My editor calls in the middle of a moment.
The Kansas City Star
Elizabeth is hugging my knee.
Elijah is trying to see whats in my purse.
Abigails walking toward me, and Caleb is cautiously checking out the scene.
I cant talk on the phone. Ive come to see the Ishum quads. And I cant imagine handling this party of four full time.
I remember when they were in their mamas belly. I remember when their lives werent so certain. They were born three months early and spent many more months on heart monitors and oxygen tanks and facing a great many health scares.
Their parents, Rebecca and Sean Ishum, kept the faith. They never quit believing their children would make it. We all prayed. And today, the quads turn 2. It may not be a Sweet 16, but for preemies, this is a coming of age.
At 2 years old, there is no more age adjustment, all those developmental calculations for the day they were born vs. the day they should have been born. 2 is 2. It feels like a miracle.
There was a time when Eli quit breathing and it was hard to resuscitate him. Cysts on Ellies brain put her at risk for cerebral palsy. Abbys vision was in question, and Calebs tiny heart has two holes. But guess what? The kids are all right.
They jump and walk and dance. They dont have much vocabulary, but they do their best to converse. With a little speech therapy, theyll be chatting soon. Turn on the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in their south Kansas City home and theyll give a round of applause.
This isnt something made for TV. This is everyday life for Rebecca and Sean. Rebecca blogs about it on abeautifulruckus.com.
This is our normal, says Rebecca, 28. We have nothing else to compare it to. Its hard work and were constantly exhausted, but every parenting situation has unique challenges.
Im different than I was before. I used to be type A. Now, Im more relaxed, and some people say I am more happy. I am. This has been a faith-growing experience, and God has kept us afloat. Hes proved himself faithful in our lives.
Yes, there is no other way to feel but blessed when you think about how far theyve come.
They may have come into the world at the same time, but they are very much different individuals now.
Ellies a cuddler. She spent much of my visit in my lap, trying to read a book.
Eli is the comedian. He makes the other kids laugh and doesnt do a lot of sitting still. Hes always climbing on the couch and chairs and finding something to do.
Caleb still has to have surgery to take care of the holes in his heart, but you wouldnt know it. No matter what hes doing, whether hes playing with a toy or watching cartoons, he keeps an eye on everyone in the room. He might write a book one day.
And Abby? Shes digging through a box of books but its likely a ruse for whatever shes going to get into next. Shes an adventurous little miss known for climbing out of her crib and into the other cribs in the middle of the night.
Its hard to fathom how a couple find time for themselves in a house filled with four 2-year-olds. But they do. They celebrate their fifth anniversary next month, and Rebecca says their marriage is stronger than ever.
I cant imagine walking this walk with anyone else. Im lucky to have a man that follows so hard after God. We worried about losing our identity as a couple in an effort to raise our family, she remembers. But we have made our marriage the primary relationship in our family, and our kids the secondary. It makes us a stronger family unit across the board.
On Saturday, the family will eat cupcakes. There wont be a big party. They are saving that for the summer when flu season is over. The quads dont go out much during the winter. Their immune systems arent quite there yet. But they will eat pizza and spend time with the grandparents.
Sean, 33, a payroll analyst for Sprint, says he has a birthday wish for his tots:
I wish that they would grow to be the kids God wants them to be, not the kids we want them to be or society expects them to be, he says. The happy kids that they are meant to be.