And Babies Make Seven

by - Valerie Koning Keelan

Book Sample

            My name is Val Koning Keelan. In 1985, when my quadruplet sons were born, I lived in a small city in central Ontario, Canada, with my husband and daughter. We had two cats and considered ourselves an ordinary, one-income family–I was unable to work outside the house due to my physical limitations.

            There were certain things I couldn’t do as a result of injuries sustained in a car crash fifteen years previously. That monumental event might’ve been enough for one lifetime, but fate had different ideas. It started with our desire to have a family.

                        *                                  *                                              *

            “It’s sad that Meggie doesn’t have a sibling to share Christmas with,” Bryan had observed as he’d watched her reaching into her stocking to see what goodies Santa had left. “Opening stockings should happen with a brother or sister so parents can stay in bed for another hour or two!”

                        *                                  *                                              *

I was glad to have my pregnancy finally confirmed. Meggie was out of the house five mornings a week. I’d stopped writing the column. Daytime TV didn’t interest me, and I didn’t have the energy to do heavy housework.

“Since I don’t have a profession, or even a job outside the home, caring for two children will be my ‘career’,” I thought.


At my next appointment, the doctor told me she was sending me for an ultrasound. Two weeks later, Bryan and I went to the hospital. I left him sitting in the hall, and entered the examination room. I got into the hospital gown, climbed onto the hard table, and lay on my back. I thought I knew what to expect, but there were hints indicating this test would be different.

The technician did an initial examination and asked, “Are you on fertility drugs?”

“No,” I said.

A few minutes later, the technician paused in her calculations and turned towards me, asking “Are you comfortable?”

“Oh yes, I’m fine thanks,” I replied. Truth be told, I didn’t like lying on my back while my head was lower than my feet. Ever since my brain injury it made me nauseous to be in that position, but since my head was on a small pillow, I was fine.

I noticed the technician making three entries on a report, and I thought, “Triplets? No way! That can’t be!”

The technician ran out of the room without saying anything, but she returned in a few minutes. She continued to make notations, moving the wand to different positions on my belly. After a few more minutes, she stopped, opened the door and invited Bryan to come into the room.

"Do you want to sit down?” she asked him. “I have some important news."

"It’s okay. I'm leaning against the table."

A simple sentence, but I heard the unstated frustration. He was probably thinking, “No, I bloody well don’t want to sit! I’ve been sitting for nearly an hour! What’s taking so long? How difficult is it to take a picture of one tiny baby? You didn’t even have enough film for crying out loud!”

The technician smiled, looking from my face to Bryan’s as she announced: “There are four babies.”