My mum tried for one more baby & had quintuplets – she drove us around in a bus & we'd have THREE babysitters at once
A QUINTUPLET has revealed how her mum wanted "one more child" – and ended up with six.
Grace Collins, 24, and siblings Paddy, Aidan, Betsy and Clare were born on September 9, 1996, to mum Bridget, now 53, and dad William, 60, a salesman.
Speaking to Fabulous, Grace, from Chicago, explains: “My mum wanted one more child and they were having a difficult time getting pregnant so she went through hormone therapy to increase her chances.
"People assume we were IVF babies but we were artificial insemination (IUI) which is different.
"It was just a really lucky day, we all clicked and she got five babies, but they definitely weren't expecting that."
Bridget, an office administrator who gave up work to be a full-time mum until her quints were 14, and husband William were already parents to son Liam, now 27, at the time.
The quints were born in a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, because of the speciality doctors there, despite it being a three and a half hour flight from home.
And although their four-bed home was pretty chaotic, Grace loved growing up as a quintuplet.
She says: "It was definitely hectic, us kids didn’t notice because it was just our normal day-to-day, but my poor mum had to watch all six of us.
"If there was ever an emergency she’d have to load all six of us in the car and she drove a huge 12-seater van.
"If there was ever a fight, it was four on two, or five on one, or three on three. It could get tough.
"We’d have two to three babysitters at the same time unless it was a family member, because otherwise they’d be too overwhelmed to babysit six kids.
It was definitely hectic. Mum drove a 12-seater van. We'd have two to three babysitters at a time because they'd be too overwhelmed with six kids
"Liam had his own bedroom, then Aidan and Paddy had one, while us three girls shared.
"My mum would spend hours running around, trying to drive us all to our sports clubs, shows and appointments.
"Then she'd ferry us to and from our friends' houses, because she was trying to give all six of us the same attention she would give to one kid.
"We get embarrassed because she likes to bring up that we’re quintuplets a lot, but I think she has earned the bragging rights.
"For the most part we were all pretty good kids, we didn’t get into any kind of crazy trouble.
"We all graduated and got good jobs, I think we were as easy on her as one teenager would be, she just had to do it all times six."
Raising six kids on a single salary meant money was often tight in the Collins household.
Grace says: "There are downsides, growing up it was a struggle money wise just having so many siblings, but I am very glad I’m a quintuplet.
"I couldn't imagine a different dynamic, it's been a major part of who I am.
"My mum was constantly going to the grocery store, multiple times a week, especially in my teenage years because my brothers would eat everything.
"It was a normal thing for her to spend $200 (£145) on the food shop.
There are downsides, growing up it was a struggle money wise just having so many siblings. It was normal thing to spend $200 on the food shop, vacations abroad weren't really a thing
"Every summer we’d go on a trip to Michigan which is just a drive away and we’d spend a weekend there with the extended family.
"Vacations abroad weren’t really a thing. Every now and then, we’d go on a trip but we'd often separate boys and girls just to save costs.
"Eating out was not a regular thing either, it would only happen on a special occasion as it was so expensive.
"It still is expensive, but now we’re all adults so we’ll pay for our mum.
"She’s definitely lucky, she’s got through the hard part and now she has a lot of people to take care of her. But she deserves it, she earned it."
Nowadays, Betsy is the only quint in a relationship and Grace, who works in recruitment, admits it can be "intimidating" coming into their family as a newcomer.
She says: "It’s definitely intimidating for them and it’s also scary for us because we know that, so we feel like we have to walk on egg shells.
"Betsy and Liam both live with their partners but the rest of us are single.
"There's been a couple of long-term relationships over the years and when we like somebody, they're in, we love them and don’t want to see them go.
Quintuplet life in numbers
12: the number of seats in the van Mum drove
6: the number of babies under 4
3: the number of babysitters needed for mum & dad to have a night out
4: the number of bedrooms in the house, meaning the 3 girls shared
$200: the cost of a basic weekly food shop
3-4: the number of times a year the siblings can get together as a group nowadays
"So it’s hard when someone breaks up with someone that we wanted around, but it’s just the way it works.
"It’s very overpowering and overwhelming in this family, I can’t imagine coming into it knowing that there’s five other siblings you have to try and get along with.
"And we keep it real, if we don’t like them, we’re like ‘eugh, uh oh’.
"At high school I didn’t really date because my siblings knew all the people in my year and I didn’t want to have any bad impressions.
"I’m single at the moment but unfortunately I’m not sure I can blame that on being a quintuplet."
Nowadays, the siblings live separately all over the state of Chicago and only meet up as a group three or four times-a-year, although they regularly meet in twos or threes.
Grace says: "I don’t know what it’s like to not grow up as a quintuplet.
"I definitely think we got more attention for that than most kids do, at major birthdays we’d have news stations there, which is not normal to other people but it was normal to us.
"I think we all have really good social skills because we had different friends so we learned to be around lots of different types of people.
"My mum used to say we didn’t know how to entertain somebody by ourselves, because if I invited someone over and I got bored I could just pass them off to one of my siblings.
"But growing up was good, someone was always around and at school we didn’t have to do anything alone. There weren't a lot of negatives.
"If someone was bullying one of my siblings when we were growing up, we would team up. I would be scared of us honestly.
"I am very glad I’m a quintuplet. I don’t know what I would do without them and can't even imagine what my life would look like.
"I don’t want to say they’re my best friends because it’s a different dynamic but I know they’re there for anything I need.
"We get along a lot better now we’re older and don’t see each other as often, we don't have huge fights anymore either."
You can follow Grace on TikTok here and on Soundcloud here.
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