The Joy of Quadruplets Plus One
May 30, 2016 06:46PM ● Published by Alison Clary
The Joy of Quadruplets Plus One
Story by Alison Clary; photo by Laurel Z. Photography
Did you know if you have quadruplets you’ll accumulate 1460 bedtime kisses in one year? You’ll also clip 80 tiny finger and toenails in one sitting and change 9068 diapers in a year. Some fun facts sent to me by Pleasant Hill’s Natalie Allen, mother of five children, including a set of quadruplets, commonly referred to as quads. Big sister Sierra was about 1½ years old when the Allens welcomed fraternal twins Alyssa and Zachary and identical twins Katelynn and Kylee on Mother’s Day, ten years ago. Sierra is now 11 and the quads are now 10. Raising five kids is no easy feat, but when four of them come all at once, it’s a different matter altogether.
Natalie and Pete Allen wanted children right away, and with the aid of fertility treatments, they knew multiples were a risk, but they never dreamed the ultrasound for the latter pregnancy would reveal four embryos, a 1 in 800,000 chance. Although Natalie said she and Pete were shocked and terrified, they declined selective reduction as an option after she met another local mother with 9 month-old quads and realized she could do it.
The newborn quads attracted plenty of local media attention as well as curious onlookers. People stopped them on the street to take pictures and ask questions. Unsolicited commentary ranged from supportive to offensive. Recalling the staggering equipment needs of four babies (plus one toddler), Natalie lists multiple cribs, a four-seat stroller, and her favorite item, the “quad table,” where the quads were fed and read to, brushed their teeth, and engaged in other activities, bringing to mind illustrations from the Madeline children’s books. The four sisters now share two bunk beds in the home’s master bedroom, the brother has his own room, and the parents have the third. Natalie admits, “It’s tight, but we make it work.”
Although the Allens feel extremely fortunate for the continued assistance of friends, family, and online support groups, they’ve never received much outside help other than some initial donations and discounts from baby supply companies. Naturally, Natalie says the #1 question they get is “How do you do it?” She drops the kids off at school on the way to work and handles most of the after-school activities and sports in the evening. She has Wednesdays off for appointments and catching up. Pete works nights, picks the kids up after school, and does most of the grocery shopping and cooking. Family and friends help watch the kids and provide kid-free nights on occasion. The couple has gone through some hard times, like when Pete had spinal fusion surgery in 2009 and Natalie had to take night classes to get health care certification and go back to work. In spite of daunting challenges, Natalie says their goal is to raise kids who are kind, respectful, and loving, without expecting anything in return. “They enjoy doing random acts, such as delivering goodies to local police and fire departments every Christmas.”
She describes the personality and interests of each child with pride. Katelynn loves fashion, enjoys basketball, is a great listener, and “does nice things without me asking.” Kylee likes soccer, music, and hiking, and is “super friendly with a very big heart.” Alyssa, the eldest quad, loves softball, baking, and playing on her own. “She’s pretty relaxed and makes friends easily.” Zachary, who says its hard being the only boy sometimes, loves soccer, nature, and swimming. “He’s our little comedian. He loves to make people laugh and has a big heart.” The quads’ big sister is Sierra, and she loves softball, singing, and swimming. Natalie describes her as “sassy but funny at the same time.” The siblings say they love having a big family because there is always someone to play with and talk to.
Natalie reflects on how much her kids have taught her. “I've learned to be more calm, patient and relaxed.” One of her favorite expressions is “You think my hands are full; you should see my heart.” To learn more about the Allens, visit their Nor Cal Quads plus One Facebook page.