- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 6, 2015

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Emerson Marie Clark and Harper Rose Ludka will share clothes. They’ll share whispered secrets in cupboards. They’ll - grudgingly - share favorite toys. They’ll also share a birthday. One can blow out the candle 17 minutes after the other.

The girls are first cousins, born 17 minutes and one ounce apart on Dec. 29, delivered by the same nurse-midwife at Munson Medical Center. Emerson, weighing in at 6 pounds, 11 ounces, was born at 12:57 p.m. Harper appeared at 1:14 p.m., clocking in at 6 pounds, 10 ounces.

The girls seem destined to be “close,” Harper’s mom, Brandee, told the Traverse City Record-Eagle ( https://bit.ly/1xB1SD2 ).

“They’ll always be connected and, so close in age, they might even be best friends,” Brandee said. “It’ll be fun to watch them grow up together.”

The Clarks - Adam and Sarah - and the Ludkas - Brandee and Josh - already are tight-knit. Their eldest boys were born 9 months apart. Their middle girls were born 10 months apart. All the kids attend the same school, and both families nurture a cousins’ culture that keeps family gatherings lively and the memory troves full.

Still, the girls’ timed arrivals weren’t planned that way.

Both Sarah’s and Brandee’s original due dates were mid-January. Contractions sent the Clarks to the hospital, and Adam was helping with Sarah’s labor walk in the hospital hallway when they bumped into Josh. The Ludka’s ended up with a medically scheduled induction; the Clarks were just early - for once. Brandee beat out her baby brother for the first two sets of kids, but Emerson’s arrival clinched the win for Adam, he said.

Gloating was easy - their delivery rooms were just two doors apart.

Friendly competition aside, the girl’s coincidental arrival is bittersweet, foretold by Mary Elizabeth Clark, Adam and Brandee’s mom, who died this November after a long bout with cancer. She was very close to her grandchildren and a “strong presence” in their lives.

“She kept saying ‘Wouldn’t that be something if they were born on the same day,’” Adam said.

“I think my mom wanted these two girls to be close, that she had a hand in it,” Brandee said. ” She had wanted to be there to meet them … but she is smiling from above.”

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Information from: Traverse City Record-Eagle, https://www.record-eagle.com

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