Army principles prepare Soldier for surprise family additions
April 19, 2013
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. (April 19, 2013) -- "We were very shocked when we heard we were having quadruplets," said Sgt. Lee Schiefelbein. "It really isn't something we exactly prepared for, but we are so happy for each and every one of them."
Aiden, Brea, Curtis and Dominic Schiefelbein were born on Nov. 19, 2012, at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Md. Five months after the Schiefelbein family welcomed their bundles of joy into the world, the busy family has found having routines, with some help, is the only way to balance military life and taking care of multiple babies.
"We are still getting used to having a larger family now," said Lee, food service sergeant, 529th Regimental Support Company, 4th Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). "It has been a challenge that I am happy to have taken on."
Lee works at the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va. dining facility [DFAC] serving the Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen that eat there every day.
"I wake up at 3 a.m. every morning to get to work by 4 a.m.," he said. "My day at the dining facility isn't over until about 2 p.m., and then I head home to help my wife with the babies."
Pfc. Tony Girod, who works for Lee, said how amazed he was to hear that his squad leader had quadruplets.
"I give him and his wife so much props for what they do," said Girod, food service specialist, 529th RSC, 3d U.S. Inf. Reg. (The Old Guard). "I know that having children in the military is challenging. I have one kid myself. He is able to do his job, and with no problem, after having quadruplets."
He also applauded Lee's leadership style.
"He communicates with us really well. I feel like I have a good grasp of what's going on because of him," said Girod. "If he has an appointment for his children, he always calls and lets us know what things need to be done. It's got to be hard, but he makes it look easy."
While Lee is working at the DFAC, serving meals and supervising his Soldiers, his wife is usually at home taking care of the little ones. For this reason, Lee said despite how tired he may be after work, his priority is to help out as much as he can at home.
"It certainly isn't easy, but we make it happen," said Alexis Schiefelbein. "To keep up all of the things I needed to do for the children, I used to write everything down. Now I have the schedule pretty much memorized."
On average, the infants go through about 25 ounces of powdered formula, 24 diapers, more than 30 bibs and three to four outfit changes every day.
"We are getting everything down to a science," said Lee. "We have a pretty good rotation when it comes to the feeding and changing diapers. When you have four babies that eat every three to four hours, you need to figure out the best way to take care of everything."
After Alexis feeds each infant, Lee helps burp them and put them to bed. As the babies wake up, the ready parents create an assembly line of diaper and clothes changing.
"It is very time consuming to go anywhere because we have to do so much to get them ready. It takes at least an hour to get everybody into the car," said Lee. "We have to map out our week, and that same idea is also applied at work."
At the DFAC, Lee helps plan and assign work areas for Soldiers weeks in advance as it pertains to the meals and times they will serve. Lee said he relies on a key military principle to ease his role at work and at home.
"You know the saying, 'If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,'" said Lee. "That is something I learned from the Army, and it has really helped my family."
Alexis said she is proud of her husband and the way he handles both responsibilities; Soldier and dad.
"He is an amazing man," said Alexis. "I know he is worn out after work. We are both tired a lot, but he does a great job."
Lee credits this ability to the strength of his wife and the assistance of others.
"I have a tough wife. I love her so much. Plus, her mother lives in Pittsburgh, so she comes down to visit whenever she can," said Lee. "It is great to have family and friends that are able to be there."
Lee said when the family needed money, food and baby supplies, members of The Old Guard and other groups took up a donation and collected gifts.
"We are so thankful to all those who helped us and continue to help us," Lee said. "It was unbelievable all the support that we get from these people we don't know. We are very blessed."