PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Remember the Perry sextuplets?
All six children — three boys and three girls — were born March 19, 2003, at Magee-Womens Hospital. The team of doctors there helped Erin Perry safely give birth to the babies, one as small as one pound and eleven ounces.
Waiting at home was big brother Parker, who was three years old.
The nation met the Perry sextuplets when they were featured on “48 Hours” on their first birthday with all viewers wondering how in the world their parents do it — six one-year-olds and a four-year-old.
Now, fourteen years have gone by and the Perry sextuplets are all grown up and just started high school.
Seven kids getting on the bus at 7:30 a.m. Seven rides to and from practices and games. Seven mouths to feed, including four growing boys. Seven homecoming dates. Seven mobile devices. Seven active teenagers looking for something to do. The list goes on.
“It’s craziness. It’s fun,” mother Erin Perry said. “I wouldn’t change it.”
Erin Perry is the leader of the pack. She and her husband, Joe, are now divorced. He lives down the street, sharing custody and helping with the kids. Big brother Parker — a senior — helps out, driving his brothers and sisters around when he’s not driving himself.
“Obviously, there’s six other people to worry about running around all over the place, so I just kind of do my own thing because I can drive and take myself places,” Parker said.
All three girls — Madison, Zoe and Olivia — are involved in sports. Madison plays basketball, softball and volleyball, while Zoe plays softball and Olivia plays basketball.
Josh plays ice hockey like his big brother Parker, bikes in his backyard and is known as the family troublemaker. Ian, the family jokester, is in a technology competition club at school called TSA and says he likes to work with his hands and build things. Simon also participates in TSA, plays piano and plans to start cross country next year.
Being a sextuplet has its pluses. The girls share clothes, and the boys built a bike ramp in the backyard where friends always join in.
“There’s always something to do,” Simon said. “Somebody will be doing something, and you’ll just join in with them.”
The good thing is someone’s always there with you, and the bad thing is… someone’s always there.
“So many people around at all times. It’s like, you’re never alone. There’s never a time when you’re just yourself, by yourself,” Simon said.
When the whole Perry gang goes out, it’s a party. They load up in a 12-passenger van to go bicycling downtown or to country concerts.
“It’s overwhelming. There are times it’s very overwhelming, but we also have fun, too,” Erin said. “They know that I’m all about what are we going to do that’s fun.”
The kids also help with chores like laundry, lawn-mowing and cooking, but logistically, it’s a challenge.
“There are days when we have hockey, softball, volleyball, basketball, all in one night,” Erin said.
Erin works full-time, does the grocery shopping and most of the cooking and cleaning.
She remembers the diaper days were rough. The high school days? Just new challenges.
“I thought it would be easier, and it is in the way that they can bathe and dress themselves and pick out something to eat and make it,” Erin said. “But there’s so many other things that are overwhelming.”
And then there’s all that food — three to four large pizzas just to feed the family.
Plus seven teenagers and mom share two and a half bathrooms. Zoe describes it as “hectic,” while Josh says it’s “chaos because some people spend 20 minutes in the bathroom, and then some people spend five minutes in the bathroom.”
Now, Parker is applying to college and in just three years, the house will be empty.
Erin: “I’m not looking forward to that. I’m not even looking forward to [Parker] leaving.”
KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen: “Can you imagine that?”
Erin: “No, I can’t even get through driving right now. Let’s get through permits and licenses, and then college.”
But right now, it’s a house full of teenagers dealing with the same challenges of most other families… times seven.