Shauna Wheeler, 41, and Ivy Chichester, 37, seem destined to experience pregnancy at the same time.
Their first children were born one week apart. When the two Virginia-based best friends found out they were pregnant at the same time again, they were shocked.
"A week before (Ivy) actually confirmed she was pregnant she was saying she might be pregnant," Wheeler tells TODAY.com. "I kind of snickered, because I feel like people always think that, but at the time it had been so early for her to have symptoms for real."
"I disagree," Chichester tells TODAY.com. "I felt that egg implant."
"I was over here like, 'OK girl, whatever,'" Wheeler responds. "But she was right and I was wrong."
Chichester says her pregnancy wasn't planned and she had many "mixed emotions" about the idea of having another child, so Wheeler told her friend to just "give it a couple days" and "don't stress yourself out."
One week later, Chichester confirmed the pregnancy and told her "mom tribe" she was pregnant. What Chichester didn’t know was that Wheeler suspected she might be pregnant as well.
"It prompted me to go directly home and test," Wheeler says. "Sure enough, I was. That line was the pinkest I've ever seen it — it was prominent."
'The fact that we're doing this together can help both of us'
After confirming her pregnancy, Wheeler told her dear friend she was pregnant too.
"I told her: 'I know that you're apprehensive about it, but hopefully the fact that we're doing this together can help both of us with our anxieties about being pregnant,'" Wheeler explains.
While Chichester was anxious about the thought of having another baby, Wheeler was worried she wouldn't be able to carry a healthy pregnancy to term — after having her first child, she experienced a miscarriage.
"It was just so nice to truly have a judgment-free zone where I could talk about whatever I was feeling and have that mental and emotional support from my village," Chichester says. "Those conversations helped me through the struggles, and because Shauna was pregnant we could support each other on a slightly bigger level because we were both going through it at the same time."
Wheeler says she "felt like Superwoman" during her pregnancy, and had made plans throughout — even two days after she actually gave birth. Chichester would often chuckle in response, and consistently encouraged her friend to rest and take it easy.
"I'm always the person who is like: 'Shauna, you really think you can do that? Really?'" Chichester says. "I think we were able to encourage each other and keep it real."
Wheeler had a C-section scheduled on Dec. 13, 2022, while Chichester planned on giving birth vaginally sometime in early December.
During a routine check-up appointment during the first week of December, Wheeler says her blood pressure was high and her doctor had concerns.
Instead of going home, Wheeler was sent to labor and delivery for monitoring; her delivery date moved up to Dec. 5, 2022. Wheeler then told her friends she was going to have her baby earlier than planned.
"I had my baby at 3:41 p.m. on 12/5," Wheeler says. "The next day I was recovering and Ivy was supposed to come visit. A couple hours later, Ivy called and said: 'I'm at the hospital!' My husband said: 'They said she can't visit.' I said: 'Um, she's in labor.'"
Chichester was admitted to the hospital around 7 p.m. that day, and had her baby, a boy, on Dec. 7 at 4:56 in the morning.
"It felt surreal, but also right," Chichester explains. "It felt like we were meant to be at the hospital at the same time and we were meant to have our babies around the same time and that our friendship was meant to be."
The coincidences with the two best friends don't stop there. Wheeler gave birth to her now 2-year-old daughter just one week before Chichester welcomed her son into the world. In addition to having both sets of children close in age, Wheeler's birthday is the same day as Chichester's sister's birthday. The travel agent who booked Wheeler's honeymoon is related to Chichester's husband.
"We've always had these little connection points, so of course our babies would have similar birth dates," Chichester says.
Both friends had joked about potentially being at the hospital around the same time, but never thought it would actually happen — let alone two rooms away from each other.
"I told her I'd come to her," Wheeler says. "I put my baby into the little bassinet, pushed her two doors down to visit. We put the babies next to each other and said: 'This is your first friend, say hello!'"
Chichester and Wheeler met via Peanut, an app that helps moms meet other moms, in April of 2021.
"Being an older mom it was important to me to find women who are closer to my age and experiencing motherhood at this stage for the first time," Wheeler explains. "I was looking specifically for women of color to really get some friends for my child and for me for years to come."
Chichester had just moved to Richmond after working in sales and moving a lot. Feeling isolated and alone, she had hoped to find similar relationships with like-minded moms.
"I was trying to vet Shauna to make sure she wasn't crazy," she says, laughing. "We went back and forth and after that we just clicked. We became really good friends."
Now, the moms have what they call a "village" of six other moms, all within the same age demographic and all women of color.
When asked how vital their mom network is, Wheeler's response is simple:
"I'd say it's everything," she says.
Chichester agrees, adding that it's been "so impactful for my mental health."
The pair hope their children will have similar friendships in the future, especially with one another.
"I hope they'll be lifelong friends," Chichester says. "But something I always think about, just as a person of color, is this sense of self and to have that community. And something that's so important to me, because I'm raising sons, is for them to see the beauty of Black women. There's no excuse — no excuse — because they've been exposed to beautiful, smart intelligent Black women."