The family Megan Hulen was greeted with well wishes, a drive-by baby shower from their neighbors and a lot of questions from people every time they take the babies out for a stroll using multiple adults and their two triple strollers.
The four girls and a boy — Allison, Adam, Madison, Emma, and Chloe — were born at 32 weeks gestation Sept. 2, 2020 at the New Sanford Mᴇᴅɪᴄᴀʟ Cᴇɴᴛᴇʀ in Fargo. They spent just three weeks in the ɴᴇᴏ-ɴᴀᴛᴀʟ ɪɴᴛᴇɴsɪᴠᴇ ᴄᴀʀᴇ ᴜɴɪᴛ before Megan and Joshua Hulen brought them home to join their big brothers, Jacob, 8, and Matthew, 3. Mom Megan said :” Now they have started climbing. That’s a whole other venture in itself!” The couple Megan and Joshua Hulen from North Dakota were already parents to Jacob, 7, and Matthew, 2, when they decided to try for one more baby in the hope of adding a little girl. So Megan had been undergoing another ᴛʏᴘᴇ ᴏғ ғᴇʀᴛɪʟɪᴛʏ ᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛ and ᴛᴀᴋɪɴɢ ғᴏʟʟɪᴄʟᴇ sᴛɪᴍᴜʟᴀᴛɪᴏɴ ɪɴᴊᴇᴄᴛɪᴏɴs. Her ᴅᴏᴄᴛᴏʀs had ᴀᴅᴠɪsᴇᴅ ᴄᴀʟʟɪɴɢ ᴏғғ ᴛʜᴇ ᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛ because of some issues, but Hulen ended up ᴏᴠᴜʟᴀᴛɪɴɢ anyway that month and the ǫᴜɪɴᴛs ᴡᴇʀᴇ ᴄᴏɴᴄᴇɪᴠᴇᴅ.
The couple went in for an ᴜʟᴛʀᴀsᴏᴜɴᴅ at six weeks where they were initially told that only ᴏɴᴇ ʜᴇᴀʀᴛʙᴇᴀᴛ was present and it was ᴜɴʟɪᴋᴇʟʏ that all Fɪᴠᴇ ᴡᴏᴜʟᴅ ʙᴇ ᴠɪᴀʙʟᴇ. She said: “We went back in a week later and saw five ʜᴇᴀʀᴛʙᴇᴀᴛs. I was so sʜᴏᴄᴋᴇᴅ – the ᴜʟᴛʀᴀsᴏᴜɴᴅ ᴛᴇᴄʜɴɪᴄɪᴀɴ ᴡᴏʀʀɪᴇᴅ they were ʜᴜʀᴛɪɴɢ me because I was shaking and I said ‘I’m shaking because you’ve told me I’m having five babies.’ After the ᴜʟᴛʀᴀsᴏᴜɴᴅ I told my husband I ᴄᴏᴜʟᴅɴ’ᴛ go home because I needed time to Fʀᴇᴀᴋ ᴏᴜᴛ ᴀᴡᴀʏ Fʀᴏᴍ ᴛʜᴇ ᴋɪᴅs so we went to his office and I sat in the corner and ᴄʀɪᴇᴅ for about an hour.” But that a ᴘʀᴇᴠɪᴏᴜs ᴘʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴄʏ had taught her to remain calm. Megan found that there was a ʙɪɢ ᴅɪFFᴇʀᴇɴᴄᴇ between ᴄᴀʀʀʏɪɴɢ ᴏɴᴇ baby and ᴄᴀʀʀʏɪɴɢ Fɪᴠᴇ. She said :”There were ᴀ ʟᴏᴛ ᴏF ᴅɪFFᴇʀᴇɴᴄᴇs from being ᴘʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴛ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴏɴᴇ and ᴡɪᴛʜ Fɪᴠᴇ. I ᴄᴏᴜʟᴅɴ’ᴛ vacuum the carpet without needing to take a break. Standing in front of the mirror to put my makeup on I would become ᴛᴏᴏ ᴡɪɴᴅᴇᴅ or ᴛᴏᴏ ᴛɪʀᴇᴅ from holding the weight up and would need to sit down. Even half-an-hour was too long to stand!”
The ᴅᴏᴄᴛᴏʀs told the Hulens there was ᴀ ᴏɴᴇ ɪɴ 43-ᴍɪʟʟɪᴏɴ ᴄʜᴀɴᴄᴇ they’d get ᴘʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴛ ɴᴀᴛᴜʀᴀʟʟʏ with five and they were the one! At 32 weeks, the babies were all born by 2:20am ʙʏ ᴄᴇsᴀʀᴇᴀɴ sᴇᴄᴛɪᴏɴ. Allison weighing 3 pounds 5.6 ounces; Adam 4 pounds 0.2 ounces; Madison 3 pounds 6 ounces; Emma 3 pounds 10.9 ounces; and Chloe 3 pounds 3.5 ounces. Although Megan was ᴅɪsᴄʜᴀʀɢᴇᴅ about three days after giving birth, the fivefold children remained under ᴏʙsᴇʀᴠᴀᴛɪᴏɴ ɪɴ ɪɴᴛᴇɴsɪᴠᴇ ᴄᴀʀᴇ for about three weeks, waiting for them to sᴛᴀʙɪʟɪᴢᴇ . Certainly the arrival of five new babies in the house has ᴡʀᴇᴀᴋᴇᴅ ʜᴀᴠᴏᴄ in the family. Jacob and Matthew were really excited to finally have four little sisters and a new brother at home, while the parents initially had difficulty sleeping at night with all five newcomers to cuddle, put to sleep and properly feed!
The first few weeks were not easy for this now much enlarged family. Megan said: “I had anticipated and prepared for the amount of laundry I would be doing – but it’s even more so than I expected. ᴡɪᴛʜ Fɪᴠᴇ babies I sometimes feel like I am living in sᴘɪᴛ-ᴜᴘ. After every couple of feeds I do a load of laundry. I end up doing about three or four loads of laundry a day and that’s become the norm now.” Typically busy Megan gets up at 3am every morning for a feed and then again at 7am before trying to squeeze in a little rest between 7:30 and 8am, when the older boys get up. She then begins homeschooling Jacob before moving on to preparing and ᴀᴅᴍɪɴɪsᴛᴇʀɪɴɢ Matthew’s ᴍᴇᴅɪᴄᴀᴛɪᴏɴ. Once Matthew is taken care of one or two of the babies will “start to fuss” and Megan will begin her military style feeding operation.
Her big secret to raising multiples is keeping the children on ᴀ sᴛʀɪᴄᴛ sᴄʜᴇᴅᴜʟᴇ. All five babies get a bottle at the same time or have their diapers changed at the same time. That allows her some breathing room at different times during the day. If she cared for two or three babies at a time and then finished with their remaining siblings, she would never get any breaks . But every time the babies reach a new stage of development, their parents have to make adjustments. She said :“I would say it’s been a learning experience every time a new milestone comes up. Now they are eating solid foods, which can be quite a messy process.” At meal times, Megan Hulen sets up the five high chairs on top of a giant roll of cut-off plastic table cloth. The plastic table cloth makes it easier for her to wipe away all the inevitably spilled food. The babies enjoy playing together or alongside each other but have also discovered the fun of making mischief together, whether it is pulling a lamp off a table, opening cabinets, or sampling the dog’s food and water.
While the parents themselves may be taking time to adjust, there is one member of the family who has settled into life with quints like a duck to water. She said: “Our eldest is adjusting really well. He was so excited about the babies from the beginning and was the only one to guess all the ɢᴇɴᴅᴇʀs ᴄᴏʀʀᴇᴄᴛʟʏ. He told me ‘mom I wished and ᴘʀᴀʏᴇᴅ ғᴏʀ sɪsᴛᴇʀs’ so he got his wish and is so thrilled and loves helping with them. We’re hoping in two years we will be able to get another house. We are definitely going to need one. This one is already somewhat small for a family of seven kids. We’ve been looking for a bigger vehicle but we haven’t come up with the perfect solution just yet. Everything we’ve looked at has eight seats and we need nine so we have started to look at larger commercial vans.”
Now, the family of nine is leading a happy life. With a lot of surprises going on, but for the couple it’s luck. And they’re so grateful for that, Tʜᴀɴᴋ Gᴏᴅ.