But if they won't be wealthy parents, they're determined to be good ones. In the church basement, they take a Christian parenting class, watching a video about the day's topic: teen-age rebellion.
* From day one, the job of the parents is to get control of the children. They must learn to submit to your rule.
* Once the family has been rejected as the social group, the child will take the markings of the new social order -- music, hairstyle, verbiage.
It's scary, this fire-and-brimstone talk about raising kids. But it's also hard to imagine the little people who now completely rely on their parents having purple hair and listening to heavy metal. Ruth stifles a yawn, and David says softly: "At this point, we just want to get through the nights."
Afterward, a woman stops David to hand him a plastic bag: "Snowsuits," she says. "You can use them come winter." He thanks another parishioner for the banana pudding and accepts a camera from an elderly lady who wants baby pictures.
Inching toward the exit, the Goods are stopped by a young woman who holds up her own infant and asks: "Look familiar?"
They oooh and aaaah over the baby, who weighs more than twice theirs.
L "Everywhere you turn," says David, "babies, babies, babies."
Ruth met David in the sixth grade, but the two didn't begin dating until their senior year at North Harford High School in Pylesville. The friendship turned romantic after Ruth discovered David had a '68 Mustang. She loved the car and agreed to go to the homecoming dance with him.
They dated through college. When the Mustang was totaled and Ruth stuck around, David knew things were serious.
Their wedding in 1989 -- 300 guests and a horse-drawn carriage at his parent's 57-acre sheep farm -- helped prepare them for life lived in a big way.
What they didn't realize was how quickly sadness would follow that celebration. Just months after they were married, her mother learned she had ovarian cancer. The diagnosis came the same week that her father, who had developed complications from diabetes, began kidney dialysis.
In April 1990, the couple moved into her parents' home. They see similarities between that part of their past and the present. Coordinating doctor visits for two sick people took about as much time as arranging care for five babies. The couple began keeping a journal, a precursor to the one they now use for their children, to track her parents' diet, appointments and health. They sometimes slept in shifts, so someone would be awake if her parents called out in the night.
Those illnesses, coupled with the natural stress of adjusting to married life, made that first year their most difficult.
"When my parents got ill, I clammed up," Ruth says. "I didn't want to talk about it. That was a big hurdle."
Says David: "That stretched our marriage more than this. We had to look at each other and say, 'OK, this is going on in our family, but we have to keep things going between us.' That was the time when our marriage either made it or it didn't."
Like now, the church pitched in -- preparing meals, offering rides and sending cards. Parishioners also were there when Ruth's mother died on Mother's Day 1991 and her father 10 months later.
The couple then began to think seriously about starting a family of their own. They also bought an 80-year-old farmhouse and devoted their free time to renovating it. Initially, they chalked up their lack of success getting pregnant to grief, stress and exhaustion.
In the back of her mind, though, Ruth harbored a fear that she, like her mother, would get ovarian cancer.
The couple felt an urgency that most couples their age don't. It was brought on by advice from a doctor who cared for Ruth's mother. "For us, there was this ticking-clock issue," David says. "The doctor's idea was: 'Have your family early and get your hysterectomy because you just don't know.' "
Help from their friends
Six children and one grandchild between them, volunteers Mary Akers and Nancy Knopp are veterans at baby care. They can distinguish hungry cries from sick cries, change a diaper with one hand and feed two babies at once.
Mrs. Akers volunteers on Fridays, her only weekday off from work, a decision that mystifies her husband. But she grew up with Ruth's mother and rocked Ruth as a baby, so there was never a doubt where she would be when the babies arrived.
These women -- along with many others in the church -- knew these would be difficult days for Ruth, particularly without her parents there. While they can't fill that void, they can offer support. Most are dedicated to helping the Goods through the babies' first year.
"We'll start the mass feeding," Mrs. Akers says, scooping a whimpering Amanda out of her crib.
At 10 weeks, the quintuplets eat every four hours, and the Goods have two volunteers nearly all the time. The shifts typically run from 7 a.m. to noon, noon to 5 p.m., 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and the least-popular 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.