Does having nine children make you a good mom? Not necessarily. But if you are Lori Gray, who has nine children and half as many grandchildren, there’s no question the answer is yes.
“I love having my kids around and being a parent and a grandmother,” Lori admits. “It is incredible to sometimes look at them and think, I had a part in making these amazing people.”
There are nine children in the family that Lori actually gave birth to. Of those nine, five are grown and on their own. Mandy is 34 and living in Virginia, Matt is 31 and living in West Yellowstone, Sydney is 28 and lives here in Cut Bank, Zach is 26 and living in Big Sky and Cassidy is 23 and also here in Cut Bank. Those five are from Lori’s first marriage.
She and her second husband, Bill, have four children together and those four are quadruplets! Nathan, Billy, Nicholas and Dillon are currently freshman at Cut Bank High School. Also living at the Gray home is Kaidyn, who is 11. “He is our grandson that lives with us. I also have four other grandchildren who come and go, in and out of our home.”
At any given moment, if all the children and grandkids were to be home, Lori’s house would have about 20 people, dogs and cats.
Lori and her family are fairly new to Cut Bank, moving here in October of 2017. They had been living in Bremen, Ohio and in the beginning, loved life there. But then the little town started to change and more crime, drugs and problems started coming to light. Lori knew it was time to find another place to raise the kids she still had at home.
“My oldest son, Matt, moved out to Montana, Big Sky, just to see if he would like it and he never came back to Ohio. He loved it here from the get-go and wanted all of us to be here too. The quadruplets were so little at that time, I just couldn’t make the move. But as things got worse in our town and the boys got bigger, we decided we just needed to do it.”
Matt, who was still living in Big Sky at the time, started looking for a little town with houses for rent and that also had a hospital. Lori is a Registered Nurse and he wanted to be sure she could continue doing the job she loved.
He found a house and a hospital in Cut Bank and “he drove to Cut Bank, put the deposit down on the rental and we moved out here two weeks later,” Lori said. “Within six weeks of being here, the boys were loving it. All the anxiety and other issues they had while we were in Ohio were gone. They were making friends, they weren’t being made fun of and the teachers they had actually cared about them.”
That is how they ended up in Cut Bank.
And because everyone here was so wonderful to them, started helping them and taking care of them, for a change, that is why they are staying.
“Everyone is so friendly, from our neighbors to everyone at school, to the people I work with at Northern Rockies Medical Center. It was nice having an extended family. For some time, I kept waiting for the other shoe to fall and something bad to happen. Now I know that is not going to happen and I am relaxing more and enjoying our life in this wonderful town,” Lori shared.
There was a point where her son wanted the family to move to Whitehall, making them all closer to him. “I told him I wasn’t leaving Cut Bank. The people here are amazing and we just love it here.”
The first question Lori gets asked, as the new family in town, “Four boys and they are quadruplets?”
It seems overwhelming to people. Imagine being Lori when she found out she was pregnant and there were four little heartbeats in her tummy.
“I had had a surgery that put me into early menopause, so getting pregnant was not something that should have happened. But it did. It was a big surprise at 37 years old. When I found out, first I was amazed and then I cried for four days,” she remembered. “After that, I realized God gave these babies to me and it was up to me to take care of them.”
At 34 weeks into the pregnancy, Lori had a C-section and delivered four fraternal quadruplets. Three of them were just over four pounds and one was very tiny at one pound, 10 ounces.
“Nathan was the littlest one, but he was also the strongest one in so many ways,” Lori said. “He has a few mild disabilities that we deal with in his life, but over all, that kid is amazing and is full of smiles and love.”
Even though they are alike in so many ways, they are all different. “They are a group of four with four totally different personalities. And you have to treat them all differently too. It is so important not to lose the connection you have with each one of them, so you have to make time to visit with them one-on-one every single day, find out what they are doing, how they are doing and if there are things bothering them. For every one of my kids, I have always made them feel important and loved, every single day.”
The four boys are great. No, all nine of her kids are great, including the little grandson living with them. And Lori and her husband couldn’t be happier with the big family. Although, having quadruplets has been a challenge.
“My grocery bill is huge every week. Someone is always eating and I swear they must be drinking the shampoo,” she said laughing. “And just think, everything we do, we do times four: birthdays, Christmas, getting everyone ready for school, learning how to drive–which I am dreading–and taking them different places. Anywhere we go, we have to have a good-sized vehicle just to get all of us to a destination. It is rather mind-boggling. Sometimes I feel like I am running a small business with these four kids. I make a lot of lists and sometimes what they think is important, is number 150 on the list.”
But much like her older five kids, Lori knows this last group will make it to early adulthood just fine.
“I feel an incredible amount of pride and love when I see my kids, the ones that are adults now and the ones still in school. I look at them and think they are all just awesome. Each of them is so special in so many different ways. I know in my heart I would do this a thousand times over and again and again. Being a mom really is the best thing ever,” she said.
She does admit, “These last four are definitely keeping me young and graying my hair all at the same time.”
But even with that, she knows she would not change a thing about where she is in her life and all that she has been given, which makes her an amazing mom.