Identical or Fraternal Twins? Inappropriate questions, most needed products and the stuff that they know now… Read the common questions and see the responses from three of our MomSource Team Members.
Clint, Kristin and Carrie are all raising their own sets of twins and sharing their words of wisdom with you.
How old are your twins and what are their genders and names?
KRISTIN: My boys, Connor and Quinn, are 4 and 3/4 years old. They correct me every time I say 4.
My twin boys, Spencer Roby and Oliver Wynn, are four months old now.
CARRIE: My girls, Lola and Iris, are identical twins, 4 years old.
What was your first reaction to discovering you were having twins?
KRISTIN: Silence. I was at a Dr appt when he was listening to the heart beat and said “one potato…two potato!”. I was silently screaming (excitement of course) in my head but apparently the complete silence made him ask if I was okay. I was thrilled, in shock, but thrilled. It had been 10 years in the coming.
CLINT: Actually, I was pleasantly relieved to hear it was only two. My wife and I struggled with fertility and were seeing a specialist for over a year before we conceived. We used some fertility medications so multiples are quite frequent. The doctor actually had told us there was a good chance we could have triplets with what he was seeing so to find out we were pregnant was amazing but to hear we were getting two-for-one was even better and especially even better than three-for-one:)
CARRIE: I was surprised, but thrilled (the overwhelmed feelings came later). I had convinced my husband there was no need to come to the first appointment with me. I never imagined I would discover I was pregnant with twins during that first appointment.
What do you know now that you wish you had known before they were born?
KRISTIN: How much more fun life is with them, how much fuller, truly better in so many indescribable ways.
CLINT: First off I wished I had known how unbelievably amazing it is to be a parent of multiples. I knew it would be cool and a lot of work but it is hands down the best time of my life. As far as support and organizing everything I would say that routine, sleep and patience are your best friends. We read a lot of books and talked to a lot of friends so we had a good foundation but I can’t overemphasize the importance of establishing a routine as soon as possible and focusing on feedings and naps at the right time. We took a lot from the Sleep Wise school of thought but never implemented it exactly.
CARRIE: The newborn/infant stage is incredibly difficult, but once they are a bit older, the benefits of having two kids that are the same age and best friends and companions far outweighs the struggles of the infant stage.
How is parenting multiples different than parenting singletons?
KRISTIN: Not having a singleton to compare it to, I can only speak from my perception. But, In the early stages it was a matter of hands and doing everything in duplicate. And the nursing….well, I don’t know if we are supposed to get into that but well, coordination was a trip in the beginning. A very strict schedule was a saving grace for me. It was busy. Now, I feel like having 2 of them is easier than so many of my friends that have 1 at this age. They have a built in playmate and while I hear MOM a thousand times a day, they don’t need me or a friend to entertain them all the time.
CLINT: I wouldn’t know. These are our first children so I have nothing to compare it to.
CARRIE: My twin girls are my only children, so I can’t speak for sure about the difference. However, I have often commented to family and friends that I think I would have been a much different parent to a singleton. I had to learn to let some of my perfectionist tendencies go and accept that I was doing the best I could and it was good enough.
I am also very aware of the tendency of people (and us sometimes too) to treat them as one unit as opposed to individuals. While they look the same, their personalities are very different and they each have different emotional needs, often requiring different parenting techniques. I sometimes find it difficult to balance treating them fairly and individually.
What question do you wish people would quit asking you?
KRISTIN: When I was expecting, it was in regards to my size. I am only 5’6″ and was 48″ around when I delivered. Now, it is that constant look of sympathy accompanied by ‘boy, you must be tired’ or ‘i bet they wear you out’. It always makes me feel like I need to invest in a more expensive skincare regimen or brightening cream and that I look way more ‘worn out’ than I realize.
CLINT: I guess because I feel so blessed to have children after our struggles that I really don’t mind any questions that have been asked of me. Give me a few more months and maybe I will change my mind but there are a few funny ones. One is when people ask if they are twins? I usually just say, “Nope, just born on the same day to the same parents.” Or the other one is if twins run in our family. We usually say yes they do but they also run in fertility treatments:)
CARRIE: Are they natural? It took me a while to figure out what that even meant. What that actually equates to is people trying to sneakily ask if you underwent fertility treatment
How do your twins interact with each other?
KRISTIN: They are best friends. Every night is a sleep over and every day is hanging out with your best friend. They are playing together one minute, wrestling and beating each other up the next and then back to playing as if nothing happened. I joke that our house is a full contact sport during waking hours. They have mastered tag-team negotiation skills and my husband and I quite often feel as if we are stepping into a conversation mid-point as their in-tune thought process can catch us off guard.
CLINT: They are just staring to recognize each other without us prompting them They will be doing tummy time and reach for each other’s hand or one will put their hand on the other’s face. Pretty cute stuff there. Makes all your troubles and burdens melt away when you can see that and look forward to the relationship they will have for the rest of their lives.
CARRIE: My girls have a really great bond and play well together. Imagine a sleep over with your best friend every night and the chance to play with that friend all day, every day. There is surprisingly little fighting and arguing, at least at this age. I’m anxious to see how their interactions change as they get older.
Are their personalities similar/different? How?
KRISTIN: Their personalities are very different. Upon first meeting, one is quiet and observant. He may not interact with you very much but after meeting you he will remember every detail and will form his opinion thoughtfully. Once he is comfortable with you, he is full of energy, affection and questions. Oh, the questions! He likes to work on projects and puzzles and needs to be reminded that it is okay for things to not be perfect, to not be the best. The other has never met a stranger. His affection is readily available until you upset him and then so is his disdain. And just as quickly his affection is back. He is very empathetic and does not like to see anyone upset. He is always willing to try anything and likes to do a lot of different things. They both walk around the house signing and love spontaneous dance parties in the kitchen.
CLINT: Spencer is pretty outgoing and smiley. He is already “talking” or “cooing” especially around strangers. He is pretty laid back as well. Oliver is a little more reserved and tempered. He is more fussy when his bottle is out or with a dirty diaper but also is a very happy baby and smiles/laughs a lot.
CARRIE: Their personalities are very different. They are both a bit timid and quiet and both prefer quiet and calm, quickly getting overwhelmed in loud, chaotic situations. However, one of the girls is more sensitive and empathetic. She loves to watch people and is very perceptive of peoples’ feelings. She enjoys routine and can remember every detail of a situation or event. She sometimes has a hard time focusing because she is so busy people-watching. She is always looking out for her sister and defends her fiercely. My other daughter is more laid-back, but has a hotter temper and has laser focus when she is doing something. She is also wildly imaginative, loves music and singing, and is prone to spontaneous giggle attacks. She is mommy attached, but has daddy’s personality.
What is the essential purchase that you would recommend to other parents of twins?
KRISTIN: A good side by side double stroller that can fit through a single door-way. It is the one thing that I still use and used almost every single day for the first 3.5 years.
CLINT: A few things would be the Boppy’s, Wubanubs and Chicco KeyFit car seats. They sit, eat, nap in the boppy’s especially before they could hold their heads up. The Wubanubs are a pacifier with small stuffed animal attached. This helps the pacifier stay in their mouths as well as allows them to more easily grab it and transfer from hand to hand. The KeyFit allows you to move from car seat to stroller to inside, etc. I can’t imagine having to wake a sleeping infant to put in/out of a car seat.
CARRIE: One of the biggest struggles with infant twins is finding safe places to put one child while you are tending to the other. Every child is different as to what they enjoy most, whether it’s a swing, bouncy seat, Boppy pillow, etc.
What did you buy when you discovered you were having twins that wasn’t useful?
KRISTIN: 2 of everything I thought I would need. Not only do you NOT need 2 of most things, it is the quickest way to feel overwhelmed when you run out of room to move.
CLINT: We bought two bassinets that we really didn’t use. The Rock and Plays are much more useful.
CARRIE: We tried to stick to the essentials and not immediately buy double of everything. If we discovered we needed two of something, then we went out and bought it. We definitely bought some things along the way that turned out not so useful, but I can’t think of anything we bought right away that I would warn others not to buy.
What have you learned about yourself as a parent since having twins?
KRISTIN: I can be a lot more fun than I thought I was. I was so career focused and serious that I think I forgot how important everything else was to me. My boys have helped me realize how much fun there is in every little thing. That I can be career focused and not lose sight of the other important stuff and still have fun.
CLINT: Anything is possible, patience is worth more than anything and that a great partner is better than anything in the world. It is so funny how your mindset impacts your success. Not saying that we have accomplished this parenting thing yet because we have a long way to go but having the right, positive mindset that we are going to get through this, we are going to be fine and it is going to be fun is half the battle. Patience is having the ability to know that even when both kids are screaming and that it feels like you are going thru hell you are only a few minutes away from an amazing smile, coo or touch. Lastly, I don’t think I could do any of this as well with any other partner. My wife Susan is a rock star. She compliments me in areas that are not my best and I feel like I compliment her in other areas. We have great communication and really partner to take on as much as we possibly can. She has a high stress position in the medical field so it works for us for me to get up for the middle of the night feedings. I can’t bring myself to cut the boys’ fingernails so she does this and takes care of bath time every night. Just an example of partnering to accomplish what you need to.
CARRIE: I learned early on to accept help when offered. I am also learning to not sweat the small stuff. Being a parent has provided me a fresh perspective on love and family and truly savoring all that life has to offer. It makes me want to be a better, healthier person for them.
What would you tell other parents who just discovered that they are having twins?
KRISTIN: Life will never be the same but it will be more than you ever imagined. Be patient with yourself and enjoy the ride. Oh, and never turn down an offer to catch an extra hour of sleep in the first 6 months. You can’t stockpile enough!!
CLINT: Celebrate, Enjoy the moment(s) and plan, plan, plan. You just joined a pretty exclusive club. The parents of multiples club is expensive but it is a tight knit group and especially with technology and social media a club you can access pretty easily. Plan for everything you need and read/learn about how you will handle it but don’t get caught up and stressed out. I used to always stop myself when I was getting worked and think about two things….one was that people have been having kids for thousands of years and been able to do it with 1% of the knowledge and resources I have. Secondly I would tell myself that if Teen Mom can do it then so can I:)
CARRIE: Carrying and delivering multiples comes with a lot of uncertainty. Twin pregnancies are automatically considered high risk, without the introduction of any additional complications. You’ve got to be able to roll with the punches a bit. I would tell other parents to enjoy the journey and while it is certainly double the work, it is also double the joy.