A lot has changed for this family in a year.
“It’s been a fast year in a sense,” Karoline said one recent morning as Eli and Ryan played in the family room and Charlie lounged nearby in a swing. The other three sleepy heads were still in their cribs. “They spent the first two months of their lives in the hospital.”
The babies were released one, sometimes two at a time, with all home by Thanksgiving.
Charlie, Jackson and Ryan had to be hospitalized a few days for pneumonia, but otherwise everyone was healthy. Charlie and Brady had reflux and were put on medicine to curb the spit-ups.
Charlie, the most fragile of the bunch, is still on oxygen, but now needs it “only once in a blue moon,” Karoline said.
The need for oxygen means that the family still has access to round the clock nurses, which are being paid for by Medicaid.
“You’re there for just one baby, but you can’t not pick up just one baby,” said nurse Judy Schwab, who spooned sweet potatoes and strained peas into the mouths of two who were seated at a table with six built-in high chair seats.
Because of the nurses, Karoline is free to run errands. She also gets the opportunity to sleep through the night “like a normal person.” Volunteers also still pitch in. Two Girl Scout troops made the Bylers their service project, with one raising money for six weeks of maid service.
While having help makes things easier, the family rarely goes out.
The couple says that it takes at least 30 minutes to get everyone and everything packed and loaded into the nine-seat Dodge Sprinter, which runs on diesel and costs more than $100 to fill up.
When at their destination, the family finds themselves a target for onlookers and questions.
Ben has found that this experience has made him more patient. He used to worry more about being late.
“It’s slowed me down a lot,” he said.
Looking back, he is amazed at how much easier it has been that he thought.
“Things have kind of fallen into place.”
Now, as the family readies for the tumultuous toddler years, Ben anticipates one of the biggest jobs he’ll have: teaching five little boys how to go potty standing up.
“It’s going to be really wild.”
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