They’re Still Twins

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Categories Balance, Community, Difference, Friendships with Other Multiples, Parenting, Relationships, Special NeedsTags , , ,

During pregnancy, my husband and I had many conversations about all the things we would do for our twins to let them know they were loved and valued as separate individuals, not just half of a set. That they cohabited in utero was only a very small part of who they would become, and we wanted them to always know that.

I dealt with all the comments during pregnancy—the “better you than me”, the “double trouble”, the “my cousin’s neighbor has twins”, the “I always wanted twins” (or, bizarrely to me once: “I almost had twins”…a story which did not result in the loss of a twin, but rather a woman who, prior to ultrasound technology, knew all along she was having twins, but never heard two distinct heartbeats and only delivered one baby). I joined twin groups, mentally prepared myself for the barrage of twin-comments we’d receive everywhere we went.

I never imagined how much it would sting to lose that.

I am luckier than many in the twin world: both my twins are alive and thriving.

But.

They do not reach developmental milestones within days of each other. Not even within months. They do not wear the same size of clothing, and haven’t since D outgrew the preemie size (while A was still a 3-pounder, outfits hanging on him like Doby’s pillowcase). They will probably not be in the same class at school (except perhaps preschool). Strangers do not ask me if they’re identical or fraternal, or even “Are they twins?” They ask me, “How far apart are they?”

The first time I got that question, the boys were 9 months. Now, D quickly outgrew the “adjusted” charts and was over 50% in height quite early, and has been slower but always on-the-charts in weight. Even so, he looked at most 11 months old. With A, who yes, (yes, believe it or not, I know), is small. But at 9 months, he looked perhaps 4 months, but probably closer to 5. Just what gestational length did these questioners have in mind, anyway??

But now, at 16 months, D could easily pass for 2. And A could be a tall-but-skinny (95th and below-zero) 9-month-old. Which is probably about where he is developmentally as well. The question is no longer absurd.

And it hurts. Selfishly, it hurts, as it is not what I imagined. It is not what “twins” entails in popular culture, mythology, anyone’s mind. But it also hurts for them. They are and always will be brothers, but I feel like they each are missing that twin-thing: the sharing of clothes, sharing of friends, sharing school books, mastering new skills together.

I rarely comment in my twin group. I feel like so much of it just does not apply.

A lot of it does, though. A lot of it applies, and then some. Feeding twins is so hard! Feeding twins when one of them has a feeding tube? Even harder. Getting any sleep with twins is hard! Getting any sleep with twins when one of them has several alarms hooked up to him, which give both real and (thankfully) not-real alerts? Harder. Dealing with extended family who plays favorites? Whoooo, boy, let me tell you. Finding time to {x}? You get the picture.

A and D will never know a different life. As brilliant as they are, I highly doubt either of them pondered the concepts of twinhood while womb-mates, probably not even recognizing that other kicky-squirmy creature with a heartbeat from my own intestines. They are twins, and this is what twinhood will mean to them, even when they understand that it may not hold true for the greater world. In some ways, they are wiser than I am.

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Marissa

Marissa is mom to fraternal twin boys, born in January 2012. While one of them has special needs and the other does not, they are both pretty amazing. Marissa majored in linguistics, served in the Peace Corps, worked with autistic children, and was half-way through nursing school before being put on bed-rest during her pregnancy. While she hopes to someday finish nursing school, it seems like she couldn’t have asked for a better background when fate handed her two awesome boys.

6 thoughts on “They’re Still Twins”

  1. Marissa,
    I have the exact same thought process about my twins as you do. My twin boys are two and are so different in size and looks that they barely look like siblings, much less twins. I have decided to embrace the fact that while they do not share the infamous twin language and they are not attached at the hip, they ARE two individuals with their own identity.
    I don’t get the common twin questions anymore…now I get confused looks – I can tell that people are looking at my boys and trying to do the math – “hmmm…they don’t look the same age but they do not look 9 months different either.”
    The most important thing I have learned through this process is to let them lead. They are wiser about this that we are. :)

  2. What a well written blog post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I just wanted to say, my ID twin boys are 3.5 now, and while they have always shared the physical characteristics that make them “look” like twins, it has only been within the last few months that I have begun to notice the twin bond phenomenon. I guess my point is, your twins are siblings, and will likely have a strong relationship even if it starts a little later or at different rates. I loved your last paragraph. Keep up the good work and best wishes to you and your family!

  3. I love how you take wisdom away from your boys’ uniqueness and how it’s perceived by others. I imagine it would be tempting to throw a very large pity party

    I’ve started getting the “how far apart” questions, and mine are as twinny as they come, but it didn’t start until they were 5 or 6. If there’s one thing that we twin mamas know, it’s that twinship is unique every time. The relationship between one set of wombmates is no predictor of how another pair will relate.

    When my M & J were the age that your boys are now, I used to fear that M would look at J and she what she “should have” looked like, had she not had a facial cleft. For what it’s worth, she hasn’t yet.

  4. marissa,

    I can only imagine the mixed emotions to come with that reality. Perhaps it will lessen the pressure for them to have that twin thing. Some twin sib sets really resent it.
    take care

  5. Sounds like your twins will have their own unique story to tell when they are older. Surely their individuality will enrich their journey and make their twin tales all the more special!

  6. This mirrors my twin experience too. My girls are older now (7) but the loss of their twinship still saddens me – even though as you say they don’t know any different.

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