Which Came First

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And of course, I’m not talking about the chicken or the egg debate. It seems that many people (especially complete strangers) love to ask MoMs which baby was born first. From the MoMs I’ve talked to, I’ve learned that this question really, really bothers some mothers, while others think nothing of pointing out which child is Baby A.

My twins were born via c-section, just seconds apart. On their birth certificates, the time of birth is listed as 8:22am for both. So, when people ask me who was first, I usually just say, “They were both born at 8:22am.” If pressed for more details, I’ll usually share that Tiny is twin A, but what I feel like saying (especially if it’s a complete stranger asking) is, “Why do you care?”

I guess I’ve become more bothered by this question as Buba and Tiny have gotten older. When they were infants, it just seemed as though I was sharing a fact about their birth. But now that they’re older, it feels more like a label of their personalities. And I really want to avoid that as much as possible.

But what I’ve really been wondering about lately is what I’ll tell Buba or Tiny if they ever get around to asking that question. I suppose I could just answer honestly and matter-of-factly. After all, if they were singletons, there would be no possibility of keeping their birth order a secret. It just is what it is. But is it somehow different for twins? From reading numerous stories of twins (recorded in One and the Same: My Life as an Identical Twin and What I’ve Learned About Everyone’s Struggle to Be Singular), I get the feeling that it is.

How do you feel when you get asked the “which came first” question?  How do you answer it? And will you (or have you) shared birth order information with your multiples. Do you think it makes any difference whether they (or anyone else) know or not?

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27 thoughts on “Which Came First”

  1. Mine were born at the exact same time, too. I think if people ask, I’ll just tell them they were born at the same time via c-section. If/when THEY ask, I’ll tell them the truth…though I really don’t think it matters. The whole birth order thing doesn’t seem to carry the same weight when they’re twins. At least to me.

  2. My girls’ birth times are listed as one minute apart. I will answer and say Abby was born first. Maggie is a little taller so they each have their “thing” which they like. I don’t think birth order has anything to do with personality so I guess I never thought much about it.
    I figure if the person asking does think it matters, most of the time they are strangers and I’ll never see them again.

  3. I get asked that question pretty regularly and normally I just answer and move on, but it is starting to bother me too (a little). I don’t think it makes a bit of difference in their little personalities and I don’t understand why it matters at all… Oh well. Sometimes I think people talk just to talk…
    .-= Shelby´s last blog ..Playing with MoMa & Beste! =-.

  4. I don’t mind the question. I have a friend that won’t even tell her kids which was born first (twins of course). I feel that Baby B can always use the comeback “well, I was bigger”.

    My boys are ID, I have a feeling birth order will be the least of our issues. v

    great post

  5. I get asked this question all the time & have no problem telling people that my son is one minute older than my daughter. In fact, I was actually excited when I found out it would be that way because we’d always wanted a boy first. I had a big brother & I like the idea of him watching out for her. As far as why people ask though, I think we, as MoMs, get a lot of dumb questions just because people can’t think of what to say, but they want to say something.
    .-= Alli´s last blog ..Concentration =-.

  6. People ask, and I tell the truth, but I do try to convey with my tone that it’s a pretty dumb question. I always say, “…but they’re only a minute apart, so it doesn’t really matter.”
    .-= pam´s last blog ..New favorite book =-.

  7. Dylan was baby A my whole pregnancy, but then they did my section, they pulled Ryan out first so he was A in the NICU.

    As for personalities, I think Dylan is the alpha twin of the two.

  8. People do make assumptions based on birth order – someone at the grocery store said she could tell by looking at them because the first born is always smaller. (That wasn’t true when they were born and it isn’t true now either….)

  9. I always said that I’d answer my daughters when they asked. The other day, Melody said, “Who’s the big sister?” I blurted out, “There isn’t a big sister. You’re a same-size sister. That’s what twins means.” So much for being honest with them.

    People put SO much stock in stereotypes of oldest, middle and “baby” siblings that I just can’t stand it. A good friend, a twin herself, warned against labeling our girls “big” and “little” sister, and that feels right.

    Mine both have very dominant personalities, although Melody tends to boss Jessie around more than the other way around. I suspect that people who really care about birth order have made up an order for the girls in their head, although I refuse to answer them. In that way, they’re subject to stereotypes anyway.

    Perhaps my paranoia on this subject is just that, but I just don’t like the labels.
    .-= Sadia´s last blog ..Classroom transition =-.

  10. My only issue with it is that people almost want to argue with me because they are surprised by the answer. Sebastian came out first but because he is smaller, some people find this very odd or had thought it impossible. Then I had one person tell that it made sense because the baby on top (Baby B), got all the food first and therefore would be bigger. Its just brings up too many weird questions/comments that I’m never sure how to respond.
    .-= Nicole´s last blog ..The Verdict Is In =-.

  11. Not phased by this question at all..and agree with the above that folks ask MoM’s all sorts of random questions just to make conversation. I did think about not telling the babes and tell them once they buy my vacation home for me, I will tell them….but not seriously and will fully disclose the info to them. More than likely their SSN’s show you their birth order, so they will eventually find out if you chose to not disclose.

    I’m more surprised by folks’ reaction when I tell them how far apart (24 minutes) and they say “that long!” I don’t know if they are accustomed to hearing “1 minute” from C-section births but it always makes me a bit defensive…it’s not like I took a nap (but have heard of some Moms that got a quick doze in between deliveries). I was pushing the whole time trying to get Baby B out (nothing like a delivery in the OR with the instruments for a C-section in view to incentivize you). And I have heard of twins born hours apart if not days.

  12. Funny, I was just asked this for the first time yesterday (and my girls are two years old — today!). I expected I’d get it more but haven’t. I did answer matter-a-factly, but might next time tack on a “not that it matters” or “does it matter? Why do you ask” kind of thing next time.

    It does kind of bother me a little (now that they are older and can understand, anyway) mostly because I just don’t get why anybody would care. Mine were 20 minutes apart, too, but it just seems so unrelated to anything about them. I really believe birth order should not matter with twins, though I’m sure others disagree….
    .-= Kristin from Intrepid Murmurings´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: Two Years Ago Today… =-.

  13. We get this all the time, too, of course. And we also have c-section babies who were born in the very same minute (6:03am!). We generally use it as an opportunity to tell that little snippet of a story. We don’t hide that Daniel is a whopping 45 seconds older, and annoying, it pleases people to NO END that the BOY is the older one. Whatever.

    I haven’t really “told” the kids, and don’t see why I would bring it up. But if they ask, I most certainly won’t hide it from them. I think that’s going overboard.

    Sarah (of Goon Squad fame) had some things to say about this issue over on MamaPop the other day.

  14. My favorite is when people find out which one was first and they say, “I can tell,” or when they see how headstrong my baby A is, they say, “She was born first, wasn’t she?” Seriously? A minute apart via c-section. But maybe there is something to say about how she was already head down and ready to come out at 31 weeks!
    .-= Leigh Ann´s last blog ..This One Has Two parts =-.

  15. Great picture and such a thoughtful post!

    I think I have only gotten this question once and it hasn’t bothered me (yet!) My girls are 4 minutes apart but the baby born first was Baby B in the initial ultrasound. She switched position a couple weeks before the birth.

    If my daughters ever ask, I will tell them the truth. I will also tell them that in some cultures (like the Sengalese) the people believe that the baby born first is actually the youngest because the “older” twin stays behind to make sure the first baby gets out safely. Seems like a nice antidote to the mentality that older is somehow better.

  16. This question bothers me too. I try to avoid putting labels on my girls as much as possible. I usually answer, “They were born only one minute apart so it doesn’t matter” That usually suffices. Twice I’ve had people say that they could tell which one was older and had a triumphant look if they got it right. I was like, “oh good for you, are you happy now?”. I try to stop myself from rolling my eyes.

    The girls have seen the c-section tape so they know who comes out first. I figure as long as I don’t make a deal out of it, they won’t make a deal out of it. Though, if it does become an issue I’ll see if they can hash it out on their own.

  17. Delaney was Baby A. My girls are identical and there were placental insufficiencies. As a result, Delaney is bigger all around, generally about 3 pounds more than her sister and an inch taller. People always ask who is older and it pleases them to no end that Delaney was born first. I’m half tempted to lie just so they don’t get the satisfaction!
    .-= Erin´s last blog ..Never gets old =-.

  18. We decided not to tell everyone. In my husband’s family, who is first born is a big deal. I know, my husband knows, my doctor knows, and they guy at the birth certificate office knows. Other than that, it doesn’t really matter.
    .-= Jennifer U´s last blog ..Words to Melt Your Heart =-.

  19. Mine were born 7 hours apart on different days, so yep, no hiding which one is older. I think it is completely different from singular birth order, and have said ‘big sister/little brother’ even though size-wise it is exactly opposite. I think our story is so unique, and tell it as ‘My daughter got tired of being kicked by her brother so she headed out… my son then decided this was pretty comfy and wanted to stick around for a while’. Being twins trumps all conventionality of non-twin sibling relationships. If people aren’t weird about this topic there will just be something else to drive you bonkers anyway.

  20. yeah, it bothers me too. we haven´t told anyone and i doubt we´ll even tell the boys. i don´t want silly fights and labels just because of a few minute´s difference.

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