Cold and flu season is a worry for any parent with young children, but for sextuplet mom Jenny Masche, an even bigger concern may be cabin fever.
In part eight of a continuing TODAY series chronicling Jenny and husband Bryan’s amazing journey into parenthood times six, the Masches opened their home in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., to talk via satellite with Meredith Vieira on Monday.
Raising six babies in unison is trying enough, but now that Savannah, Bailey, Grant, Cole, Molli and Blake are 18 months old, the couple’s home never seems big enough to contain half a dozen bottle-toting toddlers.
The urge to roam“They want to roam, and they get bored and they start getting in trouble,” Jenny Masche told Vieira. “They start pulling hair and biting and get fussy, and I just want to sit in the corner and suck my thumb.
“It’s basically on a daily basis they get bored. You know, I can’t safely take them to the park yet by myself and do certain things. But I do have some really good friends to take them to different houses to play just so they can get out of the house.”
Despite such logistical challenges, the Masches seem to take the trials and tribulations of raising their rambunctious, often cacophonic half-dozen in stride. The couple, who endured several false starts and two miscarriages by Jenny before an artificial insemination treatment produced a bounty on July 11, 2007, say they count their blessings each and every day.
The sextuplets came into the world six weeks prematurely, and mom Jenny went into cardiac arrest during delivery. The brood, weighing 2 to 3 pounds each, were born with varying degrees of health, but they came home, two at a time, over the course of three weeks.
Six distinct personalitiesThe biggest revelation for the Masches is watching the six develop their own distinct personalities. Jenny’s joy is apparent as she clicks off what makes each special.
First-born Savannah is the sextuplets’ diva in training, whom Jenny says is “our little princess, she is totally girl.” Bailey is the ringleader, and has “always been the boss since day one,” her mom says. Grant, the largest of the six, is nicknamed “the gentle giant” by the Masches.
Jenny Masche says son Cole has “the sweetest spirit of all of them,” but also the most painful habit: biting to get mommy’s attention, earning him the moniker “Co-Co Chomper.”
Blake is the resident “wild man” who “can throw the biggest fit of all of them,” Jenny says. Daughter Molli is the true Zen soul of the bunch, she adds. “If all of them were like Molli, our life would be a piece of cake and we’d have six kids again!”
Now that the babies have reached toddler stage, a glimmer of normalcy has returned to the Masche household. Jenny has returned to work part-time as a physician’s assistant to help pay the daunting bills that raising six kids generates. Bryan, a pharmaceutical sales rep, is finishing work on his MBA.
Making ends meet
Finances are never far from the couple’s minds — gifts from well-wishers, company donations of diapers and formula and hand-me-down clothes from friends have helped keep the family afloat to date.
Bryan Masche told Vieira the family is thriving even as it meets the challenge of providing for six toddlers.
“We’ve been very blessed,” he said. “We’ve been very fortunate that all the ends seem to get met somehow, and the Lord has really been good to us. Everybody is healthy and happy and fed well.”
As the couple jostled with the six-pack during their TODAY appearance — rarely did more than four of the wandering toddlers make it into a camera shot at any given time — Bryan beamed with pride and told Vieira “as you can see, everybody’s doing great.”
Jenny is still dealing with the physical fallout of birthing six babies. After regaining her health well enough to run a marathon in July, she was diagnosed with what she says “was a giant hernia down the center of my stomach,” and had surgery shortly before Thanksgiving.
“It brings back all the memories of my difficult recovery after the babies were born,” she says. “The hardest part is not being able to pick up the children for six weeks — they just don’t understand that mommy can’t pick up 25-pound toddlers!
“But it’s all good,” she told Vieira. “I’m feeling great and we’re ready to start running again.”
Noisy broodAlready reveling in the experience of seeing her babies grow into toddlers, Jenny says she still looks forward to the day when reason can win the day with her six.
“I will be excited when they can talk so I can reason with them,” Jenny says. “I feel like I’m constantly saying, ‘No, no, no, oh no, no, no don’t do that! No, come here please, no!’ It’s like the only word in my vocabulary right now. So for those discouraging moments, I try to realize what a precious season of life this is and say, ‘This too shall pass.’ ”
Bryan, who likens his job as pop to “working security at a rock concert,” told Vieira the most difficult adjustment is coping with the din six toddlers create.
“You just couldn’t imagine, Meredith,” Bryan said. “It’s so loud. I feel like someone is taking a drill right to my forehead.”