Noe Valley Voice September 2001

More Mouths to Feed:
Julia Claire Parashis


When Tammy Parashis woke up with back pain, on Nov. 1, 2000, she chalked it up to too much running up and down the stairs at the Halloween party she'd hosted the previous night. Since the due date for her second pregnancy was still three weeks away, she knew the throbbing couldn't be labor. Or could it?

Two hours later, she and husband Peter Parashis were making a mad dash to pack a bag for 14-month-old daughter Ava. After they dropped Ava off with her aunt Sandy Jadallah, they barreled down to Seton Medical Center in Daly City.

"It was close to 11 [a.m.], and I'm dying in pain," says Tammy. "So Pete starts driving like a maniac and gets stopped on the freeway by the CHP for speeding and driving erratically."

When Tammy explained that she was in labor, the officer "just looked at us like we were crazy. He didn't believe me. I guess he must hear that all the time."

When he demanded to know their destination, "I couldn't even say it," Tammy relates. "I just pointed to Seton because you could see it off the freeway. I was like, 'Right there! Now are you going to follow us or not?' He said no, so we just left."

Since they were only a quarter of a mile away, says Peter, "I just continued driving-- carefully -- on the shoulder until we reached the exit."

Once they were safely inside the hospital, "everything slowed down," Tammy says. "They gave me oxygen because Julia's heart rate kept dipping. They thought maybe the cord was around her neck, but I think they knew that her position was wrong. Instead of face-down, she was face-up." Tammy was prepped for a cesarean section, but at the last minute, "they decided to try the vacuum," she says. "They were pulling her out and the doctor would turn her, but she was so stubborn she kept flipping back. So the doctor just pulled her out facing up. And she was so tiny."

Luckily, Peter was still there that evening to welcome his daughter at 8:32 p.m., weighing 6 pounds, 12 ounces. Tammy's sister Sandy was also present at the birth, since Tammy's mother, Antoinette Mufarreh, had taken over babysitting for Ava a few hours earlier.

The baby's name had also been chosen earlier that day. Tammy's favorite name, Claire Antoinette, had won in a coin toss (Peter had been rooting for Julia). But when Baby came out, Peter exclaimed "Julia Claire!" and Tammy relented. "You took advantage of the moment," she teased her husband.

Julia was born with a full head of brown hair and brown eyes. During her two-night stay at the hospital, she had lots of visitors, including big sister Ava. Ava must have sensed the drama of the occasion, because she made sure she would not be upstaged. Peter's grandparents were admiring their newest family member through the nursery window when Ava decided to take her first steps. "All of a sudden she pops up and starts walking across the waiting room," retells Mom. "So now the video camera had to go from the nursery to Ava. It was like, 'Don't forget about me just because my sister's here now.'"

Peter observes that being so close in age has had a positive effect on the girls' relationship. "I think if Ava was a little older she might have felt resentment because she'd know more," he says. "But when Julia was born, she really didn't know what was going on. As far as she knows, Julia's always been here."

Now that Julia's old enough to be a good audience, the girls' relationship is blossoming. "They get along very well. Ava makes Julia laugh. It's nice," he says.

One of Ava's favorite games is to shower her little sister with toys, and then take them away, one by one. "To Julia, it's all games anyway," Tammy explains. And since Ava has a little trouble with Julia's name, she's dubbed her sister "Juja." "That's growing on us," Peter says with a chuckle. "I've started going, 'Juja, Juja.'"

Though Julia is not yet crawling, "she's as happy as can be, sitting down," Mom says. "And if you put on some dance music, she sits down on the floor and starts bouncing up and down on her butt. She's like a little Tigger."

Agreeable by nature, Julia loves to laugh and giggle. Still, says Dad, "she has a mind of her own. She's more aggressive than Ava. She'll reach out and grab things, even if they're not hers. Ava will have a pacifier in her mouth and will be leaning over her and she'll reach out and grab it." Big Sister has to be careful to keep her hair and snacks well out of reach of Julia's powerful grip.

Peter, 34, an advertising project manager, and Tammy, 31, formerly a marketing consultant and now a full-time mom, met in 1991 while attending San Francisco State University. In 1997, the couple married and moved into their home on Sanchez Street.

Asked how it felt to have two babies, both still in diapers, the couple chimes: "There's no time -- at all!"

Peter has had to forgo his regular fishing trips. "I can't wait for the day when I can take both of them with me," he says. "When Ava gets a little older, I am going to get her her own little fishing pole."

Other outings can take up to four hours of preparation. "With just Ava, we could get ourselves ready first, and then get her ready to go," Peter says. Now, if they want to leave on time, they have to get up with the roosters. During the first few months, says Tammy, "even to get out of the house and to the car was a challenge. We'd be all ready to go and then someone either pooped or spit up, and you'd have to change them again."

But so far, Julia remains flexible, as long as she has Ava as her guide. "Ava's the queen bee," Mom says. "Whatever Ava wants or whatever she does in the park, Julia just follows along. Whatever keeps Ava amused will keep Julia amused."

Dad thinks the whole family's more mellow this second time around. "Ava broke us in," he quips.

For Peter, one of the delights of parenting is "having two smiling little girls [while] they're both still little. Ava's still learning and growing. And now to be able to watch both of them, it's amazing."

"I always say Julia was my little blessing -- our little surprise from God," says Tammy. "Because I wouldn't say that she was not planned, just earlier than expected. But she's definitely a joy. I can't imagine life without her."

More Mouths to Feed

wants to show off your newest family member. If you have welcomed a new baby into the house, or adopted a teenager, please send your announcement to the Noe Valley Voice, More Mouths to Feed, 1021 Sanchez St., San Francisco, CA 94114. Or e-mail us at We'd also appreciate a phone number, so we can arrange for the family portrait.