Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Devil in the Details

You guys know me well enough by now to know I'm a details person.  I'm a do-er.  In several of the news stories that have featured us, I seem to come off as a sort of task master.  Several people (who of course don't even know me) have criticized me on social media for being so focused on the details that I don't show gratitude for the blessings that I have.   I get it--I'm obsessive.

There are 24 hours in a day with 48 30-minute increments.  The au pairs can work 45 hours a week each week, therefore 90 hours of childcare.  I have 2 other women who I pay to help out with housework and childcare.  We have 5-7 volunteers who communicate with me weekly about our childcare needs.  Every day, we wash at least 20 bottles, each bottle with five parts.  We give 5 doses of vitamin D and probiotic supplements.  We change at least 20 diapers.  We restock at least 40 diapers.  We pick out 5 outfits and 5 sets of pajamas.  I prepare and serve dinner to at least 4 adults.  I empty three diaper pails.  I fill two vaporizers.  I feed our dog two meals a day in addition to comforting her when the kids overwhelm her.  I pay our bills, manage our investments, grocery shop, pay the folks who help with childcare, all while running my college planning practice and attempting to be a good friend and daughter to those that I love.

Sometimes it's too much.  Sometimes it feels like I'm holding it together with both hands. So yes, focusing on the schedule and the details sometimes comforts me.  Because you know what, this life--this life that I have now--it's scary.  I'm afraid of how we'll afford a life with five growing babies.  I worry about affording braces, prom dresses, and gas.  I worry about giving them an opportunity to see the world while protecting my husband's and my retirement.  I worry about college education, grad school, and weddings.  I worry about being able to protect my children from addiction, violence, and obsession.  I worry about time, lack of time, and too much time.  I worry about my children being a spectacle instead of special.  I worry about my children being treated as a unit instead of individuals.  I worry about my sweet puppy Ellie and how I can make her feel special in the wake of all of this. I worry. I worry a lot.

But then, I'm reminded of how I got here.  I worried about being childless. I worried about a big, creaky house that lacked the pitter patter of baby feet.  I worried I would miss the giggles, the sticky fingers, and the bear hugs.  I worried I would miss the joy.

So, today, I choose to overlook worry.  I choose to focus on the now.  On the gifts.  On the giggles.  On the good. I have no idea how we are going to make all of this work, but I do know that we've faced bigger challenges.  I have faith.



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Fun and Games





As much as pictures can show you the charm of our bundle, I thought you'd like to see some videos of recent interactions with the kiddos. 

Here is Izzy telling Grandma a very important story.

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Here is Clara, our resident engineer, learning how to manipulate the wheel on her high chair tray.

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Here's more of Clara, giggling with Jess.

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Here's Luke playing peek-a-boo with Grandma.  This will give you an idea of what his roar sounds like.  His sisters are not a fan of his roar.  It usually startles them--or causes Millie to give him the side-eye.


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Speaking of Millie side-eyes, here are a few of her funny faces.





Ava is continuing to be our strong-willed child.  She absolutely ADORES solids; however, one morning last week, she didn't care for whatever Dad served her, and she threw the bowl on the floor.  Perhaps we should work on her table manners?



Given that it's been so warm out, we even let Millie and Luke take a dip in the kiddie pool.  Izzy fell asleep before we could get outside, but she had a great time playing in the float with Mrs. Hope.  Millie, per usual, wasn't impressed with the pool, especially after Luke went #2 in the pool.  It was as if Millie looked at brother and then looked at me, saying, "Mom, please.  Poop in the pool?  Gross."


Izzy testing out the float.

Mom, please.  

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

I Still See Her


Our second miscarriage was particularly painful--both physically and emotionally.  I was 11 weeks along and needed surgery to remove our baby from my womb.  After some genetic testing, we came to learn that she was a girl who died from Turner's Syndrome.  The knowledge that our baby was a girl was both comforting and unsettling.  

As I've told you before, I returned to yoga as part of my healing process. In a heated vinyasa class, you sweat unlike ever before.  As I would sweat (and sometimes cry) through the poses, I would attempt to release the anger, sadness, fear, and inadequacy that I felt.  As I held a plank pose, I would think of the inner strength it takes to continue on after such a loss.  As I balanced in tree pose, I thought of all of the "breezes" in life that can cause a tree to bend but hopefully not break.  At the end of every yoga class comes my favorite part--savasana.  This is when the teacher dims the lights and plays soothing music as the students lie back, close their eyes and reflect on the practice.

One day after a particularly tough class, I laid back, closed my eyes, and began savasana.   

And that's when I saw her.  

In my mind's eye, I saw our angel of a daughter playing in the backyard in which I played as a child. She was wearing a sailor dress with a big white collar and she carried a stuffed Grover--the same one I used to carry as a child.  She was happy.  She was playful.  She was safe.  

I didn't know what to do with this vision.  I went home and tried to process it as I drove to and from work.  I tried telling my husband about it.  I tried telling my counselor about it.  I didn't know if I was supposed to feel comforted or sorrowful.  Or maybe both?  I couldn't make sense of this vision.

But I continued to see her.  At least once a week at the end of yoga class, I would close my eyes and she would appear.  She never seemed to be in pain or in danger.  

When I got pregnant last summer with the quints, I had to discontinue my yoga practice. Because of my high risk pregnancy, I wasn't able to exercise--with the exception of light swimming once we moved to Arizona.  When we returned home to Virginia and got the kiddos settled at home, one of the FIRST things I wanted to do was go to yoga.  

About six weeks ago I returned to my beloved studio in Charlottesville--FlyDog.  This place is full of some of the most kind, funny, thoughtful individuals you'll meet in Charlottesville.  If you're looking for a yoga community, please join us.  I'm honored to be a part of their tribe.  

After two or three classes back at FlyDog, I saw her again.  Our angel daughter.  She was still playing in the sandbox with Grover.  I was filled with emotion.  As joyful as I am to have my adorable quints in my world, there's still a hole in my heart from this missing daughter.  I called my mom and asked if she still had that Grover that I used to carry.   She did.  I ask her to send it to me in hopes that having Grover in my home would make me feel closer to my daughter.  

Grover arrived last week.  I wish I could tell you I felt better.  I don't.  I'm still trying to make sense of this sense of loss in the midst of such joy.  I'm sure so many of you can identify. Sometimes such immense joy can refract light onto that piece of sadness that seems to linger longer than most.  

While traveling for work last weekend, I watched The Shack.  If you haven't read the book, I highly recommend it.  The movie was also very good.  The story line involves a family whose young daughter is abducted and killed. Her father, Mack, goes back to "the shack" where this tragedy occurred.  Mack meets God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit at the Shack.  At one point in the movie, God allows Mack to see his beloved Missy.  Missy is playing in a beautiful meadow with other children alongside Jesus.  Mack is comforted by this sight, knowing Missy is happy, safe, and waiting for him in Heaven.

Seeing this made me realize that my angel girl is indeed safe and waiting for me in Heaven.  I can't wait to introduce her to the quints.  I know that it will be a glorious day when we are all reunited.  I do plan to tell the quints about their sister and I do plan to celebrate her as we grow as a family.  Tragedy lives in all of us, but I pray that God will show us the healing that comes in the morning.


  

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Quality Time with Quints

I apologize for the delay!  As you can imagine, things are busy. Thank you so much for the support and love you've sent our way.  I'll use this post as an update and then do another with some deeper thoughts.

As you can imagine, the kids are growing by leaps and bounds. I'll start with our oldest, Ava Lou, as we call her.  Ava Louise is a HUGE fan of smiling and solid foods.  She reminds me of Buddy the Elf.  Smiling is her favorite.  



Here is Ava with Merle, one of our au pairs, having some afternoon silly time.


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Clara is certainly finding her voice.  Clara is also developing into QUITE the Daddy's girl.  She absolutely adores Michael (as do all of our children).  When he comes in from work, she is one of the first to recognize his voice and demand his attention.  Here they are on our Mother's Day picnic at Cooper Vineyards.


Clara is also very good at playing with her siblings.  She loves to be in the crib with her sibling.  Here she is sitting with Izzy. 
Izzy and Clara (L to R)


Camille (Millie) is our funny girl.  She is the master of the side eye and her smiles just make my life better.






Millie is by far the most "caption able" of our children.  What do you imagine she's thinking here?  

And next is Luke.  Luke is the wild man.  He's just discovered he can roar, so he loves standing on your lap, holding his arms out wide, and roaring.  He's our Dino-Man.  We love it.  Luke is also very tender with his sisters.  When Izzy had an ear infection last month, Luke was one of the first to cheer her up.



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Luke naps well, especially in Mommy and Daddy's bed!



Luke is a Daddy's boy.  He absolutely loves hanging with Papa Bear.




Luke also loves hanging with his sisters.  Here he is having Bumbo time with Millie.



Isabelle (Izzy) is our youngest.  She's the party girl.  She loves to stay up late, especially when she can spend time with our Swedish au pair, Jess, and her friend Jennifer.  Izzy is such a social girl.  She loves being around other people.  Izzy unfortunately had two ear infections this month and had to do a series of antibiotic shots, which was absolutely no fun for anyone, especially Mommy (and Izzy).





In other news, we were thrilled to learn that sextuplets were born here in Virginia at VCU.  As we started to collect items to send to this sweet family, Ava definitely wanted to help Jess as we selected donations.


Thank you for your continued love and support!  We are very grateful!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Personality

Hello Again!

Many folks have been asking about the personalities of each of our five kiddos.  I've included some videos below to show you how these sweet babies are interacting with each other and us.

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Clara and Luke talk to each other during tummy time.

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Luke talks to Jess, one of the au pairs.

Millie LOVES her "screen time."  Here she is watching Swedish cartoons with Jess.
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Millie and Clara wake up from their naps and chat with each other.

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Izzy and Millie hang out together in Jess' bed.

Another fun event came this month.  Our dear friend and wedding photographer, Jack Looney, came to take family photos for us.  I had such a wonderful time designing the outfits for the quints to wear. A major thanks to Elizabeth Culpepper and Cotton Blossom Embroidery for the adorable ensembles.  

Ava, Clara, Millie, Luke, and Izzy

Ava, Clara, Millie, and Izzy.  I love Millie's thumbs up in this photo!

Our sweet (oversized) nursery

Ava, Clara, Millie, Luke, and Izzy

Isabelle loves her Daddy time

Millie snuggles Mom

In other news, Clara went to church!  We loved dressing her in some of the outfits my sister's daughter, Emma Kate, has worn in the past.

Clara can certainly rock a bonnet!


Finally, as we all relaxed on Easter Sunday after a wonderful Easter meal prepared by yours truly, Ava and Clara enjoyed some sister time.  

Ava and Clara


Michael and I spent some time basking in the joy known as Isabelle Frances Baudinet.


I also managed to escape to the Homestead for a little mom's weekend.  My very good friend Carla went with me.  We enjoyed lattes in bed, lots of sleep, trash TV, adult coloring books, and great company.  I'm so thankful to all of those that helped with the kiddos (esp. Michaels sister, Bridget)  during my absence.
That's all for now!  Our four month doctor's appointment went just fine.  Most of the kiddos are approaching 13 pounds with sweet little Ava following behind at 11 pounds.    Happy Spring!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Who Do They Look Like?

Hello again!

Many of our friends and family ask us, "Who do the quints look like?"  Well, I thought we'd see for ourselves.  Here are some photos as Michael as a baby.



And here are some photos of me as a child.




And here are our kiddos.  What do you think?

Clara

Luke

Ava

Millie

Isabelle

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Learning to Live in the Moment



Hello Again!

I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to write.  This month has been full of firsts.  From smiles to head turns to sleeping in the nursery, we are making great strides!

Still, there are moments that I'm totally overwhelmed.  When five babies are hungry and we only have two adults to feed them. When the first baby I bathe poops in the bath water.  When I realize I haven't been alone in my house since August.  All of these things can overwhelm me, but I'm trying to learn to hang my hat on the good moments.  The smiles, the coos, the cute outfits.  These moments keep my spirit afloat.  The other night, Millie was working on her smile.  Here's her progression.








Of course, smiling is hard work, so a nap is a necessary recovery method.


Smiling came a little more easily to Clara and Luke.

Happy Clara!

Luke loves selfies with Jess!

Smiles really started to come for Ava when we allowed her a bit of naked time.


Michael's parents were generous enough to host a shower for us in Connecticut.  Since traveling is difficult these days, we Skyped in to introduce our new family to Michael's family and friends. This was one of the first times I played dress up with the quints and boy was it fun!



L to R:  Millie, Clara, Izzy, Ava, and Luke


Izzy pretty much slept through the entire thing, but she loved cuddling with her sisters (see far right).



Luke quickly grew weary of all of this drama.


We were also happy to welcome Michael's mom's cousin, Terri, to meet the quints.  Millie especially loved her girl talk with Terri.


We were also thrilled to welcome my sister, mom, and Emma Kate (my eight-year old niece) this weekend.  The quints LOVED Emma Kate and her mom, Leigh Leigh!



Lastly, my friend Mairi hosted a little get together this weekend to officially welcome the quints home.  Thanks to my mom, the kiddos were ready for their close up.  
L to R:  Millie, Izzy, Luke, Clara, and Ava


Millie and Izzy


Michael and I loved seeing our friends and family for this special day.  I certainly had a moment when I looked around and realized that THESE are my children and THIS is my life.  Yes, that life is overwhelmingly chaotic, but it's full of love, joy and the sweetest smiles I've ever seen.  

The one thought I'll leave you with is this.  Know that in this time of hate, fear, and judgment, know that kindness is real.  Love exists.  People can and do give without expectation of anything in return.  Their is beauty in love, forsaking all things and all others.  

We thank each one of you for your love and support.  Without our family and friends, we wouldn't have made it to where we are today.
From our days in the NyICU in Arizona...
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To our insta-family in our Virginia home!