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Twin Questions: One year later

It’s no secret that when we are out and about the twins get a lot of attention.  People love babies.  Two babies are even more fun.  Most of the time I don’t mind the attention. I understand where it is coming from, and try to be mindful of where the questions are coming from.  Sometimes it can be frustrating, especially when I am in a hurry or the kids are acting up a bit.  I have found I get a lot of the same questions over and over.  I answered the most common questions I got back when I was pregnant.  They haven’t slowed down since the girls were born.  Here are some of the most common questions I got this past year.

Q: Are they twins?
A: Yes, yes they are.  I know, this one sometimes bugs me because I am walking around with two babies who look exactly alike.  Yes, they must be twins.  But I suppose I could be baby sitting.  I know of some families that have a younger kid that is tall for their age and an older who is on the shorter side, so they are the same height despite a two year age gap.  Granted the girls are still babies so that is unlikely for them.  They could be cousins, or I could be a nanny.  It’s always good not to make assumptions.  I think this question is really more of an opening to talk about twins and the kids in general.

Q: Are they boys, girls, or a boy and a girl?
A: This is one that can be easy to take offense to if you are in a less than thrilled mood.  But again, I kind of get it.  Babies really can all look the same.  To me they are looking quite feminine, so sorry if I look confused when asked that.  (Come on, every baby is beautiful to their mother.) Again, I see this as an opening into further conversation.  And people don’t want to take chances of offending someone by just assuming one gender or the other.

Q: Are they identical or fraternal?
A: They are identical.  No, we haven’t done the genetic testing to fully confirm.  The way they were in the womb (mo/di if you speak twin) would strongly suggest identical, but leaves wiggle room for fraternal.  My doctor was very certain they were identical based off of the placenta examination.  Quite honestly I don’t see how they could look and grow so much alike if they weren’t identical.  They hit almost all their milestones at the same time, and they have remained within a few ounces of each other for their whole life.  And come on, they look so much alike! 🙂

Q: Did you know you were having twins?
A: Well not right away of course!  But yes, we found out at our first doctors appointment.  I know back in the day people didn’t know until they had the babies, or perhaps they figured it out when they get extra big extra fast.  But in most pregnancies around the US I have to assume women find out pretty early they are having twins.  If they have any prenatal care they probably know.  It is hard to hide two babies in there.

Q: Do twins run in your family?
A: I usually just answer no to this one.  I mean, that is the answer because current research says that identical twins don’t have a genetic link that runs in families.  (I know, there are lots of anecdotal stories that say otherwise, but I just know what I learned from my doctor.)  The longer answer is a little more interesting.  No, twins don’t run in our family.  At least they didn’t.  Yes, Pat’s sister has twins.  This is just an amazing coincidence.  The short answer is the easiest, but if we have the chance to spend some time and actually talk with people it is a fun story to share!

Q: Did you have help getting pregnant?
A: Yes, this one gets asked quite a bit.  I still want to reiterate that it is no one else’s business how someone chooses to grow her family.  But no, we didn’t have help.  Our twins were spontaneous.  This question and the previous two usually tie together.  I think people are just curious about how twins happen, especially identical twins.  It is kind of a crazy thing to think about.  One moment you have one embryo inside of you.  Then for suddenly it splits in two and forms two whole, complete separate human beings. It is pretty amazing.  I try to answer this one as honestly and politely as possible, but if you want my advice don’t ask someone this unless they are a close friend or family.  Even then maybe wait for them to bring it up.

Q: Do you ever sleep?
A: This one usually comes after they see Ben with me too.  And yes, we do sleep!  Honestly the sleep thing was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  This is part luck, we do have kids that like to sleep.  But a big part of that is following the babywise ideas.  I worked hard to get my kids to learn how to sleep and get on the same nap schedule.  It is possible to sleep with three kids three and under.  You can read some of my tips here.  Having twins does not automatically equal never sleeping again.

Q: Do you breastfeed?
A: Yes.  It is possible to breastfeed twins.  There are many reasons why it might not work, but we have been able to make it over a year.  I am a bit uncomfortable with this question.  I feel I shouldn’t be, because there is nothing wrong with how I feed my babies.  But these are my breasts people are asking about.  I also think while yes, breastfeeding is wonderful and I do think the best I can give my babies, fed is best.  I completely understand getting this question from other moms or moms to be.  When you are in the baby stage of life, you are constantly gathering data on how to be the best mom you can be.  How you feed your babies is a big part of that.  Then I do like to answer this question to give a big old yes!  It is completely possible to nurse twins.  I want to encourage any mom out there who wants to try nursing!

Q: How do you tell them apart?
A: They dance differently.  Okay, that isn’t really my answer.  (Although side note- they do have different dance moves and it is adorable.  I’m still trying to get a good video of it.  They get a little camera shy.)  I was very worried that I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart.  And at times it can be hard.  I am lucky in that I dress them most days, so I know who is who at a glance.  But from across the room I might not know right away.  Overall they do look different to us.  I do use a few physical markers to help confirm I have the right baby.  (Yes, I think it is normal to doubt yourself sometimes!)  Ali’s hair is a little thicker.  Sammy has a tiny bump on one ear.  Really we just have to look at them and we can tell them apart.  They are their own distinct people and we know our kids now.  So all the women out there pregnant with twins worrying you won’t be able to tell them apart- you will!  But don’t feel bad, I didn’t believe it either.

Q: Are you having any more?
A: Depending on what has gone down before you ask this I might just yell “NO!” at you with this one.  No, we think we are done.  But as I’ve said before, family planning is the business of the family, well, planning it.  I look at our family and think we are all accounted for.  I do reserve the right to change or mind at any point.  (I’m pretty sure God gets to make the final call on that anyway:) )

Q: You sure have your hands full!
A: This isn’t a question, but it is rare that I am out and don’t hear this one.  I’m not entirely sure what to say to this one.  I like to think it is a positive thing, or at least meant that way.  Like, “You are busy, but you are doing it!  Go you!”  Sometimes it is surely said with an almost Schadenfreude tone.  That bothers me.   Here is the deal.  One, yes I have three kids three and under.  We are in the little kid trenches and it is busy.  But that isn’t a negative.  I love my kids.  They are good kids and I am happy with where we are.  Two, who cares how many kids I have?  I’m not asking you to take care of them or have any interaction with them.  I know I bring them out in public, but if they are acting up we leave.  It isn’t anyone else’s business how many kids we have.  Three, we have three kids.  That isn’t that many!  The average family in the US has 2.5 kids.  That means some people have to have more than two.  I think this comment is a reflex from some people- not meant to be mean, but not thought out.  I smile and nod most of the time.  I mean, it is true.

Q: Better you than me!
A: People.  People.  This might be meant as a joke but think it through.  It sounds like having three kids and twins specifically is seen as a bad thing, a punishment, or a horrible way to go through a few years.  It isn’t!  Children are a blessing, and we are very happy to have them.  It feels like you are saying my life must  be horrible and you are glad you aren’t me.  Well I am glad you aren’t me too.  My children are amazing and I am so fortunate to have them and be their mother.  It is your prerogative to think this, and I am glad you prefer your life.  You should, it’s yours.  But for real, don’t say this to someone’s face.

Q: I knew twins…  My friend has twins… My twins are now ___ old…
A: Having twins seems to bring out everyone’s twin stories.  This one is a mix.  I like hearing from people who have twins that are older than my own.  I always ask if they have any tips.  I adore seeing moms of twins who are out and about without their twins, perhaps their kids are even all grown up.  I love my babies but seeing someone who has come out the other side is helpful!!  This sort of comment also makes me want to remind people to choose their moment.  I know I sound mean, but if my kids are fussing, or we seem to be in a hurry, or it is clear that we just need to be moving along and get home, please don’t stop me to tell me about some twins you knew thirty years ago.  I don’t care.  I understand that we relate as humans through shared experiences.  I am not trying to be rude if I just kind of smile and nod as I go about my business.  I am just trying to keep three little people from losing it on an unsuspecting public.  Otherwise, let’s talk twins!  I have a ton of adorable stories from my little people.

Q: You have a beautiful family!  You’re doing a great job.  What cute kids!
A: Yes, another non-question.  This one is great though.  Thank you to all the people who have said this to me over the past year.  It might not always be true.  My kids might be, well, acting like kids.  I might be a mess.  But this sort of comment has always come right when I needed it.  We all know being a mom can be tough,  I think sometimes you don’t really know if you are doing a good job until your children are all grown up.  Parenting can be isolating, draining, frustrating, and just plain exhausting.  It is worth every moment, but that doesn’t mean I always feel blissed out all the time.  Hearing someone say something nice like this can be just what I need to keep it together a little longer.  It reminds me that no, my children aren’t trying to make me crazy on purpose.  My tiredness has a purpose.  These little people really are pretty special, and I am doing something worthwhile.  I try to remember to say this if I see a mom with little ones.  To the people who have said these things to me- Thank you.  More than you know, thank you.

Alright, those are the answers to the questions I hear most often!  I hope I haven’t offended anyone by sharing what I actually think to some of these, but I want to give real answers.  I know a lot of people are curious about life with twins.  Overall I am happy to answer what questions I can.  I love my kids and I love to talk about them!

Are there any questions you would like me to answer?  Any other twin moms out there have anything to add?  I’m guilty of wanting to know all about twins too! 🙂



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