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Starring in a Twin Bill

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It has been one of the most public pregnancies ever. Daily some five million sharp-eyed viewers have been able to catch glimpses of Jane Pauley’s maternal blooming as she scurried about the Today show set. Who can deny that she looked radiant? And if she wasn’t saying much about what everybody could see—impending twins are hardly unobtrusive, after all—then Willard Scott could be counted on to say something waggish about the “little mother.”

Until this week, that is. Just seven weeks away from her due date of Jan. 11,1984, Pauley has temporarily turned over her anchor’s chair to Connie Chung to begin her (paid) maternity leave. “I’ll be home sleeping late, watching TV or twiddling my thumbs,” says Pauley, 33. But, like many other mothers past 30, she’s not planning to stay out of the work force for long. “I know it’s going to kill me to leave the babies at home when I come back to work in late February,” she says. “But in this business I don’t feel I have the luxury of taking a year off.”

With the once-unchallenged Today currently running nip and tuck against the flashier Good Morning America with David Hartman, and CBS Morning News showing more showbiz pizazz with Diane Sawyer and Bill Kurtis, Pauley has a right to feel protective. But after a much-publicized miscarriage in 1981 and a second, little-known miscarriage in 1982, she is taking no chances with the health of her babies. “Twins are a high-risk pregnancy, by definition,” she says. Noting that twins tend to come early, Pauley says, “The quieter I am, the longer I can keep them growing.”

To maintain her strength, Jane has been swimming at least once a week. In addition, she’s been attending weekly Lamaze classes along with her husband, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Garry Trudeau, 35, whose musical adaptation of his strip, Doonesbury, has just opened on Broadway. “He gets just as ashen-faced as I do when they talk about pain,” Jane says. Trudeau’s strip showed feminist Joanie Caucus and her husband, Rick Redfern, as expectant parents. “The pregnancy story is somewhat autobiographical,” says Jane, “but Joanie and Rick are not identical with Jane and Garry.”

Trudeau plans to be with his wife in the delivery room, where she hopes “to deliver with as few drugs as possible.” Jane and Garry do not know whether the twins are identical or fraternal, nor does she know the babies’ gender. (Since Jane is under 35, her doctor did not recommend amniocentesis.) “Most people want a boy and a girl—one of each—when they have twins,” she says, “but Garry and I would prefer two girls.”

Most of all, they would prefer no complications. Though the couple have turned one of the rooms in their three-bedroom Manhattan apartment into a nursery (painted yellow), Jane has not decorated the room with any of the hundreds of gifts (from twin pairs of booties to baby blankets) she’s received from Today viewers. Superstitious, she has stashed the toys in her office for now and decreed “no baby showers” until after the infants are born. “I’ve seen so many parents left with a room full of toys after a miscarriage. Women don’t realize how common miscarriage is—more than one out of 10 pregnancies. I don’t want to tempt fate.”

Pauley’s 1981 miscarriage was particularly painful because it was public knowledge. When she was three months pregnant, she shared her good news with Today staff members. The report was leaked to columnists, and items about Jane’s happy tidings appeared the same week that she lost her baby. “It was hard to have my private loss made so public at a time when I was grieving,” says Pauley, who felt “an indefinable void” in her life. “Men and women both wrote to tell me how they had been through the same experience but had gone on to have other children. It was comforting to hear their stories.” There was no press coverage of her second miscarriage—few outside her family knew about it. “It happened so early—at two weeks—that it didn’t have the same impact,” she says. “It was, in a sense, a good sign, because it told me I could become pregnant again.”

When she found out in June that she was carrying twins, Pauley remembers, “I was thrilled and in shock. At that point I wasn’t prepared to be the parent of one, much less two, but I’ve never been tempted to give one back.” (Jane—whose great-grandmother was a twin—will neither confirm nor deny that she was taking fertility drugs before the pregnancy.) “This pregnancy does not have anything to do with the first,” she says, “but after the miscarriages it seems only fair to have two.”

Some of her associates at NBC believe that Jane gained a new maturity after the first miscarriage. “It was a terrible thing, but it made her a more compassionate person,” says Steve Friedman, the executive producer of Today. “Before that, she had had this perfect life, with no problems.”

Impending motherhood even seems to have benefited Pauley’s on-air performance. When she was hired in 1976 to replace Barbara Walters on Today, the 25-year-old Pauley seemed controlled and edgy on-camera, as if determined to prove to her critics that she was not some inexperienced airhead. In recent months she has loosened up, cracking jokes with her male cohorts and reacting more personally in her interviews. “My life outside Today is so much richer that I’m willing to take more risks on the air,” says Pauley. “I’ve been told by several NBC executives that I’m doing my best work ever.”

Today film critic Gene Shalit agrees. “I’ve liked her from the beginning, but she’s so radiant now that it’s a pleasure to be near her.”

Born Margaret Jane Pauley (she has an older sister, Ann, a nuclear engineer), the future anchorwoman was reared in Indianapolis. Her mother was a homemaker, her father a food-products distributor. A year after graduating from Indiana University with a degree in political science, she was hired—with no journalism experience—as a reporter for an Indianapolis TV station that was looking for a female staffer. She worked as the first female co-anchor of an evening news program in Chicago before being picked from 250 applicants to replace Barbara Walters on Today.

Pauley was derided as a triumph of corn-fed style over experience-bred substance. But, she says, “It was a different time for women in TV news. I had done more on-air work than more experienced journalists who were up for the job.” Besides, she adds, “I was too naive to know what failure would mean to my career.”

When Good Morning America co-host Joan Lunden was pregnant, in 1980 and 1983, GMA boosted its ratings with maternity stories featuring Joan. In contrast, Pauley did not formally announce her current pregnancy until shortly before she began her leave, though columnist Liz Smith had printed the news when Pauley was only two months pregnant. “Good Morning America exploited Joan Lunden’s pregnancy, but you won’t see me bringing my babies on the air,” says Jane. “The only reason I’m talking about the babies at all is that they’ve been with me on the show since I became pregnant. After a while, I had to acknowledge this pumpkin tummy.”

On a more serious note, Pauley recently became unsettled while interviewing a health expert about toxoplasmosis, a disease carried by cats that can infect pregnant women and may result in retarded infants. “I’m a cat owner,” Jane explains, “and I suddenly recalled being ill a few weeks earlier. I took both the cats and myself for testing and was relieved to discover that there wasn’t any problem.”

Before she began her leave, Pauley had to make few changes in her rigorous work schedule. In the past three months she has been getting up at 4 a.m., as usual, for the show, then returning home for a noontime nap before putting in three more hours at the network in the afternoon. “From July on, I felt full of tremendous energy,” she says, “although in the last two weeks I began to feel myself slow down to 15 mph.” (Pauley, who normally weighs about 110 pounds, expects to have gained 40 to 45 pounds by the time the babies are born. “I’ve gotten used to having people on the street look me not in the eye but the stomach,” she says with a laugh.)

The only bad time for Pauley came in June, when she suffered morning sickness. “I would often race for the bathroom after an interview,” she says. “Tom Wolfe and Nora Ephron don’t know how close I came to throwing up on them.” Jane missed only two days of work during her pregnancy.

Pauley insists she’s not worried about resuming her demanding job. “My work schedule allows me to come and go during the day, and my husband will be at home with the children.” Trudeau, who has a studio in the apartment, began a one-year sabbatical from drawing Doonesbury last January, announcing that he wanted to bring his characters into the ’80s. Says Pauley, “He’s as eager to learn about parenting as I am.” Helping the neophyte parents will be a nurse, who will live in for the first two months. “Art Ulene [the Today show’s on-air physician] told me that twins never eat or need to be changed at the same time,” says Pauley. “He said, ‘I have only two words of advice for you: Get help.’ ”

Tom Brokaw, the father of three girls, says, “It amuses me to think how their lives will change after the babies. They’ll have two 24-hour-a-day responsibilities. But they have a shared marriage, and they’ll make it work.” Brokaw brought the two together at a dinner party six months after Jane’s arrival in New York in 1976. “Garry had asked me about Jane, and my wife, Meredith, thought that Jane needed a local boyfriend.” Their common bond was frozen dinners. “We found that we shared an intimate knowledge of every brand,” says Jane. They were wed in 1980.

Although he is married to a journalist, Trudeau never gives interviews. “It may seem odd,” says his wife, “but he feels that his work shows his opinions. I value my privacy almost as much as he does, even though I work on television.” According to friends, Trudeau is delighted and ready for fatherhood. He has passed muster with at least one grandparent. “He’s got his feet on the ground,” says Jane’s father, Dick Pauley. At 68, he shares Garry’s preference for girls. “Girls never get too old to sit on their daddy’s lap,” he says.

As she nestles in for the last weeks of her pregnancy, Jane Pauley is pleased to be “just another healthy, pregnant lady.” She insists that she is not following the trend of celebrity motherhood and supermom chic. “Because our generation has waited so long to have babies, we feel we’ve ‘discovered’ something that women have been doing for thousands of years. I have no illusions that I will be in the same situation as the average working mother. I’m not trying to prove anything—I just want to have kids.”