'We didn't know what would happen': couple give birth four days apart

Kathryn and Christelle went through pregnancy together. Photos: Supplied
Kathryn and Christelle went through pregnancy together. Photos: Supplied 

When couple Kathryn Crawley and Christelle Porterfield talked about having babies the plan was for each to conceive - just not at the same time.

"My wife wanted them to have their own birthday months," Ms Crawley, 29, explained.

Now the couple, from the Central Coast in NSW, joke that despite both giving birth four days apart the two baby girls were born in separate months.

Christelle and Kathryn with babies Esme and Christina.
Christelle and Kathryn with babies Esme and Christina. Photo: Supplied

Ms Porterfield, 30, tried to conceive first because she only worked casually, but with unpredictable periods and possible polycystic ovarian syndrome after eight months of trying, they decided Ms Crawley would give it a go.

The couple were using donor sperm from a long-time friend of Ms Porterfield and doing artificial insemination at home.

Ms Crawley tried for two months but was also unsuccessful so they decided they would double up and hopefully at least one of them would be successful.

"When we were both deciding to try, I was excited as my sisters are twins and I thought it would be cool if it did happen by chance.  I still thought the chances were slim to none as we were doing in home insemination and just tracking ovulation with pee tests – not an exact science," Ms Crawley said.

The first time they tried together, their ovulation windows was ten days apart.  Ms Crawley tried first and two weeks later a pregnancy test revealed two faint lines.  A couple of weeks later Ms Porterfield took a test which came back negative.

"A few weeks after that I said to Ms Porterfield to take another test as she was super bitchy, and it returned positive.  

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My wife said in tears, happy tears, 'you wanted twins, well I guess you got them.  There had better not be triplets.'  We were actually a little worried about this as twins run in both families," Ms Crawley recalled.

After the shock of both being pregnant had barely subsided the morning sickness took hold.  Kathryn vomited most days, while Christelle joined her in feeling nauseous.  

"Most days started with toast and hash browns.  We couldn't even look at an egg, the gooeyness of it was just unsettling.  Stelle gained a bunch of weight in the beginning and I lost 3kg due to the sickness."

When it came to due dates the babies were due ten days apart, with Ms Crawley due first.

However, birth plans went out the window when Ms Porterfield was told she would need to be induced due to a possible failing placenta and small baby.

Her mother, who was to be her birth support, had returned from overseas and was cleared to come out of isolation on April 2, in time for Ms Porterfield's due date of April 6.

"I cried a lot the day doctors said they were scheduling Stelle for an induction," Ms Crawley said.

Ms Crawley was due on March 28 and Ms Porterfield was to be her support person.  

"We didn't know what would happen with my birth as we knew they weren't letting babies or kids in to wards as visitors, so what would they do with a newborn," she wondered.  "Would I end up birthing alone or calling my sister to support me?"

Ms Crawley's sister has Ewings Sarcoma and only has six months to two years to live so it was not safe for her to be out.

Ms Porterfield was induced on the 29th of March and ended up having a caesarean on the 31st.

The couple spent the next few days in hospital; worried that if they left Ms Porterfield wouldn't be able to return with baby Esme, or Ms Crawley would go into labour and be stranded at home.  

"The entire time we were in hospital I was 40 weeks pregnant and sleeping in a tiny fold out cot from the wall," Ms Crawley said.

"Watching Stelle in labour prepared me for what the epidural would look like and made it way less scary for me.  But I really didn't want a caesarean or induction after seeing those parts of it."

No sooner did the new family return home than Ms Crawley began having contractions.  

With Ms Porterfield's new baby strapped in the car they headed back to the hospital where Ms Crawley gave birth to Christina and thankfully the hospital made an exception and allowed Ms Porterfield and baby Esme into the birthing room for Ms Crawley's labour.

Life in isolation as first-time mums with two newborns and no one to help has been tough.

"We haven't been able to sleep in the same bed as the babies wake at different times, so if we sleep in the same bed it's double the waking," Ms Crawley said.  

"I'm constantly Googling as we have no one to ask how often should baby eat, sleep, help with colic etcetera.  The problem is there is so much opinion out there you don't know what to believe so end up doing even more Googling to find stuff to back up your findings.

"I've watched the videos on how to tie a ring sling about 20 times and still don't get it.  A hands-on mother's group would definitely help in this area and also with confidence so you could compare babies and so on."