Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I'm a listmaker. It calms my mind and organizes my thoughts. One of my college roommates still jokes about my obsessive list making, even though we haven't lived together for 14 years.

I found the whiteboard that was posted by the door with a list of items I needed to remember in order to leave the house with my two infants. I know there are moms of twins, and single children, that don't leave the house to avoid the trouble, but for me, it was a necessity. A fellow twin mommy blogger once wrote that staying at home all day with twinfants is the fastest road to crazy, a sentiment that I embraced, despite the difficulties of leaving the house between naps, feeding schedules and diaper changes!

It seems unbelievable to me now, that even in the depths of post partum depression I was able to muster the wherewithal to leave the house with two premature infants. Some days pouring water into the espresso machine felt overwhelming. Perhaps I rationed my atrophied energy after keeping my offspring nourished and safe towards maintaining my own sanity. 

What is interesting about this whiteboard is that before it was swallowed by one of my lists, it served as a coaching board for our co-ed ice hockey team (note the red circle remnants). My husband still plays, I don't. But that's another post entirely...

For some reason, it's been difficult for me to simply wipe away those green letters, and all the struggles of the first year with twinfants. Despite the fact that they were some of the most difficult months of my life, somehow I feel the need to preserve this simple reminder of a herculean task.  

My best friend tells me that I am the least nostalgic person she knows. I don't save cards or memorabilia from significant events in my life - not even my own wedding. So why then, would I need to document this item that represents such a tumultuous time? I know that the answer lies deep in the paradoxical human psyche, the labyrinth of our minds that reminds us what we've been through and propels us forward.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Science boldy tells us that identical twins don't run in families. But ask any family with identical twins and more than likely there are other sets of identical twins. Science also tells us that the twin gene can't come from the father's side. But I disagree. Fraternal twins - when two eggs are released and fertilized - come from the mom's side, but it only seems logical to me that identical twins - when the fertilized egg splits - would come from the father (ahem, the sperm!) I'm not a scientist, nor am I a trained in genetics, biology or any other related field. My degree is in business, and from that I accredit an analytical grasp of logic. ;-)

My mother-in-law is an identical twin. And my father-in-law has identical twin brothers. Even more intriguing is that my mother-in-law is a "mirror twin", as are my daughters. The most common trait of mirror twins is opposite handedness (My MIL is left handed and her sister is right handed). Dental growth and problems can occur on opposite sides. According to some sources, in rare cases, mirror twins can have organs on opposite sides of the body.

Just like looking in a mirror.

I've mentioned in a prior post that my girls are quite distinguishable from each other, but the other day, I saw Jaeda's face in the mirror behind me only to turn around and realize it was Tristyn.

What creeps me out about this is that the generally accepted timeline is that non-mirror identical twins' egg splits in the first week, mirror twins in the second week and conjoined twins in the third week. How closely did the sometimes truculent fate come to drastically altering my mommy experience?

As it were, my life WAS drastically altered in week 16 of my pregnancy, when I was told there were two in there.

Recently, I heard from a client that an associate was pregnant with identical twin girls and we discussed the potential health concerns that accompany an identical twin pregnancy (of which I was spared mostly due to the nature of the girls' arrangement in utero). There's a special place in my heart for mothers of twins, and identical twin girls especially.

We spoke a few days later and she told me the twins had both died, which was probably "for the best"...because they were conjoined.

A chill ran up my spine because I am so lucky to have these perfectly formed, and separate (but similar) beings to call my daughters.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Beauty on the Inside

For as long as I can remember, my dad has called me "Beauty". His response when he hears my voice on the phone is always the same: "Beauty". I wish I could bottle up his voice so that I could always recollect the pitch in his voice, the meaning in that one word.

The six letters uttered from my paternal force are much more than the word it forms. To me, it speaks volumes: I accept you just as you are, you are beautiful inside and out, you can do anything you want to do - be anything you want to be, and I will love you no matter what.

It has now become my habit, by sheer momentum of adoration, to also call my girls "my beauties". Of course, to me, it means much more than the word itself as well, but my daughters are not cognizant of that yet - and may not be until the throes of adulthood.

Recently, my cousin and I were chatting while the girls took us for a walk and I expressed to her that being a parent makes you ask the question - what will my contribution be to the world, to the human race? As many mothers and fathers realize, it is through their children that we can consider a life well lived. For me, my most powerful influence is compassion - I simply want my girls to be good hearted, help others, be generous, and pay it forward and backward.

My dad instilled confidence and strength in his only daughter. He gave me a compassionate heart by advising me to "be nice to everyone, even the nerds". He gave me a thoughtful outlook on others by embracing the character of each individual he came across.

I don't believe that a little girl can be told too often how beautiful she is - there will always be someone or something to strip away her self-esteem. What makes a child a "princess" is a lack of grounding, a sense of entitlement by overindulgent parents lacking in parental limits, and an upbringing void of circumstances that teach compassion.

My daughters' Beauty will have to be taught - and earned - throughout their lives. But as their mom, I'm confident they will live up to the title.
My dad with his 2 Beauties

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Make that a double

Tonight, the mythical toddler that asks to be put to bed prior to bedtime visited our house. Dubious and somewhat half-heartedly, I brought the strange creature upstairs and went through the pre-bedtime motions, kissed her goodnight and proceeded back downstairs to conclude the evening rituals. Fully anticipating an impish voice to announce over the baby monitor that she was "All Done Sleepin'!", I hedged my bets and ensured that her twin wasn't stealthily creeping up the stairs to "play" (aka "Wake UP Sister!"). Ten minutes passed and the monitor glowed dutifully along with the lullaby CD, but no other sounds came from the room.

Now what? My other daughter napped on the way home and besides, it wouldn't be fair to put her within screaming distance of her sister. For almost three years, these two beings have bombarded our household (in duplicate) with screams, squeals, laughter and tears and it's an unfamiliar sensation when a single child holds my full attention.

I find myself cradling Jaeda lovingly in my arms as she munches on an apple and imagines the shapes it takes after each bite - a pineapple, a muffin, a lollipop, a....zebra? We chat about everything and nothing at all as she relishes having me all to herself, and vice versa. Guilt restricts me from this parental luxury. Even though my husband and I attempt to spend one-on-one time with each twin, it's rarely the mundane everyday lounge-around-the-house time.

Bedtime arrives and we clomp noisily up the stairs ("shhh, sister is sleeping", I remind her for the umpteenth time) for a bath. As I sit next to her attempting to focus on my book, I watch her solitary play as she brushes baby ducky's teeth (?) and it occurs to me why couples decide to have a second child - a strange realization for me because I never had that option; never had to contemplate giving my only child a sibling. That was pre-determined for me by fate.

As I place the covers over Jaeda and check on slumbering Tristyn, balance is restored in our twin household and all feels right again - they will wake in the morning as they always do, chatting to each other like bosom buddies, or barking at each other like bitter enemies.

"The universe balances its books"
-The Girl With No Shadow, Joanne Harris
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