Happy Birthday, Stephen and Avian!

To commemorate Stephen and Avian’s 12th birthday, I thought I’d recall their entrance into the world, while I still remember the details so vividly. Not that I expect to forget any time soon.

Finding Out

Our first ultrasound, Jon asked Dr. Coll (who had twins herself) nervously, “so, um we would know if there was more than one baby, right??” She said “oh yes, there is just one heartbeat, see it right there?”

Turns out, one of them was hiding. The good news was, we’d had some time to embrace the initial surprise of being pregnant, so by the time we found out there were two, everyone we told just laughed. “Of course you are! Twins!”


When we found out their genders, Stephen (Twin A) was named in honor of Jon’s younger brother, Stephen, who had died at 18-years young. As for Twin B, our girl, we’d been tossing around names, when my sister Lynette’s friend Mark came to town. Mark studies birds, and kept saying “Avian” -this and “Avian”- that. I loved it, and hoped the Avian Flu wouldn’t become too much of a thing.


I’d been on bed rest since July 25, which meant I had a lot of time to worry, eat, read, and lay out on the deck in my bikini (at 175 pounds and growing every day).

My only “field trips” from bed were to see the multiples specialist in Reno, where she’d do a 3-d ultrasound and check on the babies. After one Dr. visit, we went to Macy’s (totally against the rules, but I “needed” something). I was excited to go out in public, and actually wear some of the cute (I thought) maternity clothes, and put on makeup and make my hair look nice. I thought I looked “pretty”.

The young woman behind the counter saw me and exclaimed, “oh my goodness – you look like you’re going to EXPLODE!” She continued on, laughing at me. I tearfully left Macy’s, without buying anything. I went out to the car, told Jon the story, and he marched back in to find her manager. He came back out with a complimentary purse and makeup kit. Hopefully, that clerk never made fun of a fat pregnant woman again.

For my birthday, I got a double jogging stroller – I spent hours staring at it.


The Big Day

After months of bed rest, the Specialist in Reno decided it was time for Stephen and Avian to come out. I was secretly hoping for a c-section, that just sounded so much more pleasant, but our team of Truckee Dr.’s (Taylor-Thompson-Coll)  were confident that we would be ok, and scheduled the labor to be induced on the morning of September 26, 2005, one day shy of 37 weeks. The day before, I ventured out for a 3-mile hike, after months of doing NOTHING. I was sure the babies would come flying out, but, no.

Heading to the hospital, Sept 26, 2005

Jon and I met our good friend Sheila at Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee. Sheila had two kids of her own, but didn’t have the best birth experiences (I think she nearly died), so she wanted to see a birth when everything went well (fingers crossed).

After taking the drugs to induce labor, I wanted to see how long I could last without the epidural. Turns out, not long at all (Huge kudos to all you tough women who did it without the pain relievers). Before I got it, I was barely able to breathe through the pain, and got seething mad at Jon for turning on the tv (cnn at this moment – seriously!?). After the epidural though, I was in heaven – childbirth is easy! This is fun! Bring out the babies!

Sheila went shopping and bought Stephen and Avian the sweetest little clothes to wear home from the hospital. The hospital room was fairly quiet throughout the day as we waited.  But when the time came to push, the room quickly filled with nurses and multiple doctors, just in case there was a problem.

Our boy, Stephen Patrick, was born at 5:58 p.m. Dr. Taylor told me “Wait!”

Four minutes later, at 6:02 p.m., Avian Rose was born.

Stephen (5 pounds) and Avian (4 pounds, 3 ounces)

We were instantly in love with these tiny creatures.


The babies were cleaned up and friends arrived to celebrate.  We had Chinese food right there in the delivery room. After a couple hours, I asked a nurse if it was ok to get up – no one had realized I’d been sitting there since the delivery. It was pretty gross.

While in the shower (epidural wearing off, now everything is hurting, birthing is actually hard…), a nurse came in and told me Stephen had jaundice and would need to get under the lights asap –  that worry and anxiety leading up to the birth came rushing right back.

Avian’s weigh-in

Hospital life

The next few days, while waiting for Stephen’s jaundice to clear up, we enjoyed being in the hospital and having nurses to call for help whenever we couldn’t figure something out, or whenever we needed to sleep, they magically whisked away the babies and we could rest. I think we were both pretty terrified at the thoughts of “how in the hell are we going to manage this at home without two full-time nurses helping us?”

Jon and the kids
Burrito babies. Avian on the left.
Avian: Hey, where did my brother go?
Avian visiting Stephen, who had to stay under the lights for a few days
Marveling at the tiny feet

The staff at Tahoe Forest Hospital was amazing, we had a huge room with two beds all to ourselves, they served us delicious food including a special king-crab leg dinner (and friends brought us some pretty amazing food from favorite restaurants around town). We were very lucky that the maternity ward was so quiet and we were taken care of so well.

I asked the doctor, “when can I start running again?” He laughed and said, “Right now, if you feel like it!”

I tried, starting out with a walk, and it HURT. Running would have to wait a bit.

Brinn and her daughter Sophia, with me and Avian

My mom (aka Grandma Rosie) arrived at the hospital to help with her first grandchildren. She was a lifesaver.

Stephen and Avian had their photos taken for the baby wall, so we dressed them up in the new outfits from Sheila.


Stephen and Avian

After five days, it was time to go home. Fortunately, we wouldn’t be leaving alone, my mom would stay with us for a couple weeks to help.

First car ride, 5 days old. We were terrified.
My mom, Grandma Rosie, expertly juggling her grandbabies
First walk with Stephen and Avian, in front of their first house in Squaw

Life with two babies

I won’t pretend it was easy and blissful and happy – it was full-blown triage.  The evenings were the worst- the babies (both of them!) would start crying around 4pm and wouldn’t stop for hours and hours. We spent so many nights walking around the house carrying them, trying to console. Breast-feeding was a nightmare and near-impossible when I was alone- I couldn’t just leave one poor baby screaming while feeding the other – I spent hours in bed with them, crying often, trying to survive. We tried desperately to get them on the same feeding and sleeping schedule but failed miserably.  Oh wait, back to the happy birthing story…

Cousin Katie with Avian. Katie lived in Truckee at the time and came over to help me when Jon had to work.

Jon’s parents came out from Massachusetts to meet their grandchildren a few weeks later. We met them at the airport, along with Cousin Katie. Grandma Bev and Grandpa Bill fell in love with them instantly. They moved here and helped take care of them – for which we are forever grateful.

Grandpa Bill and Stephen, Grandma Bev and Avian
Stephen spent a lot of time like this with Grandpa Bill.

Twinning is winning

There’s nothing easy about raising twins, I post a lot of pictures of the happy times, but we struggle.  A lot. But 2x the trouble means 2x the love – and having Stephen and Avian come into my life has been the best thing that’s happened to me.

Happy birthday, Stephen and Avian. I love you both so much.

Avian and Stephen on a recent road trip

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