Four Boys=Two Sets of Twins

If you love Valentine’s Day, you’ll love this story.  On Valentine’s Day last week, a Texas couple welcomed the new additions to their family–all four of them.  Tressa Montalvo gave birth to the couple’s second through fifth sons last Thursday at The Woman’s Hospital of Texas after carrying them for 31 weeks.

The couple were originally told they were expecting twins before hearing four heartbeats.  The verdict?  Two sets of identical twins!  Conceived without any fertility treatments, the chances of this happening are one in 70 million. According to the mother, their plans for this pregnancy “succeeded a little too much.”  The boys, named Ace, Blaine, Cash and Dylan (A-B-C-D), are healthy and could be going home in the next four to six weeks.

I can only imagine the comments people must be throwing at them…from “double the double trouble” to the obligatory “you’ve got your hands full,” to the well-intentioned “now you’re done!”  But you might be surprised at Manuel’s reaction to the last one.  He’s still hoping for a girl!

Congratulations to the happy family!  Who knows, maybe soon we’ll be seeing them around HDYDI?

Click Here to see the CBS video clip.

the crazy twin vs. the smart twin

At bedtime one night, P was being wild and I asked him to settle down. He replied, “Sometimes it is fun being the crazy twin, because you can do stuff you’re not supposed to.”

I was puzzled.

“So, are you the crazy twin?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said. “And G is the smart twin.”

He said all of this with a big smile on his face.

Immediately I knew he must have caught an episode of “The Suite Life with Zack and Cody,” although this is a theme in plenty of shows and movies featuring twins. Ugh.

I gave both boys the obligatory pep talk about how neither one of them is the smart twin or the crazy twin or the anything twin. I told them I didn’t want to hear anything like that again.

The boys have started to get interested in seeing twins on tv and in movies. It’s only been in the last year or so that we’ve met other sets of multiples that look alike — it’s still new to them. Unfortunately I haven’t found shows where the twins are just normal — a little bit alike, a little bit different, and doing their thing without their twin-ness being the main point of their presence.

Any recommendations?

Jen is a work-from-home mom of 6-year-old twin boys, and two girls ages 4 and 8. She also blogs at Minivan MacGyver, where she chronicles the many disasters narrowly averted using only her pluck and the assortment of household objects found in her 2001 Pontiac Montana.

Guest Post: Review and Giveaway – One and the Same

Hello, dear HDYDI readers!  We have a special treat for you today.  A guest post from the super-awesome twin mom and blogger, Sadia, of Double the Fun.  Sadia has given us a very thoughtful review of One and the Same, by Abigail Pogrebin.  Even better still, the author is letting us give away a signed copy of the book!  Don’t forget to leave a comment that includes a valid email address in the form (email is never made public, never passed out or sold to anyone) so that we can contact you if you win. One entry per person, please.  Comments will close this Friday, July 9, at 5PM EDT and a winner will be chosen at random.

And now, here’s Sadia!

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The other day my husband said, “You’ve been reading a lot of parenting books. Don’t you think you’re a good mom?”

“It’s not that,” I told him. “I think I’m a pretty good mother to Jessica and Melody. I read these books because I want to stay ten steps ahead of them. I want to be challenged by other people’s ideas. They’ll either help me recommit to the parenting philosophies and practices I already subscribe to, or they’ll make me rethink how I parent.”

Abigail Pogrebin’s One and the Same is a book that has challenged me as a mother of twins, causing me to change my parenting in some ways and dig in my heels in others. I hadn’t yet heard of the book when Abby asked me to review it several months ago, but I’m sure I would have bought and devoured it by now even if she hadn’t.

Abby is a journalist and an identical twin herself. She set out to write about twinship, and explores the myriad experiences of twinhood in depth. One and the Same balances intimate stories of individual sets of twins with patterns identified by researchers who study twins. Much of the writing is intensely personal, but it speaks to the mystery, joy and challenges of the universal twin experience.

I was particularly intrigued by the way that twinship can impact marriage. Abby describes it beautifully. She says that being Robin’s twin has given her, “a congenital clarity of what it is to be wholly close to another human being.” Some of the twins Abby interviewed drew parallels between the twin relationship and marriage. I hope that the compromise skills that my daughters are learning to survive life with one another serve them well should they choose to marry. On the flip-side, Abby points out that during her time at the Twinsburg convention, she notices a high number of twins, mostly male, who have never been married. Might women be put off by the intimacy and affection that twin brothers share?

I wept my way through the chapter on twin death. Abby interviewed a man who lost his twin in the Twin Towers on 9/11. She also found a number of people who thought they were singletons and developed an inexplicable fascination with twins, only to discover that they were the sole survivors of twin pregnancies. I look at my daughters and can’t imagine how one could navigate her life without the other.

The only part of the book that I didn’t like was, ironically enough, the one that dealt with parenting twins. Whereas Abby spent the rest of the book showing us how different and unique each experience of twinship is, this chapter spoke in generalities, many of which failed to resonate with my experience as a mother of twins. Like Abby, I take exception to the experts’ assertion that every mother of multiples has a favourite child. From time to time, each of my kids drives me nuts, and from time to time, one needs more of my attention. The love, though, is equally infinite. The takeaway of the chapter was that the challenges of raising twins, especially in the early years, outweigh the joys. I disagree. Yes, it’s often hard, but good parenting is hard, no matter how many kids you have.

The parenting lesson I took away from One and the Same is that twinship does not have to compromise individuality. Twins don’t have to choose between their twin identity and their personal identity. A singleton myself, I recently realized that I had assumed that emphasizing my daughters’ twinship would cripple them as they developed their individual identities and interests. Abbie shows us that does not have to be the case. Being a twin is part of what make my daughters, Jessica and Melody, unique. However, One and the Same doesn’t shy away from the reality that there are pairs of twins out there for whom their twinship defines them. For instance, it quotes Debbie Ganz, who, with her sister Lisa used to run a restaurant in which all the waiters were pairs of identical twins. “A guy once said to me, ‘I don’t want to know about your twin thing: what are you like?’ I froze and started to feel upset. Because I couldn’t answer him.”

One and the Same is the most astute book I’ve come across that discusses the twin experience. I would have enjoyed it equally, although differently, if I’d never met a twin in my life.

Q and A with Abigail Pogrebin

Abigail Pogrebin was kind enough to answer a few questions that occurred to me while I was reading One and the Same. This is what she had to say.

Sadia: You share intimate and sometimes heart-breaking details about how you feel about your changing relationship with Robin. Has she read your book? What was her reaction? What about your parents’?

Abby: I didn’t feel I could write this book without Robin’s blessing (and her editing – she’s a formidable journalist) and so I showed her a draft as soon as I finished it. I admit that it wasn’t an easy read for her at times, and she even challenged me in some places, which I think made me revisit certain sections and rethink them. But the truth is that Robin was incredibly supportive of the book, both privately and publicly. I was grateful that she agreed to go on the Today Show with me and that she worked so hard to prepare for a special event we did together last fall in New York in which she interviewed me about the book before an audience of 200-plus; she made it a wonderful evening. Most importantly, this book made us closer in ways I can’t quite explain. It’s like the truth finally was on the table and we could get on with this phase of our relationship.

As for my parents, they were also tremendous boosters, but feel somewhat baffled by why twinship can end up being complicated when it felt so simple to them during our childhoods.

Sadia: You’ve described twin romance beautifully, and have been able to convey how normal and natural that intense relationship is, even if much of society is unable to comprehend it and sometimes views it as pathological. My husband and I see that romance growing in our own daughters. Do you have any advice to parents like us on how to prepare our kids for resistance they may get from others regarding their twin relationship?

Abby: My only advice is to talk about it ahead of time, to discuss the fact that their twin romance can be intimidating, excluding, or off-putting to other people and sometimes they may want to keep their intimacy to themselves, if that makes sense.

Sadia: Many parents of young multiples are careful not to refer to their children as “the twins” or “the boys”, because they want to help the world see their children as individuals, and not just members of a set. If your children had been twins, would you object to them being referred to as “the twins”?

Abby: Yes, if I had twins, I would object to people calling them “the twins,” because I do think it has a cumulative negative effect over time; it  underlines their two-ness as opposed to their singularity. It may seem unimportant, especially when the twins are young, but I know I hated the term growing up. It felt lazy to me when someone called us that; is it really so taxing for them to say our names when they’re talking about us?

Sadia: If you could give parents three pieces of advice on nurturing both their twin’s closeness and their independence, what would they be?

Abby:

  1. Spend separate time with your twins. Even if they resist doing things apart.
  2. Encourage different activities, lessons, playdates, pursuits.
  3. Let their insularity be. It has its own magic, and at the end of the day, the intimacy wins.

Sadia: We have a set of triplets in our extended family. I can’t help wondering how having more than one same-age sibling would affect relationships between multiples. Do you know any higher order multiples? How would you compare their relationships to those of the twins you interviewed?

Abby: I don’t know any triplets myself, but I did interview one in my book and her story is worth reading – it appears in the chapter on competition. It amazed me that a triplet can feel like the third wheel when the other two triplets are twins.

Sadia: You quote Joan Friedman’s distinction between being known and being noticed, as it pertains to twinship. Could you please explain this distinction to HDYDI’s readers? You acknowledge that her distinction resonated with your sister’s experience of being a twin. Do you ever feel less “known” because you were a twin

Abby: As twins, you’re often “noticed” because you stand out – especially if you’re identical. It’s an oddity, a novelty, people notice you, look at you longer, compare you. People are curious, they confer all sorts of ideas about what your bond and relationship must be like. But most of the time, they don’t really get to know you; even the people who see you regularly –relatives, friends, teachers. They don’t necessarily make the effort to get to know who you really separately (and yes, it may take more effort to ascertain those differences.) They seem content with the superficiality of your twinship. So they notice you, yes, but they don’t know you.

* Disclaimer – Although Ms Pogrebin did contact Sadia to ask her to review the book, Sadia purchased her own copy. This review was not influenced in any way by the author.

Divorce, marital problems, and multiples

After telling my husband I would not watch the season premiere of Jon and Kate Plus 8 last night, I ended up tivoing it anyway and watching it. I was sad after the show and stayed up way too late thinking about it. What really got me was when Kate said divorce rates are so much higher for multiple parents and they thought they would beat that statistic. The other part that was very hard for me to watch was the kids asking Jon when he was coming home and telling him they missed him. I am a total believer the majority of reality tv is scripted, but those moments still took my breath away.

In the multiples community, you can’t help but hear of two very sad realities: children dying and divorce. Every time I hear of a sick or dying child, I hug my kids close and gain some perspective. After watching that show last night, I’m going to hug my husband close and gain some perspective. My husband and I have been through some very tough things together: his back problems and surgery, double unemployment, my hearing loss and surgery. Yet having twins was very hard on our marriage because there was so much to do, so much stress, so little sleep, so much worry, so little money, and so little time. As joyful as those early months were, they were also some of our hardest together.

My boys are three now and I can say that my marriage is as strong as it has ever been. Yet last night I realized I can always do more to show my appreciation, work on my marriage, and commit to staying happy together. I don’t think I’ll watch the rest of the season but for that perspective, I am thankful. I am just sorry the perspective had to come at such a high price for them.

Our Michael Phelps theory

Since having twins, my husband Jon and I have an astounding number of inane conversations. We often work the twin thing into them. The habit started when we were sitting around feeding newborns together. Last night we were watching the boys play in the pool after work and had this brilliant conversation:

Jon: That would be awesome if Michael Phelps had an identical twin brother, then he could enter every swimming race ever and pretend it was just one person.

Laura:  What if he already has a twin and he and his twin have been fooling the entire world?

Jon: That would explain a lot. They could even trade off, each getting to accept some gold medals.

Laura: He could even take performance enhancing drugs and his twin could provide the blood and urine samples.

Jon: I’m surprise those Hamm brothers didn’t do that.

I had a lot more to say on this theory, but unfortunately a fight broke out over a pool toy and we never got a chance to finish. That is another hallmark of twin parenting – never finishing conversations, particularly awesome ones.

Why I Now Like Brangelina a Little Bit More

The views expressed below are strictly my own, not necessarily those of the collective “How Do You Do It?” mommies.

I’ve said it before but, I get a little annoyed when I read about celebrities having twins. It seems like there are new famous twins expected every day. Just this week alone we’ve heard that Rebecca Romjin and Lisa Marie Presley are going to be doubly blessed.

Don’t these people have enough? Fame, fortune, incredible good looks. Now they’re gaining entrance into this special group that makes me feel special in my otherwise ordinary world – they are going to become parents of multiples. And, really, I feel like they are not putting in the dues that the rest of us are with their army of nannies, personal trainers, housekeepers, chefs, drivers, etc., etc.

But when I first heard the news about the famous Brangelina twins, I was especially annoyed. Seriously, I have to share my special club with these two? Isn’t it enough for them to be the World’s Best Looking Family? I did my best to boycott all news of the pregnancy and eventual birth. Although, when you’re talking about the world’s most famous couple, it’s hard to avoid all the news unless you live under a rock.

Finally, curiousity got the best of me and I clicked onto People.com to view the world’s first photo of the twins. Then, I caught a glimpse of Hello!’s first photo and I was instantly shamed for all of my earlier feelings. This is a beautiful family. A family with seemingly hands-on parents. A family who has chosen to adopt beautiful children AND who has been blessed with a gift of amazing fertility. A family who has taken the world’s fascination with them and turned it into a charitable opportunity. A family who looks…exhausted!

Yes – thank you! After seeing the spread of J. Lo and Marc Anthony with their frill and pink outfits skipping down their driveway, I was moved to see Brad and Angelina looking like perhaps they were not well-rested. Are those bags under your eyes? Welcome to the club!

I’ve read recently that while Brad is planning a red carpet appearance in Venice, Angelina is not slated to appear. She is opting (I assume) to stay home and recover and tend to her growing brood. Finally, I feel like I can relate to her. Well, red carpet events aside that is.

So, I take back what I’ve said and thought about Brangelina. I now feel a connection with them I didn’t think possible. I wish them and their ever-growing family all the best. Parenting twins is a special gift – I’m happy they are part of our club.

Angelina Jolie Gives Birth to Twins

Angelina Jolie Pregnant with Twins

Angelina Jolie Pregnant with Twins

Add another celebrity to the Twin Mama club! Just announced: Angelina Jolie Gives Birth to Twins.

Awww!

The obstetrician who delivered the twins, Dr. Michel Sussmann, told The Associated Press that the actress, the babies and Jolie’s partner, actor Brad Pitt, “are doing marvelously well.”

Sussmann said Jolie gave birth to a boy, Knox Leon, and a girl, Vivienne Marcheline, by Cesarian section Saturday night.

Let the speculation begin

There are conflicting reports out there, one saying that Angelina Jolie has given birth to two girls, one saying it’s not true and she’s resting at her fabulous new home in France.  According to what I’d heard, her due date was August 19, which would make her 28 weeks… so I’m really, really hoping the reports are not, in fact, true.

I guess even celebrities aren’t immune from the preemie risk.  Fingers crossed for all the pregnant ladies out there…

Lessons Learned from Jon and Kate Plus 8

In addition to the “How do you do it?” and “You must have your hands full!” I am now daily getting asked “Do you watch that show with the people with the twins and sextuplets?”

My answer, “Absolutely!”

I, along with a lot of other people, am totally charmed by the TLC/Discovery Health program “Jon and Kate Plus 8.”  In our area (Pittsburgh), Jon and Kate airs on Monday evenings. And you better believe that I will be plunked down on my couch with a bowl of popcorn and about 5 loads of laundry to fold, every Monday night. 

In case you haven’t watched this fascinating reality show, Jon and Kate Gosselin met and married and conceived their twin girls, Mady and Cara, via IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) and ovulation induction medication  (ie Clomid).  And as the story is told, they decided to try for “just one more,” and ended up with 6! Kate was originally pregnant with 7, but one sac failed to mature.

Last year, the tag line was “We have two 6 year olds, and six 2 year olds.” The older girls, are fraternal twins Cara and Mady. The sextuplets are split, three girls, three boys. They are Hannah, Leah, Alexis, Joel, Collin and Aaden. The kids are now seven and three.

The Gosselins live in central Pennsylvania, and Kate quit her job as a nurse to stays at home with her houseful of children. Recent episodes have been about their travels as a family (Disney, Utah, the Pittsburgh Zoo) and a day dedicated to each of the kids individually. The episodes dedicated to the kids, were calm and enjoyable to watch. The trip episodes were loud, chaotic and constantly interspersed with a child crying or Jon and Kate snapping at each other. With 8 kids, I can only imagine the stress level they must be under at all times.  Another quote from the show: “While the stress of raising multiples doesn’t always bring out the best in us, we’re a family, and this is our life.”

Can I get an Amen?! For sure, the stress of raising multiples does not always bring out the best in me! And although I am not an angry person, I can only imagine how I would be portrayed if cameras were in my home day in and day out!

My fascination with this family runs deep…I don’t think I have missed an episode yet! For $13.95, you can purchase a copy of their book, Multiple Blessings:Surviving to Thriving With Twins and Sextuplets.

And now I leave you with “Tips For a Smooth Household” by Kate Gosselin, the multiples expert herself, taken from the Discovery Health Channel website.

Tip #1 Organize
As a mother of sextuplets and twins, one of the best methods for keeping a family organized is lists! No one has the memory of an elephant! Keep a constant running list of “To Dos” and then cross things off as they are completed! My to-do lists consists of meals for the week, which loads of laundry need to be done, and which parts of the house needs attention. Lists will keep you and your family organized.

Tip #2 Shop on a Budget
Shopping for a family of 10 means planning ahead and staying on a budget. The good news is that you can have healthy, home cooked delicious (even organic!) meals for a large family. Look for sales! Watch the sale papers and take advantage of store promotions, coupons and rainchecks. Keep a constant running list of things that are on sale and that you need at the store from week to week. This will avoid buying things that you don’t need. It’s also good to stock up on items that you use a lot of and that are on sale!

Tip #3 Prepare for Outings
Plan ahead! If outings are well thought out in advance, it will allow for a better time for all! Always take plenty of drinks, snacks, clothing and supplies. Make a mental plan of how the day will unfold and then adjust it as necessary!

Tip #4 Count Your Blessings
On days that your role as mom seems mundane and pointless and repetitive(we all have those), remember to count your blessings! Take a moment, see all that is positive in your life and the life of your children and it will give you that boost that you need!

Tip #5 Promote Safety
Talk about different scenarios and what is safe and acceptable and what is not safe and what they should not do in different situations! Remind them to come to YOU as a parent if they hear something that they don’t understand, think that is bad or don’t know what it means. You want to position yourself as their resource person to keep conversation lines open. This needs to start at a very young age.

Tip #6 Provide Order
A schedule will help everyone in the family. It removes the guesswork and a lot of frustration. It allows the things that need to get done to get done because life becomes somewhat predictable.

Tip #7 Reward Your Children
Reward them for their helpfulness and kindness—if only with your words, this will mean a lot to them. They want your approval!

Tip #8 Make Housework a Family Affair
Especially in a large family, involving all of the kids in the housework, chores, cooking, cleaning etc. This helps to provide family unity, and a sense of belonging. It also teaches kids to develop a strong work ethic. And encourage Dad to get involved—in our situation, much of what a successful mom is able to accomplish, is due to a very present and helpful dad!

Additional information on “Jon and Kate Plus 8″ can be found at:

http://health.discovery.com/convergence/gosselins/gosselins.html