The ultrasound has just shown one, two or maybe even three little heads! Calm down and pick yourself off the floor. So you are expecting twins. Your feelings may range from “Why me”, “This is great”, “Oh my!” to “What have we done?”
Either way there is an element of shock and you may wonder how you are going to cope with the monumental task of looking after more than one baby at a time.Expecting twins
Parents may worry even more than usual knowing that twins are on the way. Delivery complications occur more frequently in twin births than in cases involving premature (early) delivery and small birth weight. While her doctor can advise her, the expectant mother is the only one who can make the daily commitment of rest and proper nutrition to insure optimal health of the twins.
Having finally come to terms with the idea of having twins, it is crucial that expectant parents plan ahead for the period after the babies’ birth. The best advice you will ever receive is to contact other parents of twins – they’ll be able to share a wide gamut of ideas, shortcuts and tips to help make your job easier.
Caring for two babies at once is one of the hardest things you may ever do in your life. Any reasonable person would at times feel exhausted, overwhelmed, and vulnerable to depression when faced with a relentless stream of diapers, feedings and months of sleep deprivation. But the ecstasy of having two bundles of joy in your arms is worth any amount of pain, exhaustion and fatigue.
Sometimes twins divide the parents as primary objects of attachment. Parents, too, sometimes divide the labour by singling out one twin to attend to, hence the child identifies with one over the other parent.
At other times, each twin’s personality and temperament plays a role. For instance, one of my cousins is closer to his mother as she used to take him to her office while the other twin stayed with the father.
In the case of identical twins, parents are often confused and not without reason. They sometimes resort to color-coding their children’s clothing, piercing their ears, or painting their toe-nails in different colours when they are small and still difficult to tell apart.
Once the opportunity comes to choose one’s own clothing, twins express their newfound sense of freedom. To help them develop their identity, give each their own clothes and avoid dressing twins alike on a regular basis past infancy. My cousins often feel the need to explain to singletons that, “We are not exactly alike in every way. We do have our separate interests and no we don’t think we look alike.”
That special bond
It is often felt that twins communicate in an unspoken language. My twin cousins seem to be in tune with each other. One example is of their childhood – whenever they ate together, they often shared their food. They also comforted each other when someone took a toy away from one brother.
When they grew up, they felt another kind of connection between them. They hadn’t noticed it until their mother pointed it out. She had noticed when one started a conversation, the other would finish the sentence for him.
Twins in school
Many schools have a separation policy for twins, and most families of twins support this policy. My twin nieces were separated after the second grade and were fine with it. Pro-separation arguments include the following:
- If twins are put in the same classroom, their work and performance will be under constant comparison, thus giving rise to envy and friction.
- If look-alike twins are in the same class, it may confuse the teachers and classmates no end. The twins may exploit this opportunity to get into “various kinds of mischief”.
- Keeping twins together prevents them from making friends on their own or broadening their horizons, and inhibits their freedom to become individuals and develop their own interests.Given the intimate space twins share during foetal development, a physical and emotional bond often develops between them. This bond remains throughout their lives and is a distinct symbol of their identity as a twin pair. However, it must not be forgotten that two individuals make up a twin pair, and that each of them emerges with her own identity, often quite different from her twin’s.