When the Magee quads were born 20 years ago, they were lucky to survive. The littlest, Crystal, weighed just 1.147kg (barely more than a bag of sugar) and
if it wasn’t for the miracles of modern medicine, they may not have lived to celebrate their 20th birthdays. But if it wasn’t for modern science, the four might never have been conceived in the first place.
They may owe their lives to Clomiphene – the most widely prescribed fertility drug – which increases the chance of a woman conceiving twins.
While mum Tania was advised there was a chance she could find herself carrying twins, she never dreamed she would end up with four babies.
“I actually conceived four months after taking the pills, so we’ll never know for sure whether the drug did it or not. I was told it could have passed out of my system by then.
I’m a twin myself and I told the doctor this, so it’s possible I could have had quads anyway,” Tania says.
The couple were advised to terminate two of the embryos to increase the chances of healthy twins but they refused.
“We wanted to let nature take its course, and we are so glad we did as our four healthy babies survived against the odds,” says Colin (46), the quads’ father, who works as
a breakfast show host on Whakatane’s Radio 1XX.
And there have been no regrets since Jaden, 1.205kg (2lb 7oz), Casey 1.475kg (3lb 2oz), Levi 1.5kg (3lb 6oz) and Crystal 1.147kg (2lb 5oz) arrived via caesarean on February 25, 1993. They were discharged from Waikato Hospital after spending weeks in incubation dealing with several complications.
“Nothing can compare to the delight of being greeted every morning by four giggling bundles,” Tania (44) smiles.
“There is no greater joy than to witness the love your babies have for you and each other and to discover their individual characteristics and unique talents,” Colin adds.
When Jaden, Casey, Levi and Crystal were born in the summer of 1993, they made headlines around New Zealand.
Now the chaotic nights, childhood illnesses and teenage years are behind them, their exhausted parents can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
But they can’t claim all the credit for raising their four children – family and friends have had a hand in making the adults they have become.
Crystal was the first to move out of home and is studying fitness, rest-home care and writing in Auckland. Casey, who works in the grain industry, has just gone flatting, while Levi works in herd management. Jaden has decided on a career in engineering. The quads were all very close at primary school but became more independent at
Edgecumbe College, where Casey and Levi became prefects. They both enjoy bodybuilding and are good mates.
“They really push themselves when others their age are out boozing and partying,” says Colin proudly of his kids.
Surprisingly, the four children rarely squabbled growing up. “We were like the tight four, no fights, just a normal, together family,” says Levi.
And Jaden remembers the fuss their mother made over their birthdays.
“Mum made birthdays special by insisting we have individual cakes,” he says.
Casey says they’ve kept their tight bond and unique connection into adulthood. As the only girl, Crystal is considered the most individual and is determined to make her own way in life.
“I am busy living life like a wine-tasting festival, making my ‘dash’ colourful,” she says.
The family made headlines again when the quads were 14 and Colin and Tania surprised them with a cruise to Vanuatu to celebrate their birthday. But it became the holiday from hell when bad weather struck.
“The dream holiday turned to a nightmare as we sailed into a hurricane,” recalls Tania.
“All but one of the kids was sick and we were just as bad,” says Colin. “Distraught passengers were lying in the stairwells and on the restaurant floor and to cap it all, the Titanic theme song started playing on the TV.”
Although the cruise company refunded the trip, there’ll be no more family holidays on the high seas.
Although the quads’ next milestone is turning 21, a big party is not on the cards.
“When they were born we thought we’d be hiring a hall to celebrate,” grins Colin. “But now they all have different ideas and it’s a challenge to meet them.”
Born: 3.59pm, 25 February, 1993
The ex-school prefect now works in herd management.
Born: 3.58pm, 25 February, 1993
A prefect alongside Levi, Casey works in grain drying.
Born: 3.57pm, 25 February, 1993
Jaden has decided on a career in engineering.
Born: 4pm, 25 February, 1993
An independent go-getter, Crystal is pursuing studies in Auckland.
Photos: Ross Brown