OutDaughtered stars Danielle and Adam Busby always knew they were meant to be parents. Both adored children, kids loved them right back, and Danielle dreamed of being a stay-at-home mom with her own large and loving brood.
So the Louisiana-born couple were stunned to discover they had problems conceiving. A year of fertility treatments resulted in a beautiful daughter they called Blayke, and, three years later, Danielle and Adam decided to take one more shot at expanding their family.
Embarking on the same fertility regiment that brought her little Blayke, Danielle became pregnant just two months later. And so began an adventure even the baby-loving Busbys could not have anticipated.
“At every appointment it went from one baby, to three, to four, to five,” Danielle laughs. “It was a gradual increase, and by the time they got to five, it just was, ‘Are you kidding me? No more appointments!’ I just never imagined it being more than one, and then I never imagined it being four, and then we went to the next appointment and one had split into identical twins. It’s something that I never would have imagined would happen with the infertility, but God had a bigger picture for us, and so He knew we were going to try one more time to have another baby — and He said, ‘Here’s five!’”
Because the couple had moved to Houston shortly after they wed, they launched a blog called “It’s a Buzz World” to keep family and friends back in Louisiana involved in their journey to quintuplets. But others were noticing, too. The Busby’s charm and honesty caught the attention of multiple television production companies, so the couple weighed their options, took a leap of faith and their new TLC docuseries OutDaughtered was, well, born.
OutDaughtered, which premieres Tuesday, follows the Busbys’ journey to the delivery room, their five new daughters’ — America’s only all-girl set of quints — time in the neonatal intensive care unit, and their first months at home as a family of eight. Along for the ride — an assortment of family, friends and helpers who pitch in and provide a cheery dose of comic relief.
We caught up with Danielle Busby during Blayke’s gymnastics class — one of the rare times the young mom isn’t multi-multi-tasking — to talk about what life is like when you’re happily OutDaughtered.
Channel Guide Magazine: What’s it been like to welcome even more people — and stuff — into your household in making OutDaughtered?
Danielle Busby: It’s such an extraordinary experience! What’s been captured with us is very real-time things and just true, normal, average people who have something extraordinary happen to them. I’m glad to share what God has done in our lives and how it has opened the door an opportunity to share His word and the gospel to others. Our TV show shows who we are, and our real life experience with having quints. I love how my life — and our life — has been captured, because it’s just the best, professional filming … instead of photos and stuff that I was taking, it’s like an actual movie of us.
CGM: Was it important for you to share your struggle with infertility in addition to the happy ending that resulted from your faith and perseverance?
DB: Yes it was, because I had friends that I have met here, around the Houston area, who have struggled with infertility and the depressive state that one can go into. You want a family but you just physically can’t make it happen. But we had Blayke successfully after going through infertility, and now we’ve had the quints!
CGM: My own daughter spent three months in the NICU, too, and it was a pretty nerve-shredding time. Tell me how OutDaughtered handles that element of the story.
DB: NICU life! You know, we had Blayke first, and that experience of the emotions that a mom has when you get to hold your child for the first time. Going into the life of having babies and them having to go into NICU for a day, a week, three months, like ours did, it’s so exhausting. I mentally didn’t feel like these babies were mine. They were put in this incubator, this dome, and it was so hard as a mom to experience that “Let me hold you! Let me touch you!” But they were so fragile at that state, you just literally couldn’t. I don’t even remember what the question was. [Laughs]
CGM: Just wondering what it was like to have the cameras there.
DB: I’m actually very thankful that I had a camera there with me, and captured the moment when I got to see the girls for the first time, because, honestly, I don’t remember! I remember afterward — when I’m in recovery from the C-section. I remember seeing Parker and Riley, they were wheeled in to me, but then I began to have so much excruciating pain. When I look at photos or videos from that, I was just in so much pain, and with the epidural and stuff, it was hazy to me. The world might want to see this, too, but for me it’s extra special because I just don’t remember it. I’m just so thankful that I had a camera there to capture that moment for me.
CGM: Tell me where the series actually begins. What will we see first?
DB: It will capture a little bit of who Adam and I are, along with my family — my mom and my sisters. Then you’ll see a little bit of me being pregnant, through the birth and the first couple of months — us coming home and adjusting to life with six kids, and five of them NICU babies, in those first few months after coming home from the NICU.
CGM: Tell me a little more about the other people we will meet in OutDaughtered. Would you — could you — have done the show without them?
DB: You’ll see my mom, who is Mimi [real name: Michelle], and then you’ll see my sisters, which we call Kiki [Crystal] and Lili [Ashley]. So we’ve got Mimi, Kiki and Lili — and Didi is who I am to my nieces and nephews. Then my brothers-in-laws and my nieces and nephews make an appearance, too.
Would I have done the show without them? Well, it’s made it more exciting with them. I love being able to capture moments with them. And I see them all the time — especially my sister that lives here close to me — so it would have been weird not having her involved, them involved, because we’re always together, even with Mom and Crystal and Darryl living in Louisiana. They’re pretty much here every weekend.
I’m glad they’re all part of the show, and it’s made good memories, for sure. We’re a very close-knit family, so it’s only right for them to be involved in the show, as well.
CGM: I spent a lovely hour before our interview watching YouTube videos of your babies and laughing so hard that my colleagues wondered what I was doing. If I may, can I go through each of your girls’ names, and have you to describe them for me?
CGM: Let’s start with big sister Blayke.
DB: Blayke is the definition of a little girl. She’s very much a little princess. She is so kind and she’s so sweet. I don’t know where she gets it from. We have been extremely blessed by her. She listens — you tell her no and she won’t do it again. I was so stubborn as a child, and she is just is a complete opposite. She’s just so well-mannered. I was never a girly girl and never was into Barbie dolls and all that girly, princess stuff, and she just wants to dress up all the time and wear makeup and lip gloss and do her nails. I think her girly-ness has grown on me, to be more of a girly woman
CGM: How about Olivia … Miss Livvy Lou?
DB: Olivia! She is our little character of the group. She is always jibber-jabbering about something, even at her little age of one. She always sounds like she’s whispering something, telling a secret, laughing about something. She’s always smiling. She just — I would say, the cutest thing, since we’re talking about her, but then we go to the next baby, and they’re the cutest thing.
She’s the jolly one. She reminds me a lot of my sister Crystal — Kiki — in that she likes attention and she likes to always be talking about something. Olivia always has her own little language, always talking. Playing with a toy or with her sisters, with me, she’s always talking about something, so I’m like, “You’re just like your Kiki!”
CGM: Olivia’s twin, Ava?
DB: Ava, that’s my big girl! She’s the biggest of the quints, weight-wise. She’s our little chunky monkey. She is the big one, but she’s so sensitive. She is the most emotional, sensitive baby. If something happens or if you look at her the wrong way or if you take a toy from her — if you just say the word no to her — she instantly starts crying. If a baby takes a toy from her, she’s just so dramatic and emotional and upset about it. She’s very heartfelt, I guess.
CGM: The fearless Parker?
DB: Parker seems like she’s going to be our little sporty one. She’s super fast and she was the first to crawl. She’s constantly trying to pull up on stuff. She seems super strong. And she’s very observant. She doesn’t necessarily talk words as much as the others, because she’s always so nosy. She’s pretty much the dominant one, I would say, out of all the quints. She tries to act like the boss. She will go take something just to have something, but not play with it. She’ll go up to any baby and take a toy, and then just go off and do something different. Just take it out of their hands and go. She wants to be the first to be picked up, she wants to be the first to go downstairs. And she will be, because she’s usually the first one, the fastest one, crawling around.
CGM: Alpha quint!
DB: The alpha quint, yes.
CGM: Little Hazel?
DB: Little Hazel! Hazel is a cuddlebug. She will not even be tired, but she will enjoy just sitting in your arms, and she will fall asleep, just because she thinks, “Oh, you’re holding me, so … .” She’s gotten different over the last few months for sure. She has like this own little face and look that she always gives. I would say she’s going to be the Little Miss Serious one. Out of all of them, she’s the one that could get held all day and be completely fine with it.
CGM: Miss Riley?
DB: Well, I don’t know what to say about her, because she’s just a little turd! [Laughs] She’s so bad! She’s the little Adam, for sure. She gets into everything, she’s learned how to spit, so she just does stuff for attention, for sure. She talks back in her own little baby language. You tell her no and she’ll just go “Eh!” right back at you. She swats at you and she’s going to pitch fits, I’m sure. But she’s so stinkin’ cute and she’s so smiley. She just has an attitude already.
CGM: I did watch the video you made when they were really little about how you tell them apart — and I watched it several times in a row — and I’m like, “Yeah, still no.” Was there at least some time that you had to keep a marker handy — hairbands, socks, painted fingernails — or, even if the whole lot was naked in front of you, were you able to tell the apart from the start?
DB: Especially since they came home, they’ve all had their own differences to us. We did color code every baby, as far as blankets or pacifiers or cups with labels — so like, Ava was one color, Olivia was another color, blah, blah, blah — to help us identify them, but also to help helping hands that came in to know which baby was which.
Olivia and Ave have always been a little bit harder since they are identicals. But as they’ve gotten older and bigger, they’ve become easier to us. They went through this phase where their face shapes were more the same, but now Ava’s is more round and Olivia’s is just a lot fuller. Honestly, Adam and I have done a good job of being able to tell who’s who, until it comes to a picture, and we might be like, “Was that Ava or Olivia in the picture?” — just because at the right angle, they look so much alike.
The other three, I don’t feel like they look alike. They resemble each other in certain ways they smile or whatnot, but we’ve always been able to tell them apart pretty well.
CGM: Are there distinct mama’s girls and daddy’s girls in the bunch, or is it situational?
DB: Riley is a daddy’s girl for sure! The second she just hears his voice or sees him, he better pick her up first. She’s definitely the daddy’s girl of all. Ava has become more of a mama’s girl lately, where she just really wants me, but it started when she got sick. She had a fever and a cold and stuff two weeks ago, and really, ever since then, she just has become a mama’s girl. It’s probably because I soaked up too much cuddle time when she wouldn’t go to sleep. My mom and I will both do that. Parker has become more of a mama’s girl, too, I’d say Parker and Ava for sure are more mama’s girls. Riley is definitely the daddy’s girl.
CGM: How structured are your days? Is everything scheduled, or do you go with the flow?
DB: In my previous job I was a coordinator and a lot of my job was planning and scheduling and organizing — and I was good at it. I knew how to already make a schedule. Obviously I had a hard time learning what to do and how to do it with five — but to detail and to plan this and schedule that and to make a system, that I was good at. When I say I was created and made for this, I honestly was. When I was given five babies, I just had to take those skills and adapt it to baby things.
So yes, we have a system — a schedule. The babies wake up usually about seven or eight in the morning, and they go to bed at seven or eight at night. They sleep all night, they eat on a schedule — and they all eat together at this point. I still have bottles, so we do bottles in the morning, and then I’ll change all their diapers, and then we’ll do breakfast. Then, before their first nap, I’ll go ahead and put all their clothes on for the day. If not, they’ll just end up staying in PJ’s all day, which happens a lot, because that’s just more clothes to wash. [Laughs]
CGM: How often do you have people come in and assist?
DB: We have a system — I have lined up helpers to come at certain parts of the day. Sometimes I have help and sometimes I don’t, and I’m OK with that. It might be anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour where I’m alone at home by myself. We’re very hands on, and Adam knows how to do just as much as I do. Does he do it as well as I do? I’m going to answer that and say no. But he can do it, and he’s good at it. He’ll change all five diapers. He’ll feed five of them. He’s been by himself a couple of times with them, too. We’re a good team, for sure!
CGM: I got a little choked up — for both of you — in the preview clip when Adam has to go back to work for the first time since the babies arrived. Can you talk a little bit about how you have handled that situation as a couple?
DB: It was very different for Adam to go back to work. He took some time off to be at home with us — and it was a non-stop job, especially at that point. The babies had just come home, they’re eating every three hours and so it’s an all day and all night job. But what I’ve learned, since I’ve been home with them, is that you miss so much. Every day, there’s something new that happens with a baby. It might be a different way they smile, a different way that they play or whatnot. So for Adam, it was very difficult for him to have to go back to work, because you miss these little things — but thank goodness for the camera phones and all the technology we have, where we can FaceTime, or send a quick video.
Also, I know he has to go to work to provide for us, but he kind of got away, right? [Laughs] I love my job. I’m a mom and it’s everything I wanted it to be, growing up. I never thought it would be real, that I would get to stay home with my kids. But now I do and it’s wonderful — but I am surrounded by babies all day, and it’s hard for me to try to get time away to go get my hair done, or to go take a nap. It’s a process to get people there to watch the babies. He’s around adults and outside and around the town — just different visual aspects besides diapers and spit up and feeding babies all day! [Laughs]
CGM: Does Adam have something he considers his specialty as a parent — like, “I’m Super Dad at this!”?
DB: He’s good at the whole aspect of doing the car routine — in and out of the car — and the stroller. I hate doing that.
Adam is a character. He likes to pick and tease, but he’s so loving and such an amazing dad. For instance, he was scaring Blayke the other day — it’s a big thing for them, like “What are we going to do to scare Blayke today?” and “Where can I hide, and jump out and scare her?” and stuff like that. Of course, Blayke’s like, “You scared me!” I was like, “Our house wouldn’t be fun if we didn’t do this.” Blayke starts laughing, and she says, “I love it! Now I’m going to go hide.”
Whenever I can scare Adam, Blayke gets the biggest kick out of it. If Adam goes out of the room for something, and I’ll hide behind the couch or the corner and scare him. Adam will jump and Blayke just dies. She just loves it, because he gets her all the time. I keep telling Adam, “Just wait until you’ve got six girls you have to scare and tease all the time.” He loves it, though.
CGM: Does Blayke have a favorite sister — or does that change by the day? Or the hour?
DB: She’s always said Hazel was her favorite from the beginning, but it honestly changes on a daily basis. Yesterday, she’s like, “Olivia’s my favorite!” and I’m like, “Blayke, I thought it was Hazel? I thought it was Riley?”
It changes daily, according to who wants Blayke’s attention the most. They all love their Blayke. They all want to be with Blayke. They all want to see what Blayke’s doing, which is very common, I think, for siblings. But every day there might be one baby that’s more intrigued with something Blayke’s playing with, or what she’s wearing, or if she has a necklace on, and Blayke will say, “That’s my favorite sister!” Every day is different.
CGM: Do the babies have favorites amongst themselves? Any little alliances forming?
DB: Oh yeah. Parker and Riley pair up to do the bad things together. They go get in trouble together. Ava and Olivia are the identicals and they play really well together. They don’t mind if one takes a toy from the other, if it’s between them two, but if it’s another baby, it’s the end of the world. Hazel is the little pushover. She’s just like, “You took a toy from me. Whatever. I know you’re bigger than me.”
CGM: I didn’t actually know you could have twins in the midst of quintuplets — you have twinuplets!
DB: Yep, it happens! And as they are getting older, I see how they are bonded a little bit differently. My sisters are twins, and I remember growing up, and them kind of having this intuition at times. If you look at the quints, you’d think that they all would have this little bond and intuition across it. But Ava and Olivia specifically are more bonded, because they’re identicals, I guess. They’re so much more comforted by each other, and when they are playing together, it’s just them. It’s just really strange.
I had a couple of them sick like last week — I had three sick and two not. Usually when one gets it, they all get it, but I had cleaned both of the baby rooms, and I separated the three in one room and two in the other. The non-sick ones haven’t gotten sick, so it worked and they’re all better. But until I got time to clean the beds and change the sheets again and all that, I was still keeping these three and those two separated. And Ava just would not go to sleep. I told Adam, “I don’t know what her deal is. I think she notices that she’s not with Olivia” — because Olivia wasn’t sick.
So it’s been, like, four days since they haven’t been sick but they’ve still been sleeping in those separate rooms, so I put Ava and Olivia in the twin room together, and both of them slept so hard. I had to wake both of them up this morning, after everybody else was awake. I was like, “You know what, I think she needs Olivia. She needs to be by Olivia.” They sleep in their own cribs, but that’s the only thing I can think of why she slept so much better last night is that she was in the room with Olivia.
CGM: That’s the sweetest thing ever. Speaking of being alone, just one last question before I let you savor your bit of one-girl time — since you’re at Ava’s gymnastics lesson right now, what else do you do to make sure that Blayke gets her Blayke time?
DB: Blayke gets one-on-one special time every day! That is a priority to Adam and I, and we make that time for her every day.
She goes to school, it’s like pre-K school, every day until four. I usually have help in the afternoon, so that I can personally pick Blayke up, because I want to. I want to be able to spend time with her. Usually after school we’ll get a snack together, we’ll get ice cream, or we might go to the nail salon or we might go shopping, whatever. It might be making her a little spoiled that she gets to do tons of stuff, but honestly, I love it. I love that she still has her one-on-one time.
The babies are on a routine where they go to bed at seven o’clock, and Blayke gets to stay up until about eight-thirty every night. So from seven to eight-thirty it’s just Adam and Blayke and me. We eat dinner together, we play board games, we might color or draw, read books. We run around, we play outside, we might ride bikes. It’s hard because, when we put the babies to sleep, it’s a time for Mom to be like, “Oh, I want to relax. I want to do this or that — or let me go sit in the tub.” I do that, but I’ll do that after, so I make sure that Blayke has time.
I also have a husband who like to have some time, too. It’s a process, but we make sure that Blayke gets an hour to two hours a day that’s not the weekend, that she’s feeling loved on. What she loves to do now is play with her cousins and play outside, so sometimes it’s just letting her go over to my sister’s house, and that makes her happy. We just do the best we can, and try to share our love across six girls!
OutDaughtered premieres Tuesday, May 10 at 10/9CT on TLC.