Pamela and John Pavone are enjoying their first Mother's Day as parents, thanks to the miracles of modern medical science and old-fashioned sisterly love.
The West Babylon couple's newborn twins -- Luke Thomas and Lily Grace -- were delivered April 28 at Winthrop-University Hospital.
But while both parents were in the operating room, it was Pamela's fraternal twin, Stephanie Romeo of Bellmore, who underwent the Caesarean section after carrying their babies in a 38-week pregnancy.
A mother of three boys, she volunteered to be the "gestational carrier" after her sister told her she was giving up after four years of failed attempts to get pregnant through in-vitro fertilization.
"I was at her house and said, 'Oh, we're done,' " recalled Pamela, 36. "And she said, very casual, 'Oh, I'll carry your babies.' "
Pamela thought that might be illegal, but Stephanie and her attorney husband, Jason, had already done their homework. It's legal to carry someone else's child in New York State as long as it isn't done for pay, they learned.
It took months of treatments, from October 2012 to August 2013, before doctors at the Center for Reproductive Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in Manhattan were able to implant Pam and John's embryos into Stephanie, and it wasn't until early September that they knew the procedure was successful.
"I'm just so happy for my wife," John said in a living room lined with pairs of mamaRoo infant seats and Rock 'n Play sleepers. "This is the one thing that completes her, and it completes me, too."
John, who owns a liquor store near his home, said Pamela never complained during their childless years, and that she and her sister -- both elementary school teachers on leave from the Brentwood school district -- are "the epitome of chill."
Pamela said she wasn't jealous when her sister gave birth to her sons -- now 7, almost 5, and 2 -- or when she attended first birthday parties and christenings for other people's children, including lots of nieces and nephews.
But John admits it bothered him when friends started having children. "I've always wanted children, and I can tell you I've known my wife for six-plus years, and I've never seen her smile like she does now," he said.
Pamela was riding in a car with her sister's family for a Labor Day weekend getaway upstate when Stephanie got the call telling her she was indeed pregnant.
"No way," was Pamela's response. "After all the many disappointments, I was in disbelief."
Stephanie said her pregnancies were always easy, although this one made her more tired for more months, not to mention the hormone injections she endured and the pain of the C-section itself.
She wore a T-shirt with the message "I'm just the oven" and her sister accompanied her to all the medical appointments. And when Luke emerged at 4:19 p.m. (6 pounds, 12 ounces; 20 inches) and Lily followed two minutes later (5 pounds, 6 ounces; 18 inches), it was Pam who cut Luke's umbilical cord and John who cut Lily's as a nurse snapped photographs and wept.
It's all still a little surreal, Pamela said recently, cradling one of the babies. Outside, a huge arch of balloons framed pink and blue storks on the front lawn.
Sunday's celebration of Mother's Day will be "amazing" but relatively low key, she said, possibly including a visit to John's parents, who live a block away.
"We finally get to understand what it is to be a mom and dad," Pamela said. "We've always celebrated with others and that's fine, but it's a different meaning now. It's real; it's reality."
As for Stephanie, she's happy to be sharing the day with her husband and children.
After her third, she said, "I knew I was done . . . I have no desire to get up in the night."
When her sister and John accepted the babies, Stephanie warned them: "No backsies. This is a no-return policy."