Any set of sisters goes through different stages throughout their lives. That is especially true for sisters Danielle Roberts and Ashby Loveall. The sisters have entered a very special phase in their lives as young women as mothers of daughters born four days apart.
Ashby and husband Zachary Loveall were expecting the birth of their first child, Lydia Havan, to be on Feb. 15, 2017, as Ashby had been told that the doctor would induce labor on that day.
She said, “I had it all planned out exactly how things were going to be, but nothing happened according to the plan.”
The sisters knew that Danielle’s baby, Chandler Faith, would be born a few weeks earlier than Lydia.
Chandler was born on Feb. 2, 2017, at East Georgia Regional Hospital in Statesboro.
Best laid plans go awry
Ashby’s plans included taking time to visit her sister and meet little Chandler before delivering Lydia. However, as Danielle was dismissed from the hospital on Saturday, Ashby was going in on Sunday. Lydia made her arrival nine days early than expected on Feb. 6, 2017.
Danielle and her husband, Bo Roberts, were not new to the parenting game. Danielle has two sons from a previous marriage: Matthew Fordham, age 7, and Blaine Fordham, age 5. Bo has four children: Bodhi, Sara, Dalton and Allie. So together they already had a houseful of experience ranging from young children to young adults.
Ashby and Zachery were new parents. And as many new mothers do, Ashby had planned exactly how labor and delivery would go, so when she was in the hospital early and the plan was thrown out the window, she had to regroup.
She said she had not planned on bottle feeding her baby, but after some difficulty with breast feeding, that plan changed too.
“Danielle tried to help me with breast feeding because she was experienced from her previous babies and was experiencing it with Chandler, but the doctors told me that I was going to have to bottle feed Lydia,” said Ashby.
That turned out to be best decision as Lydia landed back in the hospital when she was only 5 days old, and Ashby had to have surgery two weeks after giving birth.
“It was helpful having an older sister who had experience with having a baby to help me know what to do,” she continued.
Prior to actually delivering baby Lydia, Ashby had planned to continue her schooling. She has been enrolled in the LPN program at Southeastern Technical College, having finished her core classes. She thought she would be going right back to school to take those nursing classes; however, her experience with Lydia’s birth and hospitalization paired with her own surgery put those plans on hold.
A new plan takes shape
Danielle, who works with the intervention program at Metter Elementary School, knew that she would be going back to work after maternity leave. She wasn’t sure about daycare, but when Ashby’s plans changed, a door opened for daycare.
“Ashby said she could keep both of the babies,” said Danielle. “That really helps me out and makes me feel better about leaving Chandler at such a young age.”
For Ashby, keeping two infants is a juggling act. Danielle exclusively breastfeeds Chandler and both new moms are using cloth diapers. Danielle leaves breastmilk for Ashby to feed Chandler throughout the day. That means that Danielle must do pre-work and keep a schedule to make sure enough bottles are prepared for the day.
Both mothers like using cloth diapers. They say that it was not a very hard adjustment from disposable diapers.
“It does cause more laundry, but we save on the purchase of diapers,” the girls agree.
The day begins at 7 a.m. when Ashby arrives at Danielle’s home. Throughout the day, Ashby prepares bottles, changes diapers, plays with the babies, and takes care of light housekeeping until Danielle arrives home about 3:45 in the afternoon.
Momma said there’d be days like these
“The first couple of days, I thought, ‘This is a piece of cake!’” said Ashby. Then came Day Four.
“That’s when I got the ‘screaming video,’” said Danielle, as both sisters laughed at the memory of both babies crying and screaming with Ashby at the end of her rope.
“I used to say it would be cool to have twins,” said Ashby. “I don’t believe that any more.” Even so, Ashby does want a house full of kids. Danielle says, “I already have a houseful!”
The sisters, six years apart, admit that they have not always been as close as they are now. They did bond when Ashby was 13 and Danielle was a high school senior. Their mother, Renee McGraw, bought them a horse and they took riding lessons in Athens. Riding to and from lessons together, they got to know each other better.
Now that they are sharing motherhood, the two message each other about once an hour – even in the middle of the night when they are up for those late-night feedings.
The sisters hope their babies will share a special bond with their niece Blakely Holland. Their brother, Ridge Holland, was tragically killed when Blakely was only a few months old.
Ironically, Blakely’s birthday is Feb. 3. “That will be rough on Grandma’s wallet to have three granddaughters with birthdays in one week!” they say.
“Grandma keeps begging to get the girls, but I am away from Chandler enough,” says Danielle.
Words of wisdom from the young moms
After going back to work when Chandler was only five weeks old, Danielle gives this advice to mothers of young children, “Soak it up. It goes by so fast and each day is a gift.”
Ashby seconds that by saying that children are the biggest blessing.
“Don’t wait until you can afford them, because you will never get around to it. God will make a way,” she said.
Daddies do the spoiling!
Both sisters agree, “Daddies spoil little girls and then hand them back to Mama!” And that is just the way the sisters like it.