Clint Lipczynski feels more than the usual paternal pride as he pushes his four-seater baby stroller down the wide-open streets of St. Clements, Ont. The outing, he says, “is a good workout.” Chloe, Aidan, Paige and Zach-who turned 1 on Aug. 5-fill out the Italian-made pram. Sister Jade, 2, either walks alongside or sits in a wagon pulled by her mother, Jen Albano.
But when strangers stop to chat about the stroller’s occupants, Lipczynski’s demeanour can sometimes become less accommodating. He and Albano, he jokes, are working on a list of the 10 goofiest questions: “Are they all yours?” places near the top. The family, says Lipczynski with a note of resignation, is “a freak show.”
But they’ve already coped with so much more. The first two months of Albano’s pregnancy were tough. “I was really big and sick,” she says, “I couldn’t even drink water.” After an ultrasound confirmed she was carrying four fetuses, she says, “I was shocked and numb.” The 35-year-old graphic designer wrapped up the results in a ribbon and left them on the kitchen table for her husband. Unravelling the four pictures, Lipczynski, 34, finally clued in. “I went back to work a zombie,” he says. “We didn’t sleep for three days.” They did, however, immediately start researching their options. The couple visited four hospitals, interviewing physicians and other health professionals. Citing a range of
statistics that linked survival rates with length of pregnancy (if delivered at 24 weeks, they were told, two of the babies would likely die and one of the remaining two could be disabled), one doctor recommended reducing the number of fetuses from four to two. Rejecting that option, Albano stopped working and, at 28 weeks, entered St. Joseph’s Hospital in London, Ont. Threeand-a-half weeks later, attended by a delivery team of around 20, she gave birth to Paige and Zach (both four pounds, two ounces), Aidan (three pounds, eight ounces) and Chloe (three pounds, 6.5 ounces)-all healthy and without major complications.
On a Monday in July, the family of seven is the picture of contentment: Jade and Chloe snuggle into their dad’s arms as he rocks them in a reclining chair; Paige crawls across the plush living room carpet in their spacious bungalow; Aidan is at the window, fiddling with the latch; Zach peers into a toy mirror as he nestles in his mom’s lap. Albano, sitting cross-legged on the floor (a common position these days), says it’s not always so calm. But the trick to maintaining their sanity, she says, was to throw out the baby advice books and put all four on a regular feeding and sleeping schedule. That, and a small army of volunteers-over 30 a week in the first months, although the number has now dwindled to six-has made life manageable, and always interesting.
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