Being a new parent is hard. Being a new parent of quintuplets? Well, that's a different story.
Michael and Margaret Baudinet had wanted children for years when, to their surprise, Margaret learned she was pregnant with quintuplets last year. It was a miracle — after two miscarriages and many months of trying — but also a shock. The "bundle of Baudinets," as they're affectionately known, were born last December, in Phoenix, Arizona, where the couple had temporarily relocated to work with a doctor who specializes in multiple births.
Now they're back home in Goochland, Virginia, quickly figuring out what it means to be a family of seven.
"It's a blessing and a curse because I don't know what it's like to diaper one bottom and put one baby to bed," Margaret, 32, told TODAY. "I kiss five babies goodnight. I don't know how to relate to a mom with one stroller. I don't know what that feels like."
The first thing they learned? Sticking to a schedule is key, although sometimes that means it feels like they're running a business instead of a family.
"I'm definitely the lead manager of this operation," said Margaret, who also runs a private college counseling firm. "We've got them all on the same schedule. We make them eat at the same time, which sometimes they don't like, but it's required. They sleep from 12:30 in the morning until about 7:30 in the morning."
Finding the right products was also a game-changer.
"There are a lot of things on the market now that make it easier to feed two at a time... chairs that you can put them in, 'table for two.' We have two of those," Margaret said. "There are bottle props that help the kiddos hold their own bottles, so you can prop up one kiddo and move onto the next, and then come burp them halfway through."
Yet at the end of the day, "it's just a matter of hands," she said.
Michael, 35, said he and his wife quickly learned raising five babies wasn't something they could do alone. They have two au pairs and more than 10 volunteers who rotate shifts throughout the week.
"You can't be shy," he told TODAY. "This has forced us to be willing to ask people for help."
And help has come from some unexpected places, they said.
"The kids have a Facebook page and there have been a few women who emailed me there and said, 'I love babies, can I come help?" Margaret said. "Another volunteer is in a knitting club with my best friend's mother-in-law. There was a feature about us in the U.Va. alumni magazine — we went to the University of Virginia — so some of the alumni saw that and reached out."
Of course, they don't accept every offer.
"I was in a Target returning something and the customer service woman recognized me from Facebook or the news and was like, 'I'd love to come to your house and watch the babies!'" Margaret said, laughing. "I was like, "No thank you.' That's where I draw the line."
The babies — Ava, Clara, Camille, Luke and Isabelle — are now almost 6 months old, and each is happy and healthy, their parents said — and many thanks are due to those who helped get them there.
"We've been really touched and amazed at all the people who said, 'Yeah, I can help you,'" Michael, an attorney, said. "Really, from the very beginning when we first talked to the doctor in Arizona and we had no idea how we could handle a quintuple pregnancy, people have just all along the way said, 'Yes, I can help you.'"