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Update: Interview added — pick up the new issue of PEOPLE for more photos!
Molly Ringwald snuggles into an oversize rocking chair on a sparkling California morning and gazes down at the sleeping, swaddled bundle in her arms.
“It feels like a tree house up here,” she says, feeding a bottle of pumped breast milk to 4-week-old daughter Adele Georgiana in the attic nursery of her home in a beachy L.A. neighborhood.
The white-on-white nursery, designed by Stephanie Pearson of Knudson Interiors, features watercolor paintings by big sister Mathilda — and her old toy piano.
Tranquil as it is now, the room’s tiny occupants — Adele (named for Molly’s mom) and her twin brother Roman Stylianos — make sure nights are noisier.
“You get up with one of the babies and feed and change that one and get the baby back to sleep, and the other wakes up, and then you feed and change that one,” she says of her nocturnal routine, which sometimes includes singing her favorite jazz standards — “I’ll Take Romance” and “Exactly Like You” — to the twins. “It is exhausting, but it’s wonderful.”
It is also an unexpected “gift” for Molly, 41, the ’80s It Girl who starred in films such as Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club. Already a mom to 5 ½-year-old Mathilda Ereni with husband Panio Gianopoulos, 34, a writer turned MBA student she married in 2007, she’s delighting in her second — and third — chance at motherhood.
“To have the opportunity to have another girl — it is a dream come true,” says Molly, whose pregnancy was written into her role on ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager. “And a boy! We were all overjoyed about that too.”
Click below to read about Molly’s family dreams coming true and her “compromise” with her ob/gyn to avoid a c-section.
In the years before Mathilda’s 2003 birth, Molly feared her dream of having a family might be slipping away. Divorced from French writer Valéry Lameignère in 2002, “I was definitely wondering if I was able to find love again,” she says. “I was nervous. There was a lot of trepidation.”
Then she met Panio, nearly seven years her junior. “When we first started talking about wanting children, he said he wanted to wait until he was 40,” she recalls. “I said, ‘Oh, no, that’s not gonna work.’ ” But now? “He is a wonderful, wonderful dad,” Molly says.
Getting pregnant after Mathilda was a challenge, but whether Molly turned to fertility treatments is “private,” she says. “After Mathilda was born, I had some things fixed” — surgery to remove fibroids — “that made it easier to get pregnant again. There were some other issues, too. But I was so, so lucky to be 41 and to be so healthy during this pregnancy.”
Apart from “terrible, terrible nausea” during her first trimester and feeling “incredibly tired,” the pregnancy with the twins progressed smoothly. Determined to deliver the babies without a c-section, she agreed to be induced on July 9th. “That was kind of my compromise with the doctors — that if there was any kind of uterine rupture, they would be able to get them out immediately.”
After 11 hours of contractions, Molly delivered Adele at 9:01 a.m. and Roman — who was breech — three minutes later. “It was such an extraordinary birth. The doctor grabbed him by the foot and pulled him out,” she says. “Adele had hogged a lot of the oxygen in the blood so right away Roman needed a little more attention. But both babies cried almost immediately.”
They’ve been making themselves heard ever since. Although the new parents decided against hiring a baby nurse, they’ve had plenty of family help. (Molly’s parents are currently staying with her.) Already Molly is starting to feel like her pre-pregnancy self. “I was able to fit into my normal pants not long after the babies arrived,” notes the actress, who says a waist-tightening belly band she has been wearing “really helps.”
Mostly, though, she is focused on enjoying these early days with her newly expanded family of five. “Having a son as well as another daughter, it was just a really grand surprise,” she says. “Miracles? You could say that.”
— Michelle Tauber and Pamela Warrick