Gavin Burns is the rabble rouser. Like many ornery 4-year-olds, Gavin sometimes gets in trouble during daycare.
The result is missing out on a special treat each time — well, in theory.
But Gavin has a backup — his buddy, his best friend, and his twin, Grayson, who smuggles out an extra special treat each time, so Gavin does not go without some candy.
They share everything, without even a thought.
“You take them some place, and one of them will get something, and they’ll turn to other one and immediately share,” the twins’ mother, Emily Burns said.
Burns, and her husband Richard, cannot even keep Gavin and Grayson out of each other’s beds at night. The two have separate beds, but each morning, they’re found in the same one — legs and arms slung all over the place.
They have been that way their entire lives.
But their lives began with the possibility of having to be separated immediately.
Born eight weeks premature, Gavin, the first born, weighed 4 pounds, 7 ounces and had great color. He needed to be admitted to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NBICU) at St. Catherine Hospital because he was premature, but he was otherwise normal.
Grayson, however, was in danger.
He was turned in the womb, and was only able to come out feet first. Weighing 3 pounds, 7 ounces, Grayson was grey and lifeless at birth.
“Obviously when you see that, you’re pretty concerned,” Richard Burns said.
“I just know when he was born, it was total chaos,” Emily Burns said. “They just immediately took him out of the room, and you can tell something was not right.”
The team of doctors and nurses told the Burnses that Grayson may have to be taken to Wichita for care — but Gavin would stay at St. Catherine. That would mean Richard and Emily Burns would also be split, one with each twin.
But they decided to try to keep Gavin and Grayson together at St. Catherine and see if they improve.
“Once they got (Grayson) hooked up to everything and stabilize, they said it seemed to be working,” Emily Burns said.
But the twins needed their own space as they recovered — for perhaps the only time in their lives, they were separated.
“The nurses kept saying, with twins, they’re just so connected, they need each other,” Emily Burns said. “We did trail run visit things where they got to be with each other, and it was funny because they started to improve.”
Increasingly, they were able to spend some more time together, until they were healthy enough to be discharged. Still, that was a nerve-wrecking prospect, as well.
“We were super nervous about that,” Emily Burns said. “If this doesn’t work, what do we do, because they can’t go back into the NICU. Everybody was nervous, and nobody wants to sleep because we’re afraid to leave them alone. But we put them in the same bassinet together, and it just worked.”
By the third day, the twins were ripping off each other’s airlines.
And ever since, the two have grown together.
“Aside from just being really tiny, they seem to be developing right on track,” Emily Burns said.
That first month could have gone much differently, however.
What if the twins had to be separated? What if the family was split between two cities hundreds of miles apart.
“If they had to be separated, I don’t know how it would have turned out,” Emily Burns said. “They need each other.”
And what about the strain it could have put on Richard and Emily Burns, and their finances?
“It would have created a logistical nightmare,” Richard Burns said. “It definitely would have put a lot of stress on both of us. Having them (St. Catherine NBICU) be close by is invaluable. They’re so good up there, and the fact we have a facility like that close to us is amazing. The level of care there is just amazing.”
And Emily Burns wonders if they would have been able to afford a larger house for Gavin and Grayson, and their four brothers and one sister, if they had to spend a month in Wichita.
“This could have been totally different,” Emily Burns said.
Instead, they have had two rambunctious boys who have been together ever since.
“They’re typical busy little boys,” Richard Burns said. “They get in the double stroller together, and check out the animals in the zoo and play on the playground together.”
They visit car shows, and point out every mustang there.
But their favorite thing may be trains. Each night, Emily Burns said, the twins are driven on a course around the train tracks in the city.
And every once in awhile, the Burnses load Gavin and Grayson onto the Amtrak and ride with them to Lamar, Colo., while the other parent drives behind to pick them up and bring them back to Garden City.
It’s the perfect activity for these two 4-year-olds — as long as they’re together.