'People say, You poor thing, and I'm thinking, I have four healthy kids'

Talk about taking a bath! The parents of 'supertwins' face draining expenses and long hours, yet most keep their heads above water

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Kirk Aymond has other identities he's a chemical lab technician and a Renaissance enthusiast, to name two but as he and his wife, Denise, arrive at the mall on this spring afternoon, he is inhabiting the all-consuming role that has defined him to the world for the past several years: father of quintuplets.

The Aymonds are part of a phenomenon that has only recently begun to draw public notice a population explosion of triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets and even sextuplets (there are two sets in the United States). The escalation in the category known as supertwins began in the 1970s with the development of fertility drugs and techniques that stimulate ovulation, and in the past ten years the growth in multiple births has become almost a vertical line on the charts.

Parents of multiples face difficult medical decisions, staggering expenses and a society not yet conditioned to deal with supertwins' needs. Author Donald Dale Jackson visits with several supertwin families and reports on the trials of difficult pregnancies and premature births; the joy experienced by couples who have been battling infertility for years ("We were so excited when we saw three heartbeats on the sonogram that we felt we could handle anything," says Jody DeBussey of Westport, Connecticut); and the realities of raising triplets, quads and quints.

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