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Home for the holidays

NORTHWEST DISTRICT -- Colleen and Richard Whiteman are learning that

taking their babies around Burbank makes them something of a local

curiosity. A recent visit with Santa at Media City Center was a case in

point.

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“When we went to see Santa, everybody gathered around and watched,”

Richard said. “I wonder if Santa ever had a handful like that before --

he asked for copies of the picture.”

Nearly four months after Colleen gave birth via caesarean section to

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the quadruplets -- Garrett, Chad, Terry Cole and Kathryn -- the

Whitemans, who also have a preteen daughter and are in the process of

adopting a toddler son, are still settling into their routine as the

parents of six children. Cole, the last of the quads to be released from

the hospital, came home Nov. 30.

Adding to the challenge as they celebrate the quadruplets’ first

Christmas today is the fact that the Whiteman’s North Reese Place home is

in disarray as a second floor is added. The work has brought nothing but

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headaches to the Whitemans at a time when they already have plenty on

their minds.

“It’s taking too long and is such an ordeal,” Colleen said. “My

Christmas wish would be if someone could help and donate their time to

help finish the house.”

The Whitemans began planning the second story more than a year ago,

after they started caring for their for their now-20-month-old foster

child.

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But after one architect ran off with their money and other problems

ensued, construction didn’t actually begin until a month after the

quadruplets were born. Now, much of the house is little more than wood

framing covered with plastic.

The babies are the only ones who don’t seem to mind the construction

noise and mess.

“They’re used to the noise of being in the hospital,” Colleen said.

They’re also accustomed to sleeping together and they know when one is

missing, she said.

“Cole teams up with Garrett and Chad teams up with Katy,” Colleen

said. “They’re definitely in pairs -- that’s how they were in the womb.”

The bond between the four became evident when Cole stayed behind after

the others were released from Valley Presbyterian Hospital. The babies

were about two months premature when they were born Aug. 26.

Cole, the smallest of the four, had difficulty bottle feeding and

breathing and had a low heart rate and blood oxygen level.

“They did a sleep study on the babies in the hospital and Cole had no

problems,” Colleen said. “When he was separated, then he had trouble.”

Cole, who is still given oxygen several times a day, sleeps better now

that he is home, Colleen said.

In the past month, the Whitemans have been learning the ins and outs

of their new routine.

“When we give them a bath, it’s like an assembly line,” Colleen said.

“I bathe, one person undresses them and the other dresses them.”

Going out in public is another hurdle the Whitemans are still learning

to negotiate. Crowds can be difficult for the family since they have the

babies and their foster son in two strollers -- a triplet stroller is a

luxury they can’t afford right now, Colleen said.

Nevertheless, the Whitemans -- who both work for the city of Burbank

-- said they are grateful the quads are gaining strength and are well

enough to spend their first Christmas at home.

“They’re very strong babies,” Colleen said. “I have one who’s

gorgeous, one who looks like an old man, one who’s cute as a button and

one who looks like Betty Davis because she has big eyes.”


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