Kristen Henderson and Sarah Kate Ellis had their babies three weeks apart. Doesn’t sound too crazy, except it kind of is. Kristen and Sarah are in a relationship together, so not only did Sarah attend the birth of her son Thomas just before she was due and Kristen attend the birth of her daughter Katie just weeks after giving birth herself, they both had to deal with two babies and all of the physical and emotional stuff that comes post-birth. Sounds intense, right?
How did they get to there? It wasn’t planned. Both Kristen, a founding member of the band Antigone Rising, and Sarah, vice president of marketing for Real Simple magazine, had fertility issues. Because Sarah had tried to get pregnant a number of times before and miscarried once, they decided to both give it a shot, knowing how hard it could be to be successful. The completely unexpected result was they got pregnant at the same time. Sarah and Kate wrote Times Two: Two Women in Love and the Happy Family They Made to tell their story.
I won’t lie, the tale of two women having their babies at the same time is what drew me in, but the book covers so much more than that. I loved reading about their lives before and after they met, the highs and lows of their attempts to get pregnant, what it was like to both be pregnant at the same time and how they managed life and work after the babies were born. They don’t hold back.
As parents we’re always looking for insights into how other families make things work and want to see what life is really like for others. This book delivers.
I spoke with Sarah and Kristen, who live in Long Island, NY, to find out more about the book, their lives and their super cute kids!
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What do you think has been the best part of having kids within weeks of each other?
Sarah: You have twins without having to put your body through it. You have these built-in playmates who are so connected to each other, and just so joyful for us to watch the whole time growing up. As they develop, they’re such individuals but they are so connected. And having them three weeks apart is just wild. Because Thomas will start doing things, then three weeks later Kate will start doing it.
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How do your kids get on?
Kristen: They’re just like natural twins. They kind of have their own little language. They’re just very good friends. They take care of each other, but they also wrestle and roughhouse. Any time just prior to naptime it can get ugly.
Are they on sort of a schedule?
K: Oh, absolutely. We in the beginning were foolishly not. We finally got a schedule going around seven months, and they’re on it.
What’s the trickiest thing about having kids so close together?
S: It was absolutely when they showed up. It really was pretty insane. You’re one person going through physically what you’re going through, and emotionally—I had a little bit of the blues for sure. Kristen was a little bit ahead of me in terms of healing, but your body has been blown apart and your emotions are so raw, and you can’t even support each other because you’re just trying to take care of yourself, and these two little babies. It was pretty intense for a few months after those babies were first born. That was the most harrowing part of the whole ordeal. But once we got it down, and once we were both feeling physically better and had a bit more sleep under our belt, we got into a rhythm and we were great. But trying to find that rhythm was really hard.
You had Kate after being at Thomas’ birth. I can’t imagine what that was like.
S: You can’t. You really can’t. I do think it is why she was late. Because literally the day they said we’re going to induce you, within an hour I went into labour, unmedicated, with no induction. I was so scared out of my mind after being in that delivery room. I really believe that my body just shut down. But I will say that when I was in the delivery room with Kristen, it was all about Kristen and getting Thomas into the world in a healthy manner, so I didn’t even remember that I was pregnant while I was in it. The adrenaline kicks in and you’ve got to get this person you love through this pretty intense moment. Once I went home that night after Thomas was born, I had never been as exhausted in my entire life.
Kristen, you helped Sarah at labour and delivery only weeks after having just been through that yourself. I can’t even imagine.
K: I couldn’t imagine it either. When I found out we were both pregnant I was really giddy about it. I thought it was going to be awesome. And every aspect of it was until Thomas was born, and I was recovering, and I was terrified of Sarah going into labour. And I’m just grateful Katie was late. With each day, I remember just waking up and going “this can’t be the day.” I cannot leave Thomas and go into a delivery room and be expected to function through it. And literally the day Katie was born I woke up that morning feeling like “If I had to do it today, I feel like I could” And sure enough, Sarah went into labour that day.
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What message were you hoping people would get out of the book?
S: That it’s connective for women and that it crosses all lines. It’s not about gay, straight, black, white, all of those things that we put on everything. It’s just about creating families and creating these wonderful children. My dream is that this is connective for women. That everybody is at the end of the day the same in a lot of ways. And that the greatness is our differences. So, I hope it’s an extended hand. A lot us have fertility issues and miscarriages and ultimately what we want is a family, and a family built on love, and I hope that’s what the book communicates.
How about you, Kristen?
K: That people see that there are all different ways to be a family. And that the most important thing is you love each other and you love the kids. And I also think it’s a really hopeful, positive story, especially for women who are struggling with fertility issues and who just feel like it’s never, ever going to happen.
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