Meet the Slaughters.
Parents David and Gretchen, along with their 2-year-old quintuplets, are back in the area after a move from New Matamoras to Dayton when the babies, born Nov. 8, 2005, were just 3 months old.
Now living in Reno, the family has moved past midnight feedings and bottles and are preparing Faith, Grace, Hope, Elijah and Noah for preschool in August.
“One of the teachers (at Ewing School) told me I should be a stand-up comedian because of all the stories I can tell about my kids,” said Gretchen Slaughter. “But that’s my life.”
The key characters in those stories are the quints, born two months premature but now thriving as they work on potty training and learning to share.
And though the five shared a womb, they’ve all come into their toddler years with very distinctive, different personalities.
There’s Hope, who is like “the little mommy of the group,” said Gretchen.
“She’s always making sure everyone is OK,” she said. “If she had one last piece of food, she would give it away.”
Faith is the daredevil, said her mother.
“She’s always been the overachiever,” she said. “She was the first to walk, the first to talk, and she’s never stopped from there. When she wants something, she’s going to get it.”
But don’t forget about the third Slaughter daughter, Grace, who has the most health challenges and wears braces on her legs to help with a mild case of cerebral palsy.
“She has the most limitations but she’s never let it stop her,” said Gretchen. “She keeps up, and she’s so strong-willed.”
The two boys in the bunch are almost like night and day, with Noah often found standing behind someone “styling” their hair and Elijah, convinced he’s a superhero, ready to flex his muscles and give a menacing growl at a moment’s notice.
“We went to the doctor the other day and when the doctor asked his name he said ‘Superman,’” said the children’s grandfather, Bill Seagraves, who also lives in the home with his wife, Karen, and the family’s three chihuahuas.
“He’s very rough and tumble while Noah is just a big flirt,” said Gretchen. “He likes the ladies. He always notices if I dress up and says ‘Mommy, you look beautiful.’”
The family travels in a 15-passenger van, even making the trip last week to Myrtle Beach for their first family vacation.
The group attracted a lot of attention when walking with all the children in their strollers, Gretchen said.
“If you watch people when we’re walking, you can see them count,” she said. “Then you’ll hear them say ‘Five! Are they all related?’ We’re used to it. We sometimes draw a crowd.”
Especially when, after a long day, all five brothers and sisters start wailing at once.
“It’s loud,” Gretchen said. “It can be pretty tough.”
And it’s not just dealing with tears, or biting, and all the normal charms of 2-year-olds—try teaching five toddlers to share with each other, said Slaughter.
“They have a hard time because if they find a toy but set it down for two seconds, it’s gone,” she said. “Most 2-year-olds want to be the center of the universe, and they have no choice but to share their world with four others.”
Gretchen said she tries as often as she can to give the quintuplets one-on-one time... even if it has to be when nature calls.
“Some of them like to go to the potty because they can get away from everyone and have one-on-one time,” she said. “They crave that kind of attention.”
But they also miss their siblings if they’re apart, even for an instant.
As soon as one of the Slaughter children is out of sight, the questions, “Where is Noah?” or “What is Grace doing?” immediately start.
Gretchen said she and her husband have accepted that the house will always be slightly chaotic, with the noise level high, and with having to dress and load all the children into the van they may never be on time for anything again.
“If you get hung up on the little stuff, you’ll go crazy,” she said. “There are things you just have to let go.”
Besides, there are plenty of quieter, sweeter pluses to being the mom of five 2-year-olds, Gretchen said.
“There are five times the hugs and the kisses and when they’re all laughing, it’s amazing,” she said. “It’s all actually been a lot easier than I thought it would be. Everything has gone so fast and my life back when they were first born, it’s just a blur now.”
MITCH CASEY The Marietta Times
Gretchen Slaughter spends time with her now 2-year-old quintuplets, from left, Elijah, Faith, Grace, Noah and Hope, Tuesday at her Reno home. The Slaughters have moved back to the area after recently living in the Dayton area.
Fact BoxThe Slaughter
¯ The Slaughter quintuplets were born to David and Gretchen Slaughter, of New Matamoras, Nov. 8, 2005, two months early and the third set of quintuplets to ever be born at the Ohio State University Medical Center.
¯ The smallest, Hope, weighed just 2 pounds and was the last to come home, nearly two months after her birth.
¯ The family relocated to Dayton when the quints were 3 months old to be close to a children’s hospital but returned to Washington County in December, to friends, family and a community they say supported them tremendously after the children were born.
¯ The quintuplets, now 2 years old and living in Reno, are preparing to start preschool at Ewing School in August.