Happy Birthday was a song sung four times in the Magee household!
Here, Crystal Magee, 25, tells the story in her own words.
B￼lowing out the candles on my birthday cake, I looked sideways at my brother, Levi. He’d just blown out the candles on his cake and further down the table so had my brother Casey, and my third brother, Jaden.
As New Zealand’s only set of quads, birthdays were quite the event in our household. Our mum Tania, 48, never wanted us to miss out, so we’d each have our own cake and separate gifts. It must have been crazy busy for her, but I suppose having quads is all she knew! We were conceived after Mum took a fertility drug called clomiphene. She’d been warned it could result in twins but, a twin herself, it didn’t bother her. I’m not sure she bargained for having four of us, though! Even doctors didn’t think it was a good idea, advising she terminate two of us.
What a relief she refused, and on February 25, 1993, we made headlines as we were all born healthy, if a little small. Our dad Colin, 50, is a radio announcer so he was already a minor celebrity, but having quads made our family even more interesting! ‘I don’t get it,’ I’d say. ‘We’re just four siblings. Why does everyone care so much?’ But I’m sure with four prams, then four toddlers chasing round her, Mum was quite the spectacle when we all went out! ‘You were always so good, it was a breeze when you were babies,’ Mum tells us now, as I roll my eyes. Surely she must be forgetting – I’ve got friends with one baby and that looks hard enough!
Mum was at home with us while we were growing up and I remember her always being in the middle of a pile of washing, or cooking a huge pot of dinner. We didn’t do after-school activities, which must have made it a bit easier and we didn’t have friends over much – four kids was more than enough. Still, growing up as quads was great. Life felt like a big adventure and I always had three mates to go to the beach with or play on my nanna and poppa’s farm with. And someone always had our backs. ‘There is no way I’m eating this,’ I remember telling Nanna when she served us liver for dinner one time.‘Me neither,’ chimed in Casey, Levi and Jaden. With a chorus of voices, she had to listen. Being the only girl, I was probably a bit more spoilt. Not that I wanted the Barbies and pink stuff that got passed my way. ‘I hate girls’ toys,’ I’d moan. In fact I wasn’t that bothered about toys full stop. Who needs things when you have three crazy brothers to imagine up games with?
The problem with being the only girl was that the boys did gang up a bit. Sometimes I’d be left out as they went biking or doing ‘boy’ things that they didn’t want me involved in. Having three very protective brothers could get a bit stifling at times too. Thank goodness I have my own bedroom to escape to, I’d think as Levi, Casey and Jaden scattered Lego over their room and fought over the top bunk. Strangely, despite my place in a hectic household, I was a desperately shy little girl. ‘Crystal,’ my teacher would say at roll call. I’d be almost in tears I’d be so nervous.
In comparison, Levi and Casey were outgoing entertainers, while Jaden sat somewhere in the middle. As the years have gone on, Jaden and I, who also moved out of home first, have become more similar. Living in Te Aroha and working as a healthcare assistant, I’ve carved out my own life but the boys are still very much part of it too. Jaden lives in Canada at the moment, but Levi and Casey work together in our home town of Waikato so we can get together whenever we want.
Birthdays are the obvious time, but actually this year, as we all turned 25, we did our own things. As time’s gone on, I’ve understood the fixation with our quad-status a bit more, but I just feel lucky to have three brothers who I shared a childhood with. Now we’re all grown up, it’s our time to forge a solo place in the world too. Still, I’ll always think that life’s more fun with four!
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