January 15, 2014 Edition

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Family welcomes twin cousins




Cousins Elliot Marie Thomas and Rylee Erin Manning were both born Dec. 26, 2013.

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

On the second day of Christmas, a family received two bundles of joy and a story that will last a lifetime.

Sisters Sarah Thomas and Amber Manning discovered in May that they were both expecting, and expecting very close to each other with the due dates being Dec. 29 and 30, respectively.

Even with that, neither of them thought they would have their babies on the same day.

David and Dana Penn of Walnut Ridge, the girls' parents, didn't expect it either. "We knew they were going to be close, but not that close," Dana said.

Dana said the anticipation for these babies had been building since Mother's Day when she received a photo of the two pregnancy tests side-by-side with the word cousins written on it.

Little did she know then that she would get her two new grandbabies a little over 12 hours apart.

Elliot Marie Thomas was born at 7:55 a.m. on Dec. 26. She weighed five pounds, 15 ounces, and is the first daughter of Chris and Sarah Thomas of Jonesboro. She has two older brothers, Ethan, five, and Evan, three.

Paternal grandparents are Frank and Cleo Thomas of Jonesboro. Great-grandparents are Bill and Joann Davis of Smithville and Eva Thomas of Fargo, Okla., and the late Melvin Thomas.

Rylee Erin Manning was born at 9:24 p.m. on Dec. 26 and weighed seven pounds, three ounces. She is the first child of Aaron and Amber Manning of Clover Bend.

Paternal grandparents are Bruce and Kelly Manning. Great-grandparents are Bill and Joann, Zola Brewer, Jay Beary and the late Carl Brewer, and James and Bobbie Manning of Walnut Ridge.

The roads that led them to the close arrivals, and those that followed soon after, had a few bumps.

Sarah was scheduled for a C-section at 6:30 a.m. on Dec. 26 but went to the hospital five hours early due to contractions causing her pains. The C-section went ahead as scheduled.

Within the first 24 hours after birth, Elliot had a 101 temperature and developed pneumonia having to stay in the hospital for seven days and received antibiotics three times a day. She was released Jan. 2 but her x-ray was still not completely clear. She will get another x-ray in a couple of weeks to make sure she has fully recovered.

Amber was scheduled to be induced on Dec. 26 at 5:30 p.m., though they didn't expect the baby until the next day. Before inducing, they found out that Amber was already having contractions, although she didn't feel them. The contractions caused unusual heart rates in the baby and an emergency C-section was prescribed.

Rylee developed jaundice after birth, which increased every day, causing her remain at the hospital for five days after birth.

The babies and their mothers were put in neighboring rooms at St. Bernards Birthcare Center during their extended stay. Dana said she wished they wouldn't have had to stay so long but the setup was wonderful, allowing her to visit with both girls and the sisters to visit with each other.

Both babies and their parents are doing well. Dana has been rotating between households since the babies were born. "I haven't been home since Christmas," she said.

She also said that the other grandparents and especially the babies' fathers have been wonderful in helping the mothers through these first couple of weeks.

Elliot's older brothers have also been enthusiastic. "They just love her to bits, they can't keep their hands off her," Dana said.

The two new babies aren't the only ones in the family with birthdays close to the holiday. Sarah's own birthday it Dec. 23.

"I said we needed to move Christmas out of December. I can't do all of this at once," Dana said.

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