B E R N E, Ind., May 15, 2002 -- For Keith and Becki Dilley, the days of dealing with six crying babies and many more dirty diapers are long gone. But their six kids, almost 9-years-old and now in the second grade, are presenting plenty of new challenges.
While the six Dilley children — America's first surviving sextuplets — have developmental experts watching over them to see how multiples grow, they are also typical second-graders. The four boys and two girls have been split up to have separate bathrooms, where Claire now does her nails, Adrian sprays his cologne and Quinn puts each hair in place with hair gel (even down to his forehead).
Diane Sawyer revisits the sextuplets she has watched every few months since the moment they were born. Adrian, Brenna, Claire, Julian, Quinn and Ian will turn 9 on May 25.
Infants, Toddlers … Individuals
Keith and Becki Dilley spent six years trying to get pregnant before turning to fertility drugs for help. Then in the fall of 1992, Becki was told to expect five babies and a dangerous pregnancy.
Becki was soon so big she couldn't fit into the shower. Doctors actually tied her uterus closed to keep the babies in. In May 1993, when she was only seven months pregnant, 30 doctors and nurses began a Caesarean section to deliver the babies. Out they came: five 2-pound babies, two girls and three boys. But the obstetrician discovered another tiny foot: A sixth baby had been hiding out behind his mother's spleen.
Though Keith and Becki were overjoyed, they were also overwhelmed. There were 30,000 bottles, 13,000 baths, 7,000 loads of laundry, 20,000 diapers — and no nannies or day care. In the first year, Becki went back to work as a nurse, while Keith stayed home full time with the kids.
They grew from infants to toddlers, and in 1999, Primetime got their first day of kindergarten on camera. (The kids were fine; but for Keith and Becki it was an emotional experience.)
Now, they're almost through with the second grade, and the "six pack" has evolved into six different people. They're finally ready to speak for themselves and paint their own portraits of who they are.
Adrian, the surprise baby, is the troublemaker. "I'm naughty," he says. "I usually get grounded."
After Adrian scorched the kitchen when he was 2, Keith and Becki had to take the knobs off the stove and use pliers to turn it on for years. Ironically, when he grows up, Adrian says he wants to be a firefighter.
Claire has emerged as the leader of the pack. And she knows it. "I'm usually in charge," she says.
"She's the definite type-A overachieving young woman," says her mom. "There's not a sport she doesn't excel at … she stays at the top of her class as far as her academics."
Julian tends to be temperamental and impulsive. He says he's been grounded 150 times since Sawyer's last interview with them several years ago.
Brenna is nurturing, affectionate and sweet. One Halloween she dressed as a "flower fairy." She used to love baby dolls, and wants to be a nurse.
Quinn describes himself as "gentle and kind" with "a good personality" and a "good imagination." He wants to be a policeman.
And Ian is artistic, intense and loves to dance.
Learning Life Lessons
As if six children weren't already a full load, Becki and Keith also have several pets: two cats, two birds, one dog, one lizard and three or four fish.
The secret, they say, is organization and gentle discipline. The children rotate various chores, and a special chart acts as a system of reward and punishment that helps keep them on their best behavior.
To get all the kids out the door each morning on time, the Dilleys start the day at 5:30 a.m., with school clothes selected the night before. As for packing lunches — 30 a week — Becki takes sandwich orders and the kids choose their own drinks and snacks from a lunch cart. Breakfast is at 6:10 a.m., and then there's a scramble for shoes, backpacks and hugs.
"It's just a routine," says Becki.
All of the Dilley kids are honor-roll students at St. Joseph School, where they are divided into two classes.
They are each making their own friends — and each is being exposed to the world of childhood cruelty. Some of them, for example, get invitations for sleepovers. Others don't. And like other kids, they encounter teasing and name-calling on the playground.
"That's life, you know," says Becki. "They are learning a lot of life lessons like that."
Despite an organized system, some events can turn life in the Dilley household upside down. Last year, Ian was struck with a mysterious illness that caused him to lose an alarming amount of weight and landed him in the hospital.
The Dilley children learned the powerful lesson that when one of them is sick, they all feel the pain.
"We thought Ian was going to die," says Quinn.
Doctors eventually discovered that a parasite was attacking Ian's body. He's now recovered.
A Dilley in Love?
Asked if any of them has a girlfriend or boyfriend, each child shakes his head no.
Then, Quinn reveals Adrian's secret, that there is a special girl in his life. But Adrian says he's been maligned — and that he doesn't even like girls.
"Girls are sometimes bossy," he says. As for kissing a girl, he says, "It's kind of gross." (Primetime asked around, however, and discovered a Miss Catlyn Cook, who admits to kissing Quinn.)
While their kids are finding time for love, Becki and Keith are finding time to be husband and wife, not just Mom and Dad.
"They don't demand our time 100 percent like they used to," says Keith.
"And they'll say 'Mom, Daddy, you should go on a date!' " says Becki.
Every now and then, that actually happens. "It's unbelievable," she says.