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Nine times Megan and Sean Delaney have driven across town to IU Health West Hospital because they trust the labor and delivery team to bring their babies safely into the world.
It’s not easy to calculate the birth of nine babies, but Megan Delaney figures she has spent 62 hours in labor. That’s equal to nearly eight typical workdays – all at one hospital.
Delaney and her husband Sean of Greenwood chose one hospital for all nine deliveries – IU Health West Hospital.
“After we had our seventh baby who was premature, we spent time in NICU and thought about getting a hospital closer to home but we’ve grown to know and love the staff, doctors and nurses at IU Health West Hospital. They keep a close eye on my pregnancies and are so warm and welcoming. We joke that we could put a down payment on a house with all the gas money we’ve spent but it’s all been worth it and something we wouldn’t change,” said Delaney.
Six of the nine were born premature; the longest labor was the firstborn at nearly 20 hours; the shortest delivery was baby number six at about two hours. Five doctors were part of bringing the babies into the world: Dr. Ivy Lee delivered one baby; Dr. Michael D. Allen delivered five babies; Dr. Sharon Walker-Watkins delivered one baby; Dr. Karla Loken delivered one baby; and Dr. Claire Bernardin delivered one baby – on Christmas Day.
The couple welcomed their youngest child, Sloane in July. She joined four sisters and four brothers in the Delaney household. They include: Coyle, 9; Shea, 8; Cayce, 7; Cael, 6; Quinn, 5; Brynn, 3; Coyln, 2; and Cadyn, 15 months. Sean is credited with choosing the names.
“We’re both Irish and we like names that kind of reflect that heritage,” said Megan, whose maiden name is “O’Gara.” She met Sean in 2004 when he was bartending at her parent’s Irish pub and she was a server. They were married in what Megan describes as a “big Irish wedding” in 2007. The celebration included an appearance by Irish dancers and a cake topped with a Notre Dame football helmet. They are big fans of the fighting Irish. Baby number one arrived a year later. In addition to nine children the couple welcomed two mini golden doodles into their family – named after two fighting Irish coaches “Lou” (Lou Holtz) and “Ara” (Ara Parseghian).
The Delaney children join a long line of Irish Catholic families. Megan’s parents are John and Jean O’Gara. Sean’s parents are Mike and Sue Delaney. There are 41 grandchildren on Megan’s mom’s side and 78 great grandchildren. Sean’s dad is one of nine.
“We knew when we got married we wanted a big family,” said Megan. “All of our kids were planned based on my health, our baby’s health and our finances. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.” So how do they manage? In their five-bedroom home the two oldest boys share a room; the two little guys share a room; the oldest daughter has her own room and the three little girls share the biggest room in the house because they all wanted to be together.
Will they have any more children? “We have a 12-passenger van and all nine still have car seats,” says Megan. “We have room for one more but my grandmother jokes that we’ll probably have twins next time. Then what?”
Megan offers more advice:
Staying organized: “I try to plan ahead. We have a laundry basket for each child to stay organized.” The night before the older children leave for school at Saints Francis & Clare of Assisi, Megan sets out their outfits to help the morning routine run smoothly.
Meal planning: “Sometimes we have two or three sports practices a night including wrestling, football and kick ball. I try to cook at least four nights a week. We’re not one of those families where they have to eat only what we cook. We encourage them to try it but they also have a choice of cereal or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We’re lucky. My kids love pasta, a lot of fruits and vegetables and casseroles. We do a lot of crock pot meals and they help out loading and unloading the dishwasher and taking turns helping around the house.”
Advice to parents: “I would say to take it one day at a time. Roll with the punches. You only get the moment you’re in once. It goes by so fast. You only have 18 summers with them. Make sure they all get enough attention. It’s such a team effort raising these guys. People say I’m super mom, but I don’t have all nine kids by myself except for a few hours each day. My husband comes home from work and it’s both of us working together and we also have our parents to help out.”
-- By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
Reach Banes via email at T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.