Moms and Their Multiples
Mothers from the Cranberry Mothers of Multiples club rely on routine and each other to raise their large broods.
Bah-bom, bah-bom, bah-bom. The sound of three heartbeats traveled through the doctors’ stethoscope during a regular check-up with Lisa Salak in January 1995.
Salak had suspected she might be having multiples, but now she knew. A week later -- as the shock of finding out she was having triplets started to wear off -- she returned to the doctor.
Bah-bom, bah-bom, bah-bom, bah-bom. The doctor heard another heartbeat. Salak was going to have quadruplets.
“I said O-M-G, we were worried about three and now there are four,” she said.
On August 27, Salak’s three boys and one girl were born. Although her kids, now 15 years old, are out of the baby stage, she said it does not get any easier.
“It just gets different,” she said.
Salak is not alone. The Cranberry Mothers of Multiples club welcomes moms from around the township grappling with the challenges of raising multiples.
Salak began going to the club's meetings in October 1995. With up to 40 diaper changes and six feedings a day, she enjoyed having a place to go for support and advice -- not to mention a chance to get out of the house.
The club meets regularly every second Monday of the month at the Cranberry Township Municipal Center. Sometimes the club brings in speakers, family counselors and nutritionists. Even Santa Claus has made an appearance for family Christmas pictures so the moms don't have to deal with the hassle of going to the mall.
“It’s just the overwhelming magnitude of it all,” Salak said. “There is a routine every day because living by a schedule is more sanity-saving.”
Stephanie Horstman, a new mom of twins, began going to club meetings in November 2009. Her twins -- a boy and a girl -- were born in January 2010. She said she did not find out she was going to have twins until five months into her pregnancy.
“I feel like for the past year I’ve just lived in survival mode,” she said. “Sometimes it would be nice to have a normal life, although I wouldn’t trade my kids for anything.”
Horstman has to wait for her husband to get home from work to run simple errands like going to the bank or to the post office. Right now, she said, feedings are the hardest part.
“When we went from every-three-hours feedings to every four hours, it seemed like there was a light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.
While taking on the everyday challenges of her twins, she already is preparing for the future, thinking about school and how well the twins are going to interact with other kids.
Other moms in the club are there to help her to prepare. She said she goes to the meetings with a high school friend who had twins a week after her babies were born.
“It is helpful having someone to go with and sharing that with other people,” she said.
Salak, already having survived the baby stages, relives the stories from when her four children were young so that the newer moms know what to expect.
One story she remembers is when the quadruplets were almost 3-years-old and found their way to the poisonous berries of a Yew bush. Salak turned her back for only a few seconds to plant flowers, but in that time, the three boys managed to smash berries in their hands.
Salak never knew for sure whether the boys ate the berries, but she called poison control just to be safe. The poison control center recommended a medication called syrup of Ipecac, which caused five hours of continuous vomiting for all three boys.
The children also changed Salak's life plans. Instead of finishing her teaching degree, she was scheduling feeding times and raising four children. She said it was like heaven when she and her husband finally purchased a new washing machine.
“Having children changes your life, and when they outnumber you, you’re in for it,” she said. “You have to alter life plans. It’s not about you anymore, it is about the kids.”