A heart-shaped plaque in Susie Trebers dining room in Saline, Mich., sums up her feelings about raising four toddlers simultaneously: We may not have it all together, but together, we have it all.
Treber, 41, whose daughters Hannah, Holly, Madeline, and Aliza have passed through their terrific twos, says her optimistic outlook on raising quadruplets has been strengthened by the group she started for other families like hers in Michigan.
I tell parents of quads or quints that with support from each other, we can handle any challenge, says Treber. Just like the Marines motto: you adapt, improvise (and) overcome.
In the two years since its birth, the Quad Squads and More has enrolled 25 Michigan families whose quadruplet members range in age from 6 months to the 70-year-old sisters who are the oldest living quadruplets in the world and the only identical quads in Michigan.
The groups quarterly newsletter which Treber produces has a great TIPS (Terrific Idea, Problem Solved) column, according to Chris Doyle of Manitou Beach, mom to 16-month-old Anthony, Matthew, Nicholas, and Patrick.
For example, Treber keeps track of dozens of baby items, from pacifiers to plates, by color-coding everything, and she suggests using a 12-cup muffin tin (three slots per child) to spoon out meals when quad babies graduate to solid food. In turn, other quad moms have helped Treber.
When her rambunctious toddlers repeatedly slithered out of their clothes, another member suggested a quirky solution. Duct tape, laughs Treber. I apply it to their diapers every day.
The first major hurdle, parents say, is getting four or more babies to sleep on the same schedule. Treber found she could coordinate naps by overlapping the corners of her daughters bouncy seats; shed use one hand to set off a chain reaction of jiggles while holding a storybook in the other and reading to the girls. The challenge as the kids grow older is trying to give individual attention.
I wish there were four of me! Treber exclaims. To compensate, she spends a little extra cuddle time with each girl during diaper changes, and she and husband, Charles, alternate taking each child out for one-on-one errands.
My four are also forming a special sisterly bond, Treber notes. They pat each other on the head when somebody gets hurt and hold hands while they weave in a miniature conga line around the furniture while listening to music.
But theyve grown more competitive. I dress them in identical outfits not so much because its cute, she says, but because if I put a bear-decorated shirt on one, theres a big battle if the others cant wear the same thing.
Quad Squad members also network through moms-only lunches and an annual picnic reunion in Salines Mill Pond Park. Twelve families, including 48 children age 5 or younger, attended this years gathering Aug. 19.
All the parents have faced the pressure of intense public attention. I think of us as a family with four babies, but people literally run out of their homes when I take my sons out in our super-size stroller, Doyle observes.
Treber has become tolerant. Sometimes you wish you could blend in with everybody else, she says, but I also feel honored, because I know my girls bring a lot of joy to people.
From the beginning, Treber has felt blessed. People assumed I was shocked when I learned I was pregnant with four, but I felt like Id won the baby lottery, she says.
I feel I was given this special pregnancy for a reason, she adds, not just for the joy of having these children, but so I could reach out to others in the same boat. Im so lucky to have these beautiful little girls; it has been a life-changing experience.