Shepherd of the Lake family blessed five times over
Lutheran couple expected their first child; they got quints.
No sign on the quiet cul-de-sac in Prior Lake, Minnesota, announces their presence. One house, though, holds five identical cribs in an ample nursery while five tiny boys in the living room variously reach for a play gym, babble, nap or are held by a grandmother.
This is the home of the Peltz quintuplets, Austin, Blake, Clayton, Daniel and Ethan. They were born April 24, 2004, to Christina and Eric Peltz at Children’s Hospital, Minneapolis. On their first birthday they will be baptized at Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church, Prior Lake (ELCA).
The quintuplets’ mother, Chris Peltz, speaks calmly of the challenges of her pregnancy. “At six weeks, an ultrasound showed two babies but four yolk sacs. At seven weeks all five babies could be seen. One of the eggs had split.”
Blake and Ethan, produced by the split, are identical. The other three are fraternal quints. “We wanted to make it to thirty weeks of gestation,” Chris says. “We reached twenty-eight weeks, three days. I was on bed rest for three months, with plenty of time to read and think of five names.
“It was worth it. All five boys are healthy. They had to be on ventilators at first, but that’s normal for their length of gestation.” Austin, the largest arrival in the Caesarean birth, was three pounds, three ounces. Clayton, the smallest, was two pounds, two ounces.
Family, friends and members of Shepherd of the Lake congregation have rallied to help and support the Peltzes, beginning with Chris’s pregnancy. Brenda Hawkinson, parish nurse, and Diana Hunstad, pastoral intern, did an initial assessment, asking Chris and Eric what their needs would be.
“Volunteers delivered meals on a weekly basis while Chris was on bed rest,” Brenda says. “A church member who is a dietician planned and prepared meals and froze them. Others brought meals or helped clean house. While the quints were in the hospital our church staff provided pastoral care, and volunteers continued their support and prayers.”
The quints came home in stages, each on heart and breathing monitors. Brenda held volunteer training sessions in use of the monitors and in documenting each boy’s feeding, changing, and medication schedule.
“I really admire the volunteers, not only giving their time, but having additional responsibilities,” Brenda says. “They’ve been gracious and they’re still going.”
Shepherd of the Lake congregation has over 4,000 members. Dozens have volunteered, ranging in age from 15 to 80, including confirmation students fulfilling service requirements. Neigh-bors, community members and a group called Mothers of Multiples also joined the effort.
“Chris is a very organized Mom,” Brenda says. Five color-coded clipboards on the kitchen wall match colors marking the boys’ formulas, schedules, vitamins and medications: green for Austin; purple for Blake; blue for Clayton; orange for Daniel; and red for Ethan. At first, each boy had one toenail painted to match his color.
By seven months, Chris had no problem recognizing each of her sons by his personality. “Austin is the comic of the group,” she says. “Just look at him, and he laughs. Blake is normally quiet and laid back, but if he needs something he has a pitiful little cry that breaks your heart.
“Clayton is also quiet, but smiley and social. He loves to be held. Of all the boys, he’s the pacifier baby. Clayton has a surgical scar from a premature bone fusion in his head. We’re glad it was a correctable condition. Daniel is our practical joker. He’s very curious. He’ll be the first to crawl, walk and talk. He’s the littlest, but he’s strong.
“Ethan is the laziest one. He seems happy wherever he is and doesn’t try to roll over as much as the others. All the boys are sound sleepers because they spent several weeks in the hospital and got used to noise.”
At seven months the boys ranged in size from 17 pounds, three ounces (Ethan), to 12-1/2 pounds. (Daniel).
The quints came home from the hospital one at a time as they gained strength and weight: Clayton, June 10; Austin, June 18; Ethan, June 19; Blake, July 2; and Daniel, July 4. “Getting the fourth one home totally changed the dynamic,” Chris says. “One, two or three babies are doable. Four or more are a whole different ballgame. Mothers of twins just don’t have any idea.”
“The volunteer schedule has stabilized,” Brenda Hawkinson says. “For example, one person comes every Friday morning, and another prefers to stop after work.” The boys have their last bottle at 7:30 p.m. and sleep through the night until 5: 00 a.m. Chris says that the biggest challenge now is “giving the boys all the attention they want.”
To top off their year, the Peltzes undertook the major task of moving to their current home October 1, 2004, having outgrown their former residence in Savage. Eric’s mother, who lives nearby, kept the quintuplets at her house for a few days during the move. Eric works two jobs in restaurant management. Chris formerly worked outside the home but now is a full-time mom — to say the very least.