Monica Mulero found herself in a bit of a quandary.
Her daughters, Marrea Cantillo, 19, and Liboria Mulero, 27, had become pregnant at about the same time.
As you’d expect from a grandma-to-be, Monica made them promise to deliver the babies within a short window of time. She couldn’t be playing favorites. She’d need those new little ones in rapid succession.
At the baby showers hosted for her daughters, she repeated her wish: “Now, I need you guys to have a baby on the same day and knock ’em out.”
Her daughters heard the call. Loud and clear.
Sisters Marrea and Liboria delivered their babies, firstborns for each, on Jan. 18 in neighboring birthing rooms at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital.
Two sisters. Same day. Same hospital. Neighbors. Firstborns.
Quite a feat.
Marrea went into labor that day at 41 weeks, while Liboria, at 39 weeks pregnant, had simply shown up to offer help. But then she went into labor, too.
“I went back and forth and back from 7 p.m. to 9 a.m.,” Monica said.
The Butterworth Hospital labor and delivery team quickly arranged the neighboring delivery rooms so the sisters and their mom would be near each other all throughout the experience.
Between her own contractions a few minutes apart, Liboria watched in awe as her little sister become a mother.
“It was a really happy and exciting moment for her when I came in there,” Liboria said. “I started crying. She was crying. My mom was crying. Happy crying!”
Afterward? “It made me scared after seeing that much,” she said. “The pain she was going through and all the blood.”
Marrea gave birth to Mia Victoria Cantillo at 12:31 a.m.
Weight: 7 pounds, 14 ounces. Length: 19.5 inches.
About six hours later, Liboria gave birth to Charles Allen Rose.
Weight: 5 pounds, 11 ounces. Length: 18 inches.
Fast forward 10 weeks.
Marrea outfitted Mia in a tiny dress with sparkly, gold-rose-silver stripes. The little one had already put on a few pounds. Her wide, curious eyes seemed to follow people around the room.
Charles looked sharp in navy blue, spotted suspenders.
He was still smaller than his birthday buddy. And that day, fussier.
The moms are close.
Marrea lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her mother and the girls’ stepfather, Charles Martin. Liboria lives in Pierson, 30 miles north of Grand Rapids.
Marrea and Liboria work at the same metal products manufacturer in Grand Rapids. Between their first and second shifts, they always take a minute to stop and catch up on things.
“She comes in early to see me and I leave a little late to talk to her,” Marrea said.
Neither sister saw that same-day delivery coming.
Marrea had been a week overdue, so doctors scheduled her for a Jan. 17 induced labor. Liboria’s pregnancy had been about two weeks behind her sister’s.
“They said they didn’t want the baby to pass 41 weeks,” Marrea said. “When I went to the hospital for my appointment, I was 7 centimeters. Since I was really dilated, they just broke my water.”
About an hour into Marrea’s delivery, Liboria slipped off as she began to feel her own situation progressing.
“I was in the bed and they were checking me out,” Marrea said. “She went in the bathroom. My other sister checked on her and I wasn’t paying attention because of what I was going through.”
Recalled Monica: “I notice that one of my daughters went missing and I didn’t know where she was.”
Liboria, it seemed, didn’t want to take any attention from her younger sibling.
“I just went into the bathroom and my water broke and I went to the waiting room with my other sister and told her to time out my contractions,” Liboria said.
Monica found Liboria in the waiting area.
“I said, ‘What’s the matter? Are you OK?” Monica said. “And my other daughter said, ‘Her water broke.’ I couldn’t believe—I couldn’t believe it. And I said, ‘Are you sure?’”
The sister act was over.
“I stopped it right there in its tracks,” Monica said. “I went to the nurses’ station and told them, ‘My other daughter’s water just broke,’ and they jumped into action.
“I was really, really afraid for them,” she said. “I was so worried. This is their first baby. They didn’t know what to expect.”
Only in a lull between contractions did Marrea finally learn of her sister’s ensuing delivery.
“Ten minutes later they told me my sister is in the next room,” Marrea said. “I was confused. I didn’t know her water broke. As they were telling me, mom came in and told me it was supposed to be a surprise.”
Charles arrived six hours and five minutes after Mia.
“Since he’s so tiny, she might have to look out for him,” Marrea joked.
The sisters said the circumstances of their deliveries bestowed the newborns a bit of baby status in labor and delivery.
“Twin-cousins,” Marrea said. “That’s what they were calling them at the hospital.”