I hear people say often, how quickly time goes by when you have kids. I was realizing this back at home as the months just flew by. But maybe time felt a little accelerated since living in a hospital makes time seem to stand still. Nonetheless, Ella and Ethan are one year old today which means they are reaching another tremendous milestone. Milestones were what I lived for while I was on bed rest at the hospital. "If I can just get to 24 weeks so that they are viable...if I can make it to 30 weeks so that their lungs develop a little more...if I can hang on until 34 weeks, they might not need to be in the NICU..." I would lie in bed praying for these miracles and then finally the last miracle occurred on April 21, 2012 when both Ella and Ethan were born healthy and big. Now exactly one year later, I have two toddlers with completely different and unique personalities. I had always wondered about the nature vs. nurture debate and how much of a person's being they were actually born with, compared to how they were raised. I was so surprised to see that within the first few weeks of life, the twins were already so different with Ella being strong-willed and independent and Ethan being more sensitive and needy (with a cute worried look always on his face). At that point, there was not much nurture to go off of and it really made me see that these kids were born this way.
Throughout the year, these little sparkles of personalities have become more definite with not much changing. Ella is still very head-strong and when she wants something, she goes for it without a second thought. Ella also maintains her "alfa dog" status by doing everything first before Ethan (rolling over, crawling, and now almost walking). Being a girl gives her most of the advantage but deep down, she is one determined little lady. She loves to practice a new trick until she gets it perfect and then refuses anyone trying to help her. For example, recently Ella has mastered feeding herself by holding her own bottle...with one hand! If I try to hold the bottle for her she starts crying because she wants to do it. However, Ethan loves being taken care of and prefers acting like a little prince. He just started crawling after watching his sister on the move for two months. He loved watching her romp around but never really had the desire to do so. Then one day out of the blue he just started crawling, almost as if he realized mommy and daddy are not going to be around all the time to move him where he needs to go. Ethan is still a sensitive soul and is typically the one crying the most when those cranky moments hit. Nothing that a cuddle can't solve which he absolutely relishes. On the other hand, when I try to cuddle with Ella, she is squirming away living up to her "mover and shaker" self. I started to think back to their personalities in the womb and how when the nurses had to perform my daily NST's, Ella was always moving around so much it was difficult to find her heartbeat, while Ethan would stay in one spot...tucked up within my ribs all cozy and content.
It is really hard to imagine life without these two and it makes me think about the fact that we came so close to losing them back when I was only 19 weeks pregnant. Recently, the twins and I went back to the hospital to visit the nurses who had become my family. They could not believe how big Ella and Ethan had grown and how much I had shrunk since the last time they saw all of us. I was also lucky enough to catch the famous Dr. Tabsh who turns into mush when he sees babies. It is so great to watch him when he is in that mood because he is normally known for his unwavering silent focus and lack of bedside manner. Ethan in particular could not stop smiling when Dr. Tabsh was holding him...almost like he knew that this was the man that saved his life. Dr. Tabsh loved every minute of it and I could tell that these kind of moments for him are what justifies the extremely hard work he performs every day. This man probably sleeps a total of 4 hours a night, never takes vacations, and basically lives at the hospital. I know this because I used to literally live at the hospital! I am eternally grateful that today is the first of many birthday celebrations that our family will enjoy thanks to this angel of a man.
*The song "Happy Birthday To You And To You" is from the 1997 Broadway musical Side Showwhich is based on the true story of Siamese twins, Daisy and Violet Hilton. Luckily, Ella and Ethan are not attached at the hip like those lovely ladies but I will say that I am so happy that they get to grow up together and be each other's best friend. Sharing not only many birthdays together, but countless life experiences that hopefully will not pass by too quickly. Happy Birthday to the most fantastic "Broadway Babies" in the entire universe! I love you more than words can express.