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edge staff writer


Multiple personalities

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There's been something going on behind the scenes of your local media. Some of you may already be aware of it, and for others this may be breaking news. It's almost a pandemic. You have probably seen one on television. You may even be reading a story by one right now. The secret is out: there are a lot of people in the media who have given birth to multiples. 

Anyone who follows my Edge Mom column may or may not be aware that my tongue-in-cheek look at life with three kids comes from having three kids at the same time. You feel pretty unique when you have multiples, but that only lasts until you find that your network of parents of multiples is actually larger than you would think. It became clear pretty quickly that there are a lot of media personalities who have been blessed with multiples or are a twin themselves.

Let's get me out of the way

I had my three kids back in 2011. My kids were what is called spontaneous multiples. In other words, we had three kids at the same time unassisted. And I only bring this up because that's usually the first or second question out of someone's mouth when they find out that I've had triplets.

It didn't reach hilarious proportions until 2012, when Jodi Hersey, another staff writer for The Maine Edge, learned she was pregnant with twins. Jokes about not drinking from the water cooler began circulating.

But being in the media is also handy when it comes to having multiples.

'I have always been a multi-tasker, but I never knew how much it was going to come in handy when it comes to kids,' said Hersey, whose fraternal twin boys Donnie and Frankie were 10 weeks old at the time of the interview. 'I always had a hand in two or three things at once: teaching, Zumba, writing. I think it was God's way of preparing me. I don't think there is any other way you can prepare except for going in a bazillion directions at once.'

As writers, we have the bonus of not having to report our news live on the airwaves. Such is not the case for television news anchors who have to go on the air after spending sleepless nights doing rounds with newborns.

Catherine Pegram is a news anchor for WABI Channel 5 and the mom of 4-year-old fraternal twin girls.

'It's always about multitasking, which is why someone in the media is adept you would hope at being a mom of multiples,' she said. 'Who better than someone who can listen to a scanner, write on a computer, talk on a phone, fix make makeup and eat lunch all under a deadline? It's like our jobs have trained us to be moms of multiples in a way.'

Pegram describes herself as having been stunned to find out she was having twins, but she explained that her husband, Jeff Solari, former radio personality on WZON and now doing public relations for Rudman and Winchell, wasn't even ruffled.

'My husband said Of course. Of course we're having twins.' He wasn't surprised. It had never crossed my mind, but I was very excited,' she said. 'My coworker at the time, Amy Erickson, is a mom of twins too, and she was my officemate having her as my coworker was better than Google. I had someone you can ask a question of who has already been through it and dealt with it.'

Pegram said that having already worked overnights, weekends and other odd hours, she was somewhat prepared to be a parent to multiples. But she was quick to add there was one thing she wasn't ready for:

'I was not prepared for the sleep deprivation. I have a friend in the Navy SEALS - maybe that could get you ready,' she said. 'You have to try to find a balance in a business where you can go and be called at any time. That keeps you on the ready. Work can call at any time and children can call at any time.'

Having twins or triplets is something of a life event. It propels you to levels of fame you may not be used to. And when you already have cultivated a level of local celebrity, having twins can add to that.

'You learn to put on a good face when it's hard to do. In some ways [being a mom of multiples] gives you a little bit of grace. People may be more willing to step out and help you,' she said. 'It's so hard to ask for help.'

Chris Facchini, who works as an anchor at WLBZ Channel 2, not only has fraternal boy and girl twins, Liam and Catarina respectively he has a twin sister. This of course means he has inside information into the minds of his children.

'It's funny, I'd see Amy [Erickson] out in the field and we'd chat about it. Catherine Pegram told me she was having twins and I was like, Huh? What?!' Are we drinking the same bottled water?' he joked.  He attributes the anomaly to the rigorous scheduling for media people.

'We're all moving around in our 20s, we settle down later and have families later in life,' he said. 

And according to Dr. Barbara Luke in her book 'When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads: Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy, 3rd Edition,' your odds of having a multiple birth increase significantly once you reach your 30s.

You get noticed when you have twins or triplets, especially when the kids are younger.

'I did the Hike for the Homeless the first year the twins were born and I was walking next to a woman the entire way. She was looking at the twins and saying, Beautiful babies,' and we talked all about the twins. Then we got to the end and she said, I didn't even know I was talking to Chris Facchini!,'' he said. 'It's great. It's the way it should be. This woman I run into every time we're doing the Hike and we go over that story.'

But it can also be challenging to balance how much screen time they get due to their dad's local celebrity status.

'I think that's always a balancing act. I don't want to expose them too much,' he said. But he doesn't completely black them out either, having them appear in spots for the Maine Discovery Museum, and of course, this piece.

Being a twin himself, Facchini has unique insight into his kids' relationship.

'I have these very vivid memories of my twin and I walking to school for kindergarten and my sister bawling her eyes out. I said Lori, it's OK, it'll be fine. We'll make it through the day.' And I walked her up to school,' he said. 'I did it for my twin at least on one or two occasions. [Other times] I'd want to go home, and she was the strong one and said, You're OK. You can do this,' and actually got me to go. My kids do that with each other. Liam was terrified on the bus and Catarina helped him out and made it easier for him. She's got her arm around him and he's got tears in his eyes. That's the awesome part about it: reliving some of those things.'

Everyone wants to know the how about multiples. And this can be a touchy subject. But Kara Matuszewski, former anchor for WLBZ Channel 2, is open about her process.

'We actually had a pretty good idea that it was going to be twins, given that we went through IVF and we didn't know if both or neither one would take,' she said. 'Unlike with when you do a pregnancy test at home, we went in for a blood test, and they called a few hours after the blood test and asked, How many eggs did they put in?''

She explained that morning sickness had set in in a big way early on, and considering that there is a chance that both of the eggs could split and have quads she was unsure how many babies they were talking. She recalled telling the staff that it felt like she had about '70 in there.'

'Well, how about 70 minus 68?' I burst into tears and Scott [her husband] was there with me. We were very excited, it was pretty cool,' she said. 

One troubling aspect of multiples is the possibility of having a premature baby. Matuszewski's fraternal girl and boy twins arrived seven weeks ahead of schedule and spent three weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). But despite the stress of the situation, having highly trained staff at your disposal can be a blessing as well.

'I have said numerous times, I am in awe of mothers who have term multiples and take them home within two or three days. Our case was such that we were able to ask nurses, doctors and other mothers so many things,' said Matuszewski. 'We had so much support. When we brought them home after three weeks, they would both be awake. I now understand how sleep deprivation is a form of torture.'

To work or not to work

Getting back into the swing of things can be difficult, or for some people not even part of the plan. The logistics of balancing a career and multiples can be problematic.

'It [going back to work] was really hard,' said Pegram. 'Not only are you, at three months, still working. Now, you have to look good and be on TV and act like you have it all together. Sometimes I think I'm a good actress. I had to take my breast pump to work too, and finding places to do that news is not generally a slow down or stop kind of job. There are no such things as lunch breaks or walks to the water cooler. That was a bit of a challenge.'

She had to make sure that her employers and co-workers were in on the routine, and knew that she might be out of commission for 15 minutes and someone could grab a phone call for her.

'Right around the time that I went back to work, the girls were getting into a better routine and better sleeping, so you could manage. I was amazed at how much I could do on so little sleep,' she said.

Some opted to not return to the media, at least not full time. But for Hersey, keeping her foot in the door is not only a good idea professionally, she finds it to be a good idea mentally. It's also challenging her time management skills: she finds she gets her most productive writing in around 4 to 5 a.m.

'That would never have happened prior to kids,' said Hersey. 'It's nice to still hold on to Jodi pre-motherhood and still be able to have that outlet and be a stay-at-home mom.'


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