Every week, millions tune in to watch one Pennsylvania family get dressed, do laundry and get dinner on the table. Normally, everyday chores don’t make great television…but this is no ordinary household.
Jon and Kate Gosselin are the parents of twins and sᴇxtuplets! “Jon and I both knew we always wanted to have kids,” Kate says. “We weren’t able to get Pʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴛ on our own, so we turned to fertility treatments.”
In 2000, Kate gave birth to twin Gɪʀʟs, Cara and Mady. Then, the couple decided to try for one more child. “We got a little more than we bargained for—we got six more,” Kate says. “We’re considered a fertility nightmare.”
Jon and Kate say their lives were turned upside down the day they found out they were expecting sᴇxtuplets.
When Kate went in for an ultrasound five weeks into her pregnancy, she says she thought she might be Cᴀʀʀʏing more than one baby…but she never imagined there would be six. “As soon as they flashed the ultrasound screen, I saw too many circles to count,” she says. “I was thinking, ‘These cannot be babies. There’s too many.’ I instantly went into sʜᴏᴄᴋ.”
As the doctors whispered, Jon says he crouched on the floor to keep from fainting. “He was ᴄʟᴏsᴇ to Tᴇᴀʀs, which he’s usually very silent and strong,” Kate says. “I thought, ‘Now we’re really in trouble.’ … It sounds funny now, but at the time, our whole lives just flashed before our eyes.”
At just 26 years old, Jon says he immediately thought of the family’s finances, as well as Cara and Mady. “I [was] thinking of my twin daughters and, ‘How am I going to afford this?’” he says. “As a father, I think you want to take care of your family and do the best you can.”
They knew raising eight children would be draining—emotionally and financially—but Jon and Kate say they never considered reducing the number of fetuses in the Wᴏᴍʙ. “When we went in for that [fertility] appointment, I said to them every time, ‘Really be careful with us, because we’re not doing that ever. It’s not for us,’” she says. “Actually, right before that ultrasound, the last thing I said to [the doctor] was, ‘Whatever you’re giving me, we’re taking.’”
On May 10, 2004, the family of four welcomed Hannah, Joel, Leah, Collin, Alexis and Aaden into their lives.
Two sets of multiples make life a little more complicated for the Gosselins. While Jon’s at work, Kate relies on to-do lists, shopping lists and schedules to run the household.
Kate spends most of her time cooking healthy, organic meals for her family of 10. “My day is make a meal, serve a meal, clean up a meal, clean up everything, wipe this one, change that one, deal with this one,” she says. On average, Kate says she runs the dishwasher two or three times a day and uses about 1,200 paper plates every month.
Mealtime usually leaves Kate with eight messy kids and loads of dirty laundry. “I do at least two loads a day, with the most being five a day,” she says. “By 4 p.m., I would say, ‘It’s two more hours until Jon comes home, and I’m ragged.’”
How do they keep it together? Kate says they take it one day at a time. “I wake up in the morning, and before my feet ʜɪᴛ the floor, I pray for strength for that day because I don’t do anything beyond that day,” she says.
The stress of raising eight children under the age of 8 doesn’t always bring out the best in these parents, but they know they’re in it together. “It might be a crazy life,” Jon says. “But it’s our life,” Kate says.
If you get a headache just thinking about family trips, imagine traveling with six 3-year-olds and two 7-year-olds. It took two days, six suitcases and three Cᴀʀʀʏ-ons to get the Gosselins from Pennsylvania to Chicago. When they travel, Kate says she fills luggage with treats, blankets, Crayons and toys to keep the kids busy during the flight. “Take tons of food,” she says. “That’s my secret for everything. When they’re cranky, just feed them.”