THE PARENTS: Devon Klinger, 33, and Andrew Klinger, 35, of Roxborough
THE KIDS: Reid Thomas, 2; Hayden Christine, born August 31, 2018
A PROTOCOL IN NAMING THE CHILDREN: "I have a unique name," Devon says. "I wanted my kids to have names like that, too. Any name in the top 100 would automatically be out."
The baby was too quiet.
"He's not crying. He's not crying," Devon kept repeating to the doctors and nurses crammed into the room where she'd been laboring for 23 hours, the room in which the OB had cautioned, "One more push, or you're having a C-section," and she'd given another ferocious push, and he was out.
"He was gray and seemed kind of lifeless," Andrew recalls. "They had a bag pushing air into his lungs, to kick-start them. Thirty seconds felt like an hour."
Finally, Reid let out a yowl, followed by a splash as he peed on the doctors hovering around him. "Everybody let out a collective sigh," Andrew says. "Then the room cleared out, they gave him back to us, and he laid on Devon's chest."
The two never had to persuade each other to get on the parenthood page; that was an easy accord, like their shared love of football and embrace of each other's families. They were neighbors, living four houses apart in Baltimore; Devon was walking her dog one morning, too rushed even to say "hi," when Andrew came outside.
"I texted him later to say I was sorry, and he said, 'Do you want to go out and grab a drink?' " she recalls. Three months later, Andrew landed a job in construction management in Philadelphia. Devon, a teacher, decided she'd join him as soon as the school year was over.
"My parents, particularly my dad, said, 'This is a really dumb move.' I said, 'OK. I'm going to do it anyway.' "
Andrew intended to propose the Friday before Thanksgiving 2013, but Devon contracted a stomach virus that scotched those plans. So on Thanksgiving afternoon, on the way to his parents' house in Wayne, he suggested they stop at Belmont Plateau to take pictures.
Devon was cold. "Are we done yet?" she wanted to know. "Then he got down on one knee and said a lot of things I don't remember." A couple of EMTs in an off-duty ambulance hopped out of the car to snap a picture. Later, with both sets of parents, they raised a champagne toast.
At their June 2015 wedding, the best man joked that they were already pregnant. They weren't. But a month later, Devon came downstairs from the bathroom. "Andrew," she said, and something in her voice forecast the news.
They waited until Halloween to make it public, with a Facebook photo of two large pumpkins printed with their own birth dates, then a smaller pumpkin labeled "coming April 2016."
For 16 weeks, Devon's nausea was a relentless metronome. "Every day at 6:30, I'd come home from work and get sick. You could time your watch by it," she recalls. For a month or so in the middle, she felt reasonably well; in the third trimester, heartburn kicked in and her blood pressure rose.
Two-and-a-half weeks before the baby's due date, the OB at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania checked her pressure and announced, "We're inducing you today." And by the time Reid — the first grandchild on both sides of the family — was born, the waiting room was awash in eager relatives.
Reid was just 7 weeks old when the family moved from a snug Fairmount townhouse to a larger place in Roxborough. It poured on moving day. "I got stuck in traffic on I-76," Devon remembers. "The baby was crying. The cat was crying. I thought: What are we doing?"
Soon, though, they were trying for a second baby — six months without success, then a miscarriage at four weeks, then a brief respite. Around Christmas, they noticed their dog, Roxie, a husky-sheltie mix, wouldn't leave Devon alone; she even trailed her into the bathroom.
The dog seemed to intuit what a pregnancy test confirmed. And when Devon, a fourth-grade teacher, began gagging noticeably in class, her students asked if she was going to have a baby. "It's not nice to ask a lady that question," she told them.
At 12 weeks, she verified the kids' hunch; then she and Andrew went public just before Easter with a posting of Reid in a T-shirt that said, "Some-bunny's going to be a big brother."
Devon, once again experiencing high blood pressure toward the end of her pregnancy, was scheduled to be induced on Aug. 31 — a date she pragmatically favored because it meant the child would make the cutoff for kindergarten.
But the night before the induction, the baby seemed ready to elbow her way out. Andrew shot a video of Devon's belly, bulging erratically from the inside, "like a dance party," he says.
At HUP, even after an epidural, Devon felt fierce, fast contractions. Finally, a nurse checked: she'd dilated from 3 centimeters to 10 in about an hour. Unlike Reid's glacially slow birth, this one happened fast: At 8 a.m., the OB broke Devon's water; at 8:05, Andrew texted their families; at 8:13, after three pushes, Hayden was born.
They were different pregnancies, disparate birth experiences. Now they're kids with distinct personalities: Hayden is both more active and more amenable than her brother was as an infant. Reid alternates between showering his baby sister with hugs and — on one indelible afternoon — biting her on the foot.
Life is altered now: a trip to the pumpkin patch instead of a leisurely Sunday brunch; toddler swim class in lieu of happy hour. Devon hopes to replicate the sweet spots of her own childhood: summers at her family's house near Crystal Lake in northeastern Pennsylvania, where they toasted s'mores and listened to grandparents' stories and played Capture the Flag with the neighbor kids until their parents shouted them inside.
She and Andrew were married there. Rain pelted down throughout the reception, but there was a moment when the photographer summoned the pair outside, away from the pulsing dance floor: a kidnapped instant, drenched and euphoric, a shower of flash-lit raindrops falling all around them.