Twin Mother Vocabulary

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Categories Birth Order, Parenting Twins, Perspective3 Comments

My only children are identical twins. My entire experience of motherhood has been filtered through the lens of the monozygotic twin experience. I’ve noticed that my twin perspective has had an interesting effect on my mommy vocabulary. There are phrases that other parents use without even thinking about them that I use differently because of our family’s very special dynamic.

It vs. They

When I was first pregnant, I once made the mistake of referring to the growing life inside me as “the embryo”. My (now ex) husband was appalled and insisted that I should refer to our little one as “the baby”. Of course, we didn’t know until 17 weeks into the pregnancy that we were having girls, and I was worried about offending my husband by referring to the baby as “it”. As soon as we learned we were expecting twins at 7 weeks, that eliminated the issue altogether, since I could just use the pronoun “they”.

A funny thing is that I find myself referring to friends’ singletons in the womb as “they”, even after the gender is known. It’s not that I don’t know that they’re having one baby. It’s just that “they” feels like the right pronoun for any person while still in the womb. My friend Julie and I were close throughout my pregnancy, and she said that she found herself referring to her son as “they” in utero. She credits me with that particular quirk.

My daughters have much in common, but many, many differences in personality, preference, and strengths. Still, I often find myself referring to them as “they” and comparing and contrasting them. Talking to their teacher about one child, I found myself including tidbits about the other. I think it’s that I’ve trained myself to be fair to the point of not wanting to devote more sentences to one twin than her sister.

Water(s) Breaking

Mothers of twins mostly share the same parent vocabulary as other parents, but there are some surprising differences in the twin mother vocabulary.Right until I went into labour, I thought of water breaking as something that happened to the mother. “My water broke” says many the American mother when narrating her birth story, or “the midwife stripped my membranes”. In the UK, it’s “my waters broke”.

My daughters’ birth (more on “birth” below) gave me an altogether new perspective. The first sign of labour was amniotic fluid leaking from me, but we would soon learn that it was only Twin A’s inner sac that had ruptured with the twins’ shared outer sac. In fact, Twin B was born en caul, or with her amniotic sac entirely intact.

When I tell my birth story, it’s not “my water” that broke, but rather my child’s. When I hear others tell of the births they’ve experienced or witnessed, I flip the metaphor in my mind to make the membrane belong to the newborn, not the mother. This is certainly because of the very unusual birth circumstances the three of us shared. Neither girl ever tires of hearing how she and her sister was born, and even had me tell their birth story to the school principal’s daughter, so now says, “Good story!” to me every time she sees me darkening the school halls.

Firstborn/Older

I think of both my girls as laying equal claim to the title of Firstborn. The way I see it, they came to be in the same miracle of conception and were, for some period of time, a single body. Sure, one exited by C-section two minutes before the other, but I don’t see that as making her older. Perhaps I would have felt differently if I’d had the vaginal birth I’d hoped for. I know that for most parents, the idea of an older and younger sibling is the most natural one in the world, but I cringe when the world applies that concept to my girls. One of my daughters agrees with my worldview on this point, while the other does not.

Birth(s)

I find myself going back and forth between referring to my daughters’ birth(s) as singular—”their birth”—or plural—”their births”. They share a birthday, of course, and parts of a birth story, a womb, DNA, and so much more, but they are altogether different people. They touch the world in different ways. When I focus on my experience of their birth, is feels like a singular event. When I look at the results of that experience, these two vibrant light beams of people, I can’t help but think of the two girls’ birth as being separate events. My mind can’t contain the concept of so much wonder coming from a single birth, and I find myself calling it “their births”.

To my daughters, it’s all so simple. They were born together. Whenever they talk about, it’s “our birth”. Nine years afterward, though, I still can’t quite believe what our bodies did.

Do you find simple concepts to be complicated by the multiples experience? Or am I alone in overthinking my twin mother vocabulary?

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Twinfant Tuesday: What About the Older Children? Childcare During Childbirth

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Categories Birth Order, Birth Stories, Childcare, Community, Household and Family Management, How Do The Moms Do It, Infants, Older Children, Parenting, Pregnancy, Twinfant Tuesday4 Comments

We had returned from the hospital after receiving the most incredible news. In approximately six months’ time we were going to become the parents of twins! I was going to be a Mummy to four children!! We felt overwhelmed, excited, nervous, scared, and curious! I think I felt every emotion possible that afternoon.

Looking back to when I become pregnant with my first child, I remember my worries and concerns so clearly:

Was my baby healthy?

Was labour going to hurt?

Was I going to get fat?

What buggy? Cot? Bottles?

Seven years later as a pregnant mother of two children my concerns and worries could not have been more different. In addition to the health and wellbeing of my unborn babies, at the forefront of my mind were my two children and who was going to care for them when I was in hospital giving birth to our twins. I knew at that point that carrying twins meant that I was at increased chance of having a C-section. For me, that would mean a longer recovery time and the need to make extra arrangements for them.

Arranging the care of our older two children was our priority and it was something that we began to plan for more or less straight away.

These are my top tips for putting a plan into place for childcare during childbirth.

Make a List

We made a list of everyone who we could call on for help with the children if we needed too! At the top of our list were our parents. They would have been our first choice, but it just so happened that my in-laws were taking a holiday when the babies were born. My Mum works full time so was unable to take sole responsibility. We filled our list with Aunties, Uncles and Godparents.

We are lucky to have such a big family and support network, but as soon as we announced the news we were pregnant with multiples we were inundated with offers of help from friends and extended family members. We could have filled our list ten times over.

Have a Plan A and B, … C, D, E, and F

The morning I was due to be induced with the babies, we had everything figured out. The children knew exactly where they were staying, who was collecting them from school and nursery, who was driving them to their out of school clubs. I was happy, relaxed, and confident and ready to meet the two newest members of our family.

But I wasn’t induced on that day! They didn’t have enough room or enough staff in the hospital to perform a safe deliver. I didn’t end up giving birth until the following day!

Be prepared for every eventuality. Make sure your children and the people who are caring for them are aware that everything might not go to plan. I was due to be induced so I had an idea of when I was going to have my babies. Still, being pregnant with twins puts you at increased risk of premature delivery. The timing of your babies’ births could be very unpredictable.

I was lucky to get to nearly 38 weeks with my babies but many Mums of Multiples don’t make it that far. Having someone on the end of the phone that you could call upon at short notice or a neighbour who lives close by would be ideal.

Inform School and Nursery

Our daughter’s nursery was fantastic around the time the twins were born. She was able to do extra days at short notice and we were able to collect her later during my pregnancy when appointments at the hospital ran over. My son’s school showed the same support and helpfulness. After the babies were born, the sincere offers of help we received from school were a great comfort. Knowing they were there if we needed them was priceless, especially through those first few tricky weeks.

Be Prepared for a Caesarean Section

The chances of having a normal delivery compared to having a C-section with twins is around 50/50.

Even if, like me, you plan to have a normal delivery, making arrangements for someone else to do the school run and help out with your older children for at least six weeks following the birth is a necessity. I was lucky. I got to have the birth I wanted and was fit to drive and do the school run not long after. Still, my husband had previously rearranged all his working hours for those first six weeks to make sure he was on hand to do school runs and chauffeur our little ones to after school clubs.

We had lots of offers from our children’s friends’ parents, who were eager to help us out with school transportation. Sometimes even now I will get someone to come and sit with the babies whilst I quickly dash out to collect our little boy. Anything that makes life easier is a good thing!!

Prepare Your Older Children for Change

Having made a plan for the care of our children, I felt content and happy with knowing who was going to look after them. My other biggest concern was how my little boy and girl were feeling about the arrival of their new siblings. Our little girl had limited knowledge of what was going on.

She knew that mummy had a big belly and there were two babies living in there. I knew that their arrival was probably going to affect her just as much as much as our little boy, if not more. I couldn’t talk through her worries or her concerns about the situation as she didn’t fully understand.

We read a book called I’m Having Twins by Paris Morris.

I'm Having Twins by Paris Morris can help prepare your toddler for the arrival to two new babies.

It’s a book that tells the story of a family having twins from the perspective of the little girl. It’s a book I would definitely recommend. Both our children enjoyed it. It is aimed at children a little older than our then nearly-two-year-old but our daughter still loves the story 10 months after her twins’ birth!

Our little boy was initially really excited for the arrival of the twins but as my due day approached he expressed concern about how our life would continue as before. We were open and honest with him and explained that life was going to change, but in a positive way. Children are extremely resilient in the face of change.

Although we are always advised of this, as parents we can’t help but worry about the impact that huge life events are going to have on our little ones. As a parent who has already been through this, I can assure you that when your twin babies do arrive, your older children will adapt and they will take all the changes that there new siblings bring in their stride. In fact, less than 24 hours after the babies’ homecoming our eldest two children were more concerned with planning a trip to the park.

Kerry Shaw's older children adjusted remarkably quickly to the addition of two new babies to their family.

We’re ten months on from the birth of our babies. It’s very hard to imagine our life before. Our little girl, I’m sure, does not remember life before and our little boy is the most wonderful big brother. He absolutely adores his siblings and for a child that’s gone from been an only child to having three siblings in less than two years, his attitude and resilience to change is remarkable.

As for all the worrying I did, it was completely unnecessary. If I could give one piece of advice to every expectant mother, it would be to try not to worry. The children you already have will exhibit strength, resilience, and an ability to adapt to situations that really will have you beaming with pride. Maybe you’ll feel, as I do, as much pride in them as you have in yourself for giving birth to multiples!

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Toddler Thursday: Relating to Other Siblings

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Categories Birth Order, Identical, Individuality, Relationships, SiblingsTags , , , , 11 Comments

I dreamed of my three girls playing together as I incubated my twins, conjuring images of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. They would join their big sister and embark on a lifetime of adventures in adorable rompers. I took notice of sisters at the park, studying their bonds and dreaming of how close-knit my girls would be. Shortly after the twins were born, I found myself pregnant again, and gave birth to another girl. A houseful of ladies. Feelings. Hormones. Hairbrushes.

Though we have four children, we have no middle child, and that has made a big difference in how they relate to one another. Hailey and Robin, our identical twin girls, have such a unique, close relationship with each other that they don’t fit the typical description of a neglected middle child. There isn’t (yet) much competition between the girls, and so their accomplishments are celebrated by their siblings as though they are all teammates. They also coalesce in relative harmony by fulfilling roles that have developed organically.

mamaread1

I could tell in the months after the twins were born that my oldest desperately needed a role, a more solid identity. Her family became a five-some and the twin babies were a novelty to every guest who visited. She quickly became the leader. As the twins grew, began talking and moving, big sister was there to guide the play, teach them new tricks and show them boundaries. She may have delighted in kicking them out of her bedroom a little too fervently, but she found her stride as the leader.

When the youngest girl was born, Hailey and Robin were still too young to grasp the concept, but our oldest found a comrade in arms. Her role as leader and the baby’s role as the ‘other singleton’ fused a bond that rivals the twins. Big sister and littlest sister have become two peas in a pod, leaving Hailey and Robin to happily continue forging their special twin connection.

mamaswim1

Our twin girls share a closeness far deeper than a sister connection. I’m sure as the girls grow, the singletons will experience feeling left out of that special closeness. Like every tribulation in parenting, we’ll tackle that when it arises using empathy and respect. Most of the time, our daily (mis)adventures are a scene of four girls, not divided into teams, but united as a foursome.

We have tried to let the oldest be the leader, because the younger ones delight in idolizing her, and falling into line under her command. We might let the baby get away with more (we’re exhausted after just going through it all with twins, for goodness’ sakes!), but her big sisters seem to enjoy doting on her as well. The twins continue to attract attention wherever we go, and their sisters are there to put them on display and chat to interested observers.

I’m not sure to what I should credit the closeness between these four girls, but I suppose that is part of the magic to sibling relationships, isn’t it?

SarahNSarah is the mother to four girls, two of whom are identical twins Hailey and Robin. They were born in the Yukon in a very small hospital at 35 weeks, and though they were small, they were mighty. She now lives in Ontario, where her high school sweetheart husband works very hard, and she stays home with the girls, freelance reporting on the side. In her past life, she was a journalist who covered everything from fast-paced federal politics to cats stuck in trees. Her writing has appeared in local newspapers and magazines, and in national publications like the Globe and Mail and ParentsCanada Magazine. She is a yogi, a mediocre cook, an awesome Beyonce dance move imitator, and an avid blogger at Cure for Boredom.

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Not How I’d Planned Things to Go: A & B’s Birth Story

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Categories Birth Order, NICU, Prematurity, Theme WeekTags 5 Comments

Prematurity Awareness Week 2013: How Do You Do It?

World Prematurity Day November 17In the United States, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely, 1 in 10 in Canada. Worldwide, over 15 million babies are born too soon each year. While not all multiples are born prematurely, a multiple birth increases the probability of an early delivery. Babies born prematurely, before 37 weeks gestation, are at a higher risk for health complications in infancy, some of which can have long-term effects. Full-term infants are not all free from their own health complications, of course.

In honor of November’s Prematurity Awareness Month, led by the March of Dimes, How Do You Do It? is focusing this week’s posts on The Moms’ experiences with premature deliveries, NICU stays, health complications, special needs, and how we’ve dealt with these complex issues.


In January, my fraternal twin girls will turn five. I’ve been blogging for almost four years now, and I have published 951 posts.  Not once have I written the girls’ birth story.

It’s not that I want to forget, exactly…but remembering can be pretty painful.

And as soon as I say that, I feel pretty silly. My girls were born at 34 weeks, and “only” spent 10 days in the NICU. The gift of time and perspective on my side, I realize we were very, very lucky. But it didn’t seem that way the first couple of weeks of January 2009.

I had a very healthy, uneventful pregnancy.

I’m a Type A personality. I took every one of my doctor’s words to heart. I religiously followed the advice in the number of pregnancy books I read. My doctor wanted me to deliver at 37 weeks, and that’s exactly what I planned to do.

I also had a very even-keeled pregnancy. I was just so happy! There were times I felt a little queasy, and times when I was more tired than usual, but I welcomed those signs of pregnancy with a big smile on my face. I always kept my emotions in check, believing that the babies felt what I was feeling. I never wanted them to feel stressed, or sad, and that definitely contributed to my attitude.

The one exception to my joyful glow came after my husband and I took a prenatal class at our hospital, specifically geared towards twins and more. As part of the class, we toured the NICU. I came home that night and broke down. Seeing those tiny babies with tubes and wires, amid the beeping of machines and the sterility of the environment…I couldn’t get it out of my head.

No, that wouldn’t be me. I was going to give birth at 37 weeks. My husband and dad would be there for the big day. I’d have my best friends come to meet the girls in the hospital. We would all come home together three days later.

Fast forward to Friday evening, January 2, when I couldn’t calm what I thought were Braxton Hicks contractions by lying on my side and drinking gallons of water. I told my husband I was sure it was nothing, but maybe we should go to the hospital, just in case.

I went in and was monitored for a couple of hours. My contractions subsided, and I was told to follow-up with my doctor on Monday. My doctor didn’t hold office hours on Monday, so I had an appointment with him first thing Tuesday morning. On Monday night, the contractions came back, and I shrugged to my husband, telling him we should probably go in again…but 100% expecting to have the same outcome as a few days prior.

I was in total shock when, after being checked a couple of times, the on-call doctor said, “We’re about to have some babies!

What??? Can’t you stop it?!!! You have to stop it!!!

I am not a hysterical person. As a business professional, I am known for my calm, assess-the-situation-and-decide-upon-the-best-course-of-action approach.

But I was nothing short of hysterical that night.

I remember shaking uncontrollably, crying out…while what seemed like teams of people buzzed around me in perfect harmony, as if this kind of thing happened every day.

And maybe it does.

But I didn’t intend for it to happen to me.

My girls were delivered uneventfully via c-section at 9:47 and 9:49 that Monday evening, at 34 weeks gestation. 0109 Miscellaneous 053

After the girls were born, I was in an absolute state of denial. I know this sounds cliché, but it was so true for me…there was some part of me that fully expected to wake up and still be pregnant…to reach down and still feel my precious girls kicking underneath my shirt. It took a long time…several weeks…before I came to terms that they were here, and there was no going back.

The girls spent 10 days in the NICU with only minor interventions. They came home and we picked up more or less where we would have if they’d been born closer to full-term.

I feel like this shouldn’t be a painful memory for me…just focus on the outcome, right?…but it is. Thankfully, almost five years in, time brings perspective. Writing this post is one more step in moving forward. I’m not sure I could have gotten through this in black and white a couple of years ago. I’m thankful now that I can.

MandyE blogs at Twin Trials and Triumphs.  She focuses on the many adventures she enjoys with her fraternal twin girls.

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From the Archives: Multiples and Birth Order

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Parents of twins talk about the role of birth order in their children's dynamic and how others perceive them. From hdydi.com

ABonesieSome parents of multiples proudly discuss their children’s birth order, even engraving their A and B birth status into their names. Others go to great lengths to avoid telling anyone which child was born first. For some the decision is personal, for others it is a cultural norm, and for yet others, there’s no decision to be made because they never really thought about it.

These are some post where The Moms have pondered matters of birth order over the years:

  • The Mystery of Multiples and Birth Order:  talks about our cultural assumptions of the effect of birth order on family dynamics and wonders about varying perspectives from MoMs.
  • Differentiating Between Multiples:  found herself labeling her twin daughters as “big” and “little” and gained some empathy with those outsiders who feel the need to label our children in opposition to one another.
  • Which Came First has grown increasingly bothered by strangers insisting on knowing her twins’ birth order.
  • “Afu ge ge”, “Leila mei mei” doesn’t want to emphasize which of her twins is “older,” but it’s unavoidable in China.
  • Multiples and Age Hierarchy refusal to tell people which of my daughters was born first messes with my Bangladeshi family’s hierarchical view of the world.
  • And the Older One Is … girls surprise me when I can no longer avoid telling them who was born first.
  • Birthday(s) for Two tell one daughter what time she was born, necessitating a discussion with both my daughters. I remind the girls that they’re the same age from conception and that womb eviction doesn’t make J any older than M.
  • Who’s Older?  believes that birth order plays a role in personality development, but not for multiples. What happens when twins are born 87 days apart? Clearly, they’re still twins, but are they the same age?

Do your kids display traits related to birth order? Do you see birth order as applicable to multiples?

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Who’s Older?

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Categories Birth Order, Multiples in the News7 Comments

“Who’s older?” Is it just me, or does anyone else want to roll their eyes when they hear this question? Or what about, “Oh, she must be older, she’s so much bigger…”

I am a believer in the idea that birth order factors into one’s personality. And I know that being a twin does, too. What I don’t necessarily believe is that birth order among multiples is very telling. To be honest with you, even though I know my daughter is technically older, I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head how many minutes apart they are. I think only two minutes. Could those extra two minutes before the doctor plucked my son from my womb really amount to much?

What about 87 days? Yes, you read that correctly. An Irish mother gave birth to twin girls 87 days apart, possibly setting the Guinness world record! Maria Jones-Elliott’s water broke before she reached 24 weeks, and her first daughter was born. Maria’s contractions stopped, and even after being induced the next day, the second baby wasn’t making any moves to come out. Her second twin was born at 36 weeks!

There was also a case of triplets where the first one was born eight days earlier than her brother and sister.

Can you imagine the suspense of being ‘on hold’ for eight days? Eighty-seven days?

How far apart are your multiples?

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Birthday(s) for Two

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Categories Attitude, Birth Order, Celebrations, Friendships with Other Multiples, Mommy Issues, Parenting TwinsTags , , 1 Comment

“I’m going to be 7 tomorrow,” J called out to me as she skipped to the bathroom to brush her teeth for bed last Thursday. “It’s a little magical!”

It’s more than a little magical. I could swear that it was last week that I was bringing J home from the NICU to be reunited with her sister M after 5 days apart. It was about an hour ago that the girls were teething. It can’t have been more than 5 minutes since I heard them read out loud to me for the first time.

But 7 they are. It was 7 years ago that my water broke at 33 weeks gestation. I’m afraid that if I blink, they’ll be running off to college.

Party Time

I’d better wait on that blink, because I have a 7th birthday party to plan and execute. I got an unexpected reprieve from the insanity that is the month of May. I learned that the other set of twin girls in my daughters’ classes was going to have their birthday party at exactly the same time that I was planning M and J’s. I gladly generously offered to delay our party until June, after the end of the school year. A few days later, the other twins’ mom texted me to suggest a combined birthday party. Brilliant! (Except that I’m still going to throw a separate party for J and M’s friends who aren’t in their class. They’ve been talking up their party for so long that I just can’t not invite their dance friends and neighbours, but I’m not going to explode the size of the party my friend has been anticipating for her daughters.)

I used to worry about birthdays. I’m an excellent worrier. How, I wondered during the pregnancy and throughout that first year, would I make each of my daughters feel birthday special when that celebration of uniqueness was yet another thing she has to share with Sissy? I made a point of singing Happy Birthday to each child separately. No “Happy Birthday, J and M,” for us! Each girl got her own birthday cake. I got them different, but coordinated birthday presents. This year will be different. All four birthday girls will share a cake. Each of them gets her own Number 7 candle. We’re celebrating the fact that each pair shares a birthday. That’s pretty special in its own right, and all four girls are thrilled to get to share their celebration with their friends as well as their sister.

My friend B sent me into a tailspin a few years ago. She wrote to our mothers of multiples group asking whether and how she should let her twin sons’ friends know that they were twins. She would be having separate birthday parties for each of them since they didn’t have classmates in common. She didn’t want the guests to feel awkward when they discovered there were two birthday boys. Separate birthday parties! I vowed then and there that if my girls wanted separate parties, they could throw them themselves. I’m a pretty simple girl when it comes to parties. I tend to request that guests not bring presents. “Presence, not presents,” I say. If people must bring something, we’ve asked for donations for the local good pantry. I make a bunch of food, invite a ton of people to a park or other open space, and let the party run itself.

Birth Detail

M and J have been terribly excited about this birthday as they’ve watched friend after friend turn 7 at school. J was quite literally counting down the hours on Thursday evening.

“Mommy, what time was I born?”

“6:33 am,” I told her.

“M!! We were born at 6:33 am! We’ll be 7 in 10 hours and how many minutes?”

Who-was-born-first strikes again. Couldn’t I just have said, “6:30?” Still, it was rather nice to know that both my girls consider their birth(s) to be a singular event. Clearly, they have no problem with a shared birthday. The whole multiple thing is really very special, and my daughters are old and wise enough to know it. They’re wiser than I am.

“J, you were born at 6:33. The doctor had to hand you to some nurses before he could take M out of me. She came out at 6:35, so she was technically born at 6:35.”

M, the master of precision, clarified. “So, it took one minute to give J to the nurses, 30 seconds to come back, and 30 seconds to get me?”

“Something like that.”

“So,” said the always mathematical M, “we have 10 and a half hours left to be 6. I’m so excited to be getting 7! I think I act pretty mature, like a 7-year-old.”

“Except you giggle about farts,” J responded.

And they fell into a giggling mass of almost-7-year-old.

Do you do anything to individualize the birthday experience for your multiples?

Sadia overthinks her parenting decisions in Austin, TX, where she takes a break from single mommyhood by going to her full time job in higher education information technology.

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Things People Say About Twins

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Categories Attitude, Birth Order, Family5 Comments

A lot of twin moms complain that they can’t go anywhere without people saying something about their babies, turning fast errands into long outings. While true, I made a conscious decision not to let the attention bother me. I figured that seeing twin babies is always a special sight and people want to share in that specialness by talking to you. Plus, I figure when my boys are 6 or 7 and running around the store terrorizing people, I am not going to get the adoring looks and happy smiles I get now so I better enjoy the attention while it lasts. . .

The compliments and smiles have been endless. I appreciate that others think my kids are as cute as I do! People generally rush to open doors for me and make my life easier at the checkout counter. The politeness has been so profound that during the few times I am out without the boys, I feel the difference in the way people treat me. It is nice to know that people think two babies is as special as I think it is.

There are so many funny things that people have said to me over this last year. I love when I see a grandmother clearly in the US helping her daughter or daughter-in-law care for a new baby. The grandmother always stops and asks “are they twins?”.  I say “yes”, and they say “where’s your mom”.   Hummm, dare I tell here my mom lives 3000 miles away and works full time! I say “she does not live here”.   Them: “Do you have any help?”.   Me “no”.   Them: “[disappointing sounding] ohhh, you should get some help” and I swear they almost look like they want to jump ship and come home with me.

Often people will look at the boys and ask which is older. It is such a funny question to us twin moms who pay no attention to this when rearing our children but to a lot of cultures, age rank matters and they genuinely want to know who is the oldest son. They often think my bigger guy is older and when I tell them that his brother is technically the “older” one, they often say “but he is so much smaller!!” as if I am defying physics. I nod and say “I know, that’s just the way it is sometimes”. This question does not bother me though, in fact, we often make big brother/little brother jokes at home. We are a family that jokes a lot and I suspect once they are older, the boys will find great humor in claiming to be older or younger while accepting the reality of them being the same age.

Once a woman pointed to my larger twin and said “He has such a big belly.[pause] He looks just like you”. Hummmm, not sure what to make of that.

People have pointed to one son (without seeing the other) and said, “Gosh, he is your twin.” I say “no, he is his twin” and point to his brother. I’m the only one who laughed.

Once a woman stopped me a said, “my husband says that twins are not double the work, it’s squared”. I laughed and agreed. When I relayed the exchange to my mathematician husband, he complained that the math did not make sense, but I still think the sentiment is true!

Sometimes people ask me, while looking at my boys, if I have boy/girl twins. I have never had the courage to ask which one they think is the girl. This will always make me wonder. . .

I love when young guys comment on the twins because 9 times out of 10, it turns out they are a twin too! Young males rarely tell you that your kids are very cute, but if they do, it is likely because they have an experience to share.

Moms of twins often say hi- confessing they too are part of the twin club. The first thing they say after seeing the boys are less than a year old is that it gets easier. I always appreciate their honesty and their acknowledgement that the first year is really hard. And they are right! As we progress through this second year, it does get a lot easier.

The other day the four of us were at Costco. We left the store and while walking to the car, and my husband and I noticed that we were not charged for a couple of items. We walked back to the store to pay for these things and the guy at the customer service counter said that he was surprised they missed these items because the checkout people are usually pretty good and the people at the door hardly ever miss anything. My husband pointed to the boys and said “we have twins, people often get distracted and miss things with us”. It really could not be more true. Whether we are walking around the store with the boys in the front of the over-sized carts at Costco, pushing them in their tandem stroller, or wearing them in matching Bjorns, they are unbearably cute and I love that they bring a smile to so many people’s faces!

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And the Older One Is …

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Categories Birth Order, Other people, Parenting Twins, Relationships, School-AgeTags 8 Comments

J was pulled out of my body a full 2 minutes before her sister M, because it was her amniotic sac that had ruptured while M’s remained intact.

I didn’t tell the girls their birth order for 6 years. When people asked them who was older–why is that no one ever asks who is younger?–they’d simply say, “We’re same age sisters. We’re twins. No one’s older.”

Not every curious stranger was satisfied with this answer, although it did stop the majority of them from pushing for a definitive response. When I was interrogated further, I had a canned answer for my inquisitors:

I’ve avoided telling the girls who was born first, because people automatically assign birth order stereotypes to children. They expect the older one to be more mature, more responsible, sometimes even smarter. That makes sense, I suppose, for kids born at different times. I know from my own experience that being an older sibling makes you grow up and take responsibility. My children are the same age as one another. The random order in which they were removed–by C-section, mind you–from my womb shouldn’t dictate how people see them. They’ve got enough stereotypes to contend with being identical twins.

I once got a response to my spiel that got my then-husband’s blood pounding. This friend of a friend said something along the lines of, “That’s stupid. Why would anyone assign birth order stereotypes to multiples?” The girls’ dad whispered in my ear, “I dunno. Why would anyone ask what order they were born in? That’s stupid too.”

For 6 years, cute innocent answers from little girls and canned responses from mommy kept me from needing to tell M and J who had been born first. They did refer to each other as “big sister” and “little sister,” based on height differences. My daughter M tells me that the trick to telling apart the 3 sets of identical twins split between her class and J’s is that, “the shorties are all in my class.”

One day, though, my Grand Plan for Birth Order Question Response stopped working. I was distracted, filling out paperwork in a waiting room, while several garrulous women pushed J and M for an answer on who was older. I heard J say, “She’s older,” and turned to see her pointing at M.

“No,” I told her firmly. “You’re the same age. J, you came out of my belly first.”

I thought this was the beginning of the end. All the birth order stereotypes of the universe were going to descend on my daughters and smother them.

Two days later, the question came again: “Who’s older?”

J’s answered floored me: “I came out first, but we’re the same age.”

As in most matters of parenting, I needn’t have worried so much.

Do your multiples know their birth order? Are their personalities typical of the older child/younger child dynamic?

 

Sadia overthinks her parenting decisions in Austin, TX, where she takes a break from single mommyhood by going to her full time job in higher education information technology.

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Multiples and Age Hierarchy

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Categories Birth Order, Family, Other people, RelationshipsTags , 2 Comments

My ex-husband and I decided early on not to tell the girls who was born first, because we thought that introducing an older-younger sibling dynamic to our twins’ relationship wouldn’t be healthy. Reanbean has written on this topic on HDYDI before.

Bangladesh is so tiny as to be nearly invisible on the world map.My family hails from Bangladesh, a tiny country in South Asia, surrounded on three sides by India, and on the other by the Indian Ocean. The culture is a very hierarchical one, and birth order is of great significance. Our having twins seriously messes with that hierarchy. I have a cousin living in Missouri who 9-year-old son is constantly perplexed by how to fit his twin cousins into the family hierarchy. He pesters me relentlessly to tell him who is older, to which I consistently respond, “They’re the same age.”

His question is a practical one. Kinship terms in Bengali hang on birth order. A paternal uncle who is older than your father is your Chacha; one who is younger is a Kaka. A younger sibling calls an older brother or male cousin Bhaiya, while the older sibling just uses the younger’s name. The female older sibling term is Apa. I recently learned that I’ve been committing a major faux pas by calling my brother-in-law Dula Bhai. Since he’s married to my younger sister, I should refer to him by name even though I’m younger than he is.

My refusal to label my daughters as older and younger has really messed with the family order on the Bangladeshi side. I feel for my cousin’s son and his confusion. I’ve been calling my brother-in-law the wrong thing for 3 years now.

Not long ago, I found myself unable to deflect the birth order question. I’ll tell you how it went another day. The result wasn’t the one I’d expected.

 

Sadia is a single mom of 6-year-old monozygotic girls living in Central Texas.

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