I am a mother of twins. This is hard to write. Not in the way of the sorts of things that are hard to write because my writing tends towards the cowardly side, but just in the way that it seems somehow, well, not true. Both that I am a mother, and that I have twins. But the evidence plainly says that it is true, so I write it, and think, it is interesting how unreal reality can seem.
Shortly after giving birth, I googled about twins a lot. Mostly I googled “what are the odds of giving birth to identical twins?” (1 in 250), and what causes identical twins?” by which I really meant, “why me?” The latter search came up with very little. It is not known what causes an egg to split into two embryos, although a few months ago I saw an exciting headline about the isolation of a DNA marker in identical twins. I mean, it was exciting to the scientists to found it, I guess. It did nothing for me once I read it. I don’t care about a DNA marker that tells you if you are/were a twin or not. This doesn’t pertain to me at all. I don’t want to know if they are twins, I want to know what event, exactly, caused them to be two people instead of one. Early on I read a random post on a random thread on a Reddit board that a study of rats found that diminished oxygen caused more identical offspring. I in no way did anything to fact check this, but still it stuck with me, because when I was about three weeks pregnant (suspecting but not knowing), I traveled to my hometown in Colorado (elevation: 7,165 feet) and took what I considered a rigorous (though my mother would not consider it rigorous) walk every evening. And I felt those walks; my lungs burned. I think the egg split then. Maybe I felt it, I don’t know. Anyway, that is the kind of answer I want, the kind that pertains to me.
Twins move as a school of fish, or a flock of birds. They communicate without words and know to transition in tandem from one activity to the next. They can be running down the halls with cars, only to about face simultaneously and run back to their room to grab trucks. They know when it is time to get on the ride-on giraffes, and when to suddenly push bedtime three hours later than had previously been the norm. It is true that twins have their own languages. Our twins speak a sort of closed-mouth nasal dialect made up of tonal grunts, something like what Jeff Bridges would sound like with a mouth full of bubble-gum. Now two and a half, they have begun to master English words and phrases, but they still generally say each others’ names in twinspeak, and when they converse with each other they speak as bilingual children, interspersing the occasional English word into their own language.
Deer often have twins. More often than humans. Poor deer mothers. It must be an awful thing to try to keep two fawns alive without even the benefit of opposable thumbs. It is bad enough trying to keep human babies alive, with no real predators but their own determination to make terrible decisions.
When my older child was an only child, I was alone with her quite often. I am rarely alone with either twin, and when I am, it feels awkward. I have forgotten how to entertain a lone child. After a few minutes, I say, “let’s go find your brother,” and, relieved, we both go in search of him.
It now seems strange to me to see mothers with single babies. To know that once, I had a single baby. Now it seems that two babies is normal, and a single one is an anomaly. Like with the deer mothers. Before my twins were born, I thought twins were a rare and somewhat horrifying occurrence. I still think, intellectually, that they are a somewhat rare and horrifying occurrence. But, subconsciously, when I see a single baby, I think, what an odd thing! And also, who does it talk to all day?