Twin blessing bursts bubble blues

Byron and Deb with Leah and Lexi.

In years to come, Warkworth twins Leah and Lexi Jollivet are unlikely to have much trouble identifying the historic event surrounding their entry into the world.

They were born on March 26 – just hours after New Zealand went into an Alert Level 4 l ockdown in a bid to halt the spread of Covid-19.

Their dad, Byron, jokes that he and his wife Deb considered calling their girls Quaran and Tine to mark the occasion.

Given the speed with which the couple had to come up with some names, it’s perhaps surprising that those names did not stick.

On Deb’s arrival at North Shore Hospital for a delivery by caesarean, it transpired that Byron would not be allowed to stay overnight as planned in order to comply with new lockdown restrictions.

Deb says she could not bear the thought of having her newborns identified as Twin 1 and Twin 2, and insisted she and Byron come up with suitable alternatives before Byron left the hospital.

Although the names had not been considered previously, the couple quickly settled on Leah and Lexi. 

Both girls delivered safely, but Deb and Byron were unable to celebrate together for long, and  their enforced separation continued following Deb’s transfer to the Warkworth Birthing Centre.

It turned out Byron could only stay at the unit with Deb if he could commit to being there permanently – something that proved impossible with two other children to look after.

“It was a bit sad. When you have got twins, it’s something special, and I really wanted him to be there,”
Deb says.   

She says that a stay at the birthing unit was optional, but given that she had twins born four weeks premature, it was only sensible to stay two nights and benefit from the support of skilled midwives.    

“After that, I was very keen to get home.”

Like thousands of others around the country, lockdown has delivered the Jollivet’s some economic blows.

The couple were just weeks away from moving into a new house they’ve been building for three years, but Covid-19 put construction on hold – forcing the Jollivets to continue to pay rent and a mortgage on a new house, all while Deb, a teacher at Warkworth Primary School, was on maternity leave.

But Byron says in other ways lockdown worked in their favour. Normally his work as a business development manager sees him doing a lot of travel, but during lockdown he was able to stay at home and get to know his two new girls better.  

Deb says it’s been nice to get to bond with the girls with just the immediate family around.

“Sometimes when a baby is born you have lots of visitors and end up not getting that special time. But we have had that special time because of lockdown,” she says.

Nevertheless, the couple say they had a hard time keeping up with their extended family’s demand for photos and videos, and had to set up two WhatsApp groups for sharing images – one for Byron’s side of the family and one for Deb’s.   

“People can get emotional if there are no new photos each day,” Byron says.  

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