'Quints by Surprise': Labor Day Indeed for a Large Texas Clan

Today's cuppa: Iced peppermint tea

Thumbnail image for QuintsbySurprise.JPGTexans Casey and Ethan Jones had worked very hard through a fertility treatment to add a daughter, Eliot, to the family. Then they decided that Eliot needed a brother or sister and returned to the same procedure.

Only this time, it produced fraternal quintuplets, five girls and a boy.

The quints were born in January 2009, and the Jones family first appeared in a Discovery Health special called "Too Many Babies," which aired in March 2010. Retitled "Quintuplet Surprise," it later re-aired on TLC, which decided to do a follow-up hour special and also picked it up as a series.

Now called "Quints by Surprise," the special aired on Monday, Aug. 30 (showing the Jones parents' efforts to sell a large house they could no longer afford), and the series premieres on Monday, Sept. 6.

Below is an email Q&A with Ethan Jones (below, with daughter Brooklyn), who also maintains the family blog, called Joneslife.net.

Enjoy! (Questions in bold)

Did the doctors explain how the same procedure produced one baby the first time and five the second?
Having multiples is always a possibility with the procedure that we did and that was explained to us both times, but the odds of having five is so incredibly low that it is really not brought up much.  We did the same procedure -- same doses and frequency of medications and Casey had the same number of follicles that were supposed to drop healthy eggs (4-5) prior to both procedures.  Our doctor was very apologetic to us when he gave us the news of the quints, but we knew it wasn't his hand that created these babies...God had other plans than all of us, I guess!

Are the girls sets of twins, triplets, fraternal?
The girls are all fraternal - none are identical.

How important is your faith in helping both of you stay on an even keel?

Our faith is HUGE!  It is our faith that led us down the path of getting pregnant in the first place, we firmly believe that every baby is created by the hand of God, and we rely on our faith to keep us sane through all of the mayhem that we face on a daily basis!

Through all of the challenges we have been through the last couple of years, our faith has been the constant that we have gone to over and over to help us keep our perspective on things and to keep us smiling through it all.

What made you decide to open up your lives to TV cameras (especially since it
QuintsbySurpriseEthanandBrooklyn.JPGdoesn't always turn out to be a universally positive experience for parents and kids)?
We knew early on that people would want to be involved in this adventure along with us.  People love babies and they love to get to know families like ours - that hasn't changed. In spite of the negativity that has swirled around some of the other stories, we felt like there could still be some greater good that could be accomplished by allowing the cameras into our lives.

We had a really good feeling about the guys who are putting the shows together after we first met and so we decided it was worth the risk. Hopefully we are doing our part and will continue to do our part in a way which is pleasing to Christ and the rest will take care of itself from there.

Aside from all the other changes, how have the presence of cameras changed your lives?
I wouldn't say the cameras have changed our lives much at all. We still do the things that we would normally do (with a special little excursion from time to time), but now we are followed by a camera or two. We really enjoy working with these guys (and now gals) - they are good people and work hard to put out a great show while respecting our needs as a family.  It's a great relationship!

What's been the most fun of the whole experience - quints and TV - so far?
I'd have to say the coolest thing about the whole experience is getting to be involved with so many different people that we would never have known otherwise and watching how they rally around our family and these babies (and Eliot, too!). It is so fun to see how our kids have touched people's lives, to experience the love that people have for them, and to be impacted as well by their presence in our lives.

There are some folks who jumped in on this ride early on who we didn't know prior that are now as close as family. We have some truly amazing people in our life!

QuintsbySurpriseEliotJones.JPGWhat's the most difficult thing?
I think the pregnancy was definitely the most difficult thing to deal with - it impacted everything.  We were trying to come to grips with what was going on in our life, we were on pins and needles with Casey's health and the health of the babies; we were very concerned about the impact this would have on Eliot (left); and we were in need of a great deal of help for the first time in our lives. It was overwhelming to say the least (and oh yeah, I was in my first semester of grad school)!

Logistically, every day was harder than the day before because Casey's health was deteriorating, the economy was slowing down...good Lord, those were some difficult times!

How do you keep a marriage strong under all these pressures?
Man, that is tough sometimes. When your family life begins to run like a business is run, it can take a toll on your marriage. Fortunately, Casey and I were blessed with a strong relationship and a deep understanding of each other's needs. We know that no matter the challenge, we are in it together and we have gotten really good at picking up for each other's slack when need be. In spite of the craziness, we make a strong effort to get out of the house together for date nights as often as we can. We really thrive on one-on-one time and depend on it to get things in our marriage reset and make sure it's running smoothly. Plus, my lady is amazing so who wouldn't want to keep a marriage strong when you've got her by your side?!

Forget selling a house with six kids, how do you shop for a house and move with six kids?
This is where those amazing people come in and really step up for us when the need is beyond the norm. A few of our regular volunteers have jumped in for extra shifts to take care of the babies so we can get out and find our next home.

However do you find time to maintain a blog as well?
The blog has become sort of therapeutic for me. It allows me to step back from the day to day and reflect on the bigger picture that is being created around us. The response has been phenomenal; I just wish I had more time to write! 

Any advice for new parents?
Enjoy every minute of it - even the not so enjoyable times! And have fun with it! Don't let the stress and worry of having a baby be an excuse for shutting down your life. Casey and I took Eliot everywhere we went - we didn't slow down much when she was younger. Things are a bit different with the quints simply because of the logistical challenges, but when we are able to be more mobile with them we are going to have those kids out all the time.

Having kids reminds me of how much fun it was to be a kid and the cool thing about being a parent is that you have an excuse to go out and do all of the fun things your kids want to do. Trips to theme parks and water parks, swimming all day long, riding bikes, regular visits to the ice cream  - that stuff is awesome, even as an adult, so jump in head first and enjoy it while your kids still think you're a rock star and want to do everything with you!