Family life with quads is never dullThe past 12 years have been a blur for Cloquet’s Lori Moe, since the day she gave birth to quadruplets at St. Mary’s Hospital in Duluth.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
The past 12 years have been a blur for Cloquet’s Lori Moe, since the day she gave birth to quadruplets at St. Mary’s Hospital in Duluth.
Lori doesn’t remember being featured on the “Our Neighbors” page in the Cloquet Journal four months after the Caesarean birth on May 23, 1999, nor does she remember the actual interview. She knows it happened because she kept copies of the paper for each child, but the actual memory is gone.
“It was a haze of babies, lack of sleep,” she said, adding that the birth was on the front page of the Duluth News Tribune and opened all the local television news shows on May 25, when the story broke. “There’s a lot I don’t remember from then.”
While Moe laughed easily and frequently when she described being mother to two baby boys, two baby girls and a 5-year-old , “chaos” was a word that came up again and again.
It didn’t matter that she wasn’t a first-time mom, either. Having five years of experience raising son Trenton with her then-husband, Dennis Moe, didn’t make an ounce of difference when it came to coping with four babies simultaneously.
“There’s no comparison,” Lori said. “There’s sanity with one. There’s no sanity with four. I still am not sane.”
On May 23 of this year, the quads – Derrick, Bryce, Naomi and Tanya (in order of their birth) – turned 12. In September they will start seventh grade at Cloquet Middle School, leaving behind their Wrenshall classmates at the same time.
It will be the first time the four are separated for at least some of their classes. At Wrenshall they were always in the same class.
“For many years, we invited absolutely everyone in the class for their birthday party,” Lori said.
Of course, the four of them made up approximately 20 percent of that class of 20 or so children.
“I’m looking forward to the time they can come home and share stories and they don’t hate each other because they’ve been in each other’s faces all day,” Lori said.
The quads, well, they have mixed opinions on the next school year. Derrick said he would like to be in homeroom with at least one of his siblings, while Bryce said he’s looking forward to the change. The girls are split as well, between missing friends and trying something new.
There have been other changes over the past 12 years. Lori and Dennis Moe separated when Derrick, Bryce, Naomi and Tanya were 3 years old and Trenton was eight. Lori married Paul Katalinich in 2006, and she and the kids moved from Wrenshall to their current home just outside of Cloquet. They see their dad frequently, spending at least one night a week with him in Duluth and every other weekend.
Although all five Moe children were conceived with the aid of in vitro fertilization, the quadruplets were a double miracle. That’s because Lori only had three eggs implanted in her uterus.
“During the ultrasound, as soon as the doctor put the scope down, we could see two babies, so I knew it was twins for sure,” Lori said during the 1999 interview. “We then found out there was a third one there, and the technician knew there was a fourth one, but we couldn’t see it. He went out and got the nurse-clinician and the doctor, and then they came and saw it, too.
“When they said there were four babies there, I said, ‘Sorry, you’re wrong. There can’t be four because that would mean there were four embryos.’ I knew there were only three. But they said one of them had split, so we had four!”
That meant Tanya and Naomi are identical twins, in addition to being quadruplets. Except for the fact that Tanya has shorter hair, it is difficult for someone who doesn’t know them well to tell the two girls apart. The boys, on the other hand, are easily distinguished, as Bryce has darker hair and glasses, while Derrick seems to share many of the same genetic traits as Tanya and Naomi: lighter hair and eyes and a wide, generous smile.
Lori remembered what she called the first milestone: when both girls became aware there were other babies. They were about 6 months old then (but had been born almost three months premature).
“They were each lying on their tummy and they looked at each other,” she said. “And they can’t quite reach out, but you can tell with their arms that they’re trying to touch each other. They were, literally, face to face. They would drop their head and then pick it up and look at each other. That was really cool; they realized there was another something.”
The next milestone came when they started walking.
“Everything went from a small mass of confusion to large areas of confusion because they would go in different directions,” she said,
Then came potty training.
“We had something like six potty chairs throughout the house,” she said, recalling some stories she figured the kids enjoy hearing but might not like to see in print.
She does have one bit of advice for other parents of multiples.
“Unfortunately, I used the ‘If you go potty in the potty chair, you can dump it in the toilet’ line,” she said. “Bad idea. Then you have toddlers who can hardly walk trying to carry these things to the toilet, down your hallway, and they’re trying to help each other all the time. I don’t suggest that, not for multiples!”
It was after that, their personalities really started to come out. They each had their own as babies, but they started getting real personalities then.”
Lori painted a quick verbal picture of each child when they were still toddlers.
Derrick, said mom, was a cuddly comedian who made funny faces – a sort of scrunched up huffing look she calls his “snickerdoodle” face – during a television interview when they were 1 year old. He is still a funny boy, once he gets past an initial shyness, mom said, calling him her “mama’s boy” as a baby. He is quiet until he gets to know someone, she said.
Naomi was the first to walk.
“She was the smallest, but she wasn’t going to be the least or the last,” said her mom.
Naomi and Derrick are similar, personality-wise, she said. They both get along well with others, something that is important to them.
“You can put them with any group of friends and they’ll make it work,” she said.
Bryce and Tanya, on the other hand, might not.
“They like people, but if you don’t like them, they really don’t care,” Lori said. “It’s amazing, really, it’s one boy and one girl whose personalities are more like each other, not the boys or the girls together.”
Lori called Naomi the “mother hen” of the group.
“She nurtures, makes sure everyone is happy, wants to make sure the world is good and calm,” she said.
Tanya appears to be the most difficult of the four to describe. According to mom, she is the most patient – “She will wait forever,” Lori said – even though she’s the “my way or the highway” child. Quick to smile, she is also the one who would be the first to defend her siblings.
“She’s the most competitive to win, but yet the most patient,” Lori added.
Bryce was the most individual. “He had his personality set from the get-go,” Lori said, adding that he was and still is stubborn and also the most interested in learning.
“He could sit down and almost have an adult conversation with him when he was still little,” she said, telling how she found Bryce reading their “Go Dog Go” book to Derrick two years before they started kindergarten, without having been formally taught to read. “He wanted to sit down and talk, and read.”
A conversation with the kids can be a whirlwind.
“I used to be the tallest,” said Derrick, who was born first.
“Yeah, but then he shrunk and I tower over him today,” said Bryce, who gave his own mini-assessment of their four. “Derrick is the most athletic. I’ve got the brains. Tanya is usually the one who sticks up for people. Naomi is girlier than Tanya.”
“It’s quite interesting what they figure out at an early age with four of them,” Paul said. “You ask, ‘Who left this out, or who broke this?’ Of course, they all point to each other.
“But they’re all different and unique in their own way,” he added.
All four are good students, pulling a “B” average so far, mom said. They also all enjoy sports, just like their big brother Trenton, who is both football and basketball captain at Cloquet High School next year. For now, the boys play football, basketball and baseball, while the girls play volleyball, basketball and softball (where Tanya pitches and Naomi catches).
So, after more than a decade of raising quadruplets, does Lori think children’s personalities are formed more from genetics or their environment? Is it nature or nuture?
“It’s 100 percent nature,” Lori said. “You want to know why I say that? Because when they were little they would always get the same presents. They would all get a doll, or they would all get a truck. The boys would push the truck and make truck noises. The girls would pick up their dollies and carry them with relative tenderness and love, while the boys would drag them by the feet and hit their head on the floor. The girls would take the truck and put the dolly in there and play with it. The boys would push both together and crash them.
“I never tried to make them the same, I just let them be how they were. They’re each their own
There’s no doubt about that. A quick conversation with the boys started out with Derrick talking in an artificially goofy voice, basically providing a color commentary to Bryce’s more serious attempts to answer questions. Talking with the girls, Tanya answered more questions with Naomi chiming in when she felt like it.
Paul said it’s very loud when all four are home and in the same room.
It can also be quite a comedy show.
Some days it’s entertaining,” said Trenton. “It differs from day to day.”
Bryce calls Trenton the “responsible kid.”
“Yeah, whenever something bad happens, he’s usually responsible,” he quipped. “But we can overpower him if we all just sit on him!”
Trenton, who will be a senior next year, just shakes his head.
Being five years older, Trenton said he’s avoided being known as “the brother of the quads.” In fact, he’s managed to make his own way quite nicely, according to mom, who said it was really tough at first, transitioning from hanging out with her only son to trying to find a moment to spend with him while caring for four infants.
So, what’s the best thing about being quadruplets?
“Being famous,” Tanya said.
“It can get annoying, but whenever you feel sad or something, there’s always someone there,” Bryce said. “That’s something you can count on.
“One thing’s for sure, you never really get bored in this house.”