I was an only child—and then my parents had quintuplets
One day, when I was two years old, my parents plopped me down on our kitchen counter to share some very big important news. I, Jerin Julia Forgie, was going to be a big sister to not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE babies. Yes, my mom had quintuplets in her belly.
Naturally, I said “OK” and climbed down from the counter to go and play. I was two! I could barely count to ten, so how was I supposed to know that it wasn’t an every day occurrence for a mom to give birth to five babies at once? My parents calmly navigated the days as though nothing extraordinary was about to happen. Soon, I would have a better sense at how drastically different my life would become. Part of me wishes I was older, and could have been more help to my parents, but the other part of me thinks it was good that I wasn’t hyper-aware of the fact that my family was a medical anomaly. What is normal anyway?
The day the quints were born I was with my grandparents. We waited to hear from my dad about my new brothers and sisters, and I was excited to meet them. Sometimes I picture my father pacing in the hospital hallways as my brothers and sisters Kiza, Rhys, Anya, Zuri and Kipp were born. And then I picture him waiting one, then two, then three days for my mother to regain consciousness. I picture it, but I can not imagine what he was feeling. I was blissfully unaware of the fact that my mother had serious complications that she thankfully got through, and that my siblings were all in the ICU.
Two boys and three girls came home one by one, healthy and getting stronger. But, they didn’t come alone. With the quintuplets came a revolving door of nurses, reporters, curious neighbors, friends and family. My brothers and sisters were the second set of quintuplets ever born in Canada and news traveled fast.
My two-year-old brain thought “what the heck is the big deal, and did I get this big of a homecoming party when I was born?” I began to associate the quints with strange adults who asked me questions I didn’t know how to answer. Then one day I told a reporter that they “could take the quints back to the hospital now.” I was ready to live as a single child again, and reclaim my preoccupied parents. Oddly enough my parents weren’t in on my scheme, and operation “return the babies” never went through.
Understandably cautious, my parents handled the press, and our private lives famously. I will be forever grateful for the way we were raised, and that my parents protected us with grace and humility. Though the Forgie quintuplets were never at risk of the same fate as the Dionne’s, my parents understood the importance of privacy and never exploited us for fame or financial reasons.
But we were still in the public eye on a frequent basis. I remember the day when I realized it wasn’t normal to be followed around by a camera. I was at school and there was a small news crew doing a story on a “day in the life of the Forgie kids.” I was also keenly aware that I was not the star of the story. I was more like a co-star.
If my parents weren’t fair to a fault I likely would have grown up insanely jealous, but somehow I never felt left out or unimportant. The question every reporter asked me was “What is it like to be the sister of the quints?” I never knew what to say. To me it was like being asked what it was like to be a kid, or to have brown hair. I didn’t know any different, so my answer usually came out something like “ummm, I don’t know, loud?”
Now that I’m a little older, I’ve gained some perspective on what it’s like to be the sister of the quints. From what I can tell the only thing different about our family is that my siblings came all at once. You may think our family is odd, but I think it must be strange to be an only child. Growing up was one big party. Because of the quintuplets I’m not afraid of public speaking, and I’m not afraid to lead. I don’t like living alone, and I don’t like silence.
I wish I knew what a gift I had when I was growing up, because I would have become a better friend to my siblings sooner. They are all so unique, wonderful and truly one of a kind. They may have entered the world together, but that is the extent of their similarities. I’ve learned tolerance, patience, humility and how to work really hard for what I want. I always have a friend to call, and I only have to remember one birthday! And, though I sometimes forget it, my family is living proof that miracles exist. That’s an amazing thing to grow up knowing.
Jerin Forge is a creative at heart who doesn’t go a day without coffee, and can’t wait to own a viszla. Lover of pop surrealism, Tim Burton, and autobiographies, it has occurred to her that the strangest stories are usually true. She teaches Pilates, and loves to sing, write, and act. You can follow her on Instagram/Twitter @jerinjulia and listen to her music for free here: www.jerinmusic.com