Dayton history was made 40 years ago today when the Deddens family of Oakwood welcomed the city’s first quadruplets.
The family gathered earlier this summer to celebrate the special milestone: a 40th birthday for Katy, Patty, Molly and Amy — complete with the traditional angel food cake.
In September, 1974, news of their birth made the front page of the Dayton Daily News.
Mom and Dad — Bob and Ruth Deddens — had originally been prepared for a multiple birth but were surprised when four girls were delivered by cesarean section at Kettering Memorial Hospital. The infants, six weeks early, weighed 14 pounds in total and were delivered by doctors Alan Baker and Ronald Loesch.
The night nurse Mrs. Deddens had hired before the births changed her mind when she heard there were four infants, so Mom and Dad, Grandma, and 2-year-old sister Darcy adjusted as best they could as the babies came home one by one.
Bob Deddens was quoted as saying that he felt like bursting into song and singing “Thank Heavens for Little Girls.”
“It took about an hour to feed all four girls, and they were on a schedule of needing to nurse every three hours, so there was precious little time to relax and to get work done that needed to be done,” remembers Ruth Deddens, who breastfed her daughters without supplements for the first four months.
After the quads, the couple had four more children including a set of twins. Their family continues to flourish with 11 grandchildren now living in Oakwood.
“I considered myself an efficiency expert,” Ruth says now. ” If I could think of more efficient ways of doing things I could get more done. It was like a game that I played with myself.”
The Dayton Daily News has chronicled quad milestones through the years: their first day of kindergarten, their sports activities at Oakwood High School, their preparations as they headed off to college.
Quadruplets are still a rare phenomenon: according to Multiples of America, there were just 239 quadruplet births in America in 2011, the last year statistics were available from the CDC.
How does it feel to grow up as a quad? We thought readers would enjoy hearing from the four sisters as well as others whose lives they’ve touched.
Brenda Talbott, one of the nurses who cared for the quads.
Just a few weeks ago I recognized Mollie and approached her to ask if she were one of the Deddens quads. I told her I was one of the nurses that was there the night she was born and that I had taken care of Baby C. They were identified by birth order.
“That’s me, I’m Baby C, I’m Molly!” she told me.
I told her that taking care of her had changed my career path. I had just graduated from the Kettering College of Medical Arts and thought I wanted to work in Labor and Delivery. But I loved working with premies so much that I’ve been doing it ever since.
I feel like God gave me that job. I just received my 40 years service award from Kettering.
Molly Deddens Blumer met her husband at Cornell University where she studied Hotel/Restaurant Management. She has three children and with her husband operates Bellyfire Catering and a meal delivery service — Passion 4 Paleo.
My mom operated on very little sleep for many, many years. She dressed us in matching or identical outfits until we were in 4th grade and made a lot of our clothes herself. We were color coded so that people could tell us apart: Katy was red or pink, Patty was yellow, Molly was blue, and Amy was always green. Those are still “our” colors!
Mom always wanted to make sure that we were not labeled as “the smart one or the athletic one or the pretty one.” I believe my parents turned down talk show appearance opportunities in order to prevent the media from comparing us. She also wanted to make sure we were all included. So, if a friend invited one of us over, all four had to be included. When we had our own birthday parties, each of us had our own cake.
The positive about being a quad is really the strong family support. We deliberately decided to move back to Dayton because raising my children near their extended family was important to me.
Now that I have children of my own, I realize how special my experience was growing up as a unit of four. We didn’t really have to worry about scheduling play dates or planning activities. My children don’t have the crutch of having a sibling or two or three in the same grade to play with or to double-check the homework assignment. We were competitive and that pushed us to work hard on our homework and in athletics.
The sense of being more than one is still with me.
Amy Deddens Carter lives with her husband, also an Oakwood grad, at the NAF (Naval Air Facility) Atsugi Base, Japan where he is a pilot. She attended Ohio University and has a Master’s degree in Art Education. She spends time her time volunteering to support her husband’s command, enjoys traveling and fostering friendships with their host nation.
I find myself saying “we” all the time. It was great fun growing up as a quad and having three sisters the same age as me.
People would say we looked identical so they would say that they didn’t want to call us by the wrong name so they didn’t make the effort to get to know us individually. This made us feel isolated and lonely at times which naturally made our bond as sisters more tight. We each longed to have people get to know us as individuals.
Patty Deddens attended Ohio University and University of Dayton and lives in Kettering. She has a Master’s in Special Education and Spanish Education and has most recently taught Spanish at Sinclair Community College. She has also worked as a substitute teacher in various school districts.
We shared a bedroom, had two bunkbeds, shared clothes, underwear, socks and the bathroom. We had fun times going to our cabin on the Little Miami River with Dad and singing songs.
Mom planned elaborate parties for us: a Ronald McDonald party, a magician, a games party on the front lawn, a dance in the gym. Dad’s job was to put us to bed — he would read us a story and sometimes the story of one of the saints. His calming voice was always nice. In the summers, we rode our bikes together to the Oakwood pool for swim team lessons. We were active in 4-H and did many projects and did a lot of cooking and baking in the kitchen.
We were involved in sports at an early age. We had our own relay team and other teams would come over gawking at us, asking if we were identical, and many questions: who is the tallest, the fastest, the most popular, if we fought often, if we all had the same favorite color, the same size shoe, etc. These encounters were somewhat overwhelming.
When Darcy got a blue Chevet as a birthday gift, we all piled in and out of that little car like clowns do in the circus! We enjoyed making music together and sang songs like a barbershop quartet including “Sisters” in choir. We did brass quartets in band.
The challenges included becoming our own person, separating the “I” from the “we,” and missing the other sisters. All the questions and attention from being a quadruplet got old after awhile. I feel we just wanted to fit in as we get older. My sisters and I have often said that we don’t know how to make friends. We were each other’s friends, and that was easy, but eventually we each desired to have our own friends.
Living alone was very difficult for me but it allowed me time and space to grow as a person.
Katy Deddens Dalrymple met her husband Cornell University and has a masters in Agriculture and Biological Engineering. She has four girls and has taken over the Oakwood SRO 4-H club that her grandmother started years ago.
I am thankful to the doctors and nurses who helped my parents conceive and who helped us to be strong and healthy babies. I felt loved and cared for, treated as an individual and respected for my talents. I was taught the value of faith, family and hard work.
Being a quad gives me the opportunity to tell people about the joys and blessings of a large family. Most people are very interested in our lives because quadruplets are so rare, but also because our parents kept having kids.
A large family requires hard work, but it is definitely worth it. The love and support, the fun family gatherings and the abundance of life are blessings.
John-Paul Deddens, brother
When people find out that my sisters are quadruplets they inevitably ask with great curiosity “What was it like?” I always answer the same way. “It was normal.” I never knew anything different and, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I look up to all of them for different reasons and they have each taught me so much.
I’ve always thought that it’s kind of funny that I am a minority in my family. Katy, Patty, Molly, Amy, James and Bobby all shared the womb with someone else. Darcy, Elizabeth and I were singles.
None of the other siblings ever complained about the quads being in the spotlight. I was proud and I think my other siblings were too.
Darcy, older sister
My mom did a great job of giving me extra attention when the quads were little so I never resented at all that they got so much attention from the public.
Although I never felt any resentment, I do remember feeling left out on one occasion. It was when the Dayton Daily News ran a list of New Year’s resolutions of various Daytonians along with a cartoon depicting my dad, jogging, and the quads, jogging behind him.
I was not shown in the cartoon. My dad’s resolution was to run more 5K races with his daughters. It was a terrific cartoon, so I wished I had been in it too, as I had been my dad’s original 5K running partner, and I had always run the races with him.
Ruth Deddens, mom
Things were different then, there were no newborn car seats. We had a old-fashioned baby buggy that had a baby basket — put all of the girls in the baby basket with two heads facing each direction.
The babies and I participated in a P & G disposable diaper test: we got “free” diapers in exchange for our ideas. The original diapers had to be pinned on and my knuckles were bleeding since I was always washing hands so I started using masking tape on the diapers. I also made the suggestion that they add crimping around the legs and waist. P&G ran with both of those ideas.
In 1984 we were named the “Saturday Evening Post” magazine’s Family of the Year. The prize was our first computer. All the modern inventions that have happened since our girls were born are surely a great help to families today.
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