Once you’ve had a few kids, you’ve probably seen it all; the antics of your young ones likely don’t surprise you anymore. Then again, there are always exceptions—and one mom from England recently had a different experience.

Donna Aylmer already had three kids, so she felt pretty prepared when she learned her fourth was on the way. Throughout her pregnancy, she was met with one shocking surprise after another—and it all culminated in one strange revelation the moment she gave birth…

Donna Aylmer from Gloucester, England, already had three kids when she learned she was pregnant with a fourth in 1996. She and her husband, Vince, thought they knew the drill. But when they went in for a routine medical checkup, doctors gave them some life-changing news.

Donna didn’t just have a bun in the oven—she had two. Though twins would greatly alter their family dynamic, taking the total from five to seven, the couple still felt prepared.

Inside Edition / YouTube

“I just cried,” Donna told Inside Edition with a smile on her face. “It was a shock!” But the greatest shock of all would come several months later, on January 16, 1997, when her twins were finally born…

Inside Edition / YouTube

The midwife handed Donna her twin babies, but they didn’t look anything like twins. In fact, they didn’t even look like siblings—they were practically polar opposites! How could this have happened?

It was just a matter of science—and beating unbelievable odds. Vince was white and Donna had Jamaican heritage. Thus, their daughter Maria inherited her dark skin while Lucy looked like their father. But did that have any affect on their lives?

At first, when Lucy and Maria were young, Donna dressed them up in matching outfits—you know, the standard protocol when it comes to twins. Yet, as they grew older, people couldn’t help but wonder what was up.

By the time they were seven, the twins had no interest in dressing the same. They didn’t look the same, they argued, so why dress as though they did? The “cute matching twin” shtick had clearly outworn its welcome. Likewise, social pressures continued affecting them…

For instance, at school, bullies tormented fair-skinned Lucy. “They thought I was adopted,” she told Inside Edition, wiping a tear from her eye. “They called me a ghost.” Maria, too, felt out of sorts.

Maria wasn’t always comfortable in her own body, either. She wished for Lucy’s straight hair over her own. “I used to cry about it,” she said. “‘I hate my curly hair,'” she added, mimicking her younger self.

As the twins grew older, it seemed their stories together often focused on what they couldn’t do. One story, which Lucy relayed to The Daily Mail, was particularly indicative of their young adult mindsets…

“We were in the same class,” Lucy said, “but no one had a problem telling us apart. Twins are known for swapping identities. But there was no way Maria and I could ever do anything like that.”

Inside Edition / YouTube

“Friends have even made us produce our birth certificates to prove it,” Lucy explained further to The Daily Mail. Perhaps intense scrutiny on their differences was what pushed the twins into becoming such extreme opposites as young women.

Inside Edition / YouTube

Maria became a bit of a fashionista, and she took pleasure in indulging in all of the hottest trends. That wasn’t all! “I love meeting people,” Maria said of her personality. “I’m not scared to approach people or anything like that.” Lucy, on the other hand…

“Whereas, I’m terrified of going up to random strangers,” Lucy countered. The shy one of the duo, Lucy didn’t always indulge in the trendy clothes Maria did. But this only bolstered the sad reality Lucy confessed to Inside Edition

As kids, Lucy said, she and Maria weren’t all that close. “I think if we’d looked similar or even identical,” she said, “then the bond between us would have been stronger when we were younger.”

Likewise, there was no “telekinetic” bond between these two; they didn’t feel that mental connection some twins allegedly feel. Had these twins truly been permanently split in life because of their superficial differences?

Luckily, as they got older, the twins started seeing through just how artificial the barriers before them had been. “Now we’ve grown,” Lucy explained to Inside Edition, “even though we still look so different, the bond between us is much stronger.”

The two sisters went their separate ways in life—Lucy studied art and design at Gloucester College, while Maria studied law at Cheltenham College—but they eventually began to consider each other best friends! But that begged one question…

How common is it to find twins like Lucy and Maria? Not common at all—only about one in 500 twins between mixed-race parents have different skin colors. Twins Jarani and Kalani Dean, born in Quincy, Illinois, in 2017, were another example of this phenomenon.

Likewise, twins like London’s James and Daniel Kelly further proved mixed-race twins could have wildly different personalities. It turned out the former was far more outgoing than the latter! Crazier still, they weren’t the only ones…

To some, stories like Maria and Lucy’s—and like the Spooner family (pictured), who boasted two sets of mixed-race twins—are the epitome of genetic chance. Others, however, see it as something more…

To Whitney Dean, the mother of aforementioned twins Jarani and and Kalani, her daughters’ differences offered a beautiful commentary on the nature of race. Not only that, but it showed how fluid that concept could be…

USA Today

Take another family, like twins Anaya and Myla Yarker, for example. “Their difference in skin tone is really quite similar to a set of twins with a pair of blue eyes and a pair of brown eyes,” they told Vox.

Obviously, twins like Maria and Lucy are amazingly rare, but one thing was for certain: they were two sisters who grew closer when they focused on their similarities instead of their differences. We could all probably learn a thing or two from that!

Apparently, after they hit the talk show circuits, Lucy and Maria’s friends now finally believe they’re actually mixed-race twins! Took ’em long enough.

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