Twin sisters share pain of birth

Sisters Ruby (left) and Coral Cowling-Scaife.
Sisters Ruby (left) and Coral Cowling-Scaife. Helga Dalla

RUBY Cowling-Scaife had a plan for when she went into labour. Unfortunately, her identical twin sister Coral didn't.

Coral suffered sympathetic pain during her sister's labour when Ruby gave birth to Lyle nine months ago.

Ruby had painkillers during a protracted three-day labour, but could only watch as her sister endured similar agony without the relief from drugs.

Coral was in Kingaroy, two hours' drive away from Ruby in Nambour when her "symptoms" began with a sense of uneasiness.

She phoned home and discovered Ruby had headed to hospital in the belief that the baby was on the way.

Ruby had returned home by the time Coral arrived to be with her.

Within 24 hours, Coral began to feel sick, which she initially put down to some "bad Indian takeaway".

But when she collapsed in a shower, friends who came to help realised she was in synch with her labouring sister.

"She was having contractions at the same time," Coral said.

Coral's pain worsened as Ruby's labour progressed.

"At one stage, I got down on all fours and rocked because that was the only way I could make my back feel better," Coral said.

"Every time she had a contraction, I would throw up."

Ruby eventually was given pethidine to help with the pain of a posterior position birth but she felt sorry watching her sister in agony.

"It was terrible to watch," she said.

"I kept on asking the nurses to give her the pethidine but they couldn't because she wasn't the one having the baby."

Coral, who was sick in the early stages of Ruby's pregnancy, believes she may have experienced morning sickness for her sister.

Pregnancy and labour are not the first time the identical twins have shared things.

They often finish each other's sentences, and have been known to get the same haircuts, buy the same clothes or even the same gifts without the other knowing.

They shared one heart-beat in the womb. Without the benefit of scans 31 years ago, their mother did not realise she was having twins until she gave birth.

As children, Ruby felt the pain when Coral broke her arm and legs in separate incidents.

Ruby recently felt ill when Coral, unbeknown to her, suffered an anaphylactic reaction.

"It was almost like I was on drugs. I was running around doing all sorts of stuff. I did all my housework in a night. I couldn't sleep, kept rolling around," she said.

"And then my other sister rang and said she (Coral) had to go to hospital."

Ruby could be in for a rough ride.

Coral is 15 weeks' pregnant, with a baby due in January.

They can only wait and see if Ruby experiences her pain.

Coral and Ruby feature in a book, A World of Twins, by Helga Dalla.

For information about the book, visit

Topics:  birth

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