I can't tell you how many times people have looked at me, struggling with two identical car carriers, looking at my identical babies, dressed in identical clothing, with identical blankets, and ask "are they twins?"
What gave it away?
"Yes, they are twins," I always answer, patiently and politely.
"Better you than me!" is often the response.
Not a very nice thing to say.
Reese and Reagan are not just a wonder to me, but to everyone around them. Any time we venture out, the babies capture the attention of everyone. Sometimes it's just a smile and a kind comment, other times it's a all-out public disturbance.
"How were they conceived? Did you take drugs?"
"Really? Are you really asking me that? I don't even know you."
It never ceases to amaze me what strangers will ask. I know it is not malicious, but I don't need to tell you how they were conceived. Or maybe, due to general lack of awareness, I should tell you.
With the advent and availability of fertility drugs and procedures, multiple births have become commonplace. Identical twins, however, are a completely random occurrence -- freak of nature, blessing from God, fluke, anomaly -- you get the picture. Whatever you want to call it, there is no doctor on the face of this earth that I know of that can produce a set of identical twins, or triplets for that matter.
My point is, just because someone has twins does not mean that they took drugs or had a medical procedure.
With that said, once a woman reaches and surpasses the ripe "old" age of 35, the chances of conceiving fraternal twins increases. Nonetheless, in many instances, fraternal twins, triplets, quads, etc. are produced due to fertility drugs or procedures. I suppose it is a reasonable thought in this day and age to make that assumption.
Many of the births that we hear about in the media have some type of fertility thing going on. Look at "Jon and Kate" who have been open about the conception of their eight children. Or Nadya Suleman, aka "Octo-mom." With the six embryos that Ms. Suleman had implanted, she produced two sets of identical twins. When I found that out, my first thought was, "oh my, she has eight more children to keep track of and has two sets of identicals to tell apart!
But I digress.
What I really wanted to impart to you is that I am always happy to share my babies with the world. That sense of pride we all have being parents is intensified with Reese and Reagan. I truly don't mind being a public spectacle, and I am happy to answer questions and tell you all about them.
Are they alike? Yes, they are identical and now that they are a bit older, they look almost exactly alike, but their personalities are so different. Reagan is outgoing, easy to laugh, easy to cry. She wears her little heart on her sleeve and throws tantrums. She is a Daddy's girl through and through. She is a drama queen, high maintenance, active and loud. Reese is quiet and serene. She does not need the constant entertainment that Reagan requires; she can amuse herself. She has determination in her eyes. She cuddles and laughs on her terms. When Reese cries, she means business. She likes books and basketballs.
We celebrated the babies' first birthday recently. Looking back over the past year, I feel melancholy. I look at pictures of them in the NICU, and it reduces me to tears.
Their beginning was rough on all of us. At 36 weeks, I developed pre-eclampsia and was sent straight to the hospital from my doctor's office. Rather than just have the inevitable c-section, I insisted that I was going to try to deliver the girls vaginally. They were both head down and ready to ride down the pike. I was induced with pitocin while on the mag drip for pre-eclampsia (i.e. magnesium sulfate - oh so fun!). What I found out about these two drugs is that they counteract each other, so getting me into labor was no easy feat.
After about 12 hours of discomfort and anxiety, Reagan decided she wasn't too keen on the idea of labor and delivery. She wanted the easy way out - and she got it, via emergency c-section. Had I just agreed to the c-section in the beginning, I would have saved everyone involved a whole lot of drama. Hindsight is 20/20!
At birth we discovered that the babies suffered from twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), which affects identicals who share a placenta. Reese, the "host," was pale and needed a blood transfusion. Reagan, the "recipient," conversely, had too much blood in her body; she looked like a ripe tomato. She endured a procedure to remove blood in order to force her red blood cell count down. Although identical twin pregnancies are continually monitored for TTTS, it went undetected in mine. It can be fatal, which is yet another reason I count my blessings every day. The phenomenal staff at the NICU took great care of my babies. They came home after two weeks, and we've been living in the fast lane ever since.
Over the past year, the amazement of having twins has not waned. They laugh with each other and at each other. They touch and hold hands and coo. They sleep nose to nose and toe to toe (and sometimes toe to nose!). If Reese cries, Reagan feels such empathy that she cries too. There are few words to describe my awe as I witness the unbreakable bond they share.
Yes, they are twins. Beautiful, extraordinary twins.