Double your Fun at Twins Days Festival: Your Guide to the World’s Largest Gathering of Twins and Multiples

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Categories Activities, Celebrations, Community, Friendships with Other Multiples, Travel6 Comments

Twinsdays Festival, Twinsburg, OH. Getting geared up!

The clock is ticking down. It is almost time for the 40th Twins Days Festival, a yearly celebration in Twinsburg, Ohio.

In just 10 days, thousands of twins will arrive, two-by-two, in this small suburb of Cleveland to celebrate all things twin. This will be our family’s sixth year attending Twins Days. Rather than a recap, I’ve decided to put together a little guide to the weekend based on our experiences. The festival has been recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Largest Annual Gathering of Twins and consists of a weekend of activities. We have only participated in a handful of the scheduled activities, but here are some of our family’s favorites.

All the photos in this post were taken by me during our trips to Twins Days Festival and are mostly of my own kids. 

Friday’s Welcome Wiener Roast at Twinsburg High School

All of the events scheduled on Friday are only for registered twins and their families. This is the time when everyone is coming into town (we usually leave Chicago Friday morning and arrive in time for the Wiener Roast). Twins who are pre-registered can pick up their festival packets, which include name tags, programs, Wiener Roast dinner tickets, lots of coupons for local places, information on Twin Studies and more. The name tags also serve as admission to the festival grounds and the ID number on the back is used for any of the contests on Saturday and Sunday.

The Wiener Roast is a time when old friends meet up. There are thousands of photos taken and fun for the whole family. Dinner is, of course, hot dogs, and is included for registered Twins. (Those of us born without a twin can pay a couple dollars and eat too.) There are bounce houses for kids, bags games for adults, lots of camaraderie and catching up with twins you see year after year. Definitely bring your camera and be ready to take pictures. Two sets of twins will get together for a photo then others will join until there are 10 sets in the frame.

The first year we went, we sort of happened upon the event, having no real idea what to expect. Walking into the gymnasium at the high school was honestly surreal. Everyone you see has a double. Nearly everyone dresses like their twin for the event, even if they never do in real life.

Twins Days Festival, Twinsburg, OH. Almost every set of multiples wears matching outfits, even if they wouldn't in real life.

Twins Days Festival Twinsburg, OH

Twins Days Festival Twinsburg, OH. The theme was Superheros!

Double Take Parade

Double Take Parade, Twins Days Festival, Twinsburg, OH

For me the parade is the highlight of the festival. It is unlike any parade I have ever seen. There are floats and marching bands and politicians waving from convertibles as you’d expect, but the parade is also open to all twins who wish to walk. If you want to be in the parade, plan to get there early. Parking is available at the high school, but the area where the parade starts is about a mile away. There are golf cart shuttles that run back and forth, but it can be difficult if you have a stroller or a wagon, as most of the families with young twins do, so plan to arrive early enough to park and walk. The actual parade route takes you back up past the high school, so you will definitely do some walking that morning. The parade lineup starts at 8 a.m.

Twins Days Festival Twinsburg, OH. 2015 will be its 40th year.

At the square where everyone gathers, they arrange the twins by age. The youngest ones head out first. This is great since then you finish first and can grab a spot near the end of the parade to see the rest. We tried without a wagon for the first time at age 3 and ended up carrying the kids part of the way. I would suggest unless your kids are used to walking more than a mile in a stretch, bring a stroller or wagon for the under-5 set.

Double Take Parade, Twins Days Festival, Twinsburg, OH

Every year the festival has a theme, which is usually announced a few months in advance. Most people do dress to the theme, though there are plenty who just wear matching t-shirts too. Recent themes have included Western, Superheroes, Circus, Fairytales and the ‘60s, all with a twin flair. Some costumes are quite elaborate, with themed vehicles built on wagons or strollers. It’s definitely fun to see what costumes the theme will inspire. This year’s theme for the 40th festival is “Twins Days: Times 2 Remember!”

Double Take Parade, Twins Days Festival, Twinsburg, OH

Double Take Parade, Twins Days Festival, Twinsburg, OH. A Twins Days Festival Guide.

Twins Days Festival Twinsburg, OH

Registered twins who walk in the parade receive a participation ribbon, and they do have trophies for the best theme outfits. There are lots of twins who line the parade route and watch too. You don’t have to walk in the parade. (My kids love being in the parade though.)

Twins Days Festival Twinsburg, OH. Your guide to Twins Days - make the most of the festival.

The Festival

The Parade route ends at the bottom of the hill from the festival grounds. Once you’re to the top of the hill you will find carnival rides, tons of fair foods, entertainment, a craft fair, research studies, twin contests and the group photo. My kids’ favorite part last year: The free Twin Pops! Most of the research studies are open to identical twins and adult twins, but we actually had one on skin cancer that my fraternal boys were able to participate in one year.

Twins Days Festival Twinsburg, OH. The theme that year was The Sixties!

And there is always more posing for photos.

Twins Days Festival Twinsburg, OH

The contests are held in a large tent and have lots of different categories, including youngest and oldest twins, best theme outfits, furthest distance traveled for the festival and most-alike and least-alike. There are usually four contests on the stage at any time, it is a little chaotic but fun to watch. When we’ve been there, the youngest twins were only a few weeks old and the oldest were in their 90s.

Competing for Youngest Twins at Twinsburg.

 

Competing for Oldest Twins at Twinsburg.
Youngest and Oldest Twins Contests

My boys actually won second place for least-alike boys last year. We haven’t done the contests on Sunday but I imagine there is a much smaller group competing since the festival on Sunday tends to be less crowded in general.

Twins Days Festival Twinsburg, OH

The Group Photo is done on the football field, taken by someone who goes up on a cherry picker to get a good arial photo of the group. Get there early, even if it is hot and miserable. It gets really crowded and I have seen people get a little cut-throat about their spot to late-comers. (Most people are pleasant.)

The photographers only want twins in the photo, so they encourage parents of young kids to stay with them up until the last 1 minute warning and then get outside the photo area. The first year we just left them in the stroller. In the years after that we found some older twins who were willing to keep an eye on them; one year they even sat in the laps of the twins who were willing. Group photos are available for purchase and arrive about a month after the festival.

Twins Days Festival Twinsburg, OH. Posing for the group shot.

Twins Days Festival Twinsburg, OH. The group shot. The official photographer is up on a cherry picker to be able to fit everyone in!

A Few Other Notes

  • Twinsburg is a pretty small city. There are only a couple hotels and they book up fast with regulars who go every year. I also understand they can get pretty rowdy. We have always stayed in another suburb about 15 minutes from Twinsburg.
  • There are definitely regulars who go every year. We have met so many twins who have been going since they were babies who are now teenagers, who have made life-long friends at the festival and who consider it “home” where everyone there understands you in a way you just don’t get outside Twinsburg.  (There is even the story about identical twins who married other identical twins they met at Twins Days, and had identical twins.) Every year when we leave, my husband and I lament how the weekend makes us each wish we had a twin.
  • Sunday is much less crowded than Saturday. The first year we went to the festival on Sunday and did the group photo that day, it was a lot more sparse. My kids got their picture in National Geographic online. (I found that out because it showed up in another page I follow.)
  • There are tons of other events I didn’t even touch on here like a golf tournament, a 5K, Talent Shows, even fireworks.
  • It can be hot. REALLY HOT. Bring plenty of water and stay hydrated.
  • It’s a good idea to bring business/mommy cards with your contact info. You’ll meet tons of people and it’s an easy way to exchange information.
  • There is a lot of press there. As I said, my kids ended up in National Geographic, but I also found a picture of them on the local Cleveland CBS website and I was interviewed for a story once in the Wall Street Journal. The Friday events are no-press but during the rest of the festival, expect cameras and news stories.
  • Other twins we have met always want to know who is Twin A and who is Twin B. There is a certain kinship, I guess, with the A’s and B’s and we were asked that often.
  • It’s not just for Twins! There are lots of Triplets and Even Quadruplets who attend. It’s called Twins Days but it is definitely for all multiples.

Are you a regular? Will you be going to the first time? Share your tips, experiences, and questions in the comments.

Jen Wood is a computer-nerd-turned-stay-at-home Mom to 5-year-old fraternal twin boys. They live in the suburbs of Chicago and make a yearly trek to Twinsburg Ohio for the Twins Days festival since they happened upon it when her boys were 9 months old. She is counting down the days until the dynamic duo start Kindergarten next month but will probably freak out from all that quiet.

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Quintessential Twin Pictures

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Categories Friendships with Other Multiples, humor, Infants, ToddlersTags , , 2 Comments

When my girls were born 6 1/2 years ago, I wasn’t on Facebook. I hadn’t started blogging. And — to my knowledge — Pinterest didn’t yet exist. I barely had any mommy friends, let alone friends with twins. (That’s funny to think now, since almost all my mommy friends have multiples!)

I say that to say, I didn’t have a ton of inspiration for pictures. I took a blue million. Now, though, I look around at all the adorableness on social media, and I wish I could rewind the clock, if for no other reason than to take some adorable smooshy baby pictures.

One picture I’m thankful I captured is what I think of as a truly quintessential “twin” picture. I’m not sure where I got the idea back in the day (how old am I???), but it’s one that just makes me smile.

What is cuter than a baby in a bucket swing? Twins in a bucket swing!

Two kiddos, back to back in a bucket swing at the park. How I love those matching hats, baby-soft skin, chunky little legs, and uber-clean tennis shoes…all TIMES TWO.

If you have infant or toddler twins and haven’t taken such a picture: GET THEE TO A PLAYGROUND. FIND THYSELF A BUCKET SWING. Aaaaand GO!!!

These days I’m almost always at the ready with my trusty camera. And a couple of weeks ago, I realized I had an opportunity to sorta-kinda recreate this quintessential twin shot.

No, I didn’t cram my kiddos into a bucket seat at the park. (They’re slight, but I think that would be pushing it.) My dad has a disc swing [there’s probably a real name for this?] at his house. The girls were delighted to play on it last month when we went down for a visit. They were taking turns well enough, but then I suggested they try to swing together. (Oh, and please do so while I find the perfect camera angle… HA!)

Too big for a bucket swing, perhaps, but these twin sisters are never too big for an outdoor adventure.

Voilà!

I still love that baby-soft skin, now with matching ponytails and scruffed up tennis shoes.

I can’t foresee what my next recreation might be, but know I’ll be on the lookout, ever ready to capture the moment.

What’s your favorite twin/triplet/more pose? Share it on our Facebook page. We’d love to see!!!

MandyE is mom to 6 1/2-year old fraternal twin girls. She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

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Twinsburg Movie in the Works

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Categories Friendships with Other Multiples, Independence, Individuality, Multiples in the NewsLeave a comment

Twin celebration season is right around the corner.

Next week, the Multiples of America (formerly NOMOTC) will be holding their annual convention right here in Austin. Will I see any of you there?

Twins Days in Twinsburg Ohio is at the beginning of next month. Jen B has taken her kids in the past. Jen W’s family are regulars. Have you ever been?

This year, twin brothers are even filming a movie there, a movie about twinhood, interdependence and independence. “TWINSBURG is a dramatic comedy about identical brothers reconnecting at the world’s largest gathering of twins.

We recently received an email from Jessica Kelly telling us about the movie Twinsburg.

I’m part of a small crew of folks from the San Francisco Bay Area who are making a short film about two twins who grow apart and find themselves reconnecting at the Twins Days festival in Ohio. Since I got to read all of your twins-love, I thought we could share some of ours!

We’d love to hear your thoughts and gain some support as well. Let us know what you think!

Identical twin Joe Garrity and fellow Bay Area multiples need your help making a short film this summer at the Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio! We’re crowd-funding our production budget and asking friends and families of twins to help make this independent project about twins, by twins, a reality. Check out the Kickstarter page, pledge your donations, and help spread the word!

You can also follow the movie on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram: @twinsburgmovie

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Why Are Multiple Mamas Just So Nice???

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Not long after we became MoMs, one of my bestest twin mama friends told me, “Motherhood is the great common denominator.”

I thought that reference was just profound.

When I think about what, for me, has been the greatest common denominator, though, it is being a multiple mama.

I don’t know if it’s the winding roads that most of us have traveled…many though infertility…many through prematurity…often with the financial strain of multiple kiddos at once…

…or is it the simple fact that we’re all outnumbered by our kiddos?

All I have to do is think about our MoMs group get-togethers. Especially when my girls were smaller, it could feel really daunting to be in a group environment. Would I be able to manage both the girls through the potluck dinner? What if one had to go to the bathroom? What if they both decided to take off running towards the parking lot?

I quickly discovered that – despite the sometimes-seeming chaos of a gaggle of matching multiples running around – we all had each others’ backs.

Unlike the sideways glances I got from time to time at toddler story hour, where most mamas were grooving in time with their ONE little one…while I could only try my best to keep my girls from toddling in different directions…that judgment is just not there with a bunch of MoMs.

We lend each other a hand…we hold babies…we wipe sticky hands (and sometimes goopy bottoms)…we share our toys…we work it out.

Just seeing this snapshot from a recent get-together with my MoMs group makes me smile!
Just seeing this snapshot from a recent get-together with my MoMs group makes me smile!

When we get together for a late-night coffee…finally having gotten the kiddos to bed…it’s really OK if you show up without makeup. Really, it is. Yoga pants with spit-up on them? It’s OK…hey, look, me, too!  A sense that somebody’s hard on cash? Hey, how about we meet at my house. We’re just thankful to see each other. Really, we are.

It’s been my experience that, far beyond the commonality of motherhood, being a multiple mama is a pretty special club. I’ve seen it transcend socio-economic status, religion, and politics. I’ve seen otherwise very different families side by side, making the best of it together…united by a common bond to which many others just can’t relate.

I am so very blessed to be a mama to my girlies, and I’m really thankful for the sisterhood it’s brought me, too.

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Locate Your Mother of Multiples Club

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Links to local Mother of Multiples club finders around the world.

I’ve come across a number of new mothers of multiples recently who need practical support. They’re overwhelmed and turning to the internet for help. I can provide all sorts of ideas and recommendations to them to ease the weight of new motherhood, but unless they live reasonably near me, I can’t feed a baby, help with laundry or offer a hug.

To each of them, I or others have recommended reaching out to their local Mother of Multiples club. Other MoMs just get it. We’re willing to help mothers we’ve never met before in the most unglamourous and useful of ways. Also, seeing other mothers who’ve survived the infant months is a ray of hope.

The question that many of these moms have asked is how to go about finding a MoM group in their area. Here’s a very incomplete list of resources for new MoMs to help locate a local club. I limited myself to countries where I know there to be an active mothers of multiples community where they speak a language I actually know!

The first place I’d recommend American mothers look is the Multiples of America (formerly National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs or NOMOTC) Locate a Club page. You just put in your zip code and get back a list of clubs.

If you’re in Canada, you can see a map of Multiple Births Canada’s local chapters on their website.

The Australian Multiple Birth Association also has a Club Finder on their website.

In the UK? The Twin & Multiple Birth Association (Tamba) has its own map of local clubs.

The Irish Multiple Births Association website isn’t the most usable, but they do tell you where on the site to find a list of local clubs.

The South African Multiple Birth Association is structured much more centrally. Once you register to join the national organization, you’ll get a phone call from a member and I assume you can find out more about what’s available locally from her.

In you’re in France, Jumeaux et Plus has a nice clickable map that takes you directly to your local club’s website, if it has one.

If there’s nothing nearby (my hunt in India turned up blank), ask your pediatrician or obstetrician to connect you with another mom of multiples. Two moms makes a club, in my mind! And if you still find no one nearby who understands what you’re going through, we hope you’ll consider the HDYDI community home.

How can we locate MoM clubs in your country?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, but now also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

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Not All Twins are Alike and What That Means About Advice

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Categories Community, Difference, Friendships with Other Multiples, Multiple Types, Parenting2 Comments

I’m not talking about the obvious differences between twin types. I mean, what works for one set of twins in your family might not work for another set of twins in a different family. As a blog that is primarily advice (wonderful, really helpful, insightful and often humorous advice) I think it’s important to remember that not all of the insight here will work for you and your twins. Feel free to take the advice that works for you and your precious babies and leave the rest for someone else.

When my boys were 19 months old, I saw a mom with a double stroller walking by on the sidewalk across the street from my house. It just so happened a girlfriend was visiting (meaning I was already wearing clothes at 10am! Miracle!) I ran outside and across the street. I noticed the babies in the stroller were very young, so I immediately told the mom, “I won’t touch your babies. I’ll just look.” as I am sure it freaked her out a bit to see this crazy woman bursting from her house when she spied a double stroller! As soon as she found out I had twins too (they were adorably waving at us through the front window naked, except for diapers, though I swear I had them dressed two minutes prior) she was happy to exchange contact information. It turns out, she lived on the same street as me, just one block down and had six week old fraternal twin boys. Since that initial meeting, she has become one of my closest friends. We’ve spent time at each other’s houses, done weekly bike trips to parks all over the city, attended story time together, babysat each other’s boys, gone out without our children, and exchanged numerous texts and emails whining about or celebrating our kids. It has been wonderful to have a close friend one block away with twin boys. It has also been an eye opening study on how different twins can be.

Our boys at the park, after being set up by us to hold hands.
Our twin boys at the park, after being staged by us to hold hands.

Her boys are excellent independent players and don’t often play with each other, while my boys are constantly playing with each other. Her boys are happy to spend time apart with each parent. That has never worked for our family (the poor boy stuck with Mama cries the whole time, while the other boy gets to be with Daddy). What worked for me potty training my twins, did not work for her. She nursed her infants one at a time, while I had success with tandem feeding. Sometimes another parent in the neighborhood will ask us a question about having twins and our answers will be completely opposite. Throw in another twin mom we met at the park with identical girls and she’ll give a third different answer. Suffice it to say, our experience raising our twin boys has been very different and we don’t often find a solution to a problem that works for both my boys and her boys. In fact, we usually don’t even have the same initial problem.

This has taught me there are many different ways to do things with your children and one specific way isn’t the overall best solution. It depends so much on your individual twins and how they relate as a set. Just like all baby advice for a singleton doesn’t work for every baby. So, again, I’d encourage you to take the advice that works for you and your twins and leave the rest for someone else.

What advice have you been given about raising twins that didn’t pertain to your particular twins?  Maybe it will be the perfect advice for another mom reading the comments.

Janna lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and 5 year-old, identical twin boys who are currently playing in the living room together. The game they have made up is overly loud and doesn’t make sense to anyone else, but it’s keeping them occupied and happy and nothing has been broken yet, so this is considered a win. 

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Mom Twins – A Story of Parallel Coincidences

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Categories Birth Stories, Family, Friendships with Other Multiples, Other people, Parenting, Parenting Twins, Pregnancy, Relationships5 Comments

My husband and I were still in college when we were expecting.  We were active in our church congregation where we also learned that another couple was also expecting, and would you believe, had the same due date as us!  It was a pretty funny coincidence.  I mean who shares a due date with someone they know personally?

My husband and I didn’t find out we were expecting twins until our first ultrasound appointment at 18 weeks gestation.  We were shocked when the ultrasound technician said, “Did you know you were having twins?”  Of course we didn’t!  We were utterly surprised.

We had fun announcing at church the following Sunday that we were having a little girl… and another little girl!  The couple that shared our due date was like, “You’re making us nervous!  We have our ultrasound appointment this week.  What if we are having twins too?”

And wouldn’t you guess, this couple had their ultrasound appointment to confirm that they too were also having twin girls!?Twins Pregnancy Belly Block LettersWhat are the chances of that happening, that two people who live in the same city, not far from each other, would have the same due date and both be having twin girls as their first pregnancies?

Oh, and we even had the same doctors to boot!  And we both moved to larger apartments before our babies were born.  The parallels were astounding.

It was fun and exciting having someone to share this new phase of life with, even though we didn’t really know them that well.  We found ourselves bonding to them from our shared circumstances. She and I were going through our twin pregnancies, something that few people get to experience, let alone with someone they know, at the exact same time.  We would greet each other with, “So, how is my twin?”  We were each others’ twins. We were mom twins.

As our pregnancies progressed, we got to know each other better.  We went to each other’s baby showers and complained to each other, and stressed to each other. We compared stories of ultrasounds, non-stress tests, prenatal vitamins, whether we liked our doctors or not, our worries about having a C-section, twin names, how we planned on feeding our babies, needed baby gear and nursery décor, and so much more.

As the end of our pregnancies neared, we found we were both able made it to the full-term mark.  And guess what?  We were both scheduled for Cesarean sections, and for the same day.  Her Baby A was breech, and both of my girls were breech, and since we were full-term, were scheduled, by our shared doctors, to be delivered via Cesarean section on the same day, at 37 weeks 6 days gestation.  My twin mom was scheduled a few hours before myself.  Our twin daughters all share the exact same birthday.

Our twins have twins.

While we both stayed at the hospital for a few days recovering from our surgeries, we took some time to go visit each other’s rooms at the hospital and ooh and aah at each other’s new babies.  Her twins look very identical, while mine do not.  We talked about how our deliveries went, our recoveries, and how breastfeeding/bottle-feeding were going so far.

And wouldn’t you know, the names we picked out for our twins even shared some similarities?  I had an Alison Louise, she an Eloise.  I had a Lisa, and she had a Lucy.

Now that more than three years have past since our lives were brought together and shared in a such a fun, unique, and rare happenstance, we find each other living far apart, in different states.  We don’t talk very often, as we were never really that close of friends, but every year on my daughters’ birthday, I always think about my twins’ twins, and my Mom twin, wishing them happy birthdays too.

Maybe someday we’ll find the opportunity to get these two sets of twins together and let them play.  How fun that would be.

And I always wondered if our lives would find more parallels, but for the most part, they haven’t.  While there are other things that are kind of similar, this twin phenomena is quite enough already!

Have you ever met someone who shared so many similarities to you? At the same time?  Do your twins share a birthday with another set of twins?  Did you know another pregnant woman expecting twins (or other multiples) when you were? Let me know!

ldskatelyn is the proud mother of three-year old twin daughters and a three-month old bouncing baby boy.  She finds humor in her twin coincidences, and was thankful to have someone to share it all with.  Find out more about her and her family at What’s up Fagans?

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Twins Run in the Family

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Categories Family, Fraternal, Friendships with Other Multiples, Identical, Multiple Types, Other people, Perspective, Relationships14 Comments

“Do twins run in the family?” is one of those questions that have many a MoM rolling her eyes.

In our case, I can honestly say that they do, at least in my ex-husband’s family.

Adult identical sisters hold 4-year-old identical sisters.
These two sets of identical twins are cousins. Specifically, they are first cousins, twice removed. (I had to look that up.)

I know that there isn’t a biological basis that anyone’s been able to explain for identical twinning being genetic. I still get a kick out of there being another set of identical twins in the family. At least one set of fraternal twins has a mom who’s unrelated, and she’s obviously the one who contributed the eggs that resulted in twins, so it’s not “running in the family” the way people mean. Still, it’s downright cool to have so many twins and triplets.

Let’s look at it from the perspective of my mother-in-law. She has identical twin first cousins, holding my daughters in the photo above. Those cousins’ brother has fraternal twins, who didn’t make it to the reunion where we managed to snap our “multiple multiples” picture below. Obviously, my former mother-in-law has identical twin granddaughters, my sassy and sweet J and M. She also has fraternal triplet nieces, the loveliest young ladies I have the pleasure of knowing. I honestly can’t remember exactly how we’re related to the fraternal boys in the photo, but they’re also twins.

Identical twin women,  teenage triplet girls, 9-year twin boys and 4-year-old identical girl twins make for a nice family photo.
The women in the back row are identical twins. The girls in the middle are J and M’s beloved triplet cousins once removed. The little girls are my identical daughters, M and J. The boys in the front are twin brothers.

The coolest thing about having multiples in the family is the wisdom of the mothers of multiples. It was such a joy to talk to the older identical twins’ mom about her experience of motherhood. It’s her recent passing that has me pondering the family connections. The triplets’ mom has been an indescribable support over the years. She’s been a role model to me. Watching her homeschool her triplets plus one with grace and commitment has given me confidence in my own ability to raise my two daughters. It was in large part observing his aunt nursing his three cousins when he was a pre-teen that helped my ex-husband provide very practical assistance when I was breastfeeding my twins.

I cherish the multiples throughout the extended family, and I love it when strangers ask whether twins run in the family. We have such a great answer!

Does your family have multiple multiples?

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The Online Mother of Multiples Club

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Categories Community, Friendships with Other Multiples, HDYDI Blog, MoM Groups, Mommy Issues, Time Management, WorkingTags , , , , , , 7 Comments

I didn’t seek out mother of multiples clubs when I was pregnant. It never even occurred to me that such a thing existed. However, I had a fortuitous run-in at my daughters’ very first pediatric visit, the day after J was released from the NICU, 22 days old. I was stopped on the way to the examination room by a mother, Laura, who told me that she had twin boys, and would I be interested in joining her mothers of multiples club? It was a small one, limited to the suburb in which we lived. There were fewer than 20 moms in the group. I gave her my contact information, and found myself attending the next meeting.

These women were incredibly nice. One of them, Kara, was tandem nursing her one-year-olds. Formula had never touched their lips. She was an inspiration to me throughout my efforts to breastfeed my girls.

The problem, though, was that I was the only woman in the group with a full-time job. The group’s activities that included kids were all held during the day, on weekdays. They didn’t have any weekend activities; they wanted to spend that time together as a family with their husbands. The monthly weekday evening meetings were child-free. They were intended to be a chance for a bunch of girlfriends to leave their kids with their husbands and get a night off. That worked for me for a couple of months, but then my husband deployed to Iraq when our babies were 5 months old.

I couldn’t quite see my way to hiring a babysitter when I was already away from my daughters 11 hours every day. I maintained friendships with individual members of the group by email. I volunteered to manage the membership records. I couldn’t really attend any events, though.

My “real” participation was limited to the annual family-inclusive potluck picnic. I was the only one at the picnic without a husband. (Since then, three of us have gotten divorced and one has remarried.) It was a great time, though. When I got up from my hotdog to give my girls their bottles, their having rejected the breast months earlier, Kara asked me to hand her a baby. We each fed a child with one hand, feeding ourselves with the other, while she watched her three kids run in the grass. I was dumbfounded. With the exception of my dear friends Sara, whose son was 14 days younger than mine and whose husband had deployed with with mine, and Kaylan, who was living with us, my friends were generally terrified by my children. I hardly knew what to do with this cool, collected and well-coiffed mother who was clearly comfortable handling an undersize baby or two.

I tried reaching out to the much larger mothers of multiples group that served the greater Austin area, but never received a response to my queries. I looked at their meeting schedule, and sure enough, kid-friendly activities were during work hours. Kids weren’t welcome at after-hours events. I was a little miffed, but figured that I had a pretty great support network through work, plus the gifts of Sara and Kaylan.

This whole time, I’d been blogging, trying to provide a place for our relatives around the world, including Daddy in Iraq, to keep up with what M and J were up to. There were lots of photos and here’s-what-we-did-today posts. One day, I clicked a link in a moms’ forum to The Busy Dad Blog. I don’t even remember what post it was, but it had me in stitches and I left a comment. On a whim, I linked my name to my little family-and-friends mommy blog.

Community surrounds usFrom that teeny little comment, people–complete strangers–started visiting my dinky little blog. People starting commenting. I clicked to their sites. I discovered this entire culture of mommy blogging. (Sorry, Jim, but I consider you a mommy blogger; if there were more daddy bloggers like you around, I’d probably graduate to “parent blogger,” but there you have it.) Before long, I was finding my parenting deeply impacted and greatly improved by the observations and recommendations of the likes of LauraC, Goddess in Progress, and Momo Fali. LauraC’s extraordinary boys, Nate and Alex, are only 6 days younger than my daughters, she works full-time, and her husband travels for work. There’s no one else I’d come across who seemed to understand my day-to-day reality better.

Tracey is reading to our two sets of twins.I discovered LauraC and Goddess in Progress right here at How Do You Do It? I’ve since met HDYDI’s LauraC and Reanbean in real life. Goddess and I can somehow never quite make it to the same place at the same time, although we’ve tried. I’ve become close friends with Tracey, also a former blogger at HDYDI. Our families have even spent Christmas together, although her boys can no more tell my girls apart than my girls can distinguish them. It doesn’t seem to negatively impact their play.

My virtual mothers of multiples club online has helped me get through potty training, the Terrible (Horrible Awful Monstrous) Threes, deployment after deployment, school decisions and, most recently, divorce. It’s hard to explain to people who don’t experience online relationships like these how much these people, most of whom I will never meet face-to-face, mean to me. I’ll never be able to repay what I owe them.

Traditional mother of multiples clubs haven’t quite worked out for me, but the blogosphere? That’s my club. Online parenting support has been priceless. My daughters are better off for the community of thoughtful parents who’ve shaped how they’re raised.

Thanks to MarisaB and RebeccaD for kicking off this conversation.

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My MoM Group Is My Co-Pilot

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Categories Community, Friendships with Other Multiples, Infants, MoM Groups, Mommy Issues3 Comments

My mother of multiples group meets every Wednesday, at a local park.

Tuesday night, I start planning. Wednesday’s morning nap is devoted to lunch-packing, bag-stocking, and layer-gathering (jackets, sun hats, warm hats, socks, shoes, blankets, oy). I have to decide how we’ll handle afternoon nap – on the go? Snap n go because they’ll sleep in their car seats or CitiMini because it’s easier to push? Or try to make it home for nap and prevent them from falling asleep on the way? I try to time feedings so they aren’t during the middle of the playgroup because it’s so exciting the boys won’t eat and I’ll be up all night making up the ounces.

By the time noon rolls around on Wednesday, I’m bracing myself for the rest of the day to be totally off schedule. I consider not going. I’ve been going at full speed all morning and I’m already late. I look at the kids and my four walls and know that the only thing more exhausting than going out is staying in. I scoop up the diaper bag and the guys and schlep down 3 flights of stairs and it still feels like a bad idea.

Then I get there. I see the collection of double strollers and blankets crawling with babies and a sea of shared toys. I realize the sky is beautiful blue and the grass is soft and cool and wow, the air smells good. Someone sees me and waves.

And I feel like a person for the first time all week. A competent, fun, lively person. Who cares if I haven’t slept, showered, or spoken to another adult in days? We’re all in the same boat. We’re all chasing two kids around, wondering if we’re doing the right thing, loving our babies and trying to figure out this parenting thing. We can compare pediatricians’ advice, share fitness goals, celebrate milestones, and vent about our partners. We can feel totally normal.

I first started needing my twin group when I was pregnant. I went to several prenatal classes, and felt so…different. For one thing, I was huge. I was so slow (thank you, pubis symphasis). And I was starving. Other women were snacking on nuts and juice; I was wolfing down burgers. When I went to my first MoM meeting, I instantly felt proportional. My belly wasn’t comically large – it was right on track. Being around all those teeny tiny twins was overwhelming at first, but it helped normalize my impending experience, and showed me that, yes, you can totally nurse one infant while rocking another.

Twin parents are sort of – fearless. They’ve handled the double meltdown, the simultaneous poop, the urgent divergent needs that no one but mom can meet. Things get tense, but nothing fazes them. I’ve held another mom’s twin while jiggling my guys in their stroller while singing to the other twin crying during a diaper change. My friends have steering my one of my pre-walkers away from concrete while holding both their twins and carrying on a conversation about how to prepare tofu as finger food. I’m grateful that they nonchalantly swipe grass out of my kid’s hand as he tries to eat it, and vice versa.

I guess you could say we’re comfortable with the crazy.

I don’t know how to communicate that when parents of singletons say, “I don’t know how you do it.” You do it because you have to do it. Because you don’t know any different. And it’s pretty awesome to be around people who get that, and are doing it too.

I’m always sad when it’s time to pack up and head home on Wednesday afternoons. I stretch the boys’ wake time so I can have as much time as possible with these women that have become my treasured friends. As I head home, alone again with my boys and my thoughts, the weight of care-taking comes back – unpacking, dinner, clean up – but that weight is always lighter than before. I’ve been shored up by my sisters in multiplicity, and that makes the weekly effort worth it.

When parents of older multiples stop us and say, “It gets easier!” I hope they know that they just helped make it a little easier – and that week after week, the hope, comraderie, and friendship we offer each other makes it easier to trust myself, take heart in tough times, and treasure special moments that only come with two. The network of support I get from my twin group, and all the twin parents who reach out to us, is my safety net in this new parenting gig. I’m not a supermom/freak of nature, I’m a member of this awesome club.

Thanks for inspiring this post, MarisaB! Looking forward to seeing what other parents of multiples have to say about their twin groups – and if you haven’t joined one yet, go for it!

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