The Hughes quadruplets were born Sept. 15, 2005. Now 8, Annie, Jerry Lee Jr. (J.R.), Nolan and Ambrosia Jeanne (A.J.) are second-graders at Smith Elementary School.
“When we play, it’s more fun because there are always more people to play with,” Nolan said.
At Smith, Nolan and Annie are in one classroom, while J.R. and A.J. are in a different classroom.
“They have a lot of the same friends,” said Lisa Steele, the quads’ mother. “But even though they share friends, it seemed like we invited the entire first grade to their seventh birthday party.”
At their mother’s home, the quads sleep in bunk beds, girls in one room and the boys in another. A.J. and J.R. sleep in the top bunks.
“We like to pretend our bunk beds are roller coasters,” Annie said. “I love roller coasters.”
The quads already have a goal in mind for future careers.
A.J. wants to be Princess Anastasia, Annie wants to be “somebody who saves the rain forest,” J.R. wants to be a professional football player and Nolan wants to be a “famous weatherman.”
“They are all so smart and so different from each other. They always have been,” Steele said. “I’m just so proud of them.”
While now divorced, parents Jerry Hughes and Lisa Steele, agree their four children have always been a blessing.
“Any way you look at it, it is still the most rewarding experience of my life. Just being able to know that, as a parent, I am living for something bigger than myself,” Hughes said. “The love and affection from the quads are more than I could have ever dreamed before I became a parent.”
“Life with quadruplets is hectic, but I love every minute,” Steele said. “Each stage of their lives has been wonderful. I have loved watching them grow and develop completely unique personalities.”
Steele and Hughes agree that each child is very different.
“Annie is very caring and wears her heart on her sleeve. She loves everyone and is very artistic,” Steele said.
“Nolan is never at a loss for words, very social. He is very math-minded and constantly competing with his brother. Both boys are very competitive,” Hughes said. “Nolan loves playing sports”
“J.R. is very smart and inquisitive. He is also very argumentative,” Steele said. “Maybe he will be a lawyer.”
“A.J. is very independent, curious and unique,” Hughes said. “She is autistic, so that presents challenges in helping her understand boundaries, school work and relationships. All things that we continue working on, but different challenges from the rest.”
The hardest thing about being a parent of quads, Hughes said, is making sure that all four children feel appreciated.
“We work very hard to make sure that they all get the individual attention they deserve,” he said.
Steele said the challenges and joys are quite different from eight years ago.
The Hughes quadruplets came into the world through cesarean section nearly two months prematurely:
A.J., 3 pounds, 6.6 ounces, was born at 3:56 p.m.
J.R., born at 3:58 p.m., weighed 3 pounds, 7 ounces.
Antoinette Christine (Annie), 3 pounds, 12 ounces, was born at 3:59 p.m.
Nolan Glenn Edward, born at 4 p.m., weighed 3 pounds, 8.8 ounces.
Feedings took two people two hours, and the babies went through 200 diapers a week.
“Everything we did was in assembly-line fashion,” Steele said. “And the first few months all we could get done was feedings, laundry and diaper changes. But no matter what challenge is thrown our way, life with the quads has truly been a blessing.”
Paige Harden is a lifelong resident of Columbus. A former Republic reporter, she is a freelance writer and a public relations consultant. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.