Courtney ’04 and Eric ’04 Waldrop wanted a fourth child, but got six more—and a TV show
BEFORE TRAVELING TO ALBERTVILLE to meet the Waldrop family, I spent weeks studying each of the faces of their nine children. I watched and re-watched The Learning Channel’s (TLC) “Sweet Home, Sextuplets,” a show that has followed the family since before the six babies were born. I took notes about every little thing that might help me distinguish one baby from another. Rivers has big brown eyes and long hair; Rawlings has blue eyes and curly hair and Rayne is the smallest, most petite of the girls. Tag has dark hair and dark eyes; Blu has blonde hair and green eyes and Layke has blonde hair with blue eyes. I had it. I was ready.
I arrived at the house and walked into pandemonium. There were toddlers everywhere. Courtney was in the kitchen trying to wrangle the girls to put matching orange bows in their hair. One of the toddler boys was climbing on the kitchen table, at least three were running through the house, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t even keep up with whether the one who just ran by me was the same one who ran by seconds earlier. It didn’t take long to realize that all my preparation was worthless.
It was constant motion and a lot of noise, yet Courtney and Eric were calm and cool; none of it seemed to faze them. It was almost like they didn’t even hear—or see—the chaos. They made it look easy. Really easy. The three older boys interacted seamlessly with their younger brothers and sisters. They didn’t have to be asked to help, they just did it. If a baby was crying, an older brother scooped them up.
A typical day—if there is such a thing at the Waldrops’— begins around 9 a.m. and goes full speed until well into the afternoon. “The babies take about a one-hour nap in the afternoon,” Courtney said. “The little boys are full speed when they are awake, running, climbing on literally everything. The girls are chatterboxes: they think bedtime is a spend-the-night party.
“There really are no words to describe our lives.”
They would talk all night if we let them.” Once the babies are asleep at night, the Waldrop household enjoys around 10 hours of peace and quiet—and then it starts over again the next day.
Courtney and Eric started dating in the eighth grade, graduated from Albertville High School and both attended and graduated from Auburn in 2004. Courtney earned a degree in early childhood education and Eric earned a horticulture degree. Eric co-owns the Robinson & Waldrop Landscape Group. The family lives on 40 acres, which includes 20 acres of cattle.
The couple wanted a fourth child to complete their family, but after suffering the heartbreak of a miscarriage, Courtney took a low-dose fertility drug marketed to reduce the chance of multiple births, sextuplets being a one in 5 million chance. At her first appointment, her ultrasound indicated there were six (placental) sacs. A week later, before the couple could even comprehend six babies, the ultrasound showed eight. Courtney and Eric were terrified.
“That was the shock of our lives,” Courtney said. “We were distraught. We were worried and scared. We were anything but happy at that point.” At the next appointment, six heartbeats were detected (the other two sacs were empty). Their doctor in Huntsville, Ala. discussed the risks involved, not only for the babies, but for Courtney. He talked about the likelihood the babies would be delivered early and would face health challenges. It was a lot to take in and it was hard to let go of their fear and anxiety. So they turned to their Faith and found peace with their decision to keep all six babies. From then on, it was all excitement as the family prepared for the plan God had for their lives.
Just three months into her pregnancy, Courtney had to give up her 13-year career as a first-grade teacher. By 26 weeks, she was on complete bedrest. On December 11, 2017, at 30 weeks, a team of 40 medical professionals at the Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children delivered—in this order—Rayne, Blu, Rawlings, Layke, Rivers and Tag. Now, Courtney (with the help of family and friends) prepares 33 meals every day, tackles 15 loads of laundry weekly and juggles schedules—and life—with a television crew following the family’s every move.
“There really are no words to describe our lives,” Courtney said. “We are so thankful to be raising our nine children, but it is definitely exhausting. Our three older boys are always on the go with sports and other activities and then there are six 2-yearolds to care for, not to mention the challenge of taking them anywhere. Eric and I just pray we survive it, but we also know one day, we’ll miss it.”