Bouncing babies: Parents of multiples adjust to life with their 1-year-olds
BOARDMAN -- Becky George changes an average of 18 to 20 diapers per day.
She is so practiced at the art of diaper changing she jokes that she could probably do it blindfolded with one hand tied behind her back.
She also gets "very, very little sleep," rarely leaves the house, often wears pajamas all day long and sometimes doesn't find time to shower until evening when her husband, Brian, comes home from his job at National City Bank in Campbell.
"Then, after I finally shower, I just put on another pair of pajamas and start all over again," Becky said with a laugh.
It's all par for the course when you're the stay-at-home mom of three busy babies who are about to turn 1.
The George girls, Gretchen, Emma and Moira, will celebrate their first birthdays Tuesday at a small gathering at home with immediate family.
"We'll have about 12 people over and have cake and presents," Becky said.
"We're still careful not to expose the girls to too many people because of germs, especially at this time of year."
The Georges became particularly mindful of protecting their children from potential illness after their fourth daughter, Allison, died in April 2004 after contracting spinal meningitis.
Becky said she still gets "very emotional" about Allison's death but has become more relaxed as a mother.
"The girls are healthy and are doing well, and I am more relaxed now as a mother, but we still wash our hands a lot, and I still get sad sometimes," she said.
"I try not to worry that something will happen to one of them, but I can't watch any movies that deal with sick children, and I don't like it when people refer to my daughters as triplets.
"They aren't triplets. They will always be part of a set of quadruplets. When people ask, I don't say I have triplets. I tell them I have three daughters and one that passed away."
It's especially difficult not to worry about germs at this time of year when respiratory syncytial virus -- an illness that can pose a threat to babies who were born prematurely -- is common.
"It's RSV season again, and the girls are still susceptible," Becky said.
"Our insurance doesn't cover the cost of RSV shots, and since each shot costs $1,000 each, and each one of the girls would need two shots a month for seven months, we weren't able to do it. It would have cost us $42,000 to pay for all of those shots!"
Acts of kindness
The Georges have been more fortunate in other financial areas.
For instance, they only recently purchased their first box of diapers.
"We had so many diapers donated to us that we only recently had to start buying diapers," Becky said.
Gerber also has supplied the Georges with coupons for free baby food, and another baby product manufacturing company might give the Georges three new car seats.
"A family who had quintuplets donated our first car seats, but as the girls grow, they need bigger car seats," Becky explained.
As the girls grow, they also continue to display distinct personalities and develop at their own rates.
Brown-haired Moira likes to climb and took her first steps Jan. 20, but redheaded Gretchen can't get around without holding onto furniture.
Auburn-haired Emma, meanwhile, hasn't tried to walk yet, but Emma has more teeth than her sisters and is also more vocal with what Becky calls "constant babbling."
How will Becky manage when all three girls are walking at once?
"We have lots of gates up in our house," she said. "Our living room is fenced in, and we try to keep everyone confined to the top floor of our bi-level home."
Although the Georges' home is cramped, Becky said she and Brian have made do.
"You adjust," she said simply.
Becky also has adjusted to maneuvering a three-seat stroller through supermarkets -- "There were times when I have pushed the shopping cart and pulled the stroller," she said -- although she usually waits until evening after Brian is home to run errands.
"Brian's the best dad. When he gets home, he helps out, although sometimes it's hard for him to stay awake," she said.
Although the 30-something couple has their hands full with three girls, Becky said she and Brian are talking about having more children.
"I would love to have another kid, but I know I don't want to go the same route as I went before because there's too great a chance of me having more multiples, and I don't know if I could go through all of that again," Becky said.
"I also know I couldn't possibly be on bed rest for two months like I was before because if I were, how would I take care of the kids I have?"
Since Becky's pregnancy was high-risk, she was on bed rest for more than two months in St. Elizabeth Health Center before she gave birth to Gretchen, Emma, Moira and Allison by Caesarean section.
Although Becky doesn't desire any more multiple births, she's not sure if she would be able to get pregnant again without the help of artificial insemination and fertility drugs.
For now, she and Brian aren't using any birth control.
"My doctor asks me if I'm using birth control, and when I tell him no, he tells me I'm crazy," Becky said with a laugh.
"But we're still thinking about more kids."