I'm a quadruplet and the only woman of my siblings. My whole life has been a balance of wanting to be alone and needing to be near my siblings.

I'm a quadruplet and the only woman of my siblings. My whole life has been a balance of wanting to be alone and needing to be near my siblings.
Jessica Ellis
  • I'm a quadruplet and have three brothers.
  • I've gone back and forth between wanting to be an individual and missing being with my siblings.

It's always been such an easy icebreaker. Three words: I'm a quadruplet.

Cue the big reactions and questions about growing up with three brothers. Just to be clear: No, I can't read their minds, and I don't feel it when they hurt themselves. You'd be surprised how often I've gotten those questions.

It's been a long time since it's been brought up in conversation, so I often forget that I'm unique in that regard. Then I hear, "Wow, you're the first quadruplet I've ever met!" and I'm reminded that it's rare.

That feeling of being different has always been blatantly obvious on our birthday. Growing up, we had one cake with colored candles to indicate which corner was ours. My brothers were always one step ahead of me, and before I could even breathe in, the candles were out.

Then, it finally happened. In college, I got my own cake with my own candles, and I hated it. It felt so strange. But there will always be this innate contrast between wanting space and needing them nearby.


Being the only girl gave me some individuality

For many years growing up, I was thankful for the ability to hide behind "the girl quad" label. It was easy, it was safe, and I could be somewhat invisible within the group.

But then I moved away from our hometown, and no one knew I was a quadruplet. Initially, I had to learn to stop saying "we" and start saying "I." I'll never forget someone asking me one day, "Who is we, why are you saying that?" Since I didn't want others to think I had an imaginary friend or voices in my head, I stopped fairly quickly. But it still happens every now and then when I'm not paying attention.

When it came to carving out an identity of my own, I had one thing my brothers didn't have: I was the only girl. Sports were my saving grace. I had softball, and my brothers had their respective sports (which made our parents' schedules even busier).

It was everything I needed to feel separate. It was just my thing. As I got older, more things became individualized as my identity evolved. I'm a licensed professional counselor, I'm a wife, I'm a stepmother, I'm a mother, but the "girl quad" label will always be there.

I found myself thinking about that label again recently when I became a mother to a little girl, and I genuinely wonder how the heck my mother did it.


When I stop and think about my childhood, I visualize always having someone to play with — even if it got overly competitive. That support never went away, and now we have playdates with our kids. I'm so grateful for that.

I was also incredibly excited that my brothers let me blow out my candles this year. It took 33 years, but dreams really do come true.