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Take two: Cynthia Watros, mom of twins

You might know her from The Drew Carey Show, Titus, or years ago as the Annie on Guiding Light — a role for which she won a Daytime Emmy for “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Daytime Drama Series” in 1998. And in 2005, she joined the cast of the hit ABC series Lost. But before being stranded on a desert isle — back in 2001 — we talked to actress Cynthia Watros as she was preparing for a brand new role: motherhood.

“When my husband and I found out we were pregnant, that was kind of a shocker,” says 33-year-old actress Cynthia Watros. “But it was time. We thought, ‘This is a good time in our lives, and Titus is going really well… We’re at a good place.'”

Shortly thereafter, Cynthia and her husband, Curt Gilliland, went to the doctor for a prenatal checkup. They were told that the baby sounded great. Their doctor then sent them off to see a specialist for an ultrasound, specifically to look for some markers of Down Syndrome. “The specialist asked us if our regular doctor had said anything to us,” Cynthia recalled. “My husband and I thought, ‘Oh my God, our baby has Down Syndrome.’ We said ‘No, what’s going on?’ And [the specialist] said, ‘You have two babies!’ I looked at him and said, ‘You’re so funny…two babies. Yeah, that’s really funny.’ And he goes, ‘Look at the screen.'” They did, and what they saw astonished them. “There was one head and one heartbeat… and then he moved the little ultrasound thing, and there was another little head and another heartbeat. My husband and I just looked at each other — it was a complete shock.”

“It felt kind of surreal that whole day,” she said. “But it was actually a very cool thing to discover. We were really okay with it right from the beginning — it’s an amazing thing.”

When it comes to sharing the news with other people, Cynthia said, “You usually get two reactions from women. They usually say, ‘Oh, that’s so great! I always wanted twins,’ or ‘Oh my God, I’m so glad it’s not me.'”

On the set
She also had to share the big news with everyone at work. “Before the ultrasound, I had just told the Titus people that I was pregnant…They had said ‘Oh, you won’t get that big, it will be fine.'” She laughed, “And I had to go and say, ‘Well, you know about that ‘big’ thing? I’m having twins, so I think I’m going to get kind of big!'”

On the set, they had to get creative in order to mask her pregnancy for the rest of the season. “They hid me — I’d be behind things or carry things,” she recalled. “I was in a wheelchair with my purse in front of my stomach for two episodes; I’m on the couch with a pillow for one episode. They did a really great job incorporating it into the storyline. It was hard to hide.”

Cynthia goes back to work in August, when her girls will be just a couple months old. Her daughters will come to work with her every day and stay on the set. “Christopher Titus’ wife is pregnant and due in August, and we have a hair person, Roxie, who just had a baby girl, so [the producers] are going to build a little nursery,” she said. Having the babies nearby will make her new life — and new demands — easier to adjust to. “Especially if you’re breastfeeding, it helps.”

A happy and healthy pregnancy
Women who carry more than one baby are considered high risk and frequently experience complications. Not so for Cynthia, who, just a few weeks from term, still thought pregnancy is great. “My doctor has told me stories about women [expecting] twins who have to have bed rest at 20 or 27 weeks,” she said. “I’m still swimming, and I haven’t even had any Braxton-Hicks. It’s been really — I don’t want to say ‘easy’ — but it’s been very uncomplicated. They’re really happy with the progress of the girls. I couldn’t ask for more.”

Cynthia was prepared even for the possibility that the girls might arrive prematurely. “I have thought of everything — about them being in the hospital, about them coming home — so I’m prepared for both. I have everything that I need.”

To prepare for parenthood, Cynthia and her husband hit the bookstores. “I read a lot. I have every book possible,” she laughs. They also took classes at their local hospital. “We just took our breastfeeding class, we have taken Lamaze…we have taken everything, because neither one of us has ever been around children. We’re the youngest. So when we saw the hospital had a bunch of classes, we signed up for everything. We signed up for infant care, CPR.” She holds no illusions that these classes will give her all the answers. “I’m just educating myself so I feel I am at least somewhat in command of the situation… I know that I am still going to have questions.”

Of pregnancy as a whole, she says, “There are so many good parts.” For example, “Realizing when they want to play… and you see them just moving around and their arm poking out, and you sort of massage it back in, ‘Let’s go back in.’ It’s amazing that I can look down and see these babies moving around.”

Body image
Everyone’s heard that television is supposed to put ten pounds on you. So were the producers of Titus pushing her to watch that weight gain so she can come back slim after the babies arrive? “No, I think I push myself more than anybody else, because it’s such a big part of my profession — not only to act well but you have to take care of yourself physically. It motivates me,” Cynthia says. “If I wasn’t in acting, I still think I would be somewhat athletic because I really like it, I like being outdoors, hiking and running. But acting actually motivates me even more to keep it up. and it’s a good stress releaser and I just find a lot of benefits.”

So how did she stay in shape during pregnancy? “At first, I would just speed walk and lift really light weights. Now, speed walking just is hilarious,” she laughs. “Swimming makes me feel so good. We don’t have a pool here at the house, so I go to a gym in West Hollywood. You have all these gorgeous people, and there I am in my maternity bathing suit, and they’re going, ‘Please don’t go in my lane! Please don’t go in my lane!'”

“It’s amazing how different you look. I look in the mirror and I see old pictures and go ‘Wow!'” But the changes also offer a new perspective. “I look at my body a differently now than I did before,” she admits. “You look at your breasts a little differently. Before, you get a great bra, and they’re these things that are just nice looking. Now I look at them and I still think that they’re breasts, they’re my breasts, they’re great breasts — but it’s also amazing that I can feed human beings with them.”

Welcome to the world
Cynthia was a proud member of the pregnancy sorority. “You’re just like a smile magnet for awhile. Now the reaction I get from people… my stomach is pretty big and I’m still walking around — and I’ll look at someone and they’ll kind of go ‘Oh my God.’ You get a lot of attention. Some of it’s great — most of it’s great — ‘I’m really happy for you.’ And I don’t mind people touching my stomach. It’s kind of like they’re saying, ‘Hey, it’s okay out here.’ Welcoming this new life.”

Cynthia’s excitement about impending motherhood is impossible to miss, and she clearly looks forward to bonding with her babies. “I can hardly wait to meet them. It must be an amazing thing — to see their faces for the first time, to introduce yourself.”

Just like the rest of us, Cynthia is awed by the process of pregnancy. “It’s just amazing that I can hold two individuals — that my body is doing everything it can to create human life. I’ve never done this before, and it’s amazing that you can do this with your body. It’s really a miracle,” Cynthia said. “I think it took me awhile in the pregnancy to realize what a miracle it was… What an amazing thing.”

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