Parents of quintuplets reveal hardship of raising five children

By Ma Chi and Wang Yifan | | Updated: 2019-02-21 15:17
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A family photo of Li Canjun (right in back row) and his wife Zhang Xiaomin and the quintuplets at their home in Xinmi city, Central China's Henan province, on Feb 19, 2019. [Photo by Shi Chuang/provided to]

Li Canjun and his wife Zhang Xiaomin from Xinmi, Central China's Henan province, became famous after Zhang gave birth to quintuplets on Nov 21, 2004.

The birth became big news at that time, because it was the first time that quintuplets were born in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital, and the survival rate of quintuplets was only one in 60 million.

Before the birth of the quintuplets, four girls and a boy, the couple already had a daughter.

Since the quintuplets were born two and a half months premature, with the youngest weighing only 1 kilogram, they were moved to intensive care unit upon birth.

Although happy to see the arrival of five babies, the couple also felt heavy burden on their shoulders.

"We did not have the energy to take care of all of them. I really did not know how to raise them," said Zhang, the wife. "Even milk powder becomes expensive when you have five babies, and my body was not able to produce enough breast milk."

At the beginning, the couple sometimes mixed up the quintuplets, causing some to be fed twice, while others cried with hunger, Zhang said.

Li Caijun worked at a coal mine to support the family, while his mother and Zhang took care of the quintuplets. Sometimes, relatives and friends also helped them.

"Before the age of three, the quintuplets got sick regularly. Usually, one got sick and the others got infected. When I gave them medicines, the kids cried, and I cried too," Zhang said.

Li earned about 4,000 yuan ($592) a month and the financial burden was always the couple's biggest concern. Luckily, the couple received help from kind-hearted people.

A milk powder company donated and provided free milk powder for the family for around two years.

When the children had no clothes to wear, relatives, friends, and neighbours gave clothes to the family. The local civil affairs bureau also granted the family basic living allowance.

Last year, Li had a surgery on his left eye, and as a result he was not able to work for six months. And their oldest daughter was admitted to university, the financial situation got tougher.

"I was really worried about my family's financial situation," Li said.

It is the assistance from a warm-hearted person from Zhengzhou that saw the couple through the difficult times. The man paid not only the tuition fees for their daughter, but also the living expenses for the family.

"Thanks to the help of kind people, we have survived the tough days over these years," Zhang said.

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