Wichita man writes about being a father of quads

Billy Graf never pictured himself a stay-at-home dad.

He tended bar, helped coach high school football and worked at QuikTrip and other odd jobs. Although he came from a big family, he knew little about day-to-day child care. His language was more Dane Cook than Disney.

Then came the quads.

And the blog.

And the Facebook updates that friends and family members urged him to share.

Now Graf is not only feeding, changing, potty-training, snuggling, battling and laughing with four 3-year-olds, but he’s written a book about the experience.

“The Quadfather,” released through a print-on-demand publisher this spring, chronicles the Wichita father’s journey as a stay-at-home dad of quadruplets.

Billy’s wife, Monica, gave birth to three boys and a girl — Pius, Forrest, Laine and Danna — in November 2007, at a Phoenix hospital known for its expertise in multiple births. A couple of months later, they returned to their house in far northwest Wichita.

Not long after that, Monica Graf returned to work as an emergency room nurse and Billy started his new life as a stay-at-home dad.

“At first I was pretty old-fashioned about it,” said Graf, 30, a Bishop Carroll High School graduate who majored in English at Wichita State University. “I was used to having a job and bringing home a paycheck.”

But after some research, the couple learned that child care for four babies cost about $675 a week, nearly as much as Billy would earn.

“I would have been just spinning my wheels,” working to pay for child care, he said. “So that didn’t make sense.”

At home with quadruplets, Billy decided to continue his blog, “Bill & Moni’s Excellent Quad-venture,” which he launched during Monica’s pregnancy as a way to share updates with friends and family members.

The blog posts and subsequent Facebook updates became material for his book. He compiled it mostly during naptimes on an old, worn-out laptop that’s covered with baby powder and missing several letters and the space bar.

“Everybody always asks, ‘How do you do it?’æ” the first chapter begins. “I always respond, ‘We don’t know. We are guessing our way through it.’æ”

Billy says he didn’t intend for “The Quadfather” to be an instruction book, though parents expecting multiples could glean a lot from the chapters that chronicle the couple’s pregnancy and time in the neonatal intensive care unit.

He intended it instead as a humorous peek into daily life with quadruplets.

“When the kids destroy the house or themselves (and this takes them approximately three minutes), I’ve found that the best way to handle it is to take a picture and laugh about it,” he writes.

He has dealt with screaming fits and stomach viruses, runny noses and runaway toddlers — times four. He’s glad he took time to write down the stories, he says, but warns that his salty vocabulary might offend some folks.

“I wanted this book to reflect me, and this is me,” he said.

He sings three Johnny Cash lullabies to the children each night — “Walk the Line,” “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Jackson” — and swats them on the bottom when they do something naughty.

About once a week, he takes the kids bowling or to the zoo, where he says “people look at us as much if not more than the animals.”

“We get the same questions all the time, so the book answers some of those questions, too.”

Yes, they’re quadruplets.

Yes, we used fertility treatments to get pregnant.

Yes, it was a life-changing day when we found out.

No, we’re not sure we’re done yet.

Really? Not done?

“We weren’t trying to have four babies at one time, but that’s what the good Lord gave us,” Billy said. His wife smiles, wiping handprints from the sliding glass door.

“I think we’d like to have one more baby after our quads get a little biggeræ.æ.æ. One, you know, just to see what that’s like.”