Friday, November 8, 2013

The Twin Difference

Baby B      Baby A 
Apparently, twins are different people. Seems like an obvious statement right? Well, babies in general, and especially twins, have been a real learning curve for me. When I was pregnant with the twins we knew they were fraternal, not identical. This should have been my first clue. In the womb, my son, baby B, was very active. He was constantly flipping around, kicking, and changing his position. My daughter, baby A (the lower baby), however, was not as active. She stayed in the same position most of my pregnancy. And she was shy. When the sonographer tried to take photos, my son was ready for his close up. My daughter was camera shy. She almost always hid her face from us.

I always wondered to myself, and often out loud, if their in-utero behavior was indicative of their personalities. People would regularly tell me that baby A is usually feisty, especially if it is a girl, as was our case. So I expected my baby girl to be, well, feisty. Towards the end of my pregnancy baby girl developed what is known as asymmetrical growth syndrome. This is when a developing baby becomes undernourished (which often happens with multiples) and begins to direct the majority of nourishment and energy to the growth of vital organs, like their brain and heart, at the expense of the liver, muscle and fat. In our situation, our son was taking most of the nourishment, so their growth became incongruent. He was beginning to get bigger than her. Her growth had basically stopped.

So when the twins were born, my daughter was born first (by one minute) and she was 4lbs 3oz. My son was a whopping 4lbs 13oz; which doesn’t seem like much, but in premature terms a 10oz difference is a big deal. Our baby girl didn’t seem to have an ounce of fat on her body. She was all skin and bones, literally. To be honest, it was scary. Ever since then, she has been behind our son in physical development. However, she has always been the better eater. Even in the NICU, she chugged her bottle while my son ended up with a feeding tube in his nose due to him eating slow. Now, she has surpassed her brother by almost 2lbs. She is so chubby and I couldn’t be happier. I just remember how skeletal she looked for months, and I am so pleased that she now has rounded cheeks and chubby thighs. 

Yet, she is not the feisty one. My daughter is quiet and observant. She is patient and easy to please. She can play alone and not fuss about it. She is gentle and joyful. She will nap when you need her to and she just goes with the flow. My son on the other hand is very active. Since birth, he has been our crier. He is a very particular napper. He wants attention, all the time. He needs to be entertained. He is not patient, but he is a joy. He is laughing and smiling most of the time, and so is baby girl. So they have stayed true to their womb behavior. She is calm and quiet (when she isn’t laughing and babbling.) He is on the go, into everything, and the center of attention.

I still catch myself comparing them to each other; expecting them to develop the same, sleep the same, and have the same needs. I forget that they are two different people, with different needs and personalities. This may prove to be a challenge when it comes to learning and discipline. I must remember that they are different, and will need differing parenting techniques; although they are the same age. The differing genders and personalities will present unique challenges. Although I am a little nervous about this motherhood thing, I am also excited to watch these two children develop and grow into little people; with their own thoughts and idiosyncrasies.

One of my biggest concerns is me. Because my son demands so much attention, and the fact that he is the only baby who is mobile, I regularly end up holding him or trying to soothe him. While holding him, I often look over and see his twin sister watching us. And I have this horrible feeling that she is going to grow up feeling neglected or looked over due to me tending to her brother so much. I worry that she won’t feel as valuable or loved; and I criticize myself and worry. But the moment I turn my back, my son has a mouth full, literally, of dog food…or has found and is trying to chew a dirty diaper…and then I criticize myself again. The truth is, I love both of my babies so much. They are special in their own ways. They each bring joy to me in different ways. I try to remember that they are very different, while at the same time sharing so many similarities. And I try to divide my time. When my husband is home, I try to always tend to my daughter to try and balance how much time my son needed during the day. I hope that I am doing the right thing. I try to do my best; sometimes I fail. I take comfort in the fact that God’s mercies are new every day; even for me.

Remember to slow down and enjoy the fruits of your labor and love on a daily basis and you will start to see life as a Mama on the Bright Side.

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