I know that you mean well and are just trying to make conversation, but do I look like I have time to talk while I’m dealing with these two kids?
It’s difficult enough keeping one child happy and entertained when I’m out and about trying to get things done, much less two. I don’t really have time to stop and field your questions, no matter how innocent they may seem, so I thought I’d answer the most common ones here.
1. First and foremost, yes — they are twins. No, they don’t look alike because each of them came from a different egg instead of being from one egg that split in two. It’s called being a fraternal twin (think “Fraternal Brotherhood of the Elks”) instead of being … wait for it … identical! I’m not going to get all into “Reproduction 101” but trust me, they don’t have to look exactly the same to be twins. They are two little boys who happened to be born at the same time. Oh, and they shared a cramped apartment before they were born.
2. The follow-up question is usually, “Who’s older?” I have to ask though, does it really matter? Carter is older than Gavin by about a minute. They were born via C-section. One was pulled out and the other one followed less than 60 seconds later. In a few years when they are fighting over who gets to be the boss of the other, or in 14 years when they’re battling over who should get to drive first, I’m sure it will matter a great deal to them, but for now, it’s not that big of an issue.
3. Who looks more like you? I think they both have characteristics and traits that favor both my family and my wife’s. Each day brings out something new in them and on any given day my answer is going to be different. The best part is that they know who Mom is, and who Dad is, and the love they show each of us mirrors the love that their mother and I have for each other. No matter who they look like, this proves that they are our children beyond a reasonable doubt.
4. Is it hard raising twins? I’ve never done anything but raise twins, so I couldn’t compare it to raising only one. I do know that it’s challenging at times and you learn to be very good at multitasking when you have multiples. Something else I’ll say, and I hope no one takes offense to this, but if you’re around me and start whining that you have a toddler, and “it’s so difficult,” prepare to get slapped. Although I wouldn’t trade either of my boys for the world, if we only had one child life would be EASY!
5. Were they natural? Frankly, it’s none of your business. My wife and I tried several times to get pregnant “the natural way” and we had several pregnancies that ended in miscarriage. After extensive research and a lot of discussions, we decided that IVF held the strongest hope that we could have a successful pregnancy. Two eggs were put in, and we were beyond lucky that both implanted.
6. Did you know you were having twins? Well, this one is kind of silly because the minute you go to the doctor after finding out you are pregnant, the first thing they do is give you an ultrasound. Do you think they are going to keep it a secret until you’re in the delivery room?
7. Do twins run in your family? A friend of mine answers this by saying, “They do now!” Going back to the “were they natural” question, it doesn’t matter if they run in the family or not. If both eggs get implanted, genetics don’t really have a lot to do with it. I often don’t dare say that I was a twin myself, (we were both born premature, and sadly I survived and my brother did not) because then I’m stuck with a 20-minute discussion about how twins are supposed to skip a generation. If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn, and found a way to turn baby poop into gold.
8. “Two for the price of one?” Far from it. If people only knew how expensive having twins really was, they would just leave us alone altogether. I’ll give you an example. You have one baby (what some call a “singleton”) and feel it’s time to buy a highchair for the little tyke. To save a buck, you pick up a gently used one in many places. Problem solved, right? Good luck finding two similar chairs at a place like that, though. Two car seats, two cribs, two rock-and-plays, and the list goes on and on. When you walk past the used strollers, they are almost giving them away. All the way at the end of the row is a double stroller that’s marked just below the cost of buying it new. Why? Because if you’re searching for a double stroller, the chances are that you NEED a double stroller, and they can spot you coming a mile away. It’s like you have “TAKE ALL OF MY MONEY” tattooed on your forehead.
9. You must have your hands full. It’s kind of obvious, but no more so than the woman behind me who has three kids, and you didn’t mention that to her. Having even one child can be challenging if you aren’t prepared (or let your guard down – LOL).
10. “I had my kids 18 months apart, so it’s almost like having twins, right?… I know how you feel.” Many parents of twins HATE this one because unless you have twins, you have no idea how we feel. Raising children a year and a half apart is a far cry from having children the same age. I’m not saying it wasn’t or isn’t difficult for you but really, stop saying that. I have a friend who has four children under age 4! Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed, I just think of him and I trudge on. I know that having four that young can’t be easy, but I will bet you a dozen cronuts that he doesn’t tell everyone that it’s like having quadruplets.
So there you go. Now, do me a favor. If you see me and my sons at the grocery store or in line at the bank, just wave at the twins and give me a thumbs up or a little nod. This will let me know if you read this and now know all of the answers. I’ll look at you, mouth the words “thank you” and go about my business. After all, twins are not that much of an anomaly.
And about your best friend’s sister’s neighbor’s cousin who had twins? Please share this with him. I’m sure he could use a laugh today.