JAYESS, Miss. – Multiples don't run in either side of Craig and Kimberly Fugate's families, but God had a different plan.
Five months ago, the couple received the biggest surprise of their lives — identical girl quadruplets that would force them to find a bigger home to accommodate a family that suddenly went from three to seven. With 11-year-old daughter Katelyn in tow, Kimberly Fugate, 42, hopes the big family stays this size.
The babies, born Feb. 8 at the University of Mississippi Medical Center — Kenleigh Rosa, Kristen Sue, Kayleigh Pearl and Kelsey Roxanne (in order of birth) — were separated for three months because of additional medical procedures. Kimberly Fugate stayed in the nearby Ronald McDonald House until their release.
Kenleigh and Kayleigh were the last to go home to Jayess two weeks ago. Their arrival was too grand for the Fugate home, so Kimberly Fugate temporarily moved them in with her parents, Bobby and Kathy Reid, for extra space and support.
"It feels good to be at home. It feels like I'm camping out sometimes," Kimberly Fugate said. "I don't have a whole lot of time to think about what's going on because I stay busy."
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Inside the Reid's living room, four car seats sit on the couch near a basket of diapers for newborns on the coffee table. Rockers and swings and diaper bags are close if any of the girls start fussing. It's only a temporary situation because the Fugates have found a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home; all that's needed is a down payment.
"When you have quads, you don't get up and go anymore," Kimberly Fugate said. "It takes a lot of preparation."
The quads present a new set of challenges for Kimberly Fugate, who had to start all over again after having Katelyn at 31 years old and outgrowing her two-bedroom mobile home. Becoming pregnant was the first surprise; being told she was having triplets during her pregnancy only to see four sets of feet was the second surprise. It's a new normal that her family is adjusting to, and Kimberly Fugate considers herself blessed to have her community's support.
Getting the babies fed, burped and changed keeps their parents, big sister and grandparents moving despite the lack of sleep. In the morning, the girls take an hour to eat and have to be fed and changed every three hours. Kathy Reid said the babies go through 10 to 12 diapers each per day.
"Anyone just picks up a baby and feeds (it)," Kathy Reid said.
The babies are developing on schedule. During Thursday morning's bottle feeding, Kristen slept soundly in her car seat until she woke up for milk, so Bobby Reid picked her up and handed off Kelsey to Kathy Reid for changing. The girls are content being held by anybody, but Kayleigh stays in her mother's arms.
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That's because Kayleigh was a donor to two sisters, supplying blood while in utero. The stress of it caused her lungs to weaken, and she uses an oxygen machine. Kayleigh also has bad colic that keeps her crying and fussy at night and in the morning, so Kimberly Fugate soothes her stomach with homemade onion tea.
The quads wear matching outfits and look so much alike that they have bracelets with their names. On Thursday, they wore striped pink and white leggings, pink tutus and white shirts that read, "Cute like auntie." Katelyn brushed their hair using baby lotion, creating short, brown mohawks, and their big brown eyes competed with their chubby cheeks.
Their big sister notices how the clothes fit, pointing out that Kristen's leggings are longer than Kelsey's. It finally sank in that Katelyn has four younger sisters to look out for.
"I wanted a baby sister," Katelyn said smiling. "I kept asking mom, and she had four. Now I'm tired of babies."
Added Kimberly Fugate: "Just because she asked for a baby sister didn't mean I would give her one. It just happened."
"I had my tubes tied, and someone came over the other day and said that she had her tubes tied two years ago and she's pregnant again," Kimberly Fugate said. "I did not want to hear that."
Posing the girls for photos is no small feat because each baby is so active. Kimberly Fugate will get a professional one taken when the babies can sit up on their own, and she also can't wait for them to hold their own bottles. However, mom doesn't look forward to the inevitable teething.
Dr. James Bofill, professor of maternal fetal medicine, previously said the odds of spontaneous quadruplets are 1 in 729,000. But in the Fugates' case, the odds are incalculable because their girls were split from a single fertilized egg. The girls were all 14 inches long and weighed between 2 pounds 1 ounce and 2 pounds 8 ounces when they were born.
Kimberly Fugate said her husband, Craig, is handling additional babies well and the recent purchase of a used minivan gets the family around.
Supporters from Mississippi and other states have sent gifts to the Fugates, and a gofundme.com page and a Regions bank account have been set up for donations to help them make a down payment on a home.
Kimberly Fugate was working two jobs when she found out about her second pregnancy. She will return to work for the United States Postal Service. For now, she will enjoy the journey watching her little ones grow quickly.
"I look at it like, what won't break me will make me stronger," Kimberly Fugate said. "I love every one of them, and I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world."