08/22/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT
It's bedtime and the twins are up to what you might expect of two 3-year-old boys: giggling, playing peekaboo, doing anything but going to sleep. Their single mom, Arlene Aguirre, 32, says she hasn't had more than four straight hours of rest in ages, but admits she's partly to blame. "I don't want to go to sleep because they're having so much fun."
Such is life with the identical Aguirre twins, Carl and Clarence, who were born joined at the head in the Philippines in 2002. But, a year after the last of four operations to separate them, provided free by Children's Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, the boys are thriving as no similarly conjoined twins have done before, according to their doctor. "We like to say they have two birthdays: They were born three years ago, but the day they were separated they were reborn," says pediatrician Robert Marion.
The boys spent their first two years lying head-to-head on their backs. Today, they are continuing their rehab courtesy of Blythedale Children's Hospital in Valhalla, N.Y., where their mom has her own room. The twins crawl and ride tricycles. Clarence is outgoing; Carl is quiet and shy. Together, well, boys will be boys. "They smack one another on the head and are extremely jealous over toys," says their neurosurgeon James Goodrich. "They're perfectly normal." Both boys face further surgery, and Carl has minor hearing problems. Beyond that? Says Marion: "They have unlimited potential."