints were the first set of quints born at Baylor University Medical Center (BUMC) in Dallas, Texas.
  10. How long were you on bed rest? Hospital bed rest?
    1. I was put on home bed rest around 17-18 weeks. I was admitted into the hospital at 23 weeks because we lived 3 hours away from BUMC.
  11. If you would have known you were going to get pregnant with quints, would you have taken the fertility drugs?
    1. Absolutely!!! I love every single one of my babies and I can't imagine my life without them. God knew what He was doing when He blessed us with our Fab Five!
  12. How did you come up with so many names?
    1. All of my kids have family names for middle names. I'm not into juniors or seniors for first names. I wanted my kids to have their own name that was special for them. But I'm all about middle names being family names. And for the quints, we didn't name the babies until we saw them for the first time. I wanted to make sure each name fit the child. 
    2. Brady James - I loved the name Brady and just had to name him that. I did have to talk Steven into liking the name, but he loves it now and agrees that Brady's name fits him perfectly. James is Steven's dad's first name.
    3. Mia Danielle - Mia was the last name we picked out for the quints. We had all the other names picked out but we couldn't agree on the fourth girl name. Steven liked the name Jenny (but I have a friend name Jenny), I liked the name Mikayla (but Steven was against that name). So 2-3 days before the quints were born, we both ditched our names and started looking for a new name that we both liked. I'm proud we decided on Mia because I love her name and it fits her perfectly. Danielle is my sister, Kristian's, middle name.
    4. Tessa Suzanne - Several years ago, I helped my sister coach my niece's softball team. There was a little girl on the team named Tessa and that's where I first heard the name Tessa and I fell in love with it! Tessa was going to be my girl's name no matter what. If Brady would have been a girl, he would be Tessa. Tessa is my favorite girl name. And it's sort-of short for Teresa, which is Steven's mother's name. Suzanne is my sister, Kayla's, middle name.
    5. Brant Lee - Several years ago, when was still in college, I worked at a summer camp in Flower Mound, TX. There was a guy counselor who worked at the camp and his name was Brant. I'd never heard someone with the name Brant. That's where I came up with Brant's name. Lee is a family name (both Steven's grandfather and my grandfather's middle names were Lee).
    6. Gracie Lou - I was very uneasy about using the name Gracie. I have a rule that I don't name my kids names of my previous students. I had taught 2 Gracie's in the past (both were absolutely adorable and sweet girls). Plus, Gracie is a very common name, and while I don't like weird names, I also didn't want to use a common name either. But Gracie is such a pretty name and sounds almost biblical to me, which I like. So, I texted the mom of one of the Gracie's that I taught and asked her if she minded if I used the name Gracie. She was perfectly fine with it so, that's how we came up with Gracie. Lou was my grandmother's middle name.
    7. Rayleigh Ann - Out of all my kids names, I think Rayleigh's is the most special. I had never heard of Rayleigh before. One day, early on in my quint pregnancy, I went to the doctor for one of my checkups. While I was checking in, I notice a name on the back of a picture on the receptionist's desk and it was Rayleigh, and that's when I knew we had to name a daughter Rayleigh. Steven's middle name is Ray. My middle name is Leigh. Rayleigh is a combination of both Steven and my middle names. How perfect is that!?!!! Ann is my mom's middle name.
  13. How many bottles do you go through in a day?
    1. This is a hard question to answer because not all my quints take bottles. Rayleigh and Mia only get fed through their g-tube. If everyone took a bottle then we'd go through at least 25 bottles a day.
  14. How many diapers do you go through a day?
    1. On a good day, when everyone is healthy, we go through around 25 diapers.
  15. How did Brady react to the news about the quints?
    1. Brady was 19 months old when we found out we were expecting the quints. He had no idea, what-so-ever, what was happening. He is 2 years and 3 days older than the quints. So he had no reaction.
  16. How has Brady handled being a big brother to the quints?
    1. It's been a tough adjustment for him. Our world revolved around him up until the day I had to leave and move to Dallas. I was put in the hospital for bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy when I was 23 weeks pregnant (January 31, 2014). I gave birth to the quints on March 18th and we didn't come home with all the babies until August 1st. I lived away from Steven and Brady for 7 months. All of our routines and procedures went out the door. Brady didn't have a bedtime routine anymore. He didn't sleep in his own bed anymore. There was no structure for him anymore. So when we got home with the quints, it was tough on us all. Brady was sleeping in our bed. He didn't have a bedtime. He doesn't obey very well and I know he was lacking in attention. It's tough! But we're doing our best. We take it one day at a time and start over the next day with a fresh beginning. Brady, Mia, Tessa, Brant, Gracie, and Rayleigh are all so blessed to have such a big and loving family. None of our kids lack for attention, however, I worry about how much attention they get from mom and dad. It's gotten easier as the quints have gotten older, and I hope that trend continues.
  17. Is your house big enough for your big family?
    1. Right now, our house is technically big enough for our family, however, as the kids grow and the more stuff we pack into this house, we're going to need more room. Steven and I talk, on almost a daily basis, about our options. We are always brainstorming on how to build on to our house to make it work for our big family. We shall see....
  18. Are y'all going to have any more kids?
    1. Absolutely not!!! I love kids and I loved being pregnant, but my baby making days are behind me. My body has been through enough. God has blessed us with 6 healthy children and I just want to focus on them! 
  19. Do y'all live on a strick schedule?
    1. We do have a schedule that we live by. The babies start waking up around 6am. They eat at 8am, 12pm, 4pm, and 8pm. They take naps at 10am and 2pm. The quint's bedtime is 8pm. We stay on that schedule because when we get off the schedule things get crazy.
  20. Do they sleep all night? Do you get any sleep?
    1. When the quints are healthy, they are sleeping most of the night. We still have to get up twice during the night to turn off feeding pumps. But, thankfully they are doing so much better. They go to sleep at 8pm and usually all of them are awake by 7am. I really wish they'd sleep later, but I know it'll come. We've been blessed with the most amazing family and friends. One of my friends, Shelley, comes twice a week and takes care of the quints when they wake up at night. She's done that since we got home with all 5 of them. She is such a blessing! I can't tell you how much I look forward to the nights when Shelley comes over so I can turn off the baby monitors and get a whole night of uninterrupted sleep! It's heavenly!!! 
  21. How do you do bath time?
    1. We bathe one kid at a time. We could do all of them at the same time, but they all like to pull at each other's buttons (the button goes with their feeding tube), so we do them individually. We usually do an assembly line.
  22. How's it like caring for babies with feeding issues? Is it hard to keep up with the girls' feeding tubes?
    1. When the NICU doctors first talked to me about putting feeding tubes in the girls, I almost freaked out. I always want what's best for my kids and I listen to the doctors, but I was so scared. I felt like we were giving up on them eating on their own. But I wanted my girls to come home and I knew we could keep working with them on taking the bottle, so we allowed the feeding tubes to be placed. 
    2. It's worked out great. The tubes can be a hassle, but they're very easy to work. And it's been nice to have the tubes when the girls have gotten sick because we haven't had to worry about them dehydrating.
  23. How often do you go to the doctor for the quints?
    1. Almost on a weekly basis. 
  24. Do you take the babies out in public? How do you do that?
    1. For the first year of their life, they only left the house to go to doctors appointments. After the flu and RSV seasons were over we started taking them to church. We rarely take them out. First of all, its so hard to travel with them. We can't just pack a regular baby bag like most people, we have to pack all the pumps, feeding bags, and all the attachments that go with their feeding tubes. It's a big ordeal. Plus, when it's time to eat, they need to be sitting still or they will vomit. 
  25. Did you breastfeed?
    1. Yes, I breastfed Brady for 10 weeks and I breastfed the quints for 11-12 weeks. Actually, I pumped both times. I never could get Brady to latch so I pumped. And since the quints were 29 weekers, I had no choice but to pump. I'm not good at breastfeeding. I don't have a good milk supply. I felt guilty both times when I stopped and switched to formula, but my mental health was more important at that point and I didn't want to drive myself crazy trying to pump when I could easily use formula. 
  26. How did you deliver?
    1. Brady was a vaginal birth. The quints were delivered via c-section. 
  27. How did you lose all your weight? Have you had plastic surgery?
    1. This question really bothers me because I don't know how I lost all my weight, it just came off. I didn't have to diet or exercise, the weight just came off. 
    2. No plastic surgeries here! I still have a pooch from where my skin was stretched with the quints; I really don't think I can do anything to get it gone, so I'm stuck with it. I don't wear real tight clothes so I can cover up my pooch.
  28. How much weight did you gain with your pregnancies?
    1. With Brady I gain 40lbs. I weighted 142lbs when I had him.
    2. With the quints I gained around 50-60 pounds. I don't know my exact weight when I gave birth, the hospital weighed me every Tuesday, and I ended up going into labor on a Tuesday. At my last weigh-in I was 149lbs. So I'm guessing I weighed between 150-155lbs when I gave birth???? 
  29. How much baby weight did you carry with your pregnancies?
    1. Brady weighed 8lbs 2oz.
    2. Mia weighed 2lbs 10oz, Tessa weighed 2lb 14oz, Brant weighed 3lb 6oz, Gracie weighed 2lb 7oz, and Rayleigh weighed 2lb 8oz. That is a grand total of 13lbs 6oz of babies!!!!
  30. How many weeks pregnant were you when you delivered?
    1. Brady- I was 38w5d
    2. Quints- I was 29w1d
  31. When do you find time to blog?
    1. I blog when the kids are napping or asleep for the night. Sometimes I find time in-between feeds. I love blogging. It's my journal to keep up with what's going on with my kids. 
  32. What's one piece of advice you'd give to other moms of multiples?
    1. Don't compare yourself to other moms.
  33. Why do the girls have feeding tubes? How long will they have the feeding tubes?
    1. The only thing that was holding the girls in the NICU and from coming home was feeding issues. The doctors decided we could work on the feeding issues at home with home therapies like Occupational, Physical, and Speech therapies. The tubes were a back up if they couldn't get all their nutrition from the bottle (which they don't, at least not Mia, Tessa, and Rayleigh). They will keep the feeding tubes as long as they need them. They have to go 6 months without using the tube. And our GI doctor said he would not take the tubes out during the winter months. So, if they do well and don't use the tubes, the earliest would be next Spring.
    2. I'm planning on doing another post about the tubes, so stay tuned....
  34. Do you know other moms with HOM (higher order multiples)?
    1. I've only met one quint mom. I do know of other HOM moms from Facebook. I also read lots of blogs of moms of HOM. Unfortunately, I don't live close to other HOM moms, so I'm pretty much on my own out here in NE Texas.
  35. Is it okay to take their picture?
    1. Absolutely NOT! Especially if you don't have permission first! We are a family, not a circus act. When we go out as a family of 8, we out to enjoy ourselves. I understand that it's not the "norm" to see five babies that are all the same age, but to us, this is our "normal". We know nothing different than to have a singleton and then have quintuplets. There are a lot of crazy and mean people in this world, so when random people ask (or don't ask) to take pictures of our kids we get a little defensive. It is our responsibility to protect our kids and that's what we will spend our life doing. I promise, we don't want to be rude to people, but we do ask that people be respectful of our kids and our privacy. I post lots of pictures on this blog and my Facebook page (Six Sweet Seals) that way people can keep up with the kids and what's new.
  36. What is your most treasured baby items that help make life easier?
    1. Baby Breeza
  37. What kind of vehicle do y'all have?
    1. We own a Nissan NV. It's a 12 passenger van.
  38. How do you tell them apart?
    1. First of all, none of my kids are identical, so they all have their own unique and special look. I do agree with people who say they look alike, because they do all favor in some way or another, but for us, it's pretty easy to tell them apart.
    2. Brady - he's the easy one, for now, because he's bigger. Brady has blond hair and blue eyes (and yes, he's our biological child - I have no idea how he ended up with blond hair and blue eyes). Brady's fair complexion. He's small for his age.
    3. Mia - she's the smallest baby. She has curly brown hair and hazel eyes. She has a little button nose. 
    4. Tessa - she's the biggest baby. She has sandy blonde/light brown hair. Her hair has a little curl to it but not as much as Mia and Rayleigh. She has a very fair complexion (more so than the other babies).
    5. Brant - it should be easy to pick him out since I keep his hair short & he's the only boy out of the quints. His hair is brown and his eyes are hazel/greenish. 
    6. Gracie - her hair is straight as a board. Her hair is brown and her eyes are hazel.
    7. Rayleigh - she has lots of dark brown curly hair. Her eyes are brown. Her complexion is darker than all my other kids.
  39. How long were the quints in the NICU?
    1. Brant- 80 days
    2. Tessa- 90 days
    3. Mia- 115 days
    4. Gracie- 120 days
    5. Rayleigh- 133 days
  40. What therapies do the quints receive? 
    1. They receive physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Right now, the therapist come to our house.
  41. How much laundry do you do?
    1. I usually do at least 3 loads a day. If the kids are sick, it can be up to 4-5 times a day.
  42. Do any of the quints have major health issues?
    1. Mia has subglottic stenosis (a narrow airway). 
  43. Did you want a big family?
    1. I actually did, but never thought I'd have one because Steven didn't want a big family. He only wanted 1-2 kids.
  44. Do multiples run in the family?
    1. My grandfather was a twin. But quintuplets do not run in my family and I'm pretty sure they don't run in yours either. ;)~
  45. Do you work outside the home? When are you going back to work?
    1. Right now, I'm a stay-at-home mom. I was a teacher before the quints arrived and someday I hope to return to teaching.
  46. Do your kids have nicknames?
    1. My kids answer to their given name, but we play around sometimes with their "pet" names.
    2. Brady Boo
    3. Mia Bia
    4. Tess or Tessie Girl
    5. Brother Bear (Brant)
    6. Boss Lady or Diva (Gracie)
    7. RayRay or Rayleigh Roo
  47. Did you color code the quints to tell them apart?
    1. Not really but when I do, Mia is green, Tessa is purple, Gracie is pink, and Rayleigh is yellow. I typically use these colors in pictures.
  48. Do you have lots of help?
    1. I have to ton of help! I have a huge family who are very involved in our lives (they were even before the quints were born). Both Steven and my families live in the same town so we're all just about 5 minutes away from each other. My mother-in-law actually lives right across the street from us so that is very helpful in emergency situations to have her right there. Steven and I have lived in the same small town all our lives. His mom and my mom were friends in school and were cheerleaders together. His grandmother and my grandmother were good friends in school. So our families have been around for a long time. Where we're from, everybody knows everybody, and you better not talk about anyone because odds are someone is kin to them. Our tiny community has been wonderful to support us during this wild journey. The churches in our town have been very supportive. Our friends have been very supportive. We've been so blessed to have so much love and support. 
  49. Reality tv?
    1. Nope. There is nothing wrong with families that are on tv; we just value our privacy. Plus, we're really not that interesting for reality tv. We're just regular country people who happen to have 5 babies at one time.
  50. Where does everyone sleep?
    1. All four girls are in one room. They each have their own crib, so their room is full of cribs and a dresser. Brant has his own room right now, which was originally Brady's nursery. We turned our office into Brady's room (for now) and it's the perfect size for his toddler bed and chest-of-drawers, however, our office was never supposed to be lived in, and it doesn't have a closet. Thankfully, our office is connected to the laundry room so we hang Brady's clothes in the laundry room. And we have our master suite all to ourselves.
  51. Is it getting easier?
    1. Yes and no. It's easier in the aspect that they can walk where they want to go. I can walk towards their bedroom and they'll follow me, I don't have to make 5 different trips to pick up a baby and put them in bed. The ones that take a bottle can hold their own so we don't have to feed them now. However, they are in to everything!!! And they are everywhere!! They climb on everything! They bite each other, pull hair, head butt each other, and hit each other. You can not leave them alone for a second because someone will do something to one of the others. With every stage comes new challenges. 

Steven and I really appreciate everyone who's been following our story and praying for us over the past (almost) two years. We love sharing our family with you. If you're on Facebook, you can check out my Facebook page at Six Sweet Seals to see pictures and updates.

Thank you and God bless!!


  1. Michelle. This is awesome.
    Just wanted to share that both my parents have dark hair and skin- Dad is about 1/8 Choctaw and has black hair, Brown eyes and dark red skin while Mom is 1/2 Sicilian and 1/4 Lakota-Sioux. She has super dark brown hair and almost black eyes-- me; super-blonde and bright-blue eyed! But, around 30 my hair started to darken and has turned a more deep honey color!

    1. Isn't it crazy how that happens?!?!?!?! I really don't think any of my kids' hair will stay light, I feel they will all end up with dark hair just like you did.
      Thanks for sharing!!! :)

  2. Bless your beautiful family, everyone is so adorable! My step-brother Tyler has been on a g tube since he was two, I wish you all the luck with your babies and hope everyone stays in good health! <3