In the Fanning household, just like the animals in Noah's ark, children have arrived in twos.
Steve and April Fanning hold their 2-year-old twin daughters McKay, (left) and Kaylee, for a family portrait with their 5-year-old twin sons, Owen and Griffin. Having two sets of twins draws a lot of attention in public, Mrs. Fanning says, so she allows extra time whenever she goes out with the family.
Photo by Valerie Rowell
"That's kind of what we are known as, the Two-by-Two family," said Steve Fanning, the father of two sets of fraternal twins.
Fanning and his wife, April Fanning, of Grovetown, say their twins - 5-year-old Owen and Griffin and 2-year-old Kaylee and McKay - get a lot of looks when out in public.
"We have to allow an extra 15 minutes if we go to Wal-Mart because we know we'll get stopped by somebody to talk," Mrs. Fanning said. "They get a lot of attention."
It was a baby that the Fannings badly wanted in the late 1990s. The couple tried to get pregnant for 16 months before trying a mild fertility drug called Clomid, which the Fannings were told had only a 10 percent chance of producing twins.
After a high-risk pregnancy that kept Mrs. Fanning on 12 weeks of bed rest, the Fannings say, their prayers were answered with the birth of Owen and Griffin on March 26, 1999.
"When (April) first got pregnant with twins, I think in the back of my mind I was like, 'I'd like to have a boy and a girl,'" Mr. Fanning said. "But then when my boys came, I couldn't imagine it any other way. It was great because they could share a room. They could share clothes. And they were my boys. It was great."
But less than three years later, the Fannings wanted more children. So, Mrs. Fanning used Clomid again. After a sonogram at six weeks, the Fannings found themselves praying for twins a second time. The doctor said what he saw during the sonogram could be explained only by a miscarriage, molar pregnancy or multiples again.
"That's why we were praying for twins," Mr. Fanning said. "The other two options were not good."
The Fannings said they prayed a lot during the following week anxiously awaiting the next sonogram.
"I joke and say that it must have been the Lord's way of preparing us to be happy about it being twins again," Mrs. Fanning said.
With two more babies on the way, the Fannings knew the house and van needed to be upgraded for the rapidly expanding family. They traded in a three-bedroom home in Augusta for one with four bedrooms in the Valleybrook subdivision in Columbia County just before Mrs. Fanning was ordered to spend eight weeks in bed while trying to care for Owen and Griffin, who were 3 at the time.
"Those were the hardest months of my life," Mr. Fanning said, adding that he had just become a violent-crimes investigator for the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.
But the Fannings, who did a lot of research and classes before the boys were born, felt more prepared for McKay and Kaylee, who were born May 7, 2002.
"We had two of everything still," Mr. Fanning said.
Mrs. Fanning has stayed at home with the children since Owen and Griffin were born. And now, she said, the Fanning household runs like a well-oiled machine. A color-system helps keep the chaos to a minimum. Each child is assigned a color, corresponding to everything from that child's blankets and toys to clothes and toothbrushes.
"They all share closets, and that helps keep the clothes separate," Mr. Fanning said. "We want them to have their own identity and their own clothes."
A typical day in the Fanning house begins at 7 a.m., with breakfast for the boys while Mrs. Fanning dresses the girls. Then it is vice versa and in the car by 8 a.m. to take Owen and Griffin to kindergarten at Brookwood Elementary School. From there, it's off to the Family Y, where Kaylee and McKay have playtime while Mrs. Fanning works out.
"I call that my counseling because that is my sanity, where I can blow off some steam," Mrs. Fanning said.
She goes shopping or to the library or the park for some mother-daughters time before lunch and nap time. She said it's then off to pick up the boys from school, do homework, cook supper and give baths before bedtime, which is strictly enforced.
She said caring for the two sets of twins is a team effort.
"It has to be. I couldn't do it without him," Mrs. Fanning said of her husband.
Still, Mrs. Fanning said that when it comes to the temperaments of her twins, it's as though another prayer has already been answered.
"I think that when twins are sent to you, the Lord has pity on you because he sends kind of mild spirits to you," Mrs. Fanning said with a smile.
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