From the editor’s notes of a recent issue (August 2012) of The Diary:
The Diary has something this month that it has not had for nineteen years! Under BIRTHS this month, you will see that the very first entry is quadruplets! These four girls were born to Amos Masts of Granton, WI. Congratulations. And good luck.
Nineteen years ago, Amos Eshs of Lancaster County also had quadruplets. The interesting part is that both sets of quadruplets have the same names! What are the chances of that happening? We scratch our heads, and wonder, did the Masts know of the Esh quadruplets?
This being an Amish publication the BIRTHS section of The Diary is usually pretty long. August’s listing is eight pages, with 100+ babies on each page (it includes both June and July births, and even a few May babies were reported late here). In addition to all the singles, eight sets of twins appear in this issue, from Ontario to Ohio.
How common are multiple births? Statistics I found for 2010 put the US twin rate at 33.1 per 1,000 live births, and the “triplet or higher order” rate at 137.6 per 100,000 live births (or for purposes or comparison we could say 1.37 per 1,000).
Since fertility drugs rarely if ever enter the picture, multiple births among Amish are less likely to be caused by artificial means. On the other hand, I have heard that some Amish have shown very high rates of twinning. Still quadruplets have to be especially rare.
When you learn of someone having twins, or triplets, the sentiment usually includes two things: “Wonderful for you” and “Good luck”. Amish are probably better equipped to handle more than one newborn at a time, for at least a couple of reasons–1) they usually have the extra manpower to help, and 2) mom does not have the pressure of a professional career put on hold for her maternity period. We could add a third factor, I guess: your average Amish parent has probably had practice with newborn babies before, be it a sibling or previous children, making the whole process a little less overwhelming. Notice I didn’t say it is easy for anyone, though. Quadruple voices make quite a chorus at 3 AM.
I have always thought it would be interesting to have a twin. I think that thought occurs to most twinless folks at some point. In my family, my mother has a brother and sister who are twins. Any multiples in your family?
Deer quadruplets photo: carfull…/flickr