THE PARENTS: Lee Anne Trotman, 38, and Justin Trotman, 35, of Germantown
THE KIDS: Addison Douglas Simon and Axel Ivan Cleon, born February 8, 2019
THOSE NAMES: Both Lee Anne and Justin grew up on streets called Addison. Axel is a cognate of “Absalom,” the name of their church’s founder. The boys’ middle names are all drawn from family members.
He says they met during Bible study at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas. She says it was actually at a church near Rittenhouse Square. He claims their “second first date,” in August 2014, came at his initiation; she insists it was the other way around.
But Justin and Lee Anne found concord on the things that mattered: faith, family connection (his clan is from Trinidad and Tobago; hers is from Jamaica), and — eventually, they figured — children.
Lee Anne was impressed with Justin’s old-school kindness — opening doors, walking her to the car — and how, at the charter school where he works, he knows all 480 students’ names. He noted her keen insights during those Bible discussions, her thirst for learning, the energy she brought to all her relationships.
On April 1, 2015, their church sponsored a young-adults’ outing to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “When he took me home, I said yes to us dating, yes to being ‘just us’ and not dating other people,” Lee Anne says.
Exactly two years later, on a chill and windy night, Justin orchestrated another Art Museum outing. By the time they arrived, the museum had closed, so they walked around the building until Justin nabbed a stranger to take their picture, then told Lee Anne that his knee hurt and he needed to give it a rest.
“I’d known Justin for 10 years at that point. He’s very healthy. He does a certain amount of push-ups every morning. All of a sudden his knee’s hurting him? Wait a minute, dude; you don’t have knee problems. At that point, I knew what was going to happen.”
They were married on another April day — again, a brisk and chilly one — at St. Thomas. Lee Anne’s godson played the violin; one of the groomsmen, who sings with Justin in the church’s gospel choir, sang as the wedding party processed. They didn’t have a videographer, but Justin recalls every instant: his quick run to the supermarket in the morning; the bridal party’s trolley ride from the church to City Hall; the moment when an exhausted Lee Anne conked out on the hotel bed, still in her wedding gown.
The couple had figured on waiting at least six months to try conceiving. But barely two months after their wedding, while in Los Angeles with Lee Anne’s family to record an episode of Family Feud (it finally aired in February), she noticed that her breasts were sore and swollen. Once back in Philadelphia, she picked up a drugstore test.
“It was positive before I’d even finished with it,” Lee Anne says. Justin wept with joy when he saw the results; his wife didn’t share the euphoria. She’d have to forgo wine, including during their upcoming trip to Italy and Greece. She’d have to stop working out so vigorously; at the time, she could squat-press 165 pounds. “I wasn’t ready for us to be pregnant so soon,” she says. “I wanted to enjoy the newlywed life.”
But those emotional roles flipped at the first ultrasound appointment, when the technician moved the wand over Lee Anne’s belly and said, “Well, there’s the first one …” Lee Anne was ecstatic; she’d always wanted twins, but figured that was unlikely after her sister had fraternal twins two years earlier.
For Justin, the prospect of two meant a wave of panic. “I thought: Two college tuitions? Being a father, to me, means that you have to be the provider. You have to put food on the table. It was really scary at first. From there on in, I just wanted everybody to be OK.”
For the most part, they were: Aside from the swollen ankles, Lee Anne loved everything about pregnancy, especially the way strangers would offer spontaneous words of kindness. “I was walking through Suburban Station, waddling a bit, and a woman said, ‘You’re doing great! Just keep going,’” she recalls.
Friends, family and colleagues showered them with baby gear at five different parties; sometimes students’ families would bring Justin bags of outgrown clothes. By the time of her scheduled C-section, at 38 weeks and three days (needed because Baby A was breech and Baby B was transverse in the womb), they were ready.
At Abington Hospital, Lee Anne felt like a human pincushion as nurses attempted to start IVs in her narrow veins. But she memorized the time on the operating room’s wall clock — 2:32 p.m. — when someone said Baby A, Addison, was a boy, and noted it again, two minutes later, when Axel was born.
“When I was born, I was bald,” she says. “My family calls me Kojak. Both these boys were born with full heads of hair. My first thought was: Whose children are these?” Justin recalls the bewilderment of seeing his sons, his actual children, lying on hospital scales, weighing in at 6 pounds, 12 ounces (Addison) and 6 pounds, 14 (Axel).
Lee Anne says she felt prepared for the physical pain of childbirth. But no one had told her nursing could be so difficult: the blisters; the fear that the babies might not gain enough weight; the necessity, finally, to supplement with formula.
She’s always been a planner, but now finds herself consumed with both short- and long-term details: Should they feed the boys before heading out the door? Will they be able to save enough for college? “I’m still in shock that I have two boys,” she says. “I can’t believe no one’s coming to pick them up from a babysitting gig.”