WHAT A BIRTHDAY: Family of quints reflect on first year

Heather and Priscilla Rodriguez didn’t know at first they would be having quintuplets nor did they expect all girls.

On Tuesday, Heather and her daughters reunited with the nurses at Odessa Regional Medical Center to celebrate the girls’ first birthday.

“This first year for us has been a whole bunch of emotions,” Heather said. “It’s been sad because when they were first born, we didn’t know what would happen. And then, it’s turned to nothing but joy with them. They’ve grown and it’s turned into crazy, sleepless nights. It’s been amazing. Life has been crazy busy.”

The two mothers and their kids reside in Crane.

The quintuplets (named Hadley, Zariah, Jocelyn, Zylah and Reagan Rodriguez) were born on Aug. 13 at ORMC but their birthday celebration was pushed back a month due to illness in the family.

In addition to the quintuplets, the family also has a 4-year-old daughter named Sawyer Rodriguez, totaling six kids in their household.

“Sawyer has been amazing as a big sister,” Heather said. “These are not our babies. They’re her babies and she will tell you that. She is very protective over them. She helps take care of them. She is very helpful.”

One of the challenges from this past year has been getting all the kids to sleep through the night.

“There are some who like to wake up throughout the night,” Heather said. “There’s no sleeping through the night. Hopefully, as they figure it out, we can start sleeping through the night very soon.”

When asked how much sleep she and Priscilla get on an average basis, Heather said it depends on how the babies feel.

“We will get about maybe four hours and then it’s hit or miss as they decide when to wake up because they are early risers,” Heather said. “They think 6 a.m. is the perfect time to wake up.”

Trying to make it all work, Heather says that she and Priscilla have a system set up at home as far as responsibilities go in taking care of the kids.

“The big thing we have figured out, which has been amazing, is that my wife takes the late night shift for everyone,” Heather said. “She’ll feed them and everything which allows me to get some sleep. Then she goes to bed and I take the early stuff because she has work. It’s worked out that way for awhile.”

During the pregnancy, Heather and Priscilla thought they were having four babies. It wasn’t long before they found out they would be having quintuplets.

“It was very surprising that there were five,” Heather said. “That was a surprise. We’re still adjusting to being told there would be four and then five.”

Heather and Priscilla’s mode of transportation has changed since having quintuplets.

At first, they had two separate vehicles. However, it wasn’t long before they realized they would need to get a big van.

“Initially, when we found out there were this many babies, we were thinking we would do two cars,” Heather said. “We didn’t want a big van. We thought we were too cool for that. Then, we went for one of their doctor’s appointment and realized that we couldn’t do two cars. It wasn’t going to happen.”

It wasn’t until March when they finally decided to get a big van.

“I love that thing,” Heather said. “It’s something I didn’t know I wanted but I’m so glad I have it.”

Each baby has her own different type of character which makes it easier for the two mothers to tell each of them apart.

“Zylah used to be the calm one but she has become very loud,” Heather said. “She also has a funny giggle and laugh. Reagan is our little one (and) has been little from the beginning. She is very quiet. Nothing gets in her way. Jocelyn is our biggest. She was born the biggest and still is but she is our crybaby. But she is certainly our good one.

“Zariah is our fire. She knows when she likes something and doesn’t like something. She’s very loud. Hadley is the first one. She’s the jokester. She’s always laughing and getting the others to laugh. We know she’s going to be the one that makes everyone laugh.”

Heather also said that each of the quintuplets look different.

“They have different features,” Heather said. “I know that was a big concern of ours when they were born in how we were going to tell them apart. It took a couple of weeks to get to that point. But now, they’re very different. They sound very different when they cry. Some people still have trouble telling them apart.”

Taking the kids out in public can be a little complex for Heather and Priscilla.

“Getting out is crazy,” Heather said. “When we go to the doctor, that’s an interesting experience. We get the ‘oh my gosh, there are five!’ reaction. But when they get the shots, they’re all in one room. It’s crazy when they get their shots and they let you know they don’t like it.”

It’s not just when they go to the doctor’s office but also to the store.

“When we take them out to a place other than a doctor, it’s interesting,” Heather said. “But the biggest place we’ve been to is the home improvement stores because we don’t have the arms to carry them all and those stores will have the big carts and that’s how we get through the big stores. That’s how we get around that.”

Heather says all the babies sleep in one big room at their house, adding that it’s easier to feed them and that they’re all next to each other that way.

“It went from being our house to a baby house,” Heather said. “There’s baby stuff everywhere. It’s crazy how much the house has changed with baby stuff everywhere.”

Heather and Priscilla were very thankful for the staff at ORMC including the doctors and nurses for their help during and after the delivery.

“Everything went very smoothly,” Registered Nurse at ORMC, Pete Molina said. “The babies did great. We were well-staffed and prepared. Everyone was proud to be a part of this. Everything was an honor and helping raise them before they were ready to go home.”

Molina’s involvement after they were born was to make sure all the quintuplets were in a safe environment and that the doctor’s orders were followed.

“I had to make sure they were as comfortable as possible,” Molina said. “Also, being a nurse, I’m kind of like their caretaker, almost like a parent. We had to make sure they’re safe and cared for and providing whatever they need. It’s a great honor to be a part of.”

There were no major health issues when the quintuplets were born.

“For the most part, everyone has been pretty healthy,” Heather said. “We’ve been pretty lucky that we haven’t had issues with them. We did have COVID last month but we didn’t have it as bad as others.”

One of the challenges now is that the babies are starting to move and crawl, Heather said.

“We’re trying to get things blocked off so they can have their own area to do that,” she said. “We’ve got one of them, Zariah, who’s trying to stand up so it won’t be long before they start to walk. That’s going to be challenging. I guess the other part is that they don’t want to sleep through the night. Hopefully we can get them to do that. We have three of them that are pretty consistent and the other two that are guaranteed to wake up at 2 and 4 a.m.”

Regardless, Heather says she and Priscilla wouldn’t trade their family life for anything.

“Family is amazing,” Heather said. “Enjoy the times you have with them. Soak it up while you can.”