ORANGE — When Karen Miner saw the newspaper picture Friday of the quadruplets born at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, she said to herself, "It has got to be Pam."
Miner, who lives in Chino Hills, has been in contact with Pamela Morris since early in the latter's pregnancy with three boys and a girl. Having given birth to her own quadruplets 3 1/2 years ago, this week's news triggered memories for Miner.
"I remembered back to the day I had mine and I remember the happiness and joy. Not only were there 10 perfect fingers and toes, there were 40."
In a week or so, when Morris and her babies are home from the hospital, the 35-year-old first-time mother "is going to be busy--\o7 very \f7 busy," Miner said. "The first three months are going to be a blur. But it is wonderful and gets more wonderful as time goes on."
At her bedside Friday, Morris was surrounded by family members, including both grandmothers. All were full of good wishes for her but acknowledged they didn't know the first thing about coping with four newborns all at once.
"I never held a baby before," said her husband, Scott, who this week is getting his first crack at cradling babies in his arms, two at a time. An outdoorsman who loves white-water rafting, kayaking and skiing, he can't wait until the children are old enough to join him.
While the new parents were still marveling at the event, they were beginning to look ahead with more than a little trepidation to a new life of assembly-line diaper changing and feedings.
The couple, both schoolteachers who live in Fullerton, said they plan to buy a larger home and van to accommodate their brood and to hire a live-in housekeeper.
Pamela Morris said she values the advice and encouragement she has received from Miner, whom she met through a national networking organization for parents of triplets, quads and quints called the Triplet Connection.
"We have networked 7,500 families of larger multiple births during the past 10 1/2 years," said Janet Bleyl, founder and president of the Stockton-based organization. "It is a tremendous opportunity for parents to hold hands with others, and they derive a lot of strength and help from one another. You can't look over the back-yard fence for someone with this kind of experience."
Although fertility treatments such as those Pamela Morris received have increased the number of multiple births, quadruplets are still a rarity. The National Center for Health Statistics said that in 1990, the latest year for statistics, 185 sets of quadruplets were born in the United States out of more than 4 million deliveries.
Morris said Miner has warned her that caring for quadruplets demands keeping strict schedules and records and, as the children grow, teaching them discipline.
"She also said: 'Take used things,' " said Morris, who has followed that advice. She already has three hand-me-down baby swings and a borrowed one.
"Our babies will have nothing new. Just lots of love," Morris said.
In the background, Morris' sister, Lori Peterson, chuckled at the change that quadruplets already have made in her sister's priorities. "She liked the best of everything. Her favorite store was Nordstrom's. That is why I am laughing."
Miner, 36, said all the scrimping and work that the Morrises face will be well worth it. "Honestly, it hasn't been nearly as difficult as we thought," she said. "You have to be very organized and have a sense of humor."
Just deciding which of the quadruplets get the best seats in the family van takes improvising, she said. "We used to say who gets to the van first gets the first choice of seats. But that got to be a little rough," she said.
As an alternative, she said she has assigned each child a color, using nearly the same identifying colors once placed on their cribs at UCI Medical Center where they were born. She attaches color stickers to the van seats showing which one each child can claim, and the stickers are rotated periodically.
When the whole family goes somewhere, they take care to all hold hands so no one gets lost. Inevitably, so large a family of children the same age draws stares, she said.
"One of the children the other day said, 'Everybody is looking at us.' I said that is because you are very special."
Miner said she struggles against her tendency to be "obsessive" with housekeeping and punctuality. "You learn that children march a little slower, and you have to start ahead of time to get out the door. Now if we are late, I say I tried."
There is no sure formula for raising quadruplets, Miner acknowledged. "There is no perfect way to raise one child and no perfect way to raise four."
But she said she has offered her friendship to the Morrises because she in turn benefited from the moral support and advice she received as a new mother of quadruplets from Janet Lederhaus of Claremont.
Lederhaus said Friday that now that her quadruplets, three boys and a girl, are 10 years old, she is amused to hear them answer questions from the curious about themselves and a younger sister born a year after them. "They say we are quads and this is our special sister."
Lederhaus said she believes that being part of a large family has made her children independent, frugal and close-knit. "I think now I am reaping the benefits of the hard work," she said. "They love us and they love each other."
Pamela Morris said she is eager to leave the hospital, where she has been confined since May, and begin taking care of her babies.
"I can't wait to get them home," she said. "We will never have a normal household again."