Orrville: The story of the Thistlethwaite babies — the rare mono mono twins who became international stars after holding hands when first presented to their parents in the delivery room in May — now may have aided in finding some long-lost relatives in England.
The story of the girls’ birth and the pictures of them holding hands exploded after their birth. They were featured in media reports around the world, parodied on a Saturday Night Live Weekend Update sketch and were recipients of a lifetime supply of Pampers diapers and wipes.
The girls, Jenna and Jillian, who turn 10 weeks old today, are healthy and doing well, said their mom, Sarah Thistlethwaite. While they are still in newborn clothes, they are heavier than their 4-pound, 2-ounce and 3-pound, 13-ounce birth weights at about 9 pounds and 8 pounds, respectively. There are no health issues for the girls, who shared one amniotic sac and placenta, said Sarah.
For many weeks, it was difficult for their parents to tell the identical twins apart, and Sarah painted Jenna’s toenail purple and Jillian’s toenail pink. The girls are often dressed in different clothes with Jillian getting pink since there’s an “i” in her name, said mom. Jillian also has a very faint birthmark on her eyelid.
But their personalities are different — Jillian is fussier and has a more high-pitched or squealy cry, said Sarah.
Sometimes the girls work each other into a fuss. In utero, one baby was often getting the other worked up and Sarah thinks it was Jillian who was upset, although they don’t know since the girls moved around often in the womb before being born, said Sarah.
Sarah is a middle school math teacher at Souers Early College Academy in Canton City Schools and hopes to return to the classroom this fall.
The international mystery began on June 18, when a card arrived at the Akron Beacon Journal addressed to the Thistlethwaites from S. Thistlethwaite in Warrington, England, near Liverpool.
Sarah Thistlethwaite of Orrville said the family was not aware of any relatives in England.
When Sarah and Bill Thistlethwaite opened the card upon receiving it, they soon learned that it was from another Sarah Thistlethwaite who was married to William Thistlethwaite. Her “beloved husband” died last July at 67 years old and was also called Bill.
“I just felt I had to share this information with you,” the British Sarah wrote in a three-page note inside the card. “Thistlethwaite is not a very common name and I think originates from the north of England, which is about where I was born and brought up — as was Bill.” She enclosed a photograph of the couple and shared her mailing and email address, in case the Orrville Thistlethwaites wanted to correspond.
“I couldn’t believe it,” the Orrville Sarah said, upon reading the card and letter. “I read it very slowly and out loud to Bill. We just thought it was really neat.”
Bill Thistlewaite said he knows there are other Thistlethwaites in the world since he has been receiving Facebook messages from others wondering if they are related, but to have another William, which is a Thistlewaite family name, and married to another Sarah, was special.
Bill’s great-grandfather immigrated to the United States from England, but the family did not think they had any more relatives in England. Bill’s grandmother, aunt and great-uncle live in Canada and the great-uncle is researching if there are any ties.
If there is a connection, it wouldn’t be a blood connection as Bill’s great-grandfather was adopted by Thistlethwaites, but still a wonderful connection, they said.
“At the orphanage, he only had ‘Willie’ on a sticker,” said Bill, a clinical director for the Advanced Spine Joint & Wellness Center in Medina.
The Orrville Sarah said she is in the process of writing the British Sarah a letter — life with twins and 17-month-old Jaxon gets pretty busy — and will be sending her a birth announcement with pictures of the girls and family and an extra photo of the family.
In her note, the British Sarah said she was amazed to read the story of the girls’ birth, “coincidentally brought to my attention by a friend in Northern Ireland who was reading a Canadian newspaper online!”
She closes the letter with: “I do hope this letter finds you and I still find this coincidence astounding — it must have been a million to one chance!! I wish you and your family all the best and my good wishes for the future health and happiness of you all.”
Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or email@example.com. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter.