Actress and former model Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon, best known for her role on NYPD Blue, has a 17-year-old son and recently gave birth to twins Jax and Jaid at the age of 40 — but she isn’t letting twin boys slow her down. Garcelle spoke with FAMEbaby about motherhood.
FB: Our audience is fascinated with baby names and picking the right names for their kids. Your twins’ names are so unique. How did you come up with them?
GBN: With Jax, my father-in-law’s name is Jack. It’s funny, even before meeting my husband I always wanted to have a son named Jack, which is bizarre. When we were thinking of names we thought of Jackson with an X, but then we thought, why don’t we just do J-a-x. And for Jaid, we literally just needed another J name.
FB: Did having twins make it easier to pick the second name, since you already had the first name picked out?
GBN: It did. As soon as we had decided on those names we ran out to Pottery Barn Kids and bought those wooden letters that you put on the wall in the nursery. And my husband said, what if we change the names? We could have always returned the letters, but I liked the names. I think that set it in stone, buying the letters.
FB: They’re almost a year old. Are they sleeping through the night yet?
GBN: Yes, thank god. We used the Ferber method. Instead of giving you formula and breastfeeding information when you leave the hospital, they should just give you that book.
We had a baby nurse at the beginning. At first I was really against having one — we had waited so long to have a baby, I didn’t want someone else doing it. But everyone was like, “Reality check, Garcelle. You have two, there’s no way.” But even though we had a nurse, I still got up, because again, there were two. Once she left, about six weeks later, it was really daunting for us. We were in a daze because we had two kids waking up at different times all through the night and we never really slept. My husband said the thing no one ever told him was that it really takes 45 minutes to an hour when they wake up, because it’s not just feeding them and putting them back to bed.
FB: Did you take turns, or did you both get up every night?
GBN: We both had to get up. He was absolutely fantastic. He never complained. I’d have both of them up and be like “there’s a poopy diaper and there’s a feeding, who do you want?” Most of the time he’d take the poopy diaper, which was great.
FB: Do the twins already have different personalities?
GBN: Absolutely. Jax is our flirt, our dancer, Mr. Personality. And Jaid has a great personality, too, but he’s not as easy as Jax. He makes you work for the smile. He’s much more observant, while Jax jumps right in.
FB: You have a teenage son who’s 17. What’s the number one thing you learned from your first child that you’re applying to the twins? Or is it a totally different experience?
GBN: No, it’s not completely different. Patience is definitely one thing I learned with Oliver. But now that I’m older and in a different place in my life, it’s much easier to come up with the patience than it was before. Nowadays there’s just so much more information. Not only on BabyCenter, but everything Internet-wise. You don’t need to panic as much, you just need to get on your computer. But there’s another side to it where there’s too much information, which can freak you out as well.
FB: Does Oliver spend a lot of time with the twins and does he get along well with them?
GBN: He does, but I wouldn’t say a lot of time. People ask, “Does Oliver babysit?” and I say, “Yeah, in the middle of text messaging.” I really thought with the gap between them that he would be blasé about it, but he totally loves his brothers. And like I said, because Jax is a little easier and friendlier, he’s bonded a little more with him. When friends come over, especially girls, he’ll be like, “Come and see my brothers.”
FB: What surprised you, or is continuing to surprise you about having twins?
GBN: Mostly just the surprise of having two of them. I’ll look down and see them both crawling and go, “Oh my God, I have two of them!” It’s just daunting. We didn’t baby proof with Oliver because with just one you can watch him. With two, they’re both going in different directions so we had to have the house baby proofed. Let me tell you, try and get a spoon out of a drawer or go to the bathroom. It’s like Fort Knox.
I think what surprises me is I really love them both the same. There isn’t one that I favor more than the other. You would think maybe one would edge out the other a little more, but they’re both really great. If I get tired of one I have the other one.
FB: Is there one piece of baby gear that you can’t live without?
GBN: The Baby Bjorn has been a big thing for us. When Jaid gets really fussy my husband will put it on in the house and Jaid just loves to be in it, walking around and looking around. That’s been really helpful when I’m pushing the stroller and one gets fussy. I can put on the Bjorn and wear one and push the other.
Also, Munchkin makes these little blue scented bags that you can put dirty diapers in. That’s really good when you’re over at a friend’s house or Grandma’s house and you have a poopy diaper. You just put it in that, tie it up, and put it in the trash and it doesn’t smell.
FB: What’s something that you thought you were going to use all the time but that ended up being a total waste of money?
GBN: Shoes! So many shoes! We got Uggs, we got Nikes, Pumas. They were the cutest little things when you were opening the present, but they’ve never worn them.
FB: How long did you take off for maternity leave?
GBN: I’m still not back, actually. I’m just starting to take meetings and read scripts. We waited so long to have the twins, I feel like being a little selfish — I want to be able to be around them. The jewelry line is something I can create while I’m at home, so I’m not going completely stale creatively. It’s really important to spend the time with my kids. It goes by so fast.
FB: Has having children changed the way you look at your work, such as how you pick roles?
GBN: Yeah, in a way. With Oliver I think I always had that mindset. I’d try not to go away or take any jobs that meant relocating because I wanted to be there for him. It’s more of the same [with the twins]. I’ll do jobs if they’re in L.A. Or, if it’s not for too long, I can take them with me. I think with a possible strike and the way this season has been, I haven’t missed much. That’s worked in my favor. By the time the right job comes along, I’m sure I’ll be ready.
FB: What’s your best tip for getting back in shape after a baby?
GBN: I did the Scarsdale food delivery, which was really helpful because it’s convenient — they drop off food for you every morning. That really helped because at first I had no time to cook.
Believe it or not, I think now we put too much emphasis on “Oh my god, she lost the weight in two weeks.” I didn’t have a trainer, I didn’t have a chef. I can understand how people can feel like celebrities have everything at their disposal.
It’s all in moderation. I got lucky. To be honest I didn’t think I would lose my weight so quickly, because I’m older, and I was carrying two. I would look down at myself and go, “There’s no way this is going back down.” And after having the baby I thought they left one in there because I was still looking pregnant. We can’t pressure ourselves. You do it when you can, how you can. A lot of walking with them in the morning helped.
FB: What’s one misconception about celebrity moms that you’d love to put to rest?
GBN: That we have round-the-clock help. That’s not the case. People ask how many nannies I have, and I’m like, “What?!” I have one and me and my husband. I think the misconception is that you don’t spend time with the kids.
For the rest of Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon’s interview with FAMEbaby click here!