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For their own good
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WESLEY CHAPEL - Until now, they have been known as babies A, B, C, D, E and F.
This week the Byler sextuplets are no longer alphabet babies. Mom Karoline and dad Ben can start coming up with some actual names.
On Monday, Karoline had what many moms-to-be refer to in online forums as "the big ultrasound." Although the primary purpose for the screening is to make sure the babies are healthy - they were - the exciting part comes when the technician can point to certain body parts or their absence and say "it's a boy" or "it's a girl."
Karoline, Ben, two nurses and her obstetrician, Dr. Karen Raimer, piled into the tiny exam room at Bayfront Medical Center for the first opportunity to find out the genders.
It's not always possible. A lot depends on how a baby is positioned.
The suspense mounted as the nurse spread the warm gel across Karoline's belly and turned on the machine.
The identification process started at the bottom, where Baby A nestled.
They saw everything, from the brain to the spine, to the kidneys to the legs and toes to the tiny hands. All appeared normal.
Last came the gender. Did they want to know?
"Yes, " Karoline said.
A boy. They had picked out one boy name, Brady Christopher, so that was good.
On to Baby B. Same drill.
And Baby C?
Same for Baby D. The nurse even shot a clear picture of the evidence in his case. It's circled with a broken line and reads "Boy!!!"
"I thought, "The next two have to be girls, " said Karoline, 29, who was envisioning a 4-2 split.
Next came Baby E. Karoline, by now watching the screen intently, knew what to look for this time.
"I'm not a doctor, but I see a penis, " she said.
By this time, Karoline, said she was in shock. Ben, on the other hand, was excited at the idea of having enough boys someday for a basketball team.
What if all six were boys?
"Six boys would be craziness, " Karoline said. "I kept saying, "I cannot, I cannot, I cannot have six boys." She imagined her future grocery bills and panicked inside.
By the time it came to look at Baby F, the nurse wasted no time looking at the other stuff first. She went "straight for the kill."
The image on the screen had the doctor shouting.
"It's a girl! It's a girl! We have our princess!"
A mix of nervousness and relief washed over Karoline, who admitted feeling glad when she first learned her first child, 3-and-a-half-year-old Zoe, was a girl. At least Zoe would have a little sister, and they could share a room and wear all those cool big sister/little sister coordinates from Gymboree.
The gender mix presents a few challenges. First, the Bylers have to swap one of the two pink car seats that a friend bought as a shower gift. Next, they have to come up with four more boy names. The only new one they considered so far is Hunter.
Karoline toyed with using one of her girl names, Mackenzie, for a boy. Ben vetoed that idea.
They also have to decide which of the two girl names to cut: Mackenzie Margaret or Hannah Arline. That's not easy, as each name honors a grandmother.
Now, they are leaning toward keeping Mackenzie Margaret, a move sure to disappoint grandma Arline.
What about using it for the next baby, someone half-jokingly suggested.
"Not if I have anything to do with it, " said Karoline, who had fertility treatments for this pregnancy due to a medical condition that affects her ovaries. "I would like to have my ovaries removed."
TO HELP: Friends of the Bylers are planning a fundraiser for them on July 28 at Idlewilde Baptist Church on Dale Mabry Highway.
For more information on the Bylers, visit their Web site at http://bylerbunch.com/
For previous stories on the Bylers, visit the Times Web site at www.tampabay.com.