Six years ago, I was blessed with my identical twin girls, Eva and Ruthie. I could write a book about our adventures: finalizing their step parent adoption, adding a baby brother, buying our first family house and moving, starting kindergarten, and adopting our first family pet (who I affectionately refer to as 4th child). It’s been an amazing ride for us. But if I had to confess one thing about being a mother of multiples that makes me cringe on a daily basis and sometimes keeps me up at night, it’s this: even after six years, I cannot tell my twins apart!
It was around the fourth month of pregnancy that my high risk doctor confirmed that I was carrying mono-di identical twins. I figured I had the next 5 months to prepare myself, to figure it all out. I didn’t want to give them matching names; I was going to try very hard to make sure they were as individual as possible. I kindly asked my family that they not buy identical outfits or hair bows. I would always correct myself when I referred to my baby bump as ‘the twins’ or the ‘the girls’. Just because they shared DNA didn’t mean they always had to be lumped together. Then they were born with identical lengths and 7 ounces separating their birth weight. The first time I saw them next to each other, it felt like I was starting at square one.
During their first month of life, I tried many different ways to tell them apart. The bows the nurses glued to their hair during their hospital stay didn’t last very long once we were discharged. I painted a toenail but that’s only good if they’re barefoot. A friend crocheted little bracelets, but they quickly outgrew those. I broke my own rule of certain colors for a specific child but that was quickly discarded after a late night spit up attack. Then around their one month mark I noticed Ruthie had a tiny freckle in the fold of her armpit. And just like that, it seemed my late night, very desperate prayers had been answered!
From that one month mark until fairly recently, it was easy for me to tell them apart because I got them dressed in the mornings. Once I had a visual, it was less likely that I would mix them up. It was my saving grace, of sorts. It was OK for others to ask for help identifying or mix them up — like my dad, who referred to them as “that one in purple” or “the one by the window” from birth until they were able to confidently identify themselves — but it seemed especially careless when I did it. They had both developed more birthmarks or distinguishing ways to tell them apart, and I used to only need them in high stress situations; like monitoring a sickness or giving medicines. It makes me feel bad to say that I rely on those markings more now.
It hurts my feelings the most when strangers or casual acquaintances don’t think our girls look anything alike and say things like “it’s easy to tell them apart”. I know none of this is said in an attempt to slam me, but it bugs me. I carried these beautiful creatures for 9 months. I’ve spent time and energy trying to both nurture their twin bond, and treat them as individuals, and a stranger can trash all of that with one flippant comment. I’m their mother and I know if it really came down to it, gun to my head situation, I would be checking their markings before giving a final answer on who is who. It’s supposed to be instinct, I’m supposed to know my children, but I guess most times I don’t.
The big change happened in the summer before kindergarten when they really started to flex their independent sides. That meant not wanting my help getting dressed or picking out clothes, not caring if they matched a little too much for my liking. I cringed knowing that in the fall, they’d be in separate classrooms for the first time in their lives. My babies were growing up and I had no better grasp on distinguishing the two than I did the day I brought them home from the hospital.
By now I’ve come to terms with it. Every time I step into their schools’ front office someone has a story about the girls or asks a question about raising identical twins. The ‘how do you tell them apart’ questions is answered honestly: it’s hard. I remember at Fall conferences when Ruthie’s teacher proudly told me she knew which girl was hers. I felt like we had added another member into our twin tribe. So far, my MOM card has not been taken away and I’m hoping it’s because someone else who reads this might be in the same boat as me! No matter what, I am the proud mama to identical twin girls… even if I mix them up sometimes.
Leah Bryant is a stay at home mom of three, identical twin girls and a son. She is a proud Kansas native (insert favorite Toto quote here) and currently resides in the Kansas City metro area. Besides being constantly surprised by the wonders of raising twins and caring for her family, Leah’s hobbies include cooking/baking, gardening, reading actual grown up books along with Dr. Suess, and cheering on her favorite home-grown sports teams. Leah also meets the challenge of keeping up with Sonny, the newest member of the family. He is an American Eskimo dog the family adopted after he was rescued from a puppy mill. While Leah is active on most social media sites, you can find her family blog at http://twinsplusabe.tumblr.com/.
Are you a new twin parent? Check out Natalie Diaz’s new book “What To Do When You’re Having Two: The Twin Survival Guide From Pregnancy Through the First Year”, available in stores now!
The rate of twin births has risen 79 percent over the last three decades, and continues to increase. A mom of fraternal twins and a national guru on having two, Natalie Diaz launched Twiniversity, a supportive website with advice from the twin-trenches.
What to Do When You’re Having Two is the definitive how-to guide to parenting twins, covering how to make a Birth Plan checklist, sticking to one sleep schedule, managing double-duty breastfeeding, stocking up on all the necessary gear, building one-on-one relationships with each child, and more.
Accessible and informative, What to Do When You’re Having Two is the must-have manual for all parents of twins.
Click here for info on our expecting and new twin parent classes in New York City, Chicago, and online!
Join our FREE forums and connect with parents of multiples all over the WORLD! Visit https://www.twiniversity.com/join-twiniversity
Whether you’re a twin parent in the big city surrounded by scores of resources, or a triplet parent out in the country with no one around for miles — our multiples parenting forums are for YOU! Sign up for FREE and connect with people who are just like you — parents of multiples looking for advice, parenting tips, or even just people to chat with who will understand what you’re going through. Our forums are open to people all over the world and we offer scads of specialty rooms to find others who are going through the exact same thing as you. Check it out today!