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Twins rescued from Kyiv at the beginning of Russia's invasion are turning 1


Nearly a year ago, I was reporting in Ukraine while All Things Considered host Ari Shapiro was across the border in Poland. Hundreds of thousands of people were pouring across that border, fleeing the war that had just begun, and we found out about twin little boys prematurely born in Kyiv to a Ukrainian surrogate. Their parents were desperate to save them. So together, Ari and I documented their rescue from a hospital in the capital of Ukraine, the dangerous road trip to get them to the Polish border and the trek across. And outside of a Polish hospital, the baby's father, Sasha Spektor, met Ari for the first time and described the harrowing trip from the border.


SASHA SPEKTOR: It was like a storm, a winter storm. It's like...


SPEKTOR: It's - the war didn't want to let them go. But we got them out, so...

SHAPIRO: The war didn't want to let them go.

SPEKTOR: Thanks for the good people of Ukraine.

FADEL: Well, tomorrow, those twin boys are turning 1 years old, and Ari is here to update us on the story. Hi, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Hey, Leila.

FADEL: So, Ari, tell me everything. How are these babies? I know you've been speaking to Sasha Spektor, the father, and his partner, Irma Nunez, who live in Chicago. What's the last year been like?

SHAPIRO: It's crazy because of how normal it's been. You know what I mean? I think their days are full of the kinds of excitement and drama that any parents of twin boys would experience, which blows their minds because they got these boys out of a war. Here's what Sasha Spektor and Irma Nunez said when I asked them what their days are like.

SPEKTOR: They're so uneventful right now.

IRMA NUNEZ: Or they're special in the way that is common to everyone raising a child.

SHAPIRO: Like, they spend their days changing diapers and giving baths, making sure the boys are safe and fed, which, as you know, is totally different from a year ago.

FADEL: Yeah. Let's talk about that. How have they processed what happened to them last year?

SHAPIRO: It's still so fresh in their memory and brings up a huge mix of emotions.

SPEKTOR: I think for both of us, it was the most exciting and traumatic and important event that...


SPEKTOR: ...Happened in a very long time, if not over our entire lives. So it's incredibly vivid and memorable.

NUNEZ: I remember thinking, I've seen this movie before, and I didn't like it. Like, this is not my genre.

SHAPIRO: And I wasn't starring in it.


NUNEZ: Yeah. I mean, this was before the happy ending, of course, when it was...


NUNEZ: ...Unclear what direction things were going to go.


NUNEZ: It was hard.

SHAPIRO: As you remember, Leila, it felt like a movie as we were reporting it.

FADEL: Yeah.

SHAPIRO: Like, this dramatic evacuation. The stakes were so high. And I think everybody is just grateful that for these babies, it was a happy ending.

FADEL: Did you get to see the babies?

SHAPIRO: I did. Lenny and Moishe, and they have such different personalities. Lenny is a dancer. He bounces up and down all the time. And Moishe, Sasha said he's like a tank, but then he said, no, let's not use a war metaphor.

FADEL: (Laughter).

SHAPIRO: But he's like a little Ukrainian tank who just sort of, you know, bulldozes into whatever he wants.

FADEL: Aw. You can hear more from Ari's conversation with the parents of twin boys who were rescued from Ukraine last year on tonight's All Things Considered. I know I'll be listening. Thanks, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Great to talk to you, Leila.

(SOUNDBITE OF CLEVER GIRL'S "ELM") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.