They're only five months old, but already actress Renee Lyons' twins are following in their mother's footsteps as TV stars, having joined the 800 Words and Funny Girls actress in front of the camera to film a car commercial.
"I'm farming them out," she laughs, gazing proudly at her lively girl Darcy and chilled-out son Ralph.
"I played the frustrated wife of a man who'd just bought a sports car and they were our twins, who clearly wouldn't fit in the vehicle. They were great on set – they just slept in my arms, which was amazing. They nailed it!"
However, their arrival into the world on July 31 didn't go quite so swimmingly, with Renee – who had been worried about her fertility before her "miracle pregnancy" – suffering from the same extreme morning sickness that has seen the Duchess of Cambridge hospitalised.
"I was depressed, sad, sick and fearful," confesses the actress, who has starred in Jono and Ben and Filthy Rich.
"The final months were really bad – very uncomfortable. I spewed right up until the morning of the Caesarean, when I was like, 'Take that, sucker! That's gonna be the one,' but it wasn't."
Ralph was the first to be delivered, weighing 3kg. Renee tells, "He came out bum first, but they didn't have time to show me him, which stressed me out. A minute later, out came [2.5kg] Darcy, doing a silent scream. I wanted to do skin-on-skin, but there was no mucking around.
"Then, in recovery, I was still very drugged out. I vaguely remember someone grabbing my boob and shoving a baby's mouth on it. It was all such a blur. Fortunately, as chaotic as the pregnancy was for me, they did really well and came out completely healthy."
Renee spent five days in hospital, where she received a "masterclass in motherhood" from the nurses, who looked after the twins overnight so she could get some sleep. Then she returned to her home in Mount Albert, where her Wairarapa-based parents were waiting to help out.
"Mum stayed for five weeks and Dad was here for three," says Renee. "They pretty much saved my life and stopped me from going crazy. I was a wreck that first week as I'd had such a rough pregnancy. I was staring down the barrel of postnatal depression.
That morning, a queasy Renee, 41, who practises Nichiren Buddhism, invited some friends, including actress Aidee Walker and comedian Tom Sainsbury, over to chant for the safe arrival of the children. She smiles, "It was a lovely time for the babies, but my mum and dad weren't too sure what was going on!"
Then Renee and her partner headed to Auckland City Hospital, where they were booked for a C-section as both twins were in the breach position.
"It was like a really weird scene from The Handmaid's Tale, with a bunch of quiet women all walking around and holding their Caesarean scars," she recalls. "It was like we'd all entered the same chop shop.
"I was freaking out. My obstetrician was great, but it's still surgery – I mean, I would've died if I'd had these children 30 years ago – and all the back injections were a bit stressful. But it was reassuring when they put an ice cube on my stomach to check if the anaesthetic was working and I couldn't feel it."
"But they did all the practical stuff and allowed us to just focus on the babies, so it was an awesome, lovely, calm, relaxing time, which is not what you imagine with twins. It gave us a really good start. That was a real gift."
While pregnant, Renee starred in a viral Jono and Ben skit about a multitasking mum who feeds her baby, cooks a chicken and defuses a bomb while discussing foreign politics on live TV. And since giving birth, she has filmed some "really hilarious" scenes for the third season of Funny Girls. But her greatest and most challenging role has been as a real-life mother to "firecracker" Darcy and "sensitive" Ralph.
"The highs and lows are massive," she tells. "It's incredible how quickly things can go from being completely overwhelming to the most amazing thing ever. One moment, you're so sleep-deprived, you can't cope, then the next you're all hanging out, and they're laughing and smiling with you. Nothing else matters in those moments.
"It sounds like a cliché, but it's given me a much bigger purpose. I spend much less time worrying about myself. It's so good to have something outside myself to focus on, although I'm aware there's still a long way to go. Another 16 years at least!"
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