EXCHANGE: 'Magnificent Nine' babies are now adults
URBANA, Ill. -- They don't remember, of course, but 18 years ago, a group of newborn twins and triplets made big baby news across the nation.
Dubbed the "Magnificent Nine," the three sets of twins and one set of triplets were born in a 24-hour period Jan. 9-10, 2001, at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana. Soon after local news reports, their collective picture appeared in more than 70 newspapers across the U.S., which led to a shout-out from Regis Philbin on ABC.
"It's like a blink of an eye. I can't believe they are turning 18," said Julle Dohme of Broadlands.
She and her husband, Darren Dohme, had the triplets - Caroline, Jacob and Dylan - who will celebrate their milestone birthday today at Red Lobster with Mom and Dad.
"I've always wondered about those other three families. I really wish that all these years we could have stayed in contact," Julle Dohme said.
Kacy Harris of Georgetown feels the same.
She and her husband, David, already had one child when their twin girls, Taelyn and Mariya, were born in 2001.
Since then, they've had half a dozen more - including another set of twins (boys) - for a total of nine, ranging in age from 2 to 20.
"I so wish we would have kept in contact," Kacy Harris said.
At the hospital, she didn't think to trade phone numbers with the other parents, and there was no Facebook back then. But Carle put them all on a floor together during her two-day stay, which included a group photo.
"It was just fun, especially to see all the little babies together," she said. "It was just too cute."
Harris was scheduled to be induced Jan. 10 that year (her doctor was headed out of town), and Dohme was to deliver via a C-section, so Carle was adequately staffed for those births.
But the other two sets of twins, delivered naturally, were not expected.
Jennifer and Jeff Ekstam, who lived in Champaign at the time, had twin boys, Daniel and David, around 6 p.m. Jan. 9.
Kristin DePratt of Danville and her late husband, Chad Gard, had the third set of twins - a boy (Quinn) and girl (Carrigan), who arrived between 2 and 3 p.m. Jan. 10.
Less than 24 hours later, Carle was mobilizing everyone for a media gathering. Laughing now, DePratt remembers thinking: "This is happening. You need to put some lipstick on."
The Dohmes, Harrises and DePratt all have clippings from newspapers nationwide that ran the story and photo.
The attention was "just mind-blowing," said Dohme, who thinks it would be nice to hold a reunion like the one Carle organized when the kids all turned 1.
Her triplets have been active in sports and 4-H and are due to graduate from Heritage High in May, then attend Parkland College, where two of them are already taking dual-enrollment courses.
Jacob is going for a degree in agriculture, Dillon is interested in engines and computers, and Caroline plans to enroll in the nursing program.
"Life gets really busy, but they've had just a wonderful childhood," Dohme said. "It's been a wild ride."
DePratt said a friend recently had twins and asked for specific advice.
"I had no advice," she said with a laugh, recalling feeding the twins at the same time and waking the other at night if one was already up. "I just did it."
Her twins, Quinn and Carrigan Gard, will graduate from Schlarman in May.
The Harris twins will graduate from Danville's First Baptist in May and have decided to join their older brother in college in South Carolina. Taelyn is considering a career in the medical field and Mariya is thinking about biblical counseling with a focus in communication.
Kacy Harris said their girls, who are identical twins, picked their favorite restaurant, Fujiyama, to celebrate turning 18 today. They're both "super laid back, no drama" girls, she said, who instructed her not to tell anyone that today's their birthday.
In 2001, just after their birth, Harris told The News-Gazette she'd like to have two more kids.
"Once you have four, you might as well have 10," she joked Wednesday. "But this is the first time we've both said, 'I think we can be done.'"
Source: The (Champaign) News-Gazette, https://bit.ly/2D6mtGt
Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com