Hilaria Baldwin In Real Life
How the mother of seven keeps her center (and her sense of humor) amid all the chaos.
Hilaria Baldwin, who’s not yet 40, has seven children, four cats, one husband recovering from hip replacement surgery, and a brand-new granddaughter. Ireland, Alec’s daughter with Kim Basinger, had a baby girl named Holland in May.
“I love being a grandmother,” Hilaria says. We’re sitting on the rug of the Baldwins’ living room floor, with baby Ilaria, the youngest of their bunch, cutely perched nearby. The Baldwins’ Bengal cats are roaming about, friendly and gorgeous. At 39, Hilaria is pretty and super fit, in shorts and a tank top, her brown hair youthfully bouncy. “My kids get a kick out of it,” she continues. “They feel like they’re so grown-up; they’re like, ‘Well, I can do this because I’m an uncle now.’ I send things to Ireland all the time. My favorite swaddle or my favorite bathtub or whatever. The towels, all these things.” As the mother of seven, I ask, is she the one everyone else goes to for mom advice? “My friend and his wife had a baby a year ago, and he’s always coming to me with questions. He loves golf, and he’s like, ‘I think of you as the Tiger Woods of babies.’” At that, she laughs.
Whatever you think of Hilaria Baldwin (and people think a lot of things), you have to hand it to her for maintaining her sense of humor in the midst of… a lot. She’s married to one of the world’s most famous actors, who is currently sitting in their kitchen, and who has been publicly navigating an unthinkable tragedy. Her children range between the ages of 0 and 10, and are trailed by pushy paparazzi. People have accused her of faking pregnancies (fake news, not fake pregnancies). She has a dedicated group of online bullies, who harass her in odd and menacing ways (more on that later). There was the whole cucumber thing (we’re past that now). She’s been breastfeeding, with a few months off here and there, for 10 years straight. Give the lady a break.
“People like to have a lot of opinions about women’s reproductive choices,” she says of the public fascination with her brood. “Either we have too many kids, or we have too few. We don’t do it exactly as we should. We don’t put the hat on the baby. And then people say, ‘Why doesn’t your baby have a hat?’ And I say, ‘Would you like to come and put the hat on the baby? She’ll take it off and throw it at you.’” On cue, Ilaria lets out a gurgle.
A quick primer on Hilaria Baldwin, for those who’ve been living under a rock. She grew up in Boston, visiting Spain regularly — her parents, a former doctor and lawyer, now live there, as does her brother. She’s bilingual. She graduated from New York University, became a yoga instructor, and co-founded Yoga Vida. She met Alec Baldwin in 2011, and they married in 2012. She was a correspondent for Extra for a bit. She had her first baby, Carmen, in 2013, followed by Rafael, aka Rafa; Leonardo, aka Leo; Romeo; Eduardo, aka Edu; María Lucía, aka Marilu (via surrogate); and Ilaria. Fun fact: She gives all her children two baths a day, once in the morning and once before bed.
“They’ll literally just line up,” she explains. “And we go 1, 2, 3, really fast, hair, shampoo in and out. I spray them. When I was younger, I read Cheaper by the Dozen. And the only thing I remember about the book is that they figured out the most efficient way to use a bar of soap.” She’s also figured out the most efficient way to breastfeed, after a decade of trial and error. “Right after I have a baby, I pump all the time, but only for three minutes, just to stimulate production. At this point, I freeze about 30 to 50 ounces a day on top of feeding her.” Whoa. “In Long Island, I have four gigantic freezers for milk,” she continues. “And the joke’s on me, because this baby doesn’t really like bottles so much. And I’m like, ‘Well somebody’s going to drink this. I made it. You’re going to drink it!’” Ilaria, an 8-month-old peanut, doesn’t look so sure.
The Baldwins’ apartment is luxuriously cozy; it’s not overstuffed or fussy. It’s the kind of home in which the boys are allowed to kick balls around inside (she calls Rafa, Leo, and Romeo “the boys” — they’re each a year apart). “They haven’t broken a lamp yet,” she deadpans. There are blown-up pictures of the kids on all the walls. There’s a small room that was flooded a while back, and instead of replacing the furniture, Hilaria filled it with their seven Pottery Barn Anywhere chairs. “It’s perfect, because they just make forts out of them, and make their shops out of them, and are always playing make-believe.” This year has been a rough one for the family, but Hilaria and Alec try to keep it light, which sometimes, Hilaria admits, amounts to pretending everything is fine, even when it’s not (a trick that most mothers are familiar with). “I want my kids to look back and say that they lived in a home where, yes, there were hard experiences that we went through, but they had music and laughter and fun.”
“It is a ridiculous thing to be cruel to another person.”
An enormous amount of logistics goes into managing a household of seven kids in New York City, though, according to Hilaria, the most difficult number of children for her was two. “With two, I felt like I could still have a level of control; I was trying to micromanage everything. And once I got to three, I just released and was like, ‘OK, it’s going to be chaos. We are outnumbered. You’ve got to let it go.’” She’s not strict with her kids, who she says are generally well-behaved. “I’m probably like 90% gentle parenting,” she says. “Though every once in a while, you have to say: ‘Stop it. Full stop. Right now.’”
But she must lose her sh*t sometimes. She has seven children! We all lose our sh*t sometimes. “Do we raise our voices? Sure. It happens,” she says. But the family tries not to yell at one another, and city kids learn early to use indoor voices.
“I’ve honestly never seen Hilaria at her wit’s end, and I’ve spent a lot of time with her and the kids,” says Hilaria’s good friend Danny Romanoff, whom she met pre-children, more than a decade ago. “It’s amazing to me that nothing ever fazes her, and she’s always able to find that center, where I would be losing it.”
Child care helps. Hilaria has a rotating cast of nannies and babysitters, usually with two on at any given time. (If you feel the need to judge this, know that in New York, in the Baldwins’ tax bracket, it’s perfectly normal to have two full-time nannies, including weekend help, for families with three children, let alone seven.) The oldest kids all go to the same school, which makes drop-off and pickup manageable. Alec drives them there every morning; they let Hilaria off halfway, so she can take her favorite morning barre class. Alec reads to them before bed. Hilaria does homework. She does the bathing and meals. She brings them to doctor visits. Alec takes them to movies. They don’t really go anywhere besides their homes in Long Island and in Vermont. “I don’t know how to travel with seven kids yet,” says Hilaria.
In terms of sleeping arrangements, “the toddlers,” as Marilu and Edu are referred to, are in one room; the baby is in bed with Hilaria and Alec; and the four oldest bunk together in another bedroom. That’s a new-ish development. “They’ve started getting very afraid of the paparazzi outside,” Hilaria says. “I reassure them that no one’s going to come into the house, but it’s like telling a kid that monsters don’t exist. They’re like, ‘Yeah, right. Of course they do.’” Being in the same room brings the children comfort.
It’s a reminder of the recent tragedy and how it has changed the nature of the attention on the family. In October 2021, Alec was involved in a shooting incident on the set of his movie Rust, in which cinematographer Halyna Hutchins lost her life. Criminal charges against Alec have been dropped, but there are still ongoing lawsuits, so Hilaria can only talk around the issue. “Obviously, the world has seen us go through something that is unimaginable,” she says carefully. It’s the only time in the interview in which she’s not speaking off the cuff. “But there’s another family that has suffered on the most extreme level. And every day, our hearts and souls are with them.”
There was a recent, deeply reported story in New York Magazine, in which Hilaria and Alec didn’t participate, with the headline “Alec and Hilaria Baldwin Against the World.” I ask if she really feels that way. “Sure, I’ve had times where I feel lonely or isolated, and then I open my eyes and my ears and my mind, and I realize how many amazing people are out there. We walk down the street and people say to us, ‘We’re praying for you. We’re thinking about you.’ They give us hugs. Most of the people who are mean to us are people like the paparazzi, who are making money off tormenting us.” Later, she tells me she heard the New York Magazine story about her and Alec was the “most boring story in the world.”
Speaking of Alec, early in the interview, he leaves the apartment for a coffee, much to Hilaria’s frustration. He’s using a walker as he recovers from hip surgery.
Hilaria: You’re actually going outside? I don’t think you should walk outside by yourself.
Alec: They told me to walk. I’m fine.
Hilaria: Right, but they also probably didn’t mean by yourself after major surgery in the streets of New York. You should bring somebody with you.
Alec: I don’t want to.
Hilaria: I know you don’t want to. Or you can wait an hour and I’ll go with you.
Alec: I’m not waiting an hour.
Hilaria: Ay, ay, ay. Good luck with it. Call me if you fall over. OK?
Alec: You’ll be the first person. You’re No. 1 on my contact list.
Hilaria: I’m in the middle of 10th Street! Come get me!
With that, Alec shuffles out the door, Hilaria yelling “Be careful!” as he does. They seem to genuinely like each other, which for a couple with children (especially that many children) is a goal to work toward. “The biggest thing with Alec and Hilaria is the laughter,” says Hilaria’s friend Violet Gaynor. The two women met when Hilaria and Alec began dating; Violet and her husband, David Nugent, are longtime friends of Alec. “They have a great dynamic, and that constant laughter. They really are best friends,” she says.
By this point, baby Ilaria is off eating her lunch, and Edu and Marilu have arrived home in a double stroller, curious about the stranger sitting on their living room floor, petting their cats. Hilaria chats with their nanny in Spanish. Edu wanders in to say hi and then scurries away.
In 2021, when Hilaria and Alec announced the birth of Marilu, just five months after she’d had Edu, the backlash was swift. Had she adopted? Used a surrogate? Why would she have two babies at once? Did she give birth to either of them? The real story goes like this:
In 2019, then a mother of four, Hilaria suffered a miscarriage. “People told me, ‘You’re older now. You’re 35,’ which now I know is a whole load of everything, but at the time, I bought it.” So she decided to try IVF and ended up with two viable embryos. She then did a round of IVF, got pregnant, and had another miscarriage, at more than four months along. It was a devastating loss, about which she’s spoken publicly.
A couple of months later, she got pregnant naturally (that’s Edu). At the same time, “I had this other embryo [from the IVF], and I was afraid to carry it, but I didn’t want to leave it frozen.” She was scared that if she tried IVF again, she’d suffer another miscarriage. “I felt that for some reason, my body rejected an IVF experience, [and so it would again]. I know that sounds irrational, but sometimes when we are going through this, we can have feelings that might not always make sense.” Instead of freezing the embryo, she opted to use a surrogate to carry the baby (that’s Marilu). That way, Hilaria could breastfeed both at the same time, which she did.
“Giving birth is like going down a water slide that’s really scary. And then you get to the bottom, and you’re like, ‘I want to do this again.’”
Hilaria and her surrogate still speak all the time. “To have that experience of being in the delivery room, and helping her push, and holding onto her leg, and cutting the umbilical cord. It was really meaningful,” says Hilaria. Her surrogate, whom she doesn’t identify for privacy purposes, “is one of those people who loves being pregnant.”
Does Hilaria love being pregnant? She’s done it six times, showcasing her seemingly miraculous return to pre-baby shape on social media (to both awe and jeers). “Not really,” she says with a shrug. “But I love giving birth. This last time around, I pushed her out in a minute! Giving birth is like going down a water slide that’s really scary. And then you get to the bottom, and you’re like, ‘I want to do this again.’”
Many moms can relate to this hormonal high. But while, nationally, families with kids have 1.94 children on average — and that number’s likely lower in Manhattan — Hilaria has 7. So what gives? Firstly, there’s the matter-of-fact answer: She’s not on birth control. “I feel awful when I’m on birth control; it makes me depressed,” she says. And Alec’s not interested in other, er, methods. “Every single time I have a baby, my OB writes down the vasectomy doctor on a Post-it, and I bring it home to Alec,” Hilaria laughs. “He hasn’t done it yet.”
Secondly, she adores the baby phase — she refers to having babies as “creating love” — and from what I can tell, gets deep joy from taking care of others. (That’s why she became a yoga teacher, she says.) This tendency also extends to her husband. “Am I his mommy?” she giggles. “Sometimes I’m his mommy. Sometimes. At the beginning of our relationship, everyone was like, ‘She must have daddy issues because she’s married to somebody older.’ But it’s actually the opposite.”
When speaking to a few of Hilaria’s close friends, the words that keep coming up are loyalty, support, and devotion. “Right after my third was born, my baby got the flu,” says Gaynor. “I was on my own because my husband was traveling, and Hilaria knew how stressed I was. The next day, a nebulizer and a bottle of saline show up at my house, unasked for. She’s just that kind of friend. She can tap into what people around her are feeling.” Romanoff adds, “Whenever there’s something hard going on in my life, she checks in on me. When I burned my hand and was in the hospital, Hilaria was the only one other than my husband who checked in on me every single day. She’s one of the most warm, open, and caring people I know.”
Hilaria craves connection, which is why, despite any toxicity, she remains on Instagram. “It’s such an amazing mom community,” she says. “The majority on it are fun, kind people, who just want to be nice to each other. I’m the type of person that, if I follow you, I will probably like almost every single one of your posts. Because I know how good that feels.” She continues posting, even though it fuels the dedicated Reddit community of people who spend their free time trying to take down Hilaria Baldwin. They’ve come up with conspiracy theories related to her pregnancies and births, they focus on her background and accent, and they say she’s “harming” her children by showing them on Instagram. In a twist, Hilaria knows many of her Reddit haters’ real identities; she hired a private investigator. She hasn’t done anything with that info and doesn’t plan to. But it makes her feel better to know, and when she describes them to me, they’re exactly who you’d think: lonely, lost people.
Occasionally, the online bullying turns IRL. She says her trolls filed a false report with the New York City Department of Health, pretending to be Hilaria, saying that she had leopards in her home. The DOH had to visit her apartment. “It ended up being totally fine, because I have house cats with spots,” she sighs. (I can attest that they’re regular old cats, and that two of them ended up purring in my lap at various points during the interview.)
“It is a ridiculous thing to be cruel to another person,” says Hilaria. She’s right. She’s not hurting anyone. Her kids are happy. People have different ways of living, and she and Alec have chosen their own path.
Isn’t making fun of Hilaria Baldwin getting a little bit old? You would think so, but, in a Netflix special released last week, Amy Schumer roasted Baldwin’s accent, her children’s names, and her husband’s on-set accident, apologizing for “bullying a sociopath.”
As our conversation winds down, Alec arrives back from his coffee, no falls or mishaps to speak of.
We briefly discuss his recovery from surgery (“He’s only on Tylenol now,” Hilaria says. “I got 15 milligrams of oxycodone over the course of six hours the first day, and I was like, ‘Whoa, the whole world is spinning,” says Alec. “So we didn’t do that again,” says Hilaria.) Then Alec launches into a sweet ode to his wife: “I admire her, and I have faith in her integrity. She’s incredibly decent, and she’s obviously a beautiful woman. I’m madly in love with her. And she can be a gigantic pain in the *ss sometimes, but that’s marriage. But I feel like I know a lot of friends of mine who get into a routine and everything’s about their kids. Who has more of a reason to make everything about our kids but us with so many, yet we still try to hold onto some time for ourselves.” The couple eat dinner together most nights, sometimes going out to a local restaurant and sometimes takeout. “That’s the only time I have her to myself,” says Alec. “As soon as she comes home and gets in bed with that baby, boom, she’s out.” Hilaria laughs and nods.
Will Alec get Hilaria to himself again soon? “This is probably, most definitely, almost completely my last baby,” she says with a smile. “I’m always afraid to say it. I was putting away my maternity clothes recently and was like, ‘I’m afraid to give them away, because then I’ll find out I’m pregnant.’”
Emma Rosenblum is the chief content officer of Bustle Digital Group, and the author of Bad Summer People, out now.
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