Thursday, December 7, 2017


Birthday suits!

I've always thought that wonderful was a synonym for terrific, fantastic, amazing, outstanding. The list goes on.  I like words--you know this already. 

However, today I stand corrected.  Wonderful means an instance to cause one to be filled with wonder.  A sense of wonder can preclude words, colloquialisms, and even action.  Wonder is a sense of amazement.  Of gratitude.

And wonder--that's what I have as I sit here in December of 2017.  We made it an entire year.  From singing Christmas carols to our five preemies in the NICU in Phoenix to singing happy birthday to five healthy, giggly babies, the lyrics of my life have changed quite a bit this year.  

Here are some photos of our celebration:

Family--notice the ultrasound photos on the table!



Luke, Millie, and Ava






Party hats!

In showing you all of this joy, I also want to be transparent about all of my feelings.  I do indeed feel joy.  And I feel wonder.  But I also feel sadness.  I long for a day of being a “normal” mom. 

I’d love to be able to run an errand to Staples with a chatty, bubbly baby(ies). 

I’d love to go to Target without someone asking me if I was on fertility drugs.

I would love to take a stroll with my kiddos without someone whipping out his/her camera to take a photo (without asking).  And then, of course, asking if we have a Facebook page. 

I would love to live moment to moment instead of worrying about that one day two weeks from now that I don’t think I’ll have enough help.

I would love to do all of these things, but the reality is, I can’t.  That isn’t my life and I’m coming to accept that.

I get to see five smiling faces each morning. 

I kiss five foreheads goodnight.

I change five diapers each morning.

I hear the harmony of five giggles during play time.

I hear the shrill screams of five (very healthy) lungs before dinner time.

I hang five stockings on my mantle piece.

I lug five car seats out to car.

I get the good with the bad.  But, here’s the thing, we all do.  We all take the good with the bad.  We all have days when we wonder if we’ll be able to get out of bed tomorrow.  We all get bad news.  We all get embarrassed. We all laugh until we cry.  We all tingle with love after hugging a loved one we haven’t seen in a while.

We are in this journey together.  Yes, mine looks a little different than yours, but it’s so important to honor your feelings and find comfort in the camaraderie of others.  You’re not alone.  We’re not alone, especially as we enter this beautiful holiday season.

So here’s to wonder.  Here’s the honesty. And here’s to grace.   

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Train of Thought

So, many of you know this.   A mom's brain never stops.  Ever. Here's a sample of my brain on a daily basis:

Wake Up

Oh mercy.  What time is it?  Is there a baby awake?
I'm exhausted.  What day is it?  
Why does it matter?  Weekends don't exist.
Ok, I'm up.  Let's do this.  It's 5:32 am and I've got at least 18 minutes before a kid wakes up.
I'll make dinner.
Wait, that laundry needs putting away.
Shoot, that lightbulb needs changing.  I'll change it on my way to the chest freezer.  And laundry.  I MUST. PUT. AWAY. THE. LAUNDRY.
Ok, lightbulb done.  Let's brown the meat for dinner while I put away baby bottles and prepare their breakfast.
Shoot the water cooler needs refilling.
I'll do that when I walk over to plug up my phone to charge.
Ok, phone charged, water cooler refilled and gracious, I forgot to pay the folks that help us with the kiddos.  I'll stop and do that while I go upstairs (I use my smart phone to pay bills).
Ok, upstairs and my face is clean and clothes on.  Gosh, I really need new tennis shoes.  I'm running these into the ground.
Oh well, another day.
Baby's awake.  And she stinks. Poop patrol!
And the meat is still on the stove top.  Ok, change diaper and drain meat.
Give baby puffs while I pour meat into casserole.
Did I put gas in the car?
What time do I need to leave for work?
Does my husband have enough leftovers from last night for lunch today?
Oh and he wants me to take his blazer to the dry cleaners.  I must remember.
I should sell some of our baby stuff on Facebook.  I'll add it to the list for tomorrow.
Shoot, two more babies awake.  No more thinking-must start feeding the masses.

Nap Time
Oh sweet goodness, they're all asleep.  
Today Show.  I need the Today Show.  At least the first seven minutes.
And coffee.  Ok, refill Keurig with water, wipe the counters while I wait for coffee and grab my computer to work on email while listening to the news.
Ah, yes.  I can do this.  This is amazing.
Ok, 18 new work emails and 4 personal.  Not bad for my busy season at work.
Wait, phone is ringing.  It's the early intervention folks.  They want to talk about the kiddos' routine.
Ok, if I'm going to be on the phone, I'll pause the Today Show and sweep while I talk.
Sweeping done, phone done. 
Today Show. 
Rewarm Coffee.
Email.  Must keep up with email.
Ok, that's done.  I've got 14 free minutes before babies wake.   I could organize family photos?  Prep the guest room for the guests this weekend?  Plan the menu for next week/order groceries online?  Ok, I'll do the menu and the groceries.  We have to eat.  What are we out of?  
Shoot.  We need more baby food.  We. ALWAYS need more baby food.  How are we going to afford this life?!!
I should call our financial planner.
While I'm up, I might as well sweep off the back deck.  It looks terrible.
Rewarm coffee.
And there's a baby awake.  
I can read her a book while I stretch my back.  No problem.
It's cold in here.  Kiddos need winter jackets.  
I'll run to the attic to get those before things get nuts.
Speaking of coats, I need one too.  But nothing fits like it used to.  I should really go shopping. Oh well.  Another day.
And now three babies are awake.  No more thinking.
Rewarm coffee.

Witching Hour/Bed Time
Oh gosh, are we done yet?
Why must every one of my babies insist on playing with the SAME toy?
Annnnd the meltdowns begin.  Ok, let's feed.
Clara ate.  She burped, right?  And Izzy ate, but no burp.  Luke has eaten and burped but needs to be changed.  
Millie hasn't eaten.  Ava is half way done but needs her bottle rewarmed.
Do we have enough PJs for tonight?  Are they warm enough?
I should run upstairs and turn on the heater.
And I should put dinner in the over to warm.
Do we need breadsticks?  Yes, I'll go get those out of the chest freezer and take out the garbage at the same time.
Ok, the babies have eaten.  They need new diapers and PJs.
I should do laundry tonight.  I'll go collect all of the laundry so that it's all in one place.
Clara just spit up on herself.  She needs new PJs.
Dad wants to read a book.  Go get one for him--gosh, think.  What's age appropriate?  Should it have a story line or just a touch and feel book? 
Have I practiced their "Mamas" and "Babas" enough with them today?  How much tummy time did they get?
Oh, the breadsticks.  Right.
Let's start putting babies to bed.
Don't forget Clara's paci and Izzy's blanket and book.
And Millie's penguin.  Oh it's in the dryer.  Hang on one sec.
And Luke--he needs a teether for bed.
And Ava should go down first because it takes her longer to settle.
I should set the table.
And restock diapers on the changing table.
And wine.  I need wine.  Soon.
Oh and the diaper pail is full.
I'll take that out on my way to take the breadsticks out of the oven.
Ok, babies are down and quiet.
Now I need to serve dinner. Is it warm enough? Well rounded?  Does everyone like it?  Do we have enough for leftovers for lunch?
Wine.  I need wine.
And I should shower?  Oh mercy I'm exhausted.
Wine.  Shower.  Bed.

And then I do it again, right?  Right.  This is the hardest job I've ever loved.


Saturday, October 7, 2017


There are so many things that I'm discovering about motherhood. You moms who came before me, you keep really good secrets. You've made this whole mommy thing look easy.  Granted, my former dance teacher always said, "Only the best make it look easy," so, I guess you guys are the best.  Way to go!! You've got this whole mommy thing down pat. Maybe I will get the hang of this sooner rather than later?  One can only hope.

I've come to discover that MOM equates to CEO.  In my former life, I ran a small service based non-profit.  I currently manage a medium-sized college counseling practice.  Still, my title as MOM requires the most executive management skills that I possess.  And I'm sure this rings true in many households across the country.

As the mom, I am the chief executive officer.  I make HR decisions about who cares for my children and when. I make financial decisions in buying brand vs. generic groceries or medications. I make our monthly budget and do the budget/actual analysis. I make decisions on what the children should wear; what they eat and when they eat it; where they go and how long they stay; how long they sleep; where they sleep; in what attire they sleep.  I decide what the family eats every week.  I decide how we allocate leftovers and how we organize the refrigerator.  I plan family trips and the supplies to get us there.  I plan family holidays: decor, invitations, menu, house cleaning regimen, gifts, attire, etc.  And of course, I worry.  I worry about milestones. I worry about social skills.  I worry about sleep patterns.  I worry about the health of my little family.  I worry about those that I lead.

Moms, you understand this.  We make countless decisions every. single. dang. day.  We are asked countless questions--by our kids, by our mothers, our mothers in law, our childcare helpers, our coworkers, our bosses, and of course, who could forget perfect strangers in the grocery store.

What kind of baby food is best?
What sleeping philosophy do you follow?
Do you allow your baby to sleep with a lovie?  Why?
What will the children wear for their first birthday?
Have you lowered the cribs yet?
Have you baby-proofed your house yet?  You are SO close to crawling.

I tell you.  The questions.  They are everywhere.  I can't escape them.  And I realize, I probably won't escape for quite some time.  I guess I just need to face facts and take a deep breath.

As moms, we must be tactful, yet strategic.  Empathetic, yet firm.  Listening, yet advocating.  Thoughtful, but not overbearing.


There isn't one.   I know.  I know.  All of my wise friends say it's just about integrating the role of mom into the person you were before you had kids.  That sounds really good, but it's certainly not perfect in my life.  Mom takes up about 65% of my world, if not more.  The remaining 35% has to be squished into my role as a wife, the work that I love, my family, my yoga practice, and all the rest.

All of this to say, Mamas, you have life skills.  If and when you decide you want to re-enter or continue in the workforce, I believe in your skills.  You know how to manage and how to lead.  Mamas are a powerful force in this world that deserves to be celebrated and respected.  I know I have a new respect for the female race.

MOM=CEO, you betcha.  Bring it on, world.

Tupperware is the best thinking cap.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Thank you for your support following my last blog.  Body image and self respect are so important, especially to mothers.  Thank you for honoring this issue and helping me work through my own emotions during this tranformative time.

I had a bit of an epiphany earlier this week and I thought I'd share it with you.  I had a client meeting in Charlottesville and following the meeting, I thought I would go for a walk/run.  Granted, I don't run as much as I used to, but I thought it would be nice to clear my head (and listen to some good '80s rock music).

As I began to keep pace, I realized how nice it was to be outside.  To breathe in the fresh, autumn air.  To see the afternoon sun spread its fingers through the trees.  To see a man and his fuzzy dog on an afternoon sidewalk stroll.  To see an older gentleman tending his pink, feathery dahlias as his wife watched.  It was as if everything on Earth stood still.  Until......SPLAT.

I fell.  On my face.  As I rolled over and surveyed the damage, I realized my favorite running tights were ripped as blood ran down my knee.  What's more,  my hand was bleeding as crumbly bits of gravel rained down from my hands.  Crap.  Double crap.

At that moment, I had a choice.  I could hobble back to my car, drive home, drown my sorrows in Chardonnay and Milano cookies, and dramatically declare this the "Worst day ever" on social media.

Or, I could roll over and keep walking.  Keep breathing that fresh air.  Keep seeing the good.  Keep savoring the moment.

So, I did.  I finished my walk and enjoyed my moment.  When I returned to my car, I thought to myself, "You know, that was tough."

"But I am tougher."

That was my take away from that day.  Falling down is tough, but I am tougher.  Raising five babies is tough, but I am tougher.  Working full time while trying to be the best mom I can imagine--that's tough.  But, I'm tougher.

So, I encourage you.  Recognize when things are tough.  But remember.  You are tougher.

My friends Anna, Brook, and I.  Thumbs up, everyone!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Whose Body? Nobody.

Ever since we came home from Arizona (when the kids were about 3 months old), I began to struggle with body image.  Well, I didn't just struggle.  My body image completely disintegrated.  I didn't (and don't) really like the way I look anymore.  

Before I had kids, I was by no means a skinny-minnie.  I was a healthy, fit woman who prided herself in being healthy and happy. Of course, there was always room for a night of Oreos and my favorite Chardonnay, but overall, I was content with the way I looked.  I liked to shop for a new item of clothing every now and then and I wasn't embarrassed to tell the dressing room professional what size clothes I needed.

Michael and I in Ephesus, Turkey

Athens, Greece (trying not to rush my husband through all of the historic sites)

When I got pregnant with quintuplets, the doctors said I needed to gain weight.  And fast.  In fact, that was one of the first things that Dr. Elliott told me.  After asking me how tall I was (5'7''), he told me that my body could indeed handle carrying more weight and I should begin eating 4,000 calories a day.  Every day.  I met with a UVA dietician who counseled me on how to get more calories into this body during every meal.  Michael prepared all kinds of high calorie meals for me.  And then there was the ice cream.  I ate so. much. ice cream.  I know, I know.  It sounds delightful.  But it wasn't.  I was nauseous every day and especially every night.  

Imagine having the stomach flu.  The gross kind in which you don't want visitors or Netflix.  You're just too miserable.  You're huddled on the sofa with a fuzzy blanket and some chicken broth, hoping you can fall asleep in order to escape the churning in your stomach.  Then, your spouse walks up to you with a bucket of ice cream and says, "You're still about 1,000 calories short.  Dig in."  You honestly want to crawl in a hole.  A deep, deep hole, preferably one with your own personal puke bucket and an electric blanket.  

That was my life for the first five months of pregnancy.  I didn't glow.  I wasn't giddy.  I hardly told anyone I was even pregnant. Doctors tell you to gain weight early in a high order multiple pregnancy for a few reasons.  One is to nourish the babies, of course.  But the other reason is that your uterus grows so much so that it squishes your stomach, making it nearly impossible to fill it very full of anything.  So after a certain point in a high order multiple pregnancy, you aren't able to gain much weight because your stomach won't allow it.  I know, it's terrifying.  I was scared every day of this pregnancy.  Every day. Fear and nausea.  Mostly fear. 

When delivery day came, that fourth day of December, the doctors weighed me.   I'd gained 100 pounds from my pre-baby weight.  100 pounds.  I practically gained a Backstreet Boy! Everyone said the weight would come off with breast feeding and the blood pressure medicine.  Well, they were right. The weight started to come off.  First 10, then 20, then 30, then 50, then 70 and 80 pounds.  And then, it stopped.  No more weight came off.  I have an extra 20 pounds that refuses to depart.  

This is delivery day with Dr. Chavira (L) and Dr. Elliott (R).  I love how relaxed and joyful they look. 
I know, overall, it's great.  I know.  But 20 pounds is still a major body image shift.  None of my clothes fit the way they used to (if they fit at all).  I consistently feel shame and sadness when I step into my closet.  My stomach will never look the same.  I've been diagnosed with level 1-2 diastasis recti, which is a medical condition in which the muscles in your abdomen separate during pregnancy.  And sometimes, they don't go back together.  We hope mine do, but we can't be sure.  Oh joy.  And the skin on my stomach is wrinkly and gross.  I won't show you a picture.  You'd be scarred for life, believe me.  But it's ugly.  I hate looking at myself in the mirror.  I usually shudder if I do get a passing glance.

I realize this all sounds very superficial, I do.  I have five healthy, silly babies whom I absolutely adore.  I have the family I've longed and prayed for so many lonely nights and empty holidays.  I constantly hear baby giggles and baby burps.  I fold tiny pink pants and watch Super Why more than I'd prefer.  Blessings truly abound in the Quint Castle.
Sometimes I hate myself for even feeling this way about my body.  I often questioned whether or not I should even write this blog.  But, I thought, moms need to hear this.  We need to feel less alone. Less ashamed. Less sadness.  

I thought I was making progress on this front until a few nights ago.  I bought the children matching elf pajamas for Christmas (yes, I plan ahead.  It's a sickness).  I even bought Michael a Santa suit. We love Christmas in our house.  One of the things I love most about my husband is his ability to sing any and all Christmas songs.  It makes my heart so very happy.

Anyways, I bought the kids and Michael something to wear for Christmas Eve.  Michael and I were discussing this and he said that if he was going to be Santa, I needed to dress as Mrs. Claus.  We found a (tasteful) Mrs. Claus outfit that Michael thought was fun.  He encouraged me to order it.  I thought for a moment and realized, "I can't wear that--I'll look horrible.  My old body would look fine in that, but I can't put this body in that.  I would rather be invisible."  

I would rather be invisible

Yes, that's me right now.  I'd rather you see my smiley children and my handsome husband--not me.  I'm mad at myself for being consumed by this--and that only makes me more sad and more confused.  I wish I had more time to eat healthily and to work out, but I just don't.  Which makes me sadder--and then angrier.  I feel torn between being selfish and superficial and then being angry at myself for being selfish and superficial.  And then angry that I don't/can't do anything about it.  It's a swirl of emotions--none of which I'm very fond or proud.

I realize that self love and self worth is a daily decision, and I'm trying to focus on the power I feel in that my body sustained a quintuplet pregnancy for 32 weeks and one day.  I try to focus on the fact that this body has kept those five little lives safe and happy for almost 10 months.  

Yes, my body has changed, but oh my heart.  My heart will never be the same.

You have probably seen this photo before.  This was about 30 weeks pregnant.  I'd gained about 80 lbs at that point.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Au Pair Means Love

I know, I know..I don't speak French.  Au pair doesn't really mean love in English, but to me, it absolutely does.  I haven't mentioned Merle and Jess in a little while and I just wanted you guys to know how much I love them.  When we first considered the au pair program, I didn't know what to think.   A stranger comes into your home and sees you in your pajamas with no make up? On the first day?  That doesn't seem like something I'll like.  And what if they don't like my cooking?  What if they don't like the way Michael blows his nose?  What will we do?!!

Well, one of the privileges of having five kids at once is that you can't sweat the small stuff anymore.  Believe me, it's not an active choice.  I don't choose to let go of the small stuff.  I'm not that mindful or stress-free.  I just don't have time to sweat the small stuff anymore.  So, I let the au pairs see me in pajamas on the first day.  I didn't change the way I cooked.  I didn't worry how messy my house was.  I just opened my home--and my heart--and as Elsa would say, let it go.

And let me tell you.  I'm such an advocate for the au pair program.  These women are my family.  They know our moms very well.  They love our puppy.  And most importantly, they love our children.  And our children love them.  Luke has already learned to give kisses to Jess.  Clara's eyes light up as soon as Merle walks in the room.  

I love the traditions we've already established--Sunday night family pizza.  Monday nights watching the Bachelor or Dancing with the Stars.  We seem to finish each other sentences and laugh before the other has finished a joke.  I'm so honored these two women chose our family.  Here are some of my favorite au pair photos.

A little afternoon play time with Jess and Merle while Mom is at work.

Ava wouldn't sleep one night while Merle was on duty, so cue the silly face selfie time!

Ava and Merle

Millie and Jess

Luke and Jess 

Luke loves "his Jess"

A Beach Trip!

Yes, we took the quints to the beach.  I know, you all think I'm nuts.  I am, in a a lot of ways, but when your brother in law gets married to a lovely lady, you pack up the quints and head to see the hitching!

Michael's brother Thomas married Thea in early August in Virginia Beach.  We've been planning all along to attend, and as the days grew near, I started to go into major planning mode.  Jess, one of our au pairs and I, strategized about which supplies would provide us the most use.  We brainstormed which toys would take up the least amount of space while providing the most entertainment.  We trained the kids on sleeping in the Pack 'N' Play; we drew diagrams of the car and how we would fit all of the supplies in the limited space we had.  Remember, we needed three Pack 'N' Plays, two swings, one Snoo, and two Rock 'N' Plays.  And that was just to sleep!  Then, we needed bottles, formula, solid food, lovies, clothes (play and dress), diapers, wipes, medicine, and the list goes on and on and on.  Well, my project management skills served me well (thank goodness for that class in grad school!) and the trip went off without a glitch.

Thea made a beautiful bride and we were honored to be there with her and her family.  We rented a house in Virginia Beach and welcomed any and all helping hands that could spare a few minutes from wedding festivities.  Michael participated in the wedding itself; the quints, au pairs and I joined for the reception.

The kiddos had a marvelous time!  I, on the other hand, desperately need a major nap.  Maybe a month's worth?
Millie, Isabelle, and Luke

Daddy Bear and Clara Bear

Mama and her Millie Magnet (always attached to Mama!)

KK and Luke are ready to hit the beach!

Ava's ready for fun in the sun!

Ava and Grandma

Luke, Chris, Brian, and Isabelle

Love this photo of Ava holding onto Aunt Bridget

Grandpa and Clara

Clara wearing one of Mom's old church dresses

Millie wearing one of Mom's old church dresses

Ava wearing one of Mom's old church dresses

Izzy wearing one of Mom's old church dresses

Luke all of a sudden looks like a little boy!

Grandma, Luke, and Millie

Merle and Ava

One big happy family!

The extended Baudinet family with the bride and groom

Michael's brother Brian and his soon to be bride Janelle.  Can't wait 'til next summer!

The five big Baudinet kids with the five little Baudinet kids (plus Grandma and Grandpa)

Mom and Millie Magnet

Luke is too cool for school

Our traveling circus--it's so nice to have big, strong uncles!

Chris and Isabelle are shocked that we have to go home!

Nothing like a floppy hat and friends

One of many family photos

Telling secrets

"Here, taste my finger.  Do you think that's sweet potato?  Or poop?"