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'...twins would've been OK with us../ CONTINUED in the kitchen fixing a snack for Gregory with one hand, and cradling the heaviest baby, Steven, in her other arm. As the day passed, a new shift of women would arrive. Greg amused himself with miniature cars and TV's Sesame Street while his mother began dinner. The babies' routine never varied: naps, fussing, changing, feeding, burping and bed once again. In the evenings, one or two Girl Scouts took over for the older women, who returned to their own families. Even the Staneks' dinner table provided no sanctuary: whenever Gene and Edna sat down to eat, one-or both usually ended up with one arm curled around a squirming baby. Getting 'ambidextrous' "We were well on our way to becoming ambidextrous," said Edna. Around 10 p.m., the weary couple, relieved by the night nurse, went off to sleep--a sleep that was often interrupted when two or three or all of the babies woke up at once. But the picture has brightened considerably for the Staneks since those first few months of round-the-clock baby-care. PARADE went along on their most recenf trip to the doctor, who found that each quint was bigger, healthier and stronger than ever before. The quints arrived at pediatrician James Strain's office in a two-car caravan packed with bottles, diapers, towels and bibs. Three neighbors joined the party: one to drive the second car, and two to assist in carrying the babies. Inside the ultramodern medical center where Dr. Strain practices, each quint was stripped to the buff before a nurse marked weight, height and head width in the records. It took the silver- haired doctor over two hours to peer into eyes, throats and ears, listen for heart or breathing irregularities, and check for rashes. Quints growing "Although I have treated twins," he says, "these quintuplet patients are a challenge. I'm glad to say that, although they've certainly had their ups and downs, they're a thriving bunch." The quints' hearty appetites have helped them grow steadily. John, Steven, Catherine, Nathan and Jeffrey, whose birth weights ranged from just under 3 Ibs. to 3 2 /a Ibs., tipped their doctor's scales last month at 11 Ibs. 15 Four-year-old Greg Stanek, who insists he loves every one of his new brothers and sister, tries his best to amuse John, while Jeffrey slumbers on couch. oz., 14 Ibs. 12 oz., 11 Ibs., 9 Ibs. 14 oz., and 11 Ibs., respectively. Their general condition was excellent, but Catherine had a slight cough that caused her trouble at feeding time, Steven a mild cold and Jeffrey a bit of a sore throat, so Edna listened attentively while the physician told her what medications to use. He also briefed her on what to look for in the coming weeks. Even though the quints won't be walking for awhile, they are daily growing more independent, beginning to crawl, and learning to explore the world outside their mother's arms. "They're reaching for things now," says Edna, with pride, "and ge.t- ting quite good at stealing each others' pacifiers." After overseeing some polio shots and diphtheria-tetanus boosters -which brought a howl of indignation from each tiny patient--Dr. Strain gave the quintuplets a clean bill of health for another month. The quints are no strangers to the world of medicine--they're practically a product of medical progress. Married for five years, Gene and Edna planned their parenthood to include just one more child--hopefully a girl-to keep Greg company, and doctors prescribed a fertility drug when Edna had trouble becoming pregnant. Pergonal, designed to counteract chronic -non-ovulation, was the drug that finally set off the Stanek population explosion. Birth of sextuplets "My gynecologist had given me fertility drugs before," says Edna, "but they hadn't worked--so Gene and I didn't really think that this one would either. Even though we knew there was a 30 percent chance of multiple birth with this drug, we were told that most of those cases were twins--and that would've been OK with us." As it turned out, Edna gave birth not to twins, but to sextuplets. They arrived ^seven weeks early. They would have been born even sooner--dangerously so--but for the fact that their birth was held off by a rather unusual means of preventing contractions: vodka. "I had a bottle by my bedside at all times," recalls Edna, "and the doctor said to help myself to a shot-glassful whenever I felt a contraction coming on. It seemed to work just fine--but there aren't too many things that taste worse than warm, straight vodka." After the babies were born--one by forceps delivery and five by Caesarean --a team of 18 doctors and nurses worked round the clock at Colorado General Hospital, helping the preemies survive serious threats like hyaline membrane disease, oxygen intolerance and collapsed lungs! Blood transfusions and intravenous feedings kept all but one--named Julia --alive. : "Her death was very sad for us," says Edna, "but we were too busy worrying about the others to be able to dwell on our grief." Out of danger The other quints were all out of danger by the end of two months; a baptism was held, with Edna's parents, from Texas, and Gene's folks, from Massachusetts, on hand to admire the plucky infants. By now, some of the hubbub has died down at the Stanek home and life is more or less returning to a semblance of normality for Edna, Gene, and Gregory. Daily routine still calls for an early wake-up--especially since the night nurse, 22-year-old Rose Treblecockjeft the job shortly after the quints passed the half-year mark. "It was fortunate that she left when she did," says Gene, "since her boyfriend was beginning to think that she preferred the company of our babies to him." continued Greg likes to look on at feeding time, and to remind his mother and father that he's an important family member too.