- Associated Press - Monday, May 11, 2015

BROOKLYN, Mich. (AP) - You might say a new generation of potential best friends has been born.

Longtime best friends, Kaitlynn Panak and Jacea French, who became local celebrities when their maternity photos went viral, each recently gave birth, according to the Jackson Citizen Patriot ( https://bit.ly/1QqtOyW ).

Nolan Adam Panak was born on April 19 and Hayden Taylor French was born one week later on April 26. Nolan weighed 7 pounds and 10 ounces, and Hayden weighed 8 pounds and 13 ounces. Zach Panak is the father of Nolan and Drew French is the father of Hayden.

Kaitlynn and Jacea have been best friends since they were 12 years old, live on the same street in Brooklyn, were married one month apart and were pregnant with due dates one day apart.

With Kaitlynn Panak having her baby boy a week early of her due date, it made the wait for Jacea French feel even longer, she said.

“We just kept (saying) ‘When is she coming, when is she coming’ and then we thought I would go into labor when (Kaitlynn) was in the hospital,” Jacea French said. “I had this feeling and then a day went by, and another day went by and I wasn’t feeling anything. … I was very impatient, I was ready.”

With Jacea and Drew French already at the hospital while Kaitlynn Panak was in labor, Jacea French said she was hoping she’d also go into labor. Although it didn’t work out that way, the two were randomly assigned to the same room at Allegiance Health for the delivery a week apart.

“Completely unintended,” Jacea French said of having the same room. “We got to the hospital on Sunday, I mean Saturday night, and she said ‘Alright you’re going to be in room 411’ and ‘I was like oh my god are you kidding me.’ I knew that was the room that (Kaitlynn) was in and I was like ‘that’s ridiculous.’”

Hayden had to stay in the hospital a few additional days to be tested for a bacterial infection, but both babies are home now with their families. Both say it’s been smooth sailing so far.

It’s also been helpful to go through these first few weeks with a friend close. Jacea French said Kaitlynn Panak has watched her 2-year old daughter, Logan, when Hayden is taking a nap so French can also catch up on some sleep.

“I know that she’s right down there,” Kaitlynn Panak added. “If I need something from her I can just bundle him up and walk down there.”

The two best friends’ story has drawn a lot of attention. Jacea French said after seeing the maternity photos, a woman who makes handmaid clothes wanted the two newborn babies to model a pair of outfits to promote her baby clothes.

Kaitlynn Panak said it’s been an amazing experience, she’s excited to see what dynamics the two newborns will add to each their families.

“It’ll be good to be able to be there for each other having newborn babies,” Kaitlynn Panak said. “… Being able to see that in each other and then with our families (since) our families are so close. It’ll be interesting to see how Logan turns into a big sister, how (my 5-year old daughter) Sienna turns into a big sister. How our husbands handle it separately and together. It’s just going to be fun to see that.”

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Information from: Jackson Citizen Patriot, https://www.mlive.com/jackson

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