Just one month apart. My niece was born in February 2005, Little Fish in March 2005. Niece was born in hospital, came home with her parents a few days later. Little Fish was born in hospital, had emergency surgery at one day old, spent several months in hospital, before being discharged to fosterparents for palliative care. Niece was an only child, surrounded by loving and delighted parents and grandparents; Little Fish was surrounded firstly by other very sick babies, later by a large fosterfamily, later still by our rather different family.
At 18 months old, Niece was chattering about different birds and animals, and able to identify the component parts of flowers and trees (leaves, petals, stamen, even!). Little Fish spoke her first word at 22 months.
Niece dances and skips and hops and jumps and bounces. Little Fish whizzes and whirls and beeps and bumps in her wheelchairs. Here, they are equals.
They are both now nearly three, both starting at pre-school very shortly, both are lucky enough to have a parent at home with them for the majority of the time they spend there. Little Fish has Mog, and has lived through the loss of her older sister Goldy. She gets excited when Heaven is mentioned and says Goldy's name. Niece has a baby sibling on the way, and remembers Goldy and Goldy's funeral, and has the questions of a much older child about the meaning of life and death.
Little Fish had a new word this week -Spider "Pie-Dah". Niece had a new word this week too - "Chlorophyll". She wanted to know what makes leaves green. Little Fish wanted to know when she could next eat apples.
I shouldn't make comparisons. Both girls are loved, much longed for and much appreciated members of the family. Both girls have their faults and flaws and quirks. Neither is better than the other, each has skills the other lacks. But I look at them both, and it is hard not to wonder how they will fare at school, and into adult life, will the world look kindly on them both?