Mara Hutchcraft did not plan on getting pregnant at the same time as her best friend, Kaitlyn Standerfer, but life does not always go as planned. A couple of weeks after Kaitlyn announced that she was expecting, Mara discovered that she too was pregnant.
“Our partners thought we had planned it. They still don’t believe us,” Kaitlyn joked. “But we were pumped!”
The pair later learned that their due dates were one day apart, and they noted how crazy it would be if they delivered their babies on the same day. And on February 5, Mara and Kaitlyn did just that. They gave birth to their baby girls just seven minutes and one room apart in the SBL Women & Children’s Center.
The women met in 2015 while working together at Mac’s Uptowner in downtown Charleston. One day, they went to a winery together, and from there, their bond grew.
“We just clicked right away because we have the same sense of humor and similar life goals,” Kaitlyn said.
In 2017, Kaitlyn, who works as a health inspector, married her husband, Bill Standerfer, a teacher at Charleston Middle School. The couple had their first child, Weston, a year later. Mara was there for Kaitlyn’s milestones, including being a part of Kaitlyn’s bridal party. Mara began dating her partner, Marc Murphy, in 2019. Both Mara and Marc work in car sales.
Kaitlyn had been talking about having another child with her husband, but Mara and her partner were surprised when they discovered that they were expecting.
“Mara was one of the first people I told. Besides my husband of course,” Kaitlyn chuckled.
Kaitlyn and Mara bonded even further as they went through their pregnancies, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Celebrating holidays was an ongoing a concern. Instead of going out on New Year’s Eve like many of their friends did, the two opted for a home gathering with ice cream.
“It was so much nicer to have someone to call to talk to about exciting things— or even to discuss our appointments. We were going through pregnancy at the same exact stage, after all,” Kaitlyn said.
In October, Kaitlyn and Mara did a maternity photoshoot at Douglas Hart Nature Center, donning pumpkin-themed shirts and black skirts. The pair used pink smoke bombs to reveal that they were expecting girls. After the first ultrasound, Mara thought she and Marc were having a boy, but the second ultrasound showed otherwise. “That was a fun phone call to Kaity. We wanted them to be the same gender, so we were so excited,” Mara said.
Kaitlyn and Mara bounced names off of each other, so they would not choose the same one. Sharing a birthday would be enough, so they did not want their girls to have similar names.
On February 4, Kaitlyn and her husband went to Sarah Bush Lincoln to be induced at midnight. Mara’s water broke that evening, so she and Marc quickly followed behind. When they were able, the pair Facetimed and Snapchatted each other to soothe and encourage. By going back and forth between the rooms, SBL nurses helped the two communicate about where the other was in the labor process.
“They got to know our situation pretty quickly,” Mara said of the birthing team. “We both wanted to deliver first. They kept us posted on who was ‘winning the race.’”
Mara and Marc’s little girl, Remi, came into the world at 11:51 am. The Standerfers welcomed their little girl, Emsley, seven minutes later. One of the nurses grabbed their cell phones to snap some photos of the girls in the nursery, which touched the families.
“Remi and Emsley met before we even got to meet each other’s baby,” Mara said. “They had a spa day together for their first bath at the hospital, and were placed next to each other in the nursery. Our nurses were amazing. They made it feel like a personalized experience.”
Remi and Emsley’s moms anticipate that their girls— dressed in matching, gold-embossed “Girl Gang” shirts and onesies— will grow up to be best friends, just like they are. Bonding through this experience brought the two even closer.
“I think we both appreciate each other more as friends now. She is stronger than me in some places where I may be weak, and vice versa, but we complement each other and have each other’s back,” Mara said.
While the COVID-19 pandemic prevented Kaitlyn and Mara from seeing each other as frequently during their pregnancies, they kept in constant contact by calling and texting.
“I think with the pandemic— and everything being so hard, and people feeling so isolated— it’s really important to keep your good friends and family close by,” Kaitlyn said. “It really opens your eyes to how important it is to have a best friend.”