Janet and Graham Walton had wanted children for a very long time. So, when they couldn’t conceive the natural way, the couple turned to fertility treatments to get a chance to have their own baby. It was a long road for the couple. Janet endured twelve rounds of IVF, all of which failed to take. It was disheartening, expensive and physically draining for the couple. But these two still dreamed of having a baby of their own, so even though the treatments failed to take 12 times, the two took a chance and went in for another round of treatment to make their dream come true.
The Walton’s persistence paid off. After giving the treatment one more chance, Janet became pregnant. It was a huge moment because they had wanted this for so long. Little did they know, however, that they would get so much more than they hoped for.
At the doctor’s office, the Waltons would get an even bigger surprise. The two weren’t just expecting one baby. They were getting six. It was a high-risk pregnancy for Janet and so, the mother-to-be spent her months in hospital so that she and the babies could be continually supervised. Thankfully, her pregnancy was as smooth as any mother expecting six babies could hope for.
After 31 weeks, the babies were ready to come out. On November 18, 1983, Janet gave birth to six daughters — Hannah, Ruth, Luci, Kate, Jennie, and Sarah. The babies made news the minute they came into this world — they were the only known set of all-girl sextuplets.
The minute the girls were born, the Waltons had their hands full. Those first two years were “a blur” for the parents. The two used more than 10,000 diapers a year — that’s a lot of poop. Plus, the two barely slept for the first two years of the girls’ lives. There was always someone who needed something — a diaper change, feeding, cuddles — and yet, the Waltons loved the life they had.
“We lived through those early years in a blur… And the only regret is that there wasn’t enough time to enjoy them as much as we’d have liked,” Janet recalled of those early years. Every parent says that about their children but it’s clear that the Waltons had far less time to be in the moment with their children than other parents because they had six children to take care of, all of the same age and all going through similar phases and milestones.
Despite the sleep deprivation and the constant work, the Waltons did their job well and proved that raising sextuplets isn’t an impossible feat. These days, the girls are all grown up. There are no more diaper changes in sight and no more feedings. Scroll down to see the girls today, as 34-year-old women.
What’s great about these women is that they have remained very close even as they grew up. In fact, when their sister Sarah became a mother herself in 2014, her sisters were ecstatic to become aunties. The parents were delighted too that they were now grandparents.
The Waltons soon realized how different it is for their daughter Sarah to raise her baby, compared to what they had to go through. Janet explained that “when Sarah says: 'Jorgie was awake in the night. I’m so tired!' I don’t say anything, but I remember back to our girls’ early years.” Hey, one baby is hard too but yes, it’s far easier than taking care of sextuplets.
“For two years,” Janet added, “Graham and I only slept for a couple of hours a night. It was very difficult, a constant round of nappy-changing and feeding. And we couldn’t learn from our mistakes because we experienced everything at once: the weaning, the potty-training, the first steps. It was a constant onslaught.” Nevertheless, the couple thrived and even remained together despite the struggles. Often, parents of multiples end up divorcing because of the strain of taking care of so many children.
Graham too recalls the struggle of those early years but he remembers it “fondly” too. These days, the grandfather is excited to enjoy the time he has with his grandchild. “I loved those early years so much. I couldn’t say one phase was better than the others. But there was always so much to do, we didn’t enjoy it as much as we would if we’d had one at a time. With grandchildren, you have time,” Graham explained.
It’s clear that having sextuplets hasn’t made the Waltons over the idea of babies. The couple is excited to spend time with their grandchild. “I felt a tremendous surge of protective love,” Janet said of the day she first saw her grandchild in the womb. “It flooded into me the moment I saw the pictures from her first scan.”
So, what are these sextuplets doing these days? What have they grown up to be? Well, Hannah is a primary school teacher and she has multiple degrees. Luci works as a crew member on an airline and Kate works in human resources. Ruth works and a call center, Jennie owns a candy shop and Sarah works in a medical center.
The parents, on the other hand, are spending calm and more relaxed days now that their girls are all grown up. The two are making it a point to be there for their granddaughter and really being in the moment now that they have more time on their hands. “I’m looking forward to her being part of my future, to noticing all the tiny changes that happen every day; to having time to savor and enjoy every minute I spend with her,” Janet explained.
“I wish her happiness, health and a long, fruitful life,” Janet added. “And who knows?” she continued, “perhaps six little brothers as well." Careful what you wish for Janet, you might have to start working the night shift again to help one of your daughters.