Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Quad families offer parenting advice

By Michele Day
Enquirer contributor

        Willie Mae Mincey gave birth to what is believed to be Cincinnati's first set of quadruplets on May 22, 1964. The region's next recorded four-babies-in-one birth didn't occur until more than 20 years later.

        Widespread use of fertility drugs caused a quadruplet boom during the 1990s, but in the last few years fertility specialists have succeeded at reducing the number of multiple births associated with the treatments and they expect quadruplets to become even more uncommon in years to come.

        We tracked down some of Greater Cincinnati's quadruplet families to see how they are doing and what advice they might offer the Bessler family.

        The Rainouses: Hannah, Elizabeth, Rebecca and Sarah were born Feb. 15, 1995 to Ed and Melissa Rainous of Springfield Township. The girls, now 7, are heading intosecond grade at Cincinnati Christian School. Having the four — along with big brother, Jonathan, 9 — in school has given mom time to start some new ventures, such as leadership in American Heritage Girl, an organization similar to Girl Scouts.

        Quad advice: Be sure to save some special time for your older children — and encourage other people to do so as well, Mrs. Rainous says. While many people helped the Rainouses with quad duties, such as changing 40 diapers and feeding 32 bottles a day, others volunteered to take Jonathan on outings to the zoo or to buy an ice cream cone. Volunteer baby sitters also afforded the Rainouses some special time just for Jonathan. “When we all go out in public, he still becomes lost in the group,” Mrs. Rainous says. “But there are people who are near and dear to our heart who are good to include him.”

        The Schons: Samantha, Carly, Kaitlyn and Brandon were born Sept. 27, 1996 to Greg and Dana Schon of Pleasant Run. The Schons, now 5, will start kindergarten in the fall. They're preparing this summer by learning to write their names. They love to play together — everything from house and dress-up to school, according to their mother.

        Quad advice: “Take all the help you can get, especially in the first four months,” Mrs. Schon says. “I turned down a lot of help and paid for it in the long run because I was so tired and exhausted I physically wasn't able to take care of them. It takes quite a toll being up with them every two hours.”

        The Mullinses: Maggie, Matt, Maria and Monica were born Feb. 3, 1997 to Buster and Amy Mullins of Independence, Ky. Now 5, the Mullinses were at the perfect age for a recent first visit to Walt Disney World. “They didn't need a nap,” Mrs. Mullins says. “We'd go from morning to night.” They, too, will start kindergarten in the fall.

        Quad advice: Get involved with a support group, says Mrs. Mullins, who serves as president of Tri-State Multiples. “That has been the biggest saving grace for me. You can talk to other friends who have had one child about one of them being sick or whatever, but when you're dealing with multiples nobody knows what you're going through unless they've been through it themselves. I get phone calls every day almost from people in our group.” Some of parents' biggest concerns are discipline. “What's so bad is when you tell one no, the other three think they can still try it,” Mrs. Mullins says. “They feel there's strength in numbers. You feel like you're getting hit from all sides.”

        The Grubers: Claire, Ben, Nicholas and Alex were born Oct. 22, 1996 to Joe and Melissa Gruber of Mount Lookout. Another set of 5-year-olds heading to kindergarten, the Gruber clan enjoys “swim lessons, playing baseball and all that fun summer stuff,” according to their mother.

        Quad advice: “Be patient,” Mrs. Gruber says. “It gets easier.” Now that the quads and big sister, Emma, 7, are getting older, Mrs. Gruber says, her family seems less unique and more like other families with several children. “When I talk to other people with big families, our issues are pretty much the same. ... The more kids you have playing baseball, the more fields you have to be at. ... We're just trying to manage schedules and get people to places on time.”

        The Himmelspaches: John, Jacob, Adam and Andrew were born Feb. 13, 1990 to John and Vickie Himmelspach of Green Township. The boys, now 12 and going into the sixth grade at Bridgetown Middle School are into everything, according to their mother: “Basketball, football, camping, swimming — even the refrigerator on their own.They're even into their studies; they really take schools seriously.”

        Quad advice: Start teaching them to fend for themselves as soon as possible, says Mrs. Himmelspach. “My kids already can run the washing machine, fold clothes and put away a load in the dishwasher. It's our house. As far as cleaning up, everybody's responsible.”

        The Overwines: David, Neil, Nathan and Rachel Overwine were born July 31, 1985 to John and Debbie Overwine of Taylor Mill. The 16-year-olds will be juniors at Scott High School next fall, according to their father. David, who works at a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, likes music and paintball. Neil works at McDonald's and enjoys biking, running and jet skiing. Nathan, who at 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds is the largest of the group, hopes to be the starting center on Scott's basketball team next fall. Rachel is interested in baby-sitting and has run cross-country. “They're just normal kids with normal friends,” Mr. Overwine says.

        Quad advice: Since the Overwines divorced when the quads were toddlers, Mr. Overwine offers this advice for parents of multiples — “Don't forget to take time for each other, too.”

        The Minceys: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were born May 22, 1964 to Robert and Willie Mae Mincey of Springfield Township. Now 38 years old, the four remain close, their mother says. Matthew, Mark and John work at Maple Knoll Village, a Springdale retirement community, and Luke is a trucker. The family has gone through a difficult period since their father, who has a variety of health problems, has been in the hospital for months.

        Quad advice: “You've got to stick with it,” Mrs. Mincey says. “Just work with them.”


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