And when you just so happen to have two babies people are twice as likely to want to oogle them, touch them and yes, even ask you how you came to acquire them. The simplest trip to Target brings questions from total strangers regarding my family tree and fertility treatments. A quick run into the grocery store is always accompanied by the standard "Are they identical?". And no matter what, no matter the place or time or day I constantly have people telling me how busy I am and how full my hands must be. Now, for the record, none of this really bothers me. You know what? I AM BUSY and my hands are very full and it is a lot of work raising twins, it truly is. Sure I think it is funny when after learning that Nuala is a girl and Oscar is a boy people still ask me if they are identical. Yeah I think it is a little peculiar that complete strangers want to know how my children were conceived. And yes, sometimes I am in a hurry and don't have the extra ten seconds to spare when people want to smile and make cute baby faces at my twin wonders, but all in all I take it in stride and don't really let it get to me.
I have heard from a lot of twin moms about this particular aspect of raising twins and a lot of them don't have the same patience as I do with regard to facing the public, and I understand why, I really do. It does start to get repetitive when you begin hearing the same questions day after day from the same well meaning strangers who of course all have a distant cousin or a best friend's sister in law who have twins. But honestly, I really don't mind it. People are curious, twins are fascinating. Even in this age of Clomid and IVF and Jon and Kate and the Duggars. People want to know more about twins and I don't blame them, I hardly knew anything about twins myself until we found out that we were having some of our own. So I know why people ask questions and make comments and why they are drawn to the double stroller and even why they don't know too much about twins to begin with. Which is why none of the comments or questions are enough to truly irritate me or get under my skin, that is until recently.
I recently had a mother tell me, TELL me that having Irish twins is just the same as having twins. In fact, she flat out told me that having Irish twins was even HARDER than having plain old regular twins. For those that don't know, Irish twins occur when a mother gives birth to 2 children within a year of each other, basically having back to back pregnancies and a newborn along with a 9 month old. I can only imagine that this is a very hard road to journey down and must be a challenging role for any mother to take on, however......
However, the more I have thought about this the more it has started to bother me, really REALLY bother me. I have come to the conclusion that there is no way you can really begin to compare the two completely different experiences, but for what it's worth Irish twins are not in all actuality twins, and for the record raising twins is accompanied by all sorts of challenges that ONLY twin parents will face, run from, perhaps cry over and hopefully overcome. And what's more, we deserve a little bit of credit for this! I don't like to think of myself as one of those uber competitive parents striving for the gold medal or the shiny trophy, our kids are reward enough, but (and of course there's a but) on the other hand there are ways in which having twins is completely different than having Irish twins and no matter how close in age your children are, unless they shared the womb simultaneously then they are not twins.
For starters, I did not get a say in deciding to have twins. No one took my vote, it wasn't planned and I really didn't even know that it would be a possibility (naive, in hindsight). Whereas Irish twins, while not always planned, are definitely always a possibility since we've all been schooled on the birds and the bees for some time now, and if you have recently given birth to a precious little one, then you know exactly how you came about acquiring them!
Secondly, carrying two babies to term at the same time is incredibly taxing on your body. I was fortunate to have a very seamless pregnancy with our twins, but there is in fact a reason that twin pregnancies are considered high risk. My twins had separate sacs and separate placentas, they were the safest variety, but this isn't always the case and there are plenty of stories out there regarding the risks involved with twin pregnancy and twin births.
Thirdly, and this is the BIG one, having two NEWBORNS move in with you is nothing like having one newborn move in with you and your well established 9 month old. Most nine month olds that I know are sleeping through the night, meaning that these parents of Irish twins are getting up with one baby while big brother sleeps soundly for at least 8 hours, if not more. Guess what? Two newborns do not sleep through the night, nor do they wake up at the same time. When we brought the twins home and I was rotation nursing, none of us got much sleep at all and I mean AT ALL.
So, in conclusion.....well I am not actually quite certain what the point of this post was, I started it months ago and it has been sitting here marked as a draft ever since. I'd like to tell you that I have calmed down about the whole thing and have let it go completely. But that's not my style generally and it still irks me a little bit, even now a few months later, and I think it's because of the way this woman, this stranger choose to share her opinion with me. Having Irish twins was HARDER therefore SHE was the better parent, she was the one who worked harder raising her children. Why must it always be a competition between us women? What are we competing for and what is the prize? Do we really have so many insecurities as parents that we need to make ourselves feel validated and powerful by comparing our situations, our families, our children to those of others? Let's take a few moments to rethink our motives before falling victim to the dreaded trap of competitive parenting.
Besides I already lost more sleep than you and secured the gold medal months ago, so nannie nannie boo boo!
*Any moms of Irish twins who care to disagree, feel free to chime in any time!*