Diary of“lhree Years
HiruL Dionne Quintuplets^K,^mH4
Ay Nurse YVONNE LEROUX " Rblu
LOOKING back, it sometimes
seems as if that first summer of
the quintuplets' lives brought
just one crisis after another
On July 17 1 gleefully wrote in my
diary that the five little girls had
broken another record of medical his
tory by living longer than any single
member of a quintuplet birth had ever
lived before them.
Three days later I made the follow
“July 20. Marie has a red mark on
her leg—quite raised, about the size of
a nickel. It doesn’t bother her to any
extent unless she lies on it for some
length of time, and then we notice that
she seems relieved when turned.”
This was diagnosed as a tumor. On
July 24, Dr. Curtis Burman and Prof
Max Broedel, both of Johns Hopkins
University, examined Marie and pre
scribed radium treatments. These wert
begun shortly afterward by Doctor?
Howard A. Kelly and Edmund Kellv
(his son), also both of Johns Hopkins
and ultimately dispelled our worry.
The difficulties of caring for the chil
dren in the Dionne home, which had
never been designed to house five feeble
infants in addition to one healthy, ac
tive family, had long since convinced
everyone that the children must have
a place of their own where their care
could go forward without disrupting the
Dionnes’ normal routine. So, on Aug. 6
I made this welcome entry in my diary:
“The hospital is under way. The ex
cavation is started and everyone is ex
cited, wondering what it’s going to be
like. It will be a great relief to know
that we don’t have to risk the winter in
In speaking of the coming winter 1
was looking a long way ahead. But the
babies had us all much encouraged by
The quintuplets’ hospital finished and occupied in
More diary entries:
“Aug. 7. Yvonne and Annette had
their first soap and water baths, and
did they squirm! They are lost in the
big basins. We had to work fast as we
were afraid of their getting cold.
tt A UG. 8. Calamity in the nursery to
** day. Madam de Kiriline was
puncturing holes in nipples over an al
cohol lamp and upset the alcohol. It
went all over the pad and of course
caught fire. She grabbed all the blaz
ing pads to her breast and ran out, and
thus prevented a fire that might have,
burned the house dowm. I didn’t know
what had happened until I heard her
call ‘Yvonne!’ and as she was on fire 1
caught a spread off the bed to help beat
Nurse de Kiriline.
bandaged hands and
leg. after averting a
tragedy in tfie nursery
by seizing burning
pads and . carrying
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out the flames. Luckily, nothing spread
in the nursery.
“Her hands and legs were burned.
The doctor arrived to find us sitting on
the porch; me wringing out bandages in
milk of magnesia. Nobody in the house
had any idea of what had happened un
til Madam de Kiriline had to go home.
I’ll go on day duty and Pat (Nurse Pat
Mullens) will come on nights.”
The babies were getting healthier—
and hungrier. Witness my diary entry
for Aug. 12:
“We get 108 ounces of milk a day
from Toronto and use most of it—in
fact we often wonder if it will carry us
through. The babes certainly drink it
up. Cecile takes her bottle in about two
minutes and then goes off to sleep with
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a very contented look. Marie is the
slowest and Emilie gets very impatient.
Yvonne and Annette love to linger
about the middle of the meal, but even
tually take it all.
“Aug. 13. Pat and 1 laid the corner
stone of the new house. That certainly
was a thrill.”
Then comes a minor red-letter day:
“Aug 31. All the babes are out of in
cubators. The room looks so big! We
have kept only one incubator, in case
one should have a relapse or something.
. . . Marie and Emilie had their first
“Sept. 6. The babes are 100 days old.
Their weights: Yvonne—7 pounds 11
oz. Annette —7 pounds s'£ oz. Cecile—
-6 pounds 9 oz. Emilie—s pounds 7 oz.
Marie—s pounds 4>/fe oz.
“Marie is so very tiny compared to
the others. She has a very delicate bone
structure and is not fleshy. Yvonne is
vary fleshy and looks like a small
All pnolus and sketches world copy
right. 1937 by NEA Service. Inc.
Everybody laughed, wrote Nurse
Leroux, when Dr. Dafoe donned
Santa Claus get-up for the quin
tuplets’ -first Christmas.
mountain compared to Mane and Em
ilie. Cecile is very quiet; she usually
takes anything we give her and waits
her turn quite well. Emilie is a cheer
ful little thing, too. She will probably
be mischievous. Yvonne and Annette
are rather good-natured, with Yvonne
leading. They all love being talked to,
even at this early stage.”
r FHEN comes bad news. After leaving
my diary pages blank for nearly a
week, I made this entry:
“Sept. 11. The babes are sick. Came
on duty at night and found Yvonne and
Cecile with temperatures. Had very
high temperatures at 9, with rash. Sent
Mr. Dionne out to doctor’s. Dr. Dafoe
came, ordered enemas, baths, warmth
and mustard baths for convulsions.
Wonder what can be the matter? All
the babes will probably be sick.
“Sept. 12. All babes are sick. Pat is
on nights with me. Babes have intes
The hospital was finished, at last; it
was ready before we were.
“Sept. 14. The official opening of the
hospital; finished at last but not fur
nished—grand opening. Babes still sick;
the smallest ones look dreadful. They
are waxen and their faces are drawn.
If they only pull through this.”
And then, a week later, a very red
“Sept. 21. In spite of everything —no
supplies, no furniture, no electricity—
Dr. Dafoe has decided the babes must
go over to the hospital. We prepared
all day yesterday and all morning to
day, taking over the babes’ clothing,
blankets, medical supplies, and prepar
ing the room as much as possible. This
morning we fixed the beds and then
took the babes over in a car.
“Sept. 24. Babes all over crisis. They
seem to be picking up already and their
color seems much better Appetites
“Oct. 29. The babes got their first
glimpse of snow today. More important,
they were changed over to cow’s milk.
“Oct. 30. Today the babes were
christened. They wore little white
dresses and petticoats, pink and white
sweaters and bootees and looked per
fectly adorable. They made faces when
the salt was put on their tongues.”
How swiftly that fall passed! My
diary contains few entries On Dec. 3.
! I made this note:
“( hristmas photos were taken today.
Mother and Father Dionne were over,
very thrilled with the pictures, exam
ined everything, played with the babes.
They put little Marie in the doll car
riage and wheeled her around. They
laughed—and so did the rest of us—at
Dr. Dafoe dressed up in a Santa Claua
NEXT WEEK: A plot to kidnap th4
I quintuplets is discovered and foiled.