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For fathers at this office, twins are top topic Four dads add up to 6 sets of twins

There may be something in the water cooler.

Or maybe it's a weird way to boost the head count at the company picnic.

Whatever the reason, some of the men who work in the finance department of BlueCross Blue-Shield tend to have twins.

We're talking four fathers, six sets of twins.

In these families, every day is Father's Day.

"You have to divide and conquer," said Christopher Leardini, 38, vice president of finance and father of 4-year-old boys Joseph and Nicholas, and 3-month-old girls Julia and Olivia. "You want everything in a routine, but you just can't have it."

Patrick Miner, 40, understands. His four daughters -- Allegra and Carys, age 7; Sofia and Victoria, age 5 -- are fraternal twins who play soccer and swim. An internal control manager, Miner notes that his girls are the 19th and 21st sets of twins in his family.

The department's four other twins belong to Peter Was and Christopher Galbraith, who are both 44. Galbraith likes to think his 9-year-old girls Alexandra and Rebecca played a role in his hiring last September as cost control analyst.

Was, the father of 10-year-old Madeline and Jacob, has his own theory.

"It's all Chris' fault," Was said about his boss. "He hired me when he and his wife were pregnant with their first set of twins, and then he brought in Patrick, and it was like a domino effect. It seemed like the next hires had twin-based families."

Having twins is hardly a rarity. In fact, with increasing reproductive technology, the birth of twins has become more commonplace, according to one practicing obstetrician who has delivered many twins over the past 27 years.

"Twenty years ago, it was one in 90 to 100 births," Dr. Edward Kelly Bartels said. "In 2002, it increased by 65 percent and it's continuing to go up. Now I estimate that one in 50 or 60 pregnancies are twin gestation."

How common an occurrence is it to have four dads with six sets of twins working in the same department of one company?

At the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, Alan Hutson heads the Department of Biostatistics. Hutson views the world in statistical probabilities and spun this analogy.

"There's a fellow in Florida who won the lottery twice," Hutson began. "The probability that this specific person would win the lottery twice is near zero, but the probability that someone in the United States would win a lottery twice is near one, which is almost a certainty.

"The same with the twins," Hutson explained. "Out of all the offices in this country, there is bound to be one with six sets of twins. The probability that those specific men have six sets of twins is zero. It's a miracle, or however you want to frame it.

"The fact that it exists is likely. The fact that you found it is the exciting part, I guess. You found the guy who won the lottery twice. It's a classic fun problem for introductory stats.

"The bigger question?" Hutson concluded: "What is the probability that each of these dads has a minivan?"

Vehicles are major considerations for many of the dads.

"I remember as clear as crystal when my wife told me we were having twins," said Galbraith of Orchard Park, who also has an 11-year-old son, Matthew. "I thought: 'Oh my God. We are going to need a new car.' I knew our Subaru wagon would not fit three car seats straight across in the back seat. We're on our third Toyota van now."

Increase the cargo, and you'll see why Leardini of Lewiston pilots a Ford Expedition while his wife, Leslie, drives a Chrysler Town & Country minivan. Miner, who lives in Williamsville, drives a Toyota Sequoia.

The bond between these four men is as much forged by their employment as it is by the struggles and triumphs they share as their twins grow in age.

"Some expenses go away, like diapers and formula," said Miner. "The biggest expense is when the kids are the smallest. Child care is expensive. When Chris told me last fall that his wife was again pregnant with twins, I remember laughing hysterically. I had beads of sweat forming on my hands. I could not imagine, knowing what I know now, what it would have been like being in his shoes going through it for a second time."

The thought of another set of twins actually deterred one of the families from having more children.

"My wife, Ann, probably would have liked to have another child, but the thought of having another set of twins scared us," admitted Galbraith. "Compared to the other guys who have two sets of twins, it's a breeze."

Running errands with twins -- with double strollers in a mall and door-to-door car seats on the road -- turns heads and leaves each father with stories to tell about shopping with the family.

"Anytime you went out, you were kind of a spectacle," recalled Was, who lives in Depew with his wife, Colleen. "And when you saw other parents with twins, you'd swap notes and tell the younger parents it will get better. It does. It gets easier. They become more self-sufficient."

Miner will never forget one of the first times he and his wife, Connie, went out with all four daughters.

"We had to go buy shoes for the older two, and we went to the Galleria," he recalled. "I remember a couple who were trying to take pictures of us. I kept on telling them to leave us alone, that we were not a spectacle. At that point, we were both sleep-deprived, so it was probably not the best way to handle that one, but it was not unusual to have that situation happen."

None of the fathers plan to have more children, and all four fathers credit parents, in-laws, siblings and friends for providing help with child care.

Leardini takes it one step further. "A lot of what I do is attributable to my father and to his father," he said. "That's the secret. I was blessed to have a father who was caring and who guided me along the way, and I just hope to do the same with my kids."

e-mail: jkwiatkowski@buffnews.com