By Jasmine Kazlauskas
Two mums from the same town who suffered miscarriages before having two sets of miracle QUADRUPLETS just eleven days apart have celebrated their quads’ first birthdays with an adorable ‘octo-baby’ cake smash.
Mums-of-five Kylie Szafranski, 26, and Virginia Johnson, 35, from Phoenix, Arizona, USA, became friends after discovering each other online following the birth of their quads last year – and were shocked at the uncanny resemblances between their two families.
While Kylie and her husband Phil Szafrankski, 37, had three boys and one girl – Damon, Gideon, Theo, and Emery – Virginia and her husband Victor Johnson, 45, welcomed three girls and one boy – Ava, Madelyn, Olivia and Victor Jr.
Kylie is also mum to River, 4, while Virginia also has an older daughter, Zoey, 3.
The adorable quadruplets have grown up side-by-side, spending their first year of life celebrating their biggest milestones together – with the mums even joking that they’ve already ‘paired them off for arranged marriages’.
The first birthday cake smash, which took place last month, saw the eight babies lined up in front of different coloured cakes which they adorably ‘smashed’ into and messily devoured.
Stay-at-home mum Kylie said: “We had no idea that the other even existed when we were pregnant.
“I had my four, and then just over a week later I saw on the local news that a woman in my area had given birth to quadruplets too.
“Everyone was freaking out that there were two sets of quads born in Phoenix so closely together.
“We were actually in a mothers group together on Facebook, and eventually we began messaging each other and became friends after meeting up.
“The babies would have only been a couple of weeks old when we started talking.
“We were so happy that the photographer Lizzy offered to photograph all of our eight babies together. It was a great experience.
“After doing the colour wheel photograph together, we decided that we’d like to keep doing milestone pictures together in the future.
“It’s been so fun. The cake smash was great, they were so well behaved.
“The funniest thing was that every baby was covered in cake icing, so in the end we had to quickly shove them into the sink at the studio to try and clean them up.”
At the cake smash, each child’s colour was first designated to them at their newborn ‘rainbow babies’ photoshoot, with the term ‘rainbow baby’ referring to children born following a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss.
Before conceiving the quadruplets, both mothers had faced issues with infertility and went through the heartache of several miscarriages.
When Kylie naturally became pregnant with quadruplets, doctors told her that she was the only woman on the US west coast to be carrying that many babies at once.
But soon after giving birth to her quads, the mum was shocked to discover that Virginia had given birth to with the help of IVF just eleven days after her – and remarkably, they were from the same town.
And after discovering each other on a mother’s group on Facebook, the pair arranged a time to meet – and the two families-of-seven have been friends ever since.
Virginia revealed that the best thing about the two families getting to know each other is the support they can offer each other because they are ‘all in the same boat’.
She said: “It’s been so helpful to know where that is another mum who is going through exactly the same thing.
“We share advice, it’s like having a partner. It’s been wonderful to have another family go through this journey together.
“The cake smash was so fun. It really was just organised chaos, that’s the only way I can describe it.
“I think the first rainbow photoshoot was definitely harder, as trying to get eight babies to all go to sleep at once wasn’t easy.
“With this one, we just had to make sure they all stayed in the same spot and that no one started messing with each other’s cakes.
“But they all did so well. I was so proud.
“We have such an amazing photography team who are really well organised.
“It was amazing to see a follow up picture from their very first shoot together when they were newborns.
“It’s incredible to see them grow and flourish in front of the camera.
“We’d love to continue doing shoots like this together as the babies grow up.”
The heartwarming collection of photographs were taken by professional newborn photographer Lizzy McMillan, who has continuously worked with the two families since the quadruplets were born and has captured their biggest moments throughout their first year of life.
Lizzy, who is known globally in the industry for her talent in photographing multiple birth babies, said that the rainbow cake smash was a ‘labour of love’ that was ‘months in the making’.
The renowned ‘multiples whisperer’ said it ‘took the whole village’ to make the shoot happen, and with the help of fellow photographers Cortney Talbott, Meg Ross, Malia Battilana and Mary Kriss, the session went smoothly.
Lizzy said: “It has been an absolute honour getting to know both the Szafrankski and Johnson families over the past year.
“When does this ever happen? Quadruplets born eleven days apart, the exact opposite genders and right in the same town. It’s incredible.
“For the cake smash, we knew we wanted to keep the rainbow theme going from their very first session together.
“We had no idea how the babies would react to the cakes, but it worked out so well.
“It is an amazing experience as a photographer to watch your clients start their journey as newborns, and observe their growth, celebrate their milestones, and capture their personality.
“That feeling cannot be described. Now amplify that sentiment by eight.
“I have truly loved preserving this story for both families.
“I love that the babies snuggle me, and the older sisters make themselves at home in my studio.
“Virginia and Kylie’s families have stolen my heart.”