New York mother Tracy Caliendo went from struggling to conceive to welcoming four newborns in just 13 months.
When Tracy married her husband, Pete, she had a son from a previous marriage, Hunter. Tracy and Pete wanted to grow their family with one more child of their own. But they went through years of infertility struggles, including a miscarriage and four failed IVF cycles.
When Hunter was 12 years old, Tracy found out that she was pregnant with her second child. But she didn’t want to take any chances. She called a surrogacy agency, just in case.
“I was desperate to have a baby and would do anything to make sure it happened,” Tracy told Today.
Well, it happened, all right! Tracy’s determination led her family to end up with four newborns instead of just one. Her surrogate gave birth to twins, and she gave birth to two babies in a row. They’re now a family of seven.
Tracy Caliendo’s decision to use a surrogate was highly unusual.
“They were really confused when I said I was pregnant,” she told Today.
But even though Tracy was due to have her own child, she was worried about losing the pregnancy. She’d already experienced one miscarriage and had been struggling with infertility with her husband, Pete, for years.
She got her wish — and then some.
Tracy welcomed her daughter, Harlow, in August 2017. Four months later, her surrogate gave birth to twin girls, Piper and Presley.
And then, 13 weeks after that, Tracy discovered that her stomach was growing again.
“I am thin, so it was pretty noticeable,” she said. “I thought something was wrong with me and made a doctor’s appointment.”
That’s when she found out that she was three months pregnant with another child.
She and Pete were in disbelief.
“My husband and I were still in shock that we were about to have another child when we already had four at home, three of whom were under a year old,” she told PopSugar.
“When we found out I was pregnant with Dylan, our youngest son and fifth child, we were overwhelmed with emotion. We always dreamed of a big family, but realizing we’d have four babies under 13 months old, and a tween, we were definitely nervous,” she said.
Dylan was born early at 29 weeks. He experienced some developmental delays, but Tracy says he’s now “doing great.”
Bringing him home from the hospital was a truly magical moment.
“My favorite moment was when we brought home Dylan, and the three girls and Hunter surrounded him and kept trying to kiss him the entire time,” she said. “It was so magical to watch how much they loved him during the initial meeting. It was like they knew he was their brother and that meant the world.”
Managing life with so many kids around the same age is not easy. It requires the parents to be sticklers for routines.
“We have a built-in routine with all of our kids that allows us to get through each day with a smile,” Tracy explained. “We have a very strict schedule with the kids. I think it’s the only way to survive with multiples.”
All four of her younger kids take naps at the same time so that the parents can get a break. All of the kids eat, bathe, and go to bed at the same time, too.
“It’s key to keep your sanity but also allows us to have a lot of fun when they are up,” she said.
Tracy is also deeply thankful that her older child Hunter is so “amazing.”
“Higher powers made him perfect because they knew I was going to have four littles,” she told Today.
Other parents may not envy Tracy and Pete’s huge family. But Tracy views their four babies as nothing short of a blessing after struggling with infertility for so long. She leaps out of bed every morning excited to change all those diapers, and she loves every minute of it.
“I just feel so lucky to have these kids,” she said. “When you struggle with fertility issues it changes your perspective. I remember crying because I thought I couldn’t have more children and then I get four babies. I am beyond blessed.”
She says her story is an example of why it’s important to keep hope alive. Truly, you never know what fate has in store for you.
Her advice to parents who are struggling to conceive or considering surrogacy?
“Never give up and have faith — just look at me! … Life is filled with beautiful surprises!” she told PopSugar.