Saturday, October 7, 2017

MOM=CEO

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.

WHERE IS THE BALANCE?

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

Tough

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.

Onward!
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?"

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Scrumptious Solids

Long time no blog!

I apologize it's taken me so long to update you.  As you can imagine, life flies by these days.  Well, time flies, but the days are long.  SOOOOOO long.  I've started wearing a pedometer and I'm averaging 9 miles a day--and that's just taking care of babies!  I can't imagine what my total will be when I actually have time to work out.  When I do find some spare time,  I'm usually cleaning the house, making dinner, loving on our dog Ellie, or catching up with one of my wonderful friends.

Overall, though, things have been going well in our little corner of the world.  Four of the kiddos have teeth!  Millie is leading the way with five (almost six) teeth.  We used to joke that she would steal the other kids' teeth during the night.  But then, Luke got two teeth, soon followed by Isabelle and Clara.  Only the little peanut, Ava Louise, is still without a pearly white.

As most parents will tell you, with teething comes interrupted sleep.  Cue the music of doom (DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNN).  The kids had (past tense) thankfully started sleeping through the night, but with the appearance of teeth came the night wakings.  It wouldn't be bad if just one child had this, but pretty much every child has this off and on, and it changes with the child (and frequency) each night.  To say Michael and I are exhausted is the understatement of the century.  We need a new word for exhausted.

In other news, solid food is such a treat for these little ones!  Gerber has generously supplied us with delicious food to nurture our growing gaggle.  We absolutely LOVE their products, especially the fruit and veggie mixes.  We even eat their foods for breakfast.  Luke will gobble up any Gerber food that comes mixed with their cereals.  That's his favorite way to start the day!

Here are some food photos of our kiddos chowing down on their favorite Gerber yummies:



Ava is ready for more!

Millie and Luke hold hands during lunch time

Millie REALLY enjoyed her Gerber sweet potatoes!

Isabelle, Millie, Ava and Luke enjoy snack time

Clara, Izzy and Luke enjoy their Gerber biscuits--yum yum!!

Izzy says carrots taste better when you wear them!
We love our group meal times--thank you, Gerber!!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Baptism Blessings

Good Afternoon from QuintLand!

My gracious it's been a whirlwind summer.  I don't think I even have words for how tired yet simultaneously exhilarated I feel.  Exhausterated?  That's exhausted and exhilarated--yep, that's me.

I'd love to tell you more about the baptism of Ava, Clara, Millie, Luke, and Isabelle.  Michael and I always knew we would want it to be a small, private service in the church near our home.  We aren't much for a spectacle and we realized that baptizing five kiddos in one church service would make for quite a long service for any churchgoer.

Michael's friend and college roommate for many years (Nick) decided to begin the process to study to become a priest in 2012.  Nick has been a force of good in our lives.  His kindness, generosity and general love of life have brought such joy to Michael and me.  We have memories of bonfires at Nick's house....memories of playing with Nick's golden retriever George outside under the shade of his front yard oak tree.  I even have a memory of going to dinner with Nick and Michael on the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville.  We could barely walk down the mall without some of Nick's friends (or students) stopping to say hello and offer a hug.  Nick taught Spanish before he became a priest and parents/students alike are attracted to his kindness and genuine care of others.  When it came time to baptize the quints, we could think of no other man to welcome our children into the love of Jesus.

Having studied for several years now,  Nick recently became a deacon in the Catholic church and gladly accepted our invitation to baptize the children.  We realized then that this baptism was going to be one of the most special days of our lives.
Michael and Nick on our wedding day in 2011


Nick is even an excellent dancer!

So now that we had a very special man to baptize our kiddos, I started to think about what they would wear.  You must remember that I'm from Alabama, so christening gowns are truly an art form (and an investment!).  I'm pretty sure you can claim a southern christening gown on your taxes as an asset.  It's that important!

Well, looking at my need for five christening ensembles and our meager family budget, I started to worry.  I wondered about borrowing from friends.  I wondered about renting (is there even a market for that?  Rent the Runway baptism style?).  I wondered about defying tradition and wearing something more casual (my mother would NEVER stand for this).  I wondered about buying one outfit and baptizing them one weekend at a time (so five baptism weekends?  No dice.  My catering budget would be through the roof!)  As I chatted with mom about this, she understood my worries.  We wanted the children to look like the angels they are, but we simply didn't know how we would afford custom outfits for all of them.

Well, God sent us an angel.  A very, very talented angel--a company by the name of Linens by Loraine in my hometown of Selma, Alabama.  Linens by Loraine has done beautiful custom work for my sister's children and one day as Mom was chatting with the creative genius behind the company, something beautiful happened.  Linens by Loraine offered to partner with our family to create baptism ensembles.

Without ever seeing the children in person, Linens by Loraine created five custom ensembles.  All in the course of five weeks.  I measured each of the children and sent metrics to who I called the Angels in Alabama.  The Angels took these measurements and created five masterpieces.  These masterpieces are French hand sewn, complete with French lace.  All of the handwork was done by Sarah Catherine.  If you are ever in the market for beautiful custom work for your children, please check out Linens by Loraine.  They can be reached at 334-872-4467.  They can obviously work with clients from any location!

Thanks to Linens by Loraine,  each child looked absolutely perfect.  We hosted Michael's and my family for a reception afterwards.  It was truly a joyous gathering as we welcomed our children into the Christian faith.

When I was a child, my home church had a very special Easter service.  They would build a cross out of wood and cover it with chicken wire (yes, I'm southern.  I know).  Then, all of the children of the church would bring flowers from their mother's yards and put them into the wire of the cross.  The cross transformed from a cold, wooden monument into a blooming reminder of God's love and redeeming sacrifice for us. I wanted to recreate this for the quints'  baptism.  A good friend built the cross and mom and I covered it with flowers.





I'm thrilled to show you more photos of the children and their beautiful, angel-made outfits:

Clara

My friend Carla with Millie

My friend Claire with Clara

My soon to be sister-in-law Thea with Luke

Deacon Nick with Isabelle

KK and Ava

Ava loves getting dressed up

Millie waits patiently

Millie loving the attention


Michael and Luke

Our blessed insta-family of seven

The Boltons

The Baudinets

Baudinets

Extended family of Baudinets

Isabelle





Millie with her godmother, Aunt Bridget


Yes, we have five sets of godparents!


What a beautifully made bonnet!

Isabelle

Luke

Ava

Luke--love his little boy's hat!

Clara


Millie

Clara