Roots: I’m a native Texan born in Dallas and raised in Shady Shores. I attended college at Southwest Texas in San Marcos where I majored in Early Childhood Education. After graduation I moved to the beautiful city of Austin.
Family Life: My husband Ethan and I met in the 7th grade. It wasn’t love at first sight because it took us until our senior year to start dating, but after that it was history! We both decided on the same college and got married shortly after graduation. It was always my dream to get married and have a baby. Little did I know that that journey would be truly life-changing! We have been married for 15 years.
Occupation: I’m a stay at home mom of 6. I also assist my husband with the bookkeeping for his homebuilding company.
Something Most People Don’t Know About Me… People are usually really surprised to learn that I have tattoos! I have several on my back that represent my family & faith.
When I Can Find A Second For Myself… I’m very interested in nutrition & fitness. I became a vegetarian about 4 years ago, so I’m always looking for new meal ideas! I also try to fit in a workout 3-4 days a week. Finding the time to eat right and workout can be challenging, but I feel it’s so important to stay healthy & strong — I’ve got 6 kids and a very active husband to keep up with!
What Inspires Me… Before my husband and I started the process of trying for baby “#2,” he surprised me with a gift that I wear almost everyday. It is a charm bracelet with the words serenity, wisdom and courage written on interlocking circles, representing the symbol of the Trinity. I wasn’t familiar with this prayer and now it’s something I remind myself of on a regular basis. LOVE it!!!
The Serenity Prayer God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference. -Reinhold Niebuhr
My Story…Unexpected Mother of One+Quints: Our first 5 years of married life were normal and uneventful, until we decided to have a baby — and that’s when things took a big turn. We were devastated when we found out that my husband had male infertility. I thought my dreams of getting pregnant and raising a family were gone.
After lots of tears & prayers, we met with a fertility specialist, and were told there was a slight chance we could conceive a child together with in vitro fertilization. We knew that chances were slim, but felt it was something we had to try before exploring other options. After an unsuccessful try at in vitro, we decided to select a sperm donor. It was a decision that a lot of men could have never made, but Ethan was unbelievable!
We knew the chances of us conceiving with an IUI (intrauterine insemination) were less than with in vitro, but I got pregnant the first try! After our first daughter Eliot was born, she brought so much joy to our lives and we wanted to have the experience of pregnancy, raising another child, and giving her a sibling to grow up with. We waited 4 years and then met with the fertility specialist and started the process again… and that’s when things got really crazy!
Going into the IUI the doctor said it looked like I could have 5 follicles that might release an egg. We weren’t really concerned because with our first pregnancy we had 4 follicles and we conceived just 1 baby. I took a pregnancy test 2 weeks later and could not have been more excited that we got positive results on the first try again! Our first sonogram was at 6 ½ weeks and we were shocked to find 6 sacks! The doctor detected 5 heartbeats and said the 6th one could just be progressing slower. At our next sonogram there were still only 5 heartbeats so we knew at this time that baby 6 had not progressed. Each weekly sonogram appointment showed 5 healthy babies. The doctors explained to us in great detail the seriousness and risks involved for the babies and me with this pregnancy, but reducing the number of babies was not an option for us.
The pregnancy was a huge challenge physically & emotionally. I was on bed rest for 3 ½ months and trying to plan for the arrival of the babies from the couch wasn’t easy for me. I also ended up in the ER for a twisted ovary that was caused from the fertility medication (the same thing also happened with my first pregnancy) and then ended up delivering earlier than I would have liked because I developed preeclampsia. After 29 weeks and 6 days, I delivered my 5 beautiful babies at Seton Medical Center in Austin, Texas…4 girls and 1 boy. They each weighed a little over 2 pounds, and because they were delivered so early they had to go straight to the NICU for 24-hour care over the next few months. There were several milestones that had to be achieved before they could be released from the NICU – they had to have help breathing, eating, maintaining their body temperatures, and many other things. Thank God for the nurses and doctors at the NICU – they are amazing! After 4 months in the NICU, we had 5 healthy babies at home.
We learned very early on that we couldn’t handle this major change to our lives without help. Our family, friends and church really stepped up and showed us love and support that carried us through some of our most challenging times. We will be forever grateful to each and every one of the many people who have been a part of our story. Today, we have one awesome big sister, who is in the 5th grade and 5 super star kindergarteners! Our journey to parenthood has been nothing but an emotional roller coaster that has changed our lives in ways we never imagined possible. Nobody ever said managing a family of 8 would be easy, and let me tell you it’s anything but easy! Although, we are all challenged daily with life, whether it’s kids, marriage, work, etc., we made the decision right away to look at our situation as a blessing and be thankful even in the hard times. It’s not always been an easy thing to do, but we just have to stop and remind ourselves what a true miracle it is to have 6 healthy children and a thriving marriage.
Managing My Self Expectations… The most difficult thing about being a wife and mother of one + quints is the pressure I constantly put on myself to do better. This feeling comes only from me, because I have a husband that is full of praises and children that are happy and healthy, but for some reason I always want to be doing more. On the day I found out I was expecting quintuplets, I immediately starting thinking about all of the challenges ahead. Sure enough, I have faced those challenges and know there are many more ahead. But, I’ve learned it’s how I deal with those difficult times or situations that matters the most. So, accepting the fact that I will never have as many date nights, one-on-one time with each child, home-cooked meals, money, time with friends, volunteer time, a clean house, and might not ever be able to fit into my old jeans again, is my reality. I’m living a life I never dreamed of, but I’m living a great life, so I need to not sweat the small stuff and take more time to sit back and enjoy!
Reality TV Life… Our family was given the opportunity to share our lives on TLC through our show “Quints By Surprise.” You can just add ‘reality show character’ to the list of things that I never imagined for my life! The filming process was truly a wonderful experience. We started filming as soon as the quints came home from the hospital, so you can imagine the chaos that we have on film! The kids love to watch all the episodes and talk about the things we did. It’s like having the best home movies ever! I will always cherish that footage because no matter how hard those times were, it was, and still is, our life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
Lessons Learned… I never thought about having a large family, especially 5 children at one time! But you never know what life is going to throw your way. Through my marriage and children I have learned that love will drive you to do things you never thought were imaginable. I’ve also learned to take things one day at a time. Each day with my family is a blessing and it also has its challenges. Most days I have enough going on that tomorrow seems like a long way away, so don’t ever ask me about making plans too far in advance!
– – –
If this story tugged on your a heartstrings a bit, we encourage you to visit the March of Dimes website to show your support for these special families.
– – –
iGnite’s Real Women, Real Stories is a series highlighting the inspiring lives and experiences of women in our community. We hope their stories motivate and inspire you to live your life to the fullest.
Know someone who would be a great candidate for a Real Women, Real Stories feature? Email nominations to email@example.com