If you ever run into Laura Baldwin, you’ll recognize her as the woman with quadruplets and an adorable 4-year-old girl. Here’s what NOT to say: “I know what that’s like. I have two kids that are 18 months apart.”
Laura laughs when she tells that story, but partly because the mom of Madalyn, Reghan, Logan, Ryan, and their big sister Leah has heard it so often. “I kind of bite my tongue, but….well, if your kids are 18 months apart, you don’t know what it’s like! I don’t change a diaper, or even two. I change four. I don’t clean up spit-up, I clean it up four times.”
Rewind to about a year ago. After trying for a year to conceive their second child with no luck, Laura, a bank teller at the time, and her husband Bill, an IT specialist, opted for a fertility treatment. Five weeks into the pregnancy, a 2 ½ hour ultrasound revealed quintuplets were on their way. (One baby was lost at 10 weeks.)
“I cried. I was shaking the whole time,” said Laura. But, as practical problem solvers, she and Billy quickly began to take steps to make the jump from a family of three to one more than double that size. “Of course, I knew I would have to quit my job. Fortunately, we were already living in a four-bedroom home, so we had enough room.”
The family’s excellent support system includes both Laura and Bill’s parents and other family members living
nearby. “We are SO scheduled,” says Laura. “Billy is amazing; I never go more than 2 days without getting a 6-hour stretch of sleep.” The quads are on a four-hour feeding schedule, and all sleep in the living room for now, each in his or her own crib; eventually, they’ll be two to a room. “They’ve become used to being together since they were in utero, and they like it that way,” says Laura.
They also like their big sis, who’s an excellent helper. “Leah will sing to the kids, tell them stories, let me know if one spits up,” says Laura. “There’s a picture of all five of the kids on our Facebook page, and three of the babies are looking right at Leah. They know her and respond to her.”
How to tell them apart? “Reghan’s very quiet; she has big brown eyes that are always staring at people, and so does her brother Ryan, who’s also very calm,” says Laura. “Madalyn, on the other hand, is not afraid to use her vocal cords! She lets you know when she wants something. Logan is a chunk! He has some acid reflux issues, so he needs a lot of attention right now.”
Thanks to the Internet, the Baldwins have found every type of support, from advice from other multiple-kid families to fundraising. “Diapers are probably our biggest expense. I go through 24-26 a day, and through a box of wipes every day and a half,” says Laura. A December event helped the Baldwins acquire a used van so that all four babies and Leah can comfortably and safely ride in one vehicle. But life with quads continues to be expensive, particularly with the Baldwins down to a single income, so fundraising is an ongoing process.
Laura’s advice to other moms: “Stay calm and have patience. I wasn’t sure if I would have the patience to handle 4 babies plus a 4 year old. But once you’re thrown into it, you learn how to deal with it. You honestly almost have tunnel vision and block out all the extra stuff going on. I just concentrate on the babies.”
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