Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Identity and Twin Names

Names of children always interest me.  I like to think about and find out where the name came from or how it was chosen.  With twins there are the same considerations as with singletons with regard to what will the name be changed to as a nickname or in teasing; what the initials are; how easy to say/spell; what connotation for teachers and friends; and so on.  Then there is the question of rhyming, alliteration, etc with twins.  Twin names or not?  Jan and Joan, Bob and Bill, ...

The first thing we decided was not to have  obvious twin names, but names that went together.  In hindsight, we didn't get as far from twin names as we thought we did.  Ours actually rhyme backwards, that is, the first syllable of one rhymes with the last of the other and the same with the last/first.  (I'm trying not to use my children's names or current recognizable pictures for security reasons.)  I will reveal that the girl names we had picked were Mary Helen and Margaret Anne.  I have always liked "Mary something" names and two word names for girls.  These repeat the names of both our mothers.

Twins are often called to the same place at the same time, so it is good to practice calling them to see if their names are distinguishable, if they are easily spoken together, if they sound like one name, and generally how they sound.  When they get to about two and a half, it is VERY important because they will be spoken a lot!

We picked first names we had each held in fantasy reserve for children we didn't think we'd have.  Then we picked middle names that sounded good, were historic/biblical, and as it turned out came from the families.  Oh, and we checked the initials.

They are adopted so they were not named until we were named their guardians at 48 hours.  Until then they were Twin A and Twin B.  But we knew which would have which name because we named them as they were born.  We were on the phone, driving!

After they were home, someone from the insurance company called to clarify some charges or services or something.  She asked me, "Now, who is Tweena?".  (Twin A).

We didn't choose what I call twin names, but I do like them and like to hear them.  So often as I get to know someone, I think their name fits them so well.  How do we know?

Here are the top ranking twin names for babies born in 2010:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Thoughts on "Twiness" and Identity

I sometimes fantasized about having twins as a young woman and I've been told by many other women that they did too or would really want to have twins.  It is fun, just plain fun - twins draw attention and the parents get into lots of conversations in public; they're cute; it is fun picking clothes, whether one chooses to dress them alike, coordinated, or different.

I've thought about their respective identities since they were born.  I enjoy them being twins. They are really quite alike in physical look/structure, personality, and in their preferences.  They pick the same colors, very similar clothing styles and mostly the same toys.  They have always participated in the same activities/sports.  Their conduct and grades in school are very much alike.  They are consistently referred to as a pair - "the boys", "the twins", or their names strung together, ... and they are thought of as a unit by many people and/or in many situations.  When they played football, if a coach couldn't tell which was which, they called them "Twin".  It's understandable, especially with identical twins in uniform.

Yet, I want them to, and think they should, have separate identities.  When they were babies and young toddlers, I dressed them alike, or alike but in different colors.  As they got old enough to have and express a preference, I always used different colors.  (I still bought two of each color so they wouldn't fight.)  As I mentioned before, they like the same colors, but we could always settle on two.  Now they help me pick out their clothes to buy and mostly pick out what to wear.  I have the permanent right of veto.

Anyway, we strive to provide them different spaces and room to be an individual.  They are in different school classes, different groups at day camp, and they are we encourage them to choose different activities and sports.  We are currently moving our office out of a spare bedroom to make room for them to have rooms of their own. 

A few other things that are interestingly alike - they cut their first tooth at the same time, they are both ADHD, they are within 5 lbs. in weight of each other at any given time.

In summary, I enjoy their "twiness" but guard against lumping them together.  It is really hard when they are so alike and there are not other children in the family.  Seems it's always about them, the two of them, and of course, the two ghosts IDAKNOW and NOTME.


Saturday, June 25, 2011


When the boys could breathe on their own and bottle feed consistently we brought them home.  They weighed just under 5 pounds.  We were in Bedford, between Dallas and Ft. Worth and headed for Houston, so we had a journey to make.  They rode in car beds so they could safely breathe. 

We stayed overnight at my parents and my mil came to make the drive with us.  Happily, we all got to attend their baby shower in Ft. Worth the day after we left the NICU.  We kept them in a back bedroom and no one could get near them, but it was sweet that they got to go, in Christmas outfits that swallowed them.

Being so small, they had to take 3 ounces of formula in 30 minutes (to avoid tiring), every 3 hours.  We 'chucked' them under the chin to encourage them to swallow.  Now they raid the refrigerator around the clock!  I wonder if their bodies got set on 'eat' in the NICU!

Those first few months we always knew what time it was and how many minutes we had to get the next feeding ready and get ready for it.  We knew 3,6, 9, and 12 o'clock almost by feel; BUT we didn't know if it was day or night or what day it was.  Really.

We spent all our time with them and alone to avoid germs.  Our house was a baby cocoon and so sweet and happy.  I had a lot of fun with baby clothes!

By six months old, they were chubby healthy babies, the adoption was final, and we had them dedicated/baptized in long white boy-gowns.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

More on "Getting into Things" - Paint again

Refer to the post before last about the boys getting into paint.  It was really awful.  I can still see them, slick, rounded, and shiny white from head to foot.  I can still see a sea of white paint.  It didn't seem real.  It couldn't happen.  They couldn't open those cans.  They couldn't have done that.  They did.

Since then, several times they have been drawn to paint.  I dabble in lots of arts and crafts.  I keep things put away, where they "couldn't" get to them.  But they always have.  Now their almost 8 and they can control their urges enough to ask me first.  They have never made much mess since then, but have ruined a bit of flooring and quite a few clothes.

Anyway, today the drive to paint struck again.  The oldest (by 12 minutes) said "Mom, come see my painting".  With trepidation and already saying "Don't paint without asking!", I followed him to the sun/art/junk room.  Here's what I found.  My heart soared.  My child is painting.  Really painting.  I can't say how happy that makes me.  So, I helped him get some other colors, water, and a palatte. 

I've given them every art supply (even paint) hoping they would latch on to it and they have as far as drawing boyish pictures of themselves, their friends and family, and dogs, dragons, etc.  This is another big step in my judgement.  I don't want to force them, just expose them and see what happens.  Today, for one, it was trees!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Are two harder than one?

I've had many people ask me if twins are a lot harder than singletons.  I don't know for certain.  I never had any other children.  For me, babyhood wasn't hard.  You do one simple task (feed, bathe, diaper) and then do it again.  We had the boys on identical schedules so everything was at the same time.  They even cut their teeth on the same days.

We worked out lots of ways to feed two at once from two high chairs reclined back to back, to fast spoon feeding side to side, to holding/feeding one in a chair at the mall and rocking the stroller with my foot!

I could carry both of them for quite a while and my arms got strong.  They always liked to sit in my lap at the same time - one on each leg.  They still do that once in a while but you can't see me over them.  They weigh about 100 lb each.

I can say that one of them is many times easier (should that be a fraction?) than both of them.  It also is a time to really hear the individual personality come out.  They are very much alike; but have differences in how they view some situations, some likes/dislikes, humor, and such.  Their taste in color and clothes though, is almost identical.  Once I let each independently pick out 5 t-shirts online.  They picked the same colors.

As nearly eight year olds, two are clearly more challenging than either one of them, but I doubt they are harder than two siblings of different ages.  They might be easier because they are in the same grade, lifestage, etc.  I think many young woment fantasize about having twins.  I say "Go for it!"

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sometimes "Getting Into Things" is Good. Sometimes it is Awful.

The boys almost always wake before I do.  They are dependable to watch tv or play until I get up.  If they get into something, I hear them.  A few memorable times I have not heard them.

Today was a good thing.  They found some polymer clay in my artish room and have spent hours making dogs, dragons, and dinosaurs.  Their creations just came out of the oven and they are really cute.  Great activity and I would not have thought of it for them because they are so busy.  It is hard to get them to color or draw for very long.

When they were about 3 and a half it wasn't so good.  In those days, I did not sleep in.  I had to be up with them.  They never called me to get up.  As soon as they could crawl over the rails, they were up and about.   

Anyway, I woke up to eerie silence, yet knew they were up.  Maybe I knew I had overslept.  As I rushed through the house, I met two small white shiny toddlers.  Only shiny black eyes were not white.  We were  having the house painted inside and they had opened and emptied 5-10 gallons of white paint in the entry hall.  They'd been sliding across the tile on it.  Then apparently they went through the house touching furniture and walls wherever they went.  I was in shock.  I was really in shock.  I grabbed them and dumped them in the bathtub, screamed for Greg, ran around saying "Oh no", and then wandered outside unsure how to care for them and clean up the mess. 

Thankfully I met some neighbors in the street and they came to the rescue.  They took the boys outside and hosed them down and kept them while we cleaned up.

The short story is I called the painters and with them we cleaned up the floor and furniture and removed the dining room carpet.  To this day I have furniture with white spots or sloshes on it.  (You may have seen the clip that went around a few years ago about the little boys with paint in the living room and on their tv - it was much worse than that!)

When we decided to have children, one of the goals I set was to help/allow them to experiment, to be adventurers, artists, scientists.  Either we succeeded or they are naturally that way.  I'm glad, but believe you me, it has its drawbacks!

I wish I had pictures of that day, but I truly was in shock.  Not one record remains (except some paint).

Friday, June 10, 2011

In the Beginning

We knew from the outset that the babies were twins and that they were probably boys due to birth-family history.  We picked their names quickly.  My husband had a name he had wanted to use for years.  I had a family name that fit with it nicely.  Days later we realized we should pick girl names too.  Another few days later we thought of selecting a girl and a boy name.  We had only thought of a pair of boys or a pair of girls.  We really never settled on the mixed names before they were born boys.

Being born at 28 weeks didn't scare us.  We were so happy to have them we were oblivious to the dangers.  They weighed 2 lb. and 4 oz. and 2 lb. 4.5 oz.  The second was delivered by C section, all in 12 minutes.  We were driving from another city and getting updates by phone.

They were healthy considering their gestational age but had hurdles to cross.  We were fortunate to be in a branch of a large city hospital.  The NICU was small but had access to big hospital staff, equipment and procedures.  I don't remember more than 5 or 6 babies at a time.  One baby was smaller than ours  - 1 lb and a few ounces and he survived too.

As the days progressed there were some scares, in what we learned could happen, in waiting for tests, in watching their oxygen rate go up and down, and in one awful night when one stopped breathing many times.  That was the only night I lost my composure with fear.  We were assured they had a high probability of survival and cautioned they could have any number of health and learning problems.  They have had little effect from being "Very Low Birth Weight Babies, VLBWB).  More on that in another post.

We were allowed to be in the NICU as soon as our sweet birth mother signed papers and then at anytime there weren't procedures in progress that prevented visitors.  At first we could only lay a finger tip on them to avoid over stimulating them.  They were unbelievably small.  My fingertip covered most of their hand.  Their heads were about the size of a tennis ball.

They were on tube feedings and oxygen and diagnostic lines at first so we didn't feed them or change them.  But soon we could hold, change, feed, and even bathe them.  When I could tell they could recognize my voice I couldn't leave town for anything.  If having children in a NICU can be a good experience, ours was the best.

8 years later, ....

In September 2003 we were given the heavenly gift of the opportunity to adopt twin newborns.  We took it!  In October, they were born at 28 weeks and the adventure began.

In hopes of giving information, encouragement, and entertainment to other parents AND to post-journal our lives since then, I'm starting this blog about raising twins.  I'll go back to the beginning while recounting our current adventures.  btw, I was 53 when they were born..... add that up!