Mum Norma Andrade-Solli looked on as her little baby daughter Carmen guzzled the last of her milk and, still hungry, immediately reached out for her sister Lupita’s bottle instead.
As you would expect, this did not end well and the aggrieved sister let out a disgruntled wail. “They would fight for the baby bottle,” Norma, 49, says.
“Carmen would always finish before Lupita and she would grab her bottle. So Lupita would get upset.”
It was one of the girls’ first disagreements and, like any siblings, Carmen and Lupita went on to have their fair share of arguments. But it was also the beginning of the pair learning to get along with each other.
They had no choice. Conjoined at birth, the sisters – now 19 – know their entire lives will be spent together.
Carmen says: “We would argue a lot when we were little, it was the process of getting to the fact that we’re kind of stuck to each other.”
Lupita adds: “She would pull my hair,” as Carmen says: “She would bite.”
The girls are joined at the abdomen down to their pelvis, where their spines meet. They each have two arms, but only a single leg, with Carmen controlling the right leg and Lupita, the left.
They took their first steps aged four and they learned to balance and co-ordinate although, of course, it wasn’t easy.
They are omphalopagus twins, which make up 10% of all conjoined twins. It means each of the girls has a heart, a set of arms, a set of lungs and a stomach.
But they share some ribs, a liver, their circulatory system and their digestive and reproductive systems.
When Lupita and Carmen were young, doctors considered separating them, but concluded it couldn’t be done safely because they shared too many vital organs and their lower spine.
Carmen says: “We’re never going to get separated. We’re never going to be individual people. We’ve been dealt a weird hand but we have to deal with it.”
The sisters feature in an upcoming Channel Four documentary Two Sisters, One Body.
And while the girls are conjoined physically, they are very distinctly separate people. Carmen admits she is the most talkative but Lupita says she is the funnier one.
The pair, and mum Norma, are talking on a Zoom call from their Connecticut home of New Milford, a town of about 30,000.
Carmen said: “We like it. It’s a really small town, but it’s really nice. The people are nice. We have a lot of friends here.”
Norma and their dad Victor brought them to the States from Veracruz in Mexico, in search of better medical treatment when they were babies.
Carmen says: “My mom was told lots of conjoined twins don’t live past three days.”
And Lupita adds: “The doctor said to my dad – pick one or they’re both going to die. We would have both died if a charity hadn’t brought us to the US.”
The family moved when the girls were two years old and, once in America, doctors said they would never be separated, and any attempt would see them die on the operating table or spend their lives in intensive care.
So the family, including older sister Abby, now 24, settled down to what would become their new normal. Of course, there were struggles and they faced prejudice and ignorance.
Norma recalls: “When they were little, I took them to the mall. I put Carmen and Lupita into one of the mall buggies and a lady was mad because I was ‘too cheap’ and forced two babies into the pram.”
But despite everything, they were still just two little girls doing what little girls do.
“They would do handstands all the time” Norma remembers.
“We never really talked about them being different. They learned how they were different on their own and were fine.”
The girls have faced difficult questions their whole lives.
Carmen rolls her eyes, recalling: “When we were nine or 10, we were once asked how sex would work?
“So you’re in the middle of a public place and they were like, ‘how would that work?’ And I was like, ‘I’m nine.’”
She says: “There’ll be grown adults that will be like, ‘Oh, you guys look like aliens.”’
Lupita agrees: “Or sometimes someone’s, like, ‘Does your mom look like you?’ And she’s right next to me.”
Surely this must have been enormously upsetting for them?
Lupita says: “It depends on the day, but we deal with it with comedic responses. Like if someone asks us if we’re twins or sisters, we usually respond with something like ‘nah, we’re just really close cousins’.”
“Being conjoined is not all we think about. We’re also two Mexican twins trying to get along in Trump’s America – sometimes that’s as big a deal as being stuck to your sister.”
The Trump government recently tried to remove the programme that allows the family – and other immigrant families – to stay in the US.
The deferred action programme means immigrant families can stay if their children are having medical treatment. Currently, they have to renew their right to remain every year.
They finished high school, Carmen learned to drive and at the second attempt.
Lupita says: “My dad wouldn’t let me drive after I almost crashed into something.”
And Carmen explains: “I have the right leg and I’m a little bit taller than her. We tried letting her hold the steering wheel once. It didn’t really work.”
Lupita adds: “I put the turn signals on. That’s pretty much it.”
The two have loved animals since they were little and see their future as running an agriculture business.
After going to an agricultural high school, they’re now at college two days a week and hope to study in the veterinary field.
“We’ve both been interested in animals since we were five” says Lupita. “But because of certain physical issues we’re going into vet tech and then hopefully we’ll go on and get a bachelors in animals science.”
High school was a good time for the girls and they made close friends.
And one teacher in particular, Mr Davenport, made the whole thing go smoothly. The twins are seen saying a tearful farewell to him in the new documentary. Carmen says: “There have been obstacles physically. But he never said anything or made us feel like there’s anything we couldn’t do.”
For now, lockdown goes on. The girls hope it will be over in time for their 20th birthday in a couple of weeks. They want a party, to go out to the park, hang out with their friends or go out on a boat with their dad.
They’ve passed the time watching Tiger King and listening to 90s music.
Destiny’s Child is a favourite.
The two spend very little time reflecting on being conjoined.
These days there are very few arguments. If the worst comes to the worst they can put separate headphones in.
Lupita says: “We worked it all out a long time ago.” Carmen adds: “We are two peas in a pod.”
Two Sisters, One Body airs on Sunday at 9.15pm on Channel 4