MOORHEAD (AP) -- A year ago, they were fighting for their lives after being born more than three months premature.
This year, what wasn't going into the mouths of the four Christoffers babies was sticking to their cheeks or trickling to the floor. The four surviving quintuplets -- Alyssa, Jacob, Bethany and Kevin -- made a happy mess in the kitchen of their Moorhead home Friday.
A year ago Saturday, the four siblings and brother Bobby were born to Collette and Mike Christoffers at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, becoming the first known quintuplets born in Minnesota. Bobby died June 6 from lung problems and emphysema.
"Sometimes, it doesn't seem real," Collette Christoffers, 30, said as she watched the quints devour their cake. "It's hard to believe all that's happened."
"I don't know if we take much time to reflect back," said Mike Christoffers. "We kind of take it each day as it comes."
At birth, the babies weighed between 1 and 2 pounds each. The daily medical challenges and obstacles made the weeks and months that followed an "emotional roller coaster," Collette said.
By March, all but Bobby were home.
Since then, the Christopherses have tried to establish a routine with four children who are anything but.
Their days start with breakfast about 8 a.m. Then come the baths and a few more hours of playtime, followed by naps, more feedings, more playtime, more diaper changes (20 a day total), supper and bed.
Some of the quints are asleep by 6 p.m., others stay awake as late as 9:30.
Recently, friends watched the kids long enough for Mike and Collette to catch a movie and some lunch. It was the first time the couple had been out on a date since June.
"I just figure it'll get easier as they get older," Collette said.
On tough days, they get by with humor. A sign near the kitchen window reads "Discover wildlife -- have kids."
Grandmothers help out when needed. "There are tough days when I don't think I can handle it any longer, then I call and say 'Can you come over please?' " Collette said.
Although a year old, the babies -- conceived with help from fertility treatments -- are physically closer to nine months in age.
As they've grown, their personalities have developed, too.
Jacob is the biggest -- he weighs more than 19 pounds -- and the best eater.
"He's kind of like the bruiser; if you're close to him, he'll pull the hair," Mike said.
Kevin is "Mr. Happy-go-lucky," his parents say, and loves rolling around on the floor.
Bethany is "her own boss," Mike said. "You're not going to persuade her to do anything different."
Alyssa is more "easy-going" and "observant. She studies everything," her dad said. "She's also good at stealing pacifiers. She'll stake it out and see who she can get it from, and move in and get it."
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