It’s my constant struggle.  There’s 1 of me and 6 of them.  I like to think that every mother struggles with being outnumbered the second she has more than one child.  When you have to decide who gets your attention and how you split it between them. I’ve never known any different {my kids were born 40 seconds apart}, but that hasn’t made it any easier.

From the start, I had to make major decisions – who got my breast milk vs donor milk and who got skin-to-skin contact vs. staying alone in the isolette.  I tried my best to keep everything even.  But that didn’t last long.  Once babies started coming home, I couldn’t spend all day at the hospital. The babies in the NICU had fewer and fewer visits from me.  The worst was when Leah was my last one at the hospital, and I could only make it to see her for 2 hours on the weekends.  I hated leaving her there alone, but I also had 5 babies at home who needed me.  When she finally came home, I thought I had it made.  We had the 5 baby routine down and adding in one more couldn’t be that much harder, right?  WRONG!  I was just beginning to see how significant Leah’s special needs were.  Her feeding issues were becoming real {as in I spent hours everyday trying to feed her and cleaning up the projectile vomit}.  Hours with her meant hardly any time with the other 5.  Their feedings were handled by our volunteers, most being afraid to handle Leah.  So began the struggle within the struggle…not only am I outnumbered 6:1, but one of those 6 needs me more than the others.  How does a mom choose?

snoozing with leah
Feeding Leah wore both of us out!

Fast forward 2 years, and I’m still trying to figure it out.  Not sure I ever will.  In some ways it’s easier – the 5 can somewhat communicate their needs {aka whining}, they’re a bit more independent, and we have a better understanding of Leah’s conditions.  However, what comes with a better understanding is knowledge of what should be done to help her progress, and as her mom I have to do whatever I can to help her reach her full potential.  I can’t just let her sit around doing nothing because it’s easy.  I want her to beat the odds and surpass the statistics and show everyone how amazing I know she is.  So between her doctor appointments {so many the valet people know me}, her intensive therapy schedule {we’re talking physical, occupational, speech, and vision therapy multiple times a week- yea for home therapy!}, and the additional doctor/therapist recommended exercises, the girl is busy!  Her care could easily be a full time job.  I schedule time each afternoon while the others nap to cram in as many exercises and cuddles as I can, because it’s just plain hard to solely focus on her with 5 other toddlers around.  And I know I could be doing more, and sometimes that makes my mommy guilt flare up.  But you can only do so much with what you’re given, and I was given more than just Leah.  The last thing I want is for my {mostly} typically developing kids to resent Leah and the amount of time I spend on her care.  I want them to embrace her as their sister, include her, cheer for her, fight for her, and care for her.  So, I try my best to involve everyone whether it’s checking on Leah, giving her a hug, clapping for her, pushing her stroller, or just reminding them to not step on her.  At this age, they don’t mind doing those things, but it’s still hard because they need me too.  They need one-on-one attention and teaching and loving too.  And they want “Mama” all of the time.  And I SO want to be there for each of them all of the time and always treat them as individuals.

But I’m outnumbered.

The 6:1 ratio is ever so obvious when I’m home alone with them.  It can start off as simple as someone’s thirsty… then another brings a book for me to read… then someone else has a toy to show me… but then another kid steals that toy… and someone else poops or bumps their head or gets into the dog food… and it’s time for me to make lunch… but wait… Leah {who cannot voice her own needs} threw up and needs a a good wipe down and a different toy to play with…  Did I mention all of this happens at once?  It’s a constant struggle and a constant choice and my choices change constantly.  Sometimes I clean up the mess first, other times I’ll read a short book or give out hugs because the mess isn’t going anywhere.  And sometimes they all just have to wait because I have to make lunch or pee or just take a breather from the incessant whines of multiple toddlers.  In all of the chaos I steal moments.  Moments of a book with Caroline, a silly face with Levi, a hug from Ben, a game with Andrew, a dance with Allison, or a song with Leah.  And even the small moments are hard to come by some days, but right now it’s the best I can do.  Maybe someday I’ll have one-on-one outings or scheduled time with each one and not feel guilty about spreading my attention so thin, but today I’m taking it one outnumbered moment at a time.

Perkins (8 of 42)Photo Credit :: Lisa Holloway Photography


  1. Lauren, you really are” UNSTOPPABLE” !!You and Dave are doing an unbelievable job of raising the sextuplets.We admire you soooo much. Good luck & God Bless !!


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