I remember when I was pregnant with my boys searching the internet for any tidbit of information regarding twins, often being most interested in people’s blogs because I was searching for a glimpse of what my future life may look like. I didn’t find too many blogs documenting that first year of life, which in hindsight it probably due to the fact that twin households do not have much time or energy to blog, but I did find a few places where I was able to read about people’s pregnancy journeys, their emotions in those first few months, and stories of toddlers and the funny things they do. I remember reading one blog where the author cried herself to sleep every night and I remember reading one day’s entry where she lamented on the fact that for the first time she hadn’t cried — things were finally getting better! I also remember reading this heart wrenching story, almost play by play, where this woman lost one twin during childbirth. To say the least, it was not the best thing to read when 38 weeks pregnant!
Sadly, I also failed to blog that first year. I will be no source of comfort to other woman looking for information on those first few months. But for those who just have twin curiosity in general, I want to talk a bit about my boys and our life on this blog, more so than I have. So here is a start.
I did not find out I was pregnant with twins until I was almost 25 weeks into my pregnancy. Whether for this reason, or maybe just by chance, I found myself from the first moment calling them “2 babies”. When I called my family I announced “there are 2 babies”, not “there are twins”. And the next day at work the phrase continued — “I had my ultrasound yesterday and there are two babies!!”, to which I would have people reply “twins!?”. This mentality has remained strong with a few exceptions–dressing my kids the same, or more so coordinating their outfits, until recently has seemed a must, and this blog has been an exception because a life with 2 babies is best described as a life with twins.
But now my boys are learning how to talk. And quickly they are turning into little boys. In these changes that occur so quickly I have found myself having to start to acknowledge the “club” that will inevitably become part of their identity for much of their life. Some strong stereotypes exist for twins, we all know them, and often I am asked “who is the more dominant one?”, or “which one is the outgoing one?”. I have read about how one twin may learn to speak for the other, and how one twin may find security in the presence of their sibling who communicates for them. And although I have NEVER liked to speak any stereotypes over my boys, I am starting to notice some of these classic stereotypes sneaking into our reality.
So for this moment in time, I will do the thing I so dislike, and I will stereotype. Please bear with me.
Nolan is my talker (but not until recently, and this in and of itself made me start to come to terms with my boys being “twins”). Gabe becomes quickly frustrated. And in these personality traits I am quickly noticing Gabe at the shirttails of Nolan. Nolan has learned to say juice, and cookie and more; and Gabe being the bright kid he is, has learned to chase right behind Nolan when he hears these words knowing he will reap the benefit of all Nolan’s hard work and practice. (Because what mother is only going to give one child juice when one asks? Or only give one kid a cookie when they are both standing with arms outstretched? … at least that doesn’t happen in this household.)
For a time I thought this might just be Gabe being too lazy to practice words. He knew some squawks, or bleeps, or plain old outburts of frustration could often produce what he desired. (Within the first week of bringing him home we quickly learned we would receive only two coughs before complete meltdowns occurred over his sudden onset of hunger.) But then I noticed something at our church nursery a few weeks back.
Nolan was taken out of the nursery to have his diaper changed. And Gabe melted down.
Could it be that my Nolan is becoming the confident, “outgoing one” and that my Gabe is becoming the “one” who needs his brother?
Needless to say, my eyes have been opened. I am now more aware of the real need to start spending more one on one time with my boys. Before nap times were routine in our household, one on one time would naturally occur out of our inability to have the boys on identical napping schedules. But the routine that has developed with toddlerhood is causing my boys to spend every waking, and sleeping, moment together.
I also started to acknowledge the idea that I gave birth to twins and not just two babies when they were around 12 months old; I felt as though I was being asked if they could talk all of the time. And they couldn’t. Twelve months turned to 13 months. Thirteen to 14. And so on and so on, until in my desperation to remove paranoia from my parenting mojo, I had to face the reality that twins, for an exact reason unknown, often talk later than singletons. I have been relieved in these past weeks as words like “ball” and “ear” and “hi” have started erupting from both little faces that follow me around. And really, in hindsight, 16 months does not seem all that late to start developing a vocabulary.
But nonetheless, this journey has made me realize that some things might be different in my home, and that in order to raise “Emotionally Healthy Twins”, as one of my parenting books is so cleverly titled, I need to be aware of the challenges and stereotypes that can often occur.