By Allison Adato Jennifer Wulff
February 21, 2005 12:00 PM

Julia Roberts and husband Danny Moder have never taken a shine to the Hollywood party circuit; it’s quite possible they’ve never even met Paris Hilton. But this past New Year’s Eve, the couple no doubt stayed up all night. As usual, they celebrated the holiday with a few friends and family members at their Taos, N. Mex., ranch. But also in the house were two high-maintenance additions to the party: twins Phinnaeus Walter and Hazel Patricia, born in the wee hours of Nov. 28. Although they arrived premature, at around 5 lbs. each, and remained at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles under doctors’ care for eight days, the twins were taken home on Dec. 6 in good health. Which means, of course, that they were fully equipped to do what twins do best: demanding double feedings, twice as many diaper changes and night shifts that go on all night. The Moders may have greeted 2005 at dawn, but they did it without horns or hangovers.

Still, the sleepless nights haven’t diminished the famous hearty laugh or transformed Roberts, 37, into anything one might call matronly. “Since these babies were born, she’s never been happier,” says a friend of the actress’s. The pictures of Roberts holding the babies on the cover and preceding pages were taken recently by Moder near their ranch. The couple issued the photos along with a joint statement signed “Danny and Julia Moder”: “We are releasing these photographs not only to share our happiness, but to ensure the privacy, safety and respect our babies deserve.” The pictures also reveal Mom’s own remarkable return to her old self. With the twins less than 3 months old and despite a month of prenatal bed rest ordered by her doctors after early contractions, Roberts has already shed her extra weight, thanks, in part, to regular Pilates. Recently the new mom, along with her husband and a few friends, ventured out to take a trapeze class in a converted theater near their Taos home, where Roberts and the kids have been spending most of their time. (The Moder clan recently expanded the Taos spread by buying 32 acres from neighbor Donald Rumsfeld, adding to an impressive real estate portfolio that includes homes in Los Angeles, Manhattan and a new place in Malibu under renovation.) Meanwhile Danny, 36, has been dividing his time between the family in New Mexico and a job in Los Angeles, where he’s working as a cameraman on the set of the Jennifer Aniston film Friends with Money.

Roberts’s mom, Betty Motes, 70, has also visited to lend her grandmotherly support. To the family, Phinnaeus has already come to be known simply as Finn. (His middle name, Walter, comes from Roberts’s late father; Hazel’s middle name, Patricia, comes from Moder’s late mother.) Finn and Hazel have become familiar sights around the Taos town square and the park; one local describes Finn as “a very happy baby who smiles a lot” and Hazel as “a deep thinker and observer.” Mom continues to hone her knitting skills, crafting baby-size clothing, and is preparing to return to making movies (see box). The pampered life of a movie star on the set may feel like a holiday in the wake of her current gig with its low pay and no days off. But even before the arrival of Finn and Hazel, she seemed to be maturing into the role. As she told W, “I think that it is safe to say now that I am fully and completely a grown-up.”

Just three months after giving birth to son Ryder, Kate Hudson packed up the family to a film set in Louisiana. “How lucky am I as a working mother that I can have my baby with me?” she said. But the star soon found that “when you’re nursing and working 18-hour days, that’s pretty hard.”

Hollywood moms have more help than most—anyone for a traveling nanny? But they also face unique challenges, like protecting their privacy. (When Hudson gave birth, paparazzi donned scrubs to sneak into the hospital.) Even the decision to start a family can pose a dilemma for many actresses, whose maternal urges often coincide with the most fertile periods of their careers. Accepting good roles may mean long days and shoots far from home—but turning them down might lead to fewer offers later on. “For Julia Roberts, it’s not like anyone will say, ‘She just had babies, we’ll forget about, her,’ ” says FOX 2000 Pictures president Elizabeth Gabler. “It’s more that people put pressure on them [to return to work].”

When Gwyneth Paltrow had her daughter Apple, now 9 months, she decided to trim her schedule. “I’ve done everything careerwise I want to,” she said last August. “I won’t work soon. And I definitely won’t do multiple films a year.” She hasn’t yet returned to full-time acting, though she has two projects in the works.

Sometimes an actress has no choice in the matter. Cate Blanchett, Oscar-nominated for her role in The Aviator, had to drop out of Closer when she was expecting her second child, “because you can’t insure a woman in her third trimester,” she says. Still, she hasn’t found it impossible to combine motherhood and career: “I often think the more you take on, the more capacity you find within yourself.”

Blanchett’s fellow Oscar nominee Kate Winslet (for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) concentrates on being mom to her two kids by being picky about roles. “I wait until something grabs me,” she says. “I don’t work that much really. When you’ve got a family, it’s never hard to say no.”

Allison Adato and Jennifer Wulff. Susan Christian-Goulding and Chris Gardner in Los Angeles, KC Baker, Amy Longsdorf and Diane Clehane in New York and Ellen Tumposky in London