Twin sisters who held hands in the first seconds of their lives can’t stand being away from each other, two years after their odd-defying birth.
Jenna and Jillian Thistlethwaite were born on May 9, 2014 in Akron, Ohio after sharing the same amniotic sack – a condition that affects about 1 in 10,000 pregnancies and increases the chances of complications.
Their mother Sarah had spent 57 days on bed rest to minimize the risks and was relieved to give birth to two healthy girls.
The twins were born 45 seconds apart and as soon as the doctors held them close to each other, they clasped hands, stunning everyone in the delivery room.
Two years later, the bond between the sisters has grown stronger than ever, their mother told People magazine.
‘Sometimes if my husband goes to the store, he’ll take one twin and I’ll keep the other,’ Thistlethwaite said.
‘When that happens, they both get really upset and ask for each other. They’re definitely really close. They’re like two peas in a pod.’
Jenna and Jillian were born two days before Mother’s Day in 2014 to Thistlethwaite and their father Bill.
Doctors had detected the monoamniotic pregnancy at 19 weeks during the third ultrasound. That day, the parents, who already had a one-year-old son named Jaxon, also found out their were having twins.
Most twins have their own amniotic sack during the pregnancy. But monoamniotic twins, who are always identical, share the same one, which comes with additional risks.
Their umbilical cords can become entangled or compressed, or one of the cords can get wrapped around the other twin’s neck.
Thistlethwaite took a leave from her job as an eight-grade math teacher and went inpatient at Akron’s Children’s Hospital. Her husband, a clinical director, went there every day after work from their home in Orrville.
Doctors told them they could deliver the twins at 32 or 34 weeks of gestation and the parents settled on 33 weeks.
Jenna and Jillian were born on May 9, weighing almost five pounds each after what was already a rare birth. But what they did during the first seconds of their lives stunned the doctors even further.
‘Once they made sure they were OK, they held them up so mom and dad could see,’ hospital spokeswoman Amy Kilgore, who was there for the birth, told Fox 8. ‘As soon as they were side by side, they held hands. It gave me chills.’
‘When they held them up and I saw their hands together… It’s indescribable, really,’ their father said.
The sisters, who were born premature, spent some time in the neonatal unit before going home.
By the time they turned 1, Jenna and Jillian kept grabbing each other at every opportunity while sitting together or during meals.
Two years on, they have developed distinct personalities. Jenna is the cautious one while Jillian is more of a daredevil.
If one of them starts crying, the other will try to comfort her by rubbing her back, hugging her or finding a pacifier.
But even though their bond remains strong, Jenna and Jillian have started to dabble in a bit of sibling rivalry.
‘If Jenna does something bad, I’ll ask her about it and she’ll say, “No, Jillian did it!”‘ Thistlethwaite told People.
‘But they look so much alike that sometimes I really can’t tell which one of them is in trouble.’