Julie Carles is in the record books, though for a reason she likely never could have predicted. She is one of only 27 mothers worldwide who has given birth to identical quadruplets. The entertaining documentary Four of a Kind explores this obstetrical phenomenon, and gives us an intimate perspective on the challenges associated with raising such a large brood.
Julie and her husband Jose were having difficulty conceiving at first, but ultimately found success within the first year of their marriage. When they discovered they were having quadruplets, they were gripped by both overwhelming joy and crippling fear. They were warned of the risks. The babies - one or all of them - stood only a 20% chance of surviving the birth and thriving without defects. Julie herself might not make it through what would certainly be a difficult pregnancy and birthing process. Doctors even gave them the option of terminating two of their children for the benefit of the others. But the couple remained undeterred and committed.
The filmmakers utilize video footage from the delivery room where the couple's four miracle babies first entered the world two months early. From there, we see them grow and form an inseparable bond over the course of five years. They come to rely on one another and the cocoon of love that is their home. This proves tricky during their first days of school when they must learn to step outside the comfort zone of their sibling unit and engage with other children.
Along the way, the film explores the steps to nurturing individuality among children who are identical in nearly every respect, and the fragility of finding a balance when the parental demands are so overwhelming. To assist in this effort, Julie travels to meet with a few mothers who share in her unique situation, and they offer sensible and compassionate advice that all parents could find illuminating.
Four of a Kind may portray a domestic life on steroids, but it never loses sight of the enormous blessing it represents. The film is sweet-natured in its tone, and thought provoking in its approach to the intricacies of child development.