Four of a kind
The most low-key attendees at the celebration were the guest stars: Cullen, Killian, Riley, and Emma Driscoll.
It was their 15th birthday party at Beverly Hospital, where in July 1997 the Peabody siblings became the first quadruplets to be cared for in the special-care nursery. The hospital had previously marked their milestones with gatherings at ages 1, 5, 10.
“The kids were always excited [for the party] before,” said their grandmother, Ann Englehardt of Beverly. “I guess they’re getting too old.”
But all was not lost. “It’s nice of them to throw us a party,” said an understated Cullen.
The kids ate pizza and cake and talked with friends, including triplets Doug, Don, and Derek Bean, also 15, of Danvers.
Sharing in the festivities were their parents, Mary and David Driscoll, doctors and hospital staff, and several women who were part of the team of volunteers who helped care for them as babies.
“It seems like yesterday they were born,” said David Driscoll. “Pretty soon they’ll be out of high school.”
The biggest challenge, so far? “The teenage years,” David said. “But I guess that is true of all parents of teenagers.”
Mary became pregnant after 3½ years of trying to conceive and on the fifth round of in vitro fertilization. Then a teacher at the Beverly Hospital Child Development Center, Mary was 35, and David, a custodian at Needham High School, was 38.
David, who said his family has a history of twins, expected two, maybe three babies. They were thrilled with four.
The quads, born at New England Medical Center in Boston on July 17, 1997 six weeks premature and ranging in weight from 2 pounds, 14 ounces (Riley) to 4 pounds ,14 ounces (Emma), were transferred to Beverly Hospital five days later.
“They did extremely well and came to our special-care nursery at a young age,” said Dr. Peter Short, their former pediatrician, who attended the party with Dr. Tai Tran, director of the special-care nursery then and now.
The babies also stayed at Beverly Hospital just a short time, going home within 10 to 14 days.
Short, who is now chief medical officer at Beverly Hospital, cared for the Driscoll children until he left his pediatric practice six years ago.
“They were incredibly healthy,” he said.
Short said being their doctor was fun. He remembered when they started crawling and “I’d be on the floor crawling after them and doing the exams on the floor, because that is where they were comfortable.”
“The joy of pediatrics is you get to see patients grow and develop. It makes all those nights and weekends 1,000 percent worthwhile.”
Their parents took everything in stride. “It’s important that their parents were, and are, fantastic,” Short said. “Mary and David just embraced having quads. They were never overwhelmed. They made it a joy to be part of caring for them.”
Mary recalled, “When we had in vitro, they told us multiple babies were a possibility and I said, ‘I hope so.’ It worked and we hit the jackpot.”
Englehardt, Mary’s mother, always has helped care for the quads and in the early years enlisted friends as well. She recalled that “32 people came to the house for hours at a time, around the clock.”
Two of those baby sitters were Yolanda Driscoll, who is not related to the family, and Phyllis Sullivan, both of Beverly.
“They were so small, you could hold them in one hand,” said Driscoll, who helped out from the day the quads came home until they were in third grade.
Asked to describe them, she said, “Well, what adjective? Wonderful isn’t good enough.”
Sullivan stayed on duty for about five years. “We had a good time,” she said. “They were pretty good. They’re kids; nothing is going to be perfect.
“The girl was the boss then and is still the boss.” That was a recurring theme at the party.
“Emma is the queen bee and the boys do whatever she tells them,” said Mary. “And that has always been the way.”
Mary said Emma and two of the boys, Cullen and Riley, are athletic and into sports, while Killian is more interested in computers and listening to music. She said they are all good students and will be sophomores at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School in the fall.
“They get along some days, others not so much,” said Mary. “Like fighting over available laptops.”
One of the next challenges, she said, will be paying for drivers’ education. There have been other financial issues along the way, and college is looming.
Still, David said, “Everyone should have multiples. I highly recommend it.”
Wendy Killeen can be reached at email@example.com.