God gave Waylene and Harold Davis a double portion of blessings on July 6, 1972.
Benjamin and Joshua Davis were born at 7:24 a.m. and 7:29 a.m. in Saint Joseph Hospital, Milwaukee Wisconsin. The identical twin boys weighed 5.4 ounces and 5.8 ounces respectively.
Benjamin is the elder, a gorgeous baby with healthy lungs that shouted God’s glory for the entire maternity floor to hear. Joshua followed five minutes later adding his voice to the chorus of cries and joyful tears flowing that morning not only from the delivery room, but also from the waiting room where anxious family members gathered to welcome the brothers.
“Glory be to God!”
“Thank You Lord!!!”
There was a team of nurses on hand for the after care. Benjamin was swiftly taken from the doctor’s hands by Nurse Amy who cleaned, prepped and snapped on the identification bracelet to his left ankle before placing a tiny blue cap on his tiny sweet head. Then she laid him carefully in his clear plastic warming bassinet, and wheeled him to the front row in the nursery, for clear viewing when the relatives would be allowed to come see him.
Nurse Ellen tended to Joshua in the exact same manner except for placing a yellow cap on Joshua’s tiny head, that the hospital supplied just for situations like this.
From early on each of the boys had their own distinct identities. But Benjamin and Joshua looked so much alike Waylene continued to use a color coding system for her identical twin sons. There was no one who could tell the boys apart in those early days. Their clear unblemished skin gave no clue. Their tiny toes and fingers revealed nothing individually noteworthy.
Only the diaper pins Waylene used served as the who’s who for the Davis twins.
Blue is for Benjamin. Yellow for Joshua.
Despite the hectic life of caring for two infants simultaneously, everything went smoothly those first few months…until the fateful six month check-up.
Waylene brought the boys to the pediatrician’s office. She sat in the examining room on a chair next to the doctors desk. The babies were in their double stroller. A young nurse whisked the two boys away into an ante room to be weighed and came back five or so minutes later with each baby wrapped in a white swaddling blanket ready for their exams.
“Here you go Mrs. Davis.”
The nurse handed Waylene a plastic bag with the babies’ dirty cloth diapers.
“We’ve got Pampers now – no need for these anymore.”
She handed Waylene four diaper pins. Two blue and two yellow.
You know that pit you get in your stomach when something very terrible just happened? Multiply it by one million and you can guess how Waylene felt at that moment when she could not recognize which baby was Benjamin and which one was Joshua.
She was embarrassed and ashamed to tell them at the pediatrician’s office that she didn’t know the difference between her own babies.
So out to the car she strolled with her unidentifiable identical twins. It didn’t matter now which car seat she used for the boys. Benjamin could very well be sitting in Joshua’s car seat with the yellow cover. And it would stand to reason that Joshua could be wearing Benjamin’s blue snowsuit.
When she got home she called her sister and told her the story.
Jeannie came right over.
The two of them stared and stared at the babies, turning them around, holding them from this angle and that. Still no clue.
Harold got home from work that night and found Waylene in tears.
“I am a terrible mother. The babies got mixed up and I can’t tell them apart.”
Harold took a stab at it and he came up blank.
“Pick one to be Benjamin and the other one will be Joshua and that’s that.”
And with a mother’s intuition, she did just that.
The Davis family was back in order and within another few months they were able to tell the identical twins apart. Benjamin’s toenail curled differently from Joshua’s. Later on a freckle pattern emerged on only Benjamin’s cheek. Of course, before long the twins developed their own personalities and getting their children mixed up was never a problem again.
But it nagged at Waylene throughout their childhood: What if I didn’t get it right?
The boys grew up.
It was Thanksgiving day 2012, the first family holiday without Harold who went home to his Maker earlier in the year. The twins turned forty in July and they both had families of their own. Joshua was walking toward the kitchen when he overheard his Aunt Jeannie teasing his Mom about the time when the twins got mixed up. His Mom wasn’t laughing.
“I still worry about it.” She confessed.
“What are you guys talking about?” Joshua asked as he walked through the swinging kitchen door.
Auntie Jeannie fell silent and his Mom looked at him in horror.
“I’ve got something to tell you and Benjamin. Go get your brother.”
The three of them sat around the kitchen table as Waylene shared the story.
“So I may not be Benjamin, I may be Joshua?” asked Benjamin.
“Are you f-ing kidding me?!!” said Joshua.
The boys were angry. And confused. And determined to figure out their true birthright.
They went straight up to the attic and found their baby books. Within the pages was the evidence; a plastic baggie with the hospital ID bracelet and a set of baby footprints clearly labeled with the full name of the owner of the tiny feet shaped black smudges.
This should be a cinch.
They found a specialist who analyzes prints. But as it turns out, a hospital footprint is a souvenir, not an accurate print for identification purposes. The expert told the twins to come to his lab with what they have and he would try to help.
One week after the Thanksgiving news, Benjamin and Joshua met with the examiner and showed him the prints. Benjamin’s foot print was useless. His heart sank. With Joshua’s footprint under the magnifying machine the examiner let out a loud “YES!” He found a spot on the big toe with a clearly legible pattern. From that snippet, Joshua’s adult footprint could be compared to his newborn one and if there was a match…then Joshua is Joshua and Benjamin is Benjamin.
Ten anxious minutes later, it was conclusive. Their mother’s intuition was correct. Joshua is Joshua and Benjamin is Benjamin.
The brothers thanked the expert for his help and thanked God for renewing their birthright.
God never makes mistakes, people do. And often times when a mistake is made, you can rely on your own God given intuition to correct it.