Tony Dovolani Introduces Twins Adrian and Ariana
Performing live on television each week alongside partner Susan Lucci on Dancing With the Stars, professional ballroom dancer Tony Dovolani, 35, knows how to move. However, his feet moved faster than ever after receiving the call from wife Lina, then 39 weeks into her pregnancy with fraternal twins. It was time! Adrian Driton and Ariana arrived in the early morning hours of September 8th, weighing in at 7 lbs and 7 lbs, 10 oz, respectively.
Tony and Lina, 27, along with 3-year-old daughter Luana, introduce the now 4-week-old twins in PEOPLE this week. Here at Celebrity Baby Blog, we have an extensive interview exclusive to us, as well as an additional photo you won’t find in the magazine!
|Sarah Kehoe for PEOPLE for use on CBB|
Click ‘More’ to read the interview and view the images.
On discovering they were expecting twins:
T: Back in December, my wife and I decided we wanted to try and have another baby. In January, she started showing right away. So we were like, “Something is either wrong or we’re being blessed with something more than what we planned on.”
When we went to the doctor, he joked with us immediately. He said, “I know why you are getting big. You guys are about to have twins.” I was very proud, of course, and he said, “You know it has everything to do with the woman?” Well, I had to be there, didn’t I?
It was quite scary, exciting — just the unknown. We’ve never had twins in our families, so we were very skeptical at first. What’s going to happen? But at the same time we felt really blessed. To be blessed with one is a wonderful experience. To be blessed with two is even better.
On finding out the sexes of the babies:
T: We actually found out. We chose to find out because now technology gives you the opportunity to prepare for whatever comes next. And why not? You want to paint the room, you want to get yourself ready for it. All those things are so much easier when you know what you’re about to have.
On preparing to welcome double the babies:
T: My wife is incredible. She was incredible with raising our first child. She gave me a thousand and one books to read.
L: He attempted to [read the books] in the beginning. He carried them with him when he was traveling. I doubt he went past 10 pages.
T: No, I’ll be honest. I didn’t.
On telling daughter Luana:
T: When we went to explain to Luana, we couldn’t quite understand how to do it. She was 2 ½ at the time. Shortly after that, she started picking up on it. She started kissing Lina’s stomach all the time, kissing the babies. We kept making sure she understood there would be two. We got her a couple of dolls to play with so we could prepare her.
|Sarah Kehoe for PEOPLE for use on CBB|
On the pregnancy:
L: It was definitely different from being pregnant with a single baby. So different. Up until about six months, it’s normal except you grow a lot faster. At six months, you feel like you’re at nine months. I was pretty strong. But you can’t sleep. It’s a mission just to wash dishes or get dressed in the morning. It’s unbelievable pressure.
T: From my point of view, it was incredible. I thought she handled it really beautifully. I found her to be even more beautiful during the pregnancy. The way she handled it was amazing. Even up to the last second, she was walking around. She doesn’t know the word rest!
L: He did a great job with Luana all summer — keeping her busy and active. I really couldn’t lift her or lug her around.
T: Believe it or not, our due date for the twins was September 16th, but twins normally come anywhere from 36 weeks to 38 weeks. We were at 39 weeks. We were right there. The doctor said, “You might be going for the long haul.”
On the labor and delivery of the twins:
T: I was in the middle of rehearsal with Susan in Westhampton, NY, and I got a phone call from Lina saying, “I might be going into labor soon.” I hung up the phone … and Susan looks at me and says, “What are you waiting for? Put your shoes on and leave.”
She is such a class act. I’m so lucky to get her as my partner. To have someone of such stature — she’s the queen of daytime — and to be as nice as she is is a double whammy. She was like, “Leave right away and text me to let me know what happens.”
I took the car and luckily that day there was no traffic. I got home and helped Lina out, preparing for going to the hospital. The nurses and doctors were unbelievably helpful. They were excited for twins. In fact, one of the nurses had to go home, and she came back to make sure that we were okay. That’s how nice the Bridgeport, Conn. hospital staff was.
The doctors gave Lina an epidural to relax her. She slept until 2 a.m. At 3 a.m., they woke me up. Her water broke. Because twins can be high risk, they took us to the operating room just to make sure, in case they had to do a cesarean. They didn’t have to luckily for us, it was a [vaginal] delivery.
Lina was a trouper. She was like, “I want these babies out and safe. Let’s go.” The doctor wasn’t even ready. At 3:14 a.m. the boy was born, 3:28 a.m. the girl was born. It was that quick. I was there for her — as much as I could. What a surreal moment to seeyour children come into this world. You see them breathe for the firsttime.
On holding the babies for the first time:
T: I held Adrian first. You hold them and I just hope that everyone is blessedenough to experience those moments in their life. Those moments areprecious. For me, in moments like that, I get calm. When there’s panic going on or something that requires adrenaline to pump in, I normally get calm. I don’t know why. It’s my performing thing. When I dance on DWTS or in my competitions I get nervous up to a point, but once I am there I am calm.
|Sarah Kehoe for PEOPLE for use on CBB|
On Adrian and Ariana’s looks and personalities:
T: It’s funny. At birth, the boy came out and was just like, “Let me sleep.” He was cool, calm — almost like he matched my energy. The girl was kicking the doctor like, “I’m not ready. I’ll come out when I’m ready.” She was a little more lively. She cried a little bit at the beginning. Adrian is like an old soul. He’s content with everything.
L: Yet, he detects his surroundings so quickly. He’s quick to react to everything. He wants to be held a lot too.
T: He’s very sensitive. He hates being changed. He doesn’t like being naked. He’s a
L: He’s more reactive. She’s calm and chill. You can tell he gets angry.
T: He gets all red. She’s easygoing. She also smiles more. He frowns a little bit. I wonder where he gets that from. [laughs]
L: He has Tony’s eyebrows.
T: Poor guy. The boy definitely looks like me. He’s even got sideburns. Unfortunately, he even kind of acts like me. I don’t like being disturbed too much. I don’t like being cold. Ariana is funny. She knows that she’s cute and she works it.
L: Everyone melts when they see her. She’s like a princess. She’s just there, “Oh change me, feed me.”
T: “Take care of me.” I’m going to have a problem with her. With both of the girls. They’re both beautiful.
On how the twins are alike:
L: They hiccup alike and at the same time. They [interact] … they wiggle themselves towards each other. When onegrunts, the other one grunts. They sleep next to each other and ifthey’re apart, they wiggle towards each other.
T: One night we put them like a foot apart and within seconds they were next to each other. They do smile alike too. They sleep the same. They put their hands up. What’s great is they both have different personalities.
On choosing their children’s names:
T: We chose Adrian and Ariana because I’m Albanian. We’re from Kosovo. Our ancestors were part of theIllyrianempire. I know myhistory really well, that’s something I hang on to. I think we are who we are today because ofwhere we came from. Those particular names are close to my heart — Adrian and Ariana are some of the oldestIllyrian names. Adrian as in Adriatic Sea. As Albanians we celebrate everything through men and women — I had to give them both powerful names.
His middle name is my real name, which is Driton. That’s my actual name. My nickname has been Tony forever. Ariana does not have a middle name because Luana doesn’t have a middle name. We weren’t going to be biased! We chose Luana because I knew a dancer with the name. I said, “If you don’t mind,if I have a daughter I will name her Luana.” In Albanian, that means lioness. She owns her name. She is definitely a lioness. She will do what she wants to do. She has a lot of power and energy.
On Luana as a big sister:
T: Since the moment they came home she hasbeen an incredible big sister. When I come home we have this ritual where we have a kissing festfor 15 minutes — she’s definitely Daddy’s little girl. She has me wrapped around herfinger. Now she takes me by the hand and goes, “Let’s go kiss the baby girl and baby boy.” At theend, she finishes up with, “Kiss Mommy now.” It’s a little longer now and I’m enjoying everymoment of it.
L: She loves to feed them. She tickles their feet. She thinks they are her little dolls.
T: She is always kissing them. As parents, we discussed how we’re going to be extensively. Especially when there is a lot of family around, they’re going to make a big deal out of the babies. You can’t fault them. So what I would do is every time someone made a big deal about the babies, I would make a bigdeal out of Luana…
|Sarah Kehoe for PEOPLE for use on CBB|
On advice they’ve received:
T: The best advice I got was from Adam Corolla [who was on DWTS last season and is dad to twins Natalia and Santino, 2]. When he found out we were having twins, he pulled me aside and goes, “Forget listening to everyone and reading everything, just experience it the way you want to. It’s the most beautiful thing you could ever experience in your life. Don’t base it on other people’s experience, create your own.”
Everyone has been incredible. The first phone call I got was from Maks [Chmerkovskiy]. He’s funny. He said, “Congratulations. Now stop!”
On the biggest surprise since the birth of the twins:
T: The biggest surprise for me is the way my wife has gone through it. I thought this would be much more difficult.
L: That’s surprising to me. It’s not that bad! When I saw that we were having twins, I was worried. He’s away a lot of the time. I wondered if I could handle this. It’s been great so far. I know it will be hard. But the biggest surprise is that I feel so great.
T: Everyone talks about the negatives, the lack of sleep — it’s very rare that you hear people talk about what a beautiful experience it is. I find it to be an incredibly beautiful experience. They’re just precious. The lack of sleep is worth it. It doesn’t compare to the satisfaction you get out of just seeing them and hanging out with them.
On balancing parenthood with Tony’s Dancing With the Stars schedule:
L: I’m trying to hold off [on] hiring anyone. I’m trying to be strong and be like, “I can do this.” Thankfully we have big families so we have people who can help us out with the kids. Tony will be gone four days out of the week. For those four days, I will have my mom, one of my siblings or one of Tony’s siblings.
T: We’re lucky. Her mom and sister have been here helping out — even through the pregnancy. [With Dancing,] I leave Saturday [for California] and come back Wednesday morning on the red eye. Then we’ll be home all day. Give Luana as much attention as possible. All you have to do is just be there — watch a cartoon or play horse-y. Take her out for a bike ride. Those simple things are more important than anyone else.
I’m very excited that Luana is interested in dancing. To me, that is the greatest thing. She’s taking after me. As far as teaching the twins, teaching them to be dance partners. That would be something. I’m almost sure the girl is going to have better rhythm. She just seems more in that sense.
L: But if Adrian looks like you, he might take after you.
T: I try to keep [work and home] separate. Although my daughter is going to make it difficult. She wants to dance.
L: It’s the last thing he wants to do when he gets home!
T: I’m going to use every excuse possible not to work when I’m home!
Source: PEOPLE, October 20th issue