It was nearly a year ago that Christina and Patrick Tetrick celebrated the arrival of their quadruplets — two sets of identical twin boys — born in what experts said was 1 in 25 million odds.
Now, as the boys get ready to celebrate their first birthday Saturday, their father, an Army Reserves master sergeant with the 530th Military Police Battalion in Fort Riley, Kan., prepares for deployment to the Middle East.
Patrick Tetrick, 35, has been away from the family's home in Wichita, Kan., and on duty most of the year. The 17-year veteran of the military was called into service shortly after the boys were born, and spent about six weeks with them over the winter before military service called again.
"The biggest shock is that they're mobile now, can move so much, they've got their own personalities," Tetrick said. Even though he doesn't spend much time with his four sons, the boys get excited when he's around, and love rolling around on the floor and playing with him.
All four play with each other, then they team up, with the identical twins going off together.
When Tetrick is deployed, he will carry with him two pictures of the boys. One has each of them in little Kansas City Chiefs uniforms, and another of all four in the bathtub. Their parents sometimes call them "the A team" and the "B team." Their mom likes to call Parker and Peyton "the P boys," and Camden and Christian "the C boys."
No Fertility Drugs
The couple learned that Christina was pregnant after just six months of marriage. Unlike many couples who have multiple births, they didn't use fertility drugs. Fraternal twins occur when a woman releases two eggs and both are fertilized. That in itself is rare, but in this case, doctors think a much rarer thing happened: Each of those fertilized eggs split and two sets of identical twins were created.
Patrick Tetrick drove two hours to meet his wife at the hospital the day she gave birth, but missed the babies' birth by about seven minutes.
He had about a week of leave when the boys were born last April.
"Then I had to go back to Guantanamo in Cuba, got back in mid-December and was sent to Fort Riley at the end of January," said Patrick. "So I got to see them for about six weeks then."
He has been told that he will be sent overseas "anytime," but has no idea where or what he will be doing. He has primarily worked in convoy escorts, refugee control, and the humanitarian effort, so he suspects he will play more of a supporting role once deployed.
A Color-Coded Party
Meanwhile, at home, the boys are going to celebrate.
"We're going to have a huge party," said Christina Tetrick, 29. Since the boys were born on her birthday, too, there will be a huge party for them from 1 to 4 p.m., then a dinner party for her that evening.
The theme of the boy's party will be the color-coding system she uses for them. Each has a special color. Parker is orange, Peyton is blue, Camden is green, and Christian is red.
Christina says she used to tell the boys apart by painting their toenails different colors.
"Moms can figure it out pretty quickly, but when I stopped painting their toenails, everybody else got upset, because they couldn't figure them out then," she said.
One of the ways Patrick was able to keep up to date while he was away is through a family Web site that they started with all their latest pictures, and Christina's online diary.