The Bell quadruplets are turning one soon and this first year for their mommies has been chaos.
Almost one year ago on March 29, Carrie Bell gave birth to four babies in Polk County, Fla. They were at 27 weeks, about 3 months short of the normal 40 week-term pregnancy. Due to some medical complications, Bell and her partner Jenn Klawitter only got to bring the babies home about three months after they were born. Now they’re turning one — it’s been a year of both struggles and blessings for the six of them.
“It's been very interesting and chaotic,” Klawitter says. “We’re just getting used to four babies with the ups and the downs and the health scares. But seeing the first smile or seeing them crawl is just amazing."
Klawitter said the quadruplets are starting to show off their personalities and all four are completely different. Sophia Grace Bell was the first one they brought home and a “freakishly good baby,” according to Bell. Now she’s their little troublemaker.
“You put them on the floor,” Bell explained, “and she picks up the one little paperclip in a pile of toys that you're not supposed to find.” Olivia Hope Bell is the brainchild, always curious and analyzing her surroundings.
“She looks at a toy and turns it around,” Bell said, laughing. “We'll come home and she'll be the one taking the TV part.”
Along with Olivia, Emily Faith Bell had heart surgery this year due to congenital heart defects that made holes in their hearts. She is the quietest of the bunch and always keeping to herself.
“Noah is a boy,” Klawitter laughed. “And that's all I have to say.”
The couple described Noah Roberts Bell as always needing constant attention and causing a fuss when he doesn’t have his way. Klawitter worried about raising Noah with three sisters and two moms at first. But between Noah having two grandfathers and neighbors stepping up as male role models, he has male support.
“I grew up without a dad as did [Bell]. It's all in how you raise your children,” Klawitter said. “I'm not worried about him. It’s just about instilling the right values in him.”
Bell said that since the babies were born, the couple has become more religious and now attends church regularly. With support from their church, family, and friends, the couple hasn’t gotten much backlash for two moms raising quadruplets in conservative Polk County. But there is one question that Bell said always comes up whether it’s at the pediatrician, the mall, or church on Christmas Eve.
“People will ask ‘Who's the mom?’” Bell said. “And I totally understand why I have to answer it, but I hate answering. I hate having to explain. That gets old.”
“Who cares who's the mom?” Klawitter said. “They're going to be raised by two loving people.”
Besides the constant questioning, Klawitter and Bell have experienced some struggles on their own with finances and their relationship. Klawitter currently works at Disney and Bell is taking the year off from teaching to stay with the children.
“We’re cutting where we need to cut and doing the best we can,” Klawitter says. “It's tight, but we're making do. The medical bills are still piling up.” She said the quadruplets go through about 30 diapers a week, but most were donated by coworkers and a diaper drive from their church.
Besides taking them to the doctor for check ups and things like kidney stones and stomach viruses, taking the quadruplets anywhere public is a challenge. “I don't take them anywhere because getting four car seats in and out is chaotic,” she said.
The quadruplets are turning one on March 29 and it’s a big deal. The couple is planning a big party with their family and friends they’ve made at Arnold Palmer hospital in Orlando.
“We're both Disney freaks,” Klawitter said. “We're trying to do a Minnie and Mickey themed party.”
For now the couple is enjoying watching the babies start to crawl and enjoying the little moments.
“Every night when I pray and I say their names, I try and make myself picture a moment with each of them from that day that just made me smile,” Bell said. “And just watching them being babies. For example, Emily is obsessed with the dog. You see her little face light up when she sees the dog and it takes your breath away.”