“January 18, 2015, was just your typical freezing cold pacific northwest morning. It was the day of my first ultrasound for my third pregnancy. I dragged my 2-year-old and 10-month-old daughters with me to this appointment, alone, in hopes we could get in and out of the actual ultrasound room in a few minutes. I knew they would measure the tiny baby really fast, confirm the due date we were anticipating, and send us off on our way to see again in a month. My husband didn’t bother coming this time. The few minutes this would take would be pretty wasteful for his busy work day. The printed out picture of the little jelly bean would suffice. After all, this was our third go-around. You tend to get more lackadaisical the more pregnancies you have.
I handed each of my girls a baggie full of cereal in hopes it would keep them entertained enough to get through this. I sat down on the table and turned to the tech to say, ‘I’m just here for you to tell me it’s not twins because my intuition says that it is.’ She laughed at the comment, probably because she’s heard people mention they know they’re having twins a million times before. But I had a few of the same dreams leading up to this appointment. I was handed a pink and blue balloon at a gender reveal party. Those represented the genders of my babies, according to the people in the dreams. Babies. I guess it all meant I was supposed to have twins?
She started the ultrasound and instantly said, ‘It’s funny you should say that! It really is twins!’ She turned the screen towards me and I instantly started bawling. How in the world was I going to handle twins on top of the two babies I already have? Not only was it twins, it was identical twins. Identical? So my dream was semi right in that it was twins but because they’re identical, it can’t be one boy and one girl. My head was spinning, and I was just crying and crying. I was terrified. I felt like I was going to throw up more than I was excited.
My husband didn’t believe me over the phone. The tech had to confirm it verbally for him. This appointment I thought would take 10 minutes tops was now 45 minutes deep and throwing phrases at me like ‘maternal fetal medicine doctor’ and ‘high risk pregnancy.’ I wasn’t even the slightest bit prepared for any of it, nor did I know the absolute time commitment I would have to make in doctor offices for this pregnancy. My emotions were all over the place and so was the cereal on the floor my girls were supposed to be eating.
After a few days of the news sinking in, our petrified souls started to relax. We started getting really excited that we were going to be parents of not only twins, but identical ones! I was always fascinated by seeing identical twins and now I was going to get a pair to call my own. I kept wondering why we were chosen for this role. We felt like we were part of this really special twin parent club. But why us? The anticipation started building right from the beginning.
The entire pregnancy went pretty well with appointments every week. My water broke between 35 and 36 weeks. The labor went smoothly and before I knew it, I was being wheeled to the operating room to push them out. When ‘Baby A’ arrived after a few pushes, she was laid on my chest immediately. I couldn’t even say anything at first because her hair was shocking for me to look at! My other two girls were born with dark brown hair. This little girl? She had bright neon yellow hair! I mean it was glowing! I wish I had a picture of my face in that moment because I was so taken aback with shock I had no clue what to even do. A blondie? Two blondies? I know genetics are crazy and that my mom’s family has some blonde-haired kids…but I just never in a million years thought I’d have one.
‘Baby B’ came out just a few minutes later with that same bright neon yellow hair. I knew she would have it too, but it was still just as shocking seeing it on her as it was when her sister came out. They didn’t stay with me long as they were immediately whisked away to the NICU. ‘Baby A’ was a lot smaller than ‘Baby B.’ I wondered why there was a difference but I wouldn’t know how significant it was until I went up to see them a few hours later.
They were almost two pounds different which is a significant amount of weight at that age. When I saw them for the first time, I questioned every medical professional who ever told me they were identical. The only thing they had in common was their hair, but that could easily be a coincidence, right? They looked zero percent alike. Those two pounds made a huge difference! I asked nurse after nurse and doctor after doctor how I could be misdiagnosed as having identical twins when mine were clearly fraternal. They assured me their features would start to even out around 6 months. But I was dead set on them being wrong here.
Lo and behold they were right. While their head shapes are definitely different and always will be, they did start looking more and more alike. The girls are now only ounces apart in weight and millimeters apart in height.
At a doctor’s appointment one day when they were two, I was explaining how funny it was that one was right handed, and one was a leftie. They also have cowlicks on opposite sides of the backs of their heads. She laughed and told me they are mirror image twins. She explained when their egg split to make them, it made a mirrored image of itself. It’s quite rare. Mirror image twins only make up about 20% of all identical twins. The whole subject of identical twins was always fascinating to me but talking about mirror image twins gets so interesting! There’s no test available to confirm if you have mirror image twins, it’s really just determined by physical features.
I think I feel the most blessed in that I have five children to love on every day. Being their mom is the job I signed up for but never knew how much I wanted. Being a part of the twin club is like the little extra frosting on the cake. The fact they are identical is definitely the sprinkles. Then being mirror image twins? It’s the cherry on top! The whole experience of being a twin mom has been amazing to watch. They really are each other’s best friend and they are always looking out for one another. Their personalities are totally opposite of one another, which I didn’t expect at first. For some reason I thought that identical twins would be just alike in every way, including their personalities.
While they have similar bodies, they have different souls. They’re each their own person and they are both treated as such. They will always be compared to each other as they grow up but I hope they always know that mom and dad see them as two separate, beautiful people and not as one, no matter that they’re the mirrored image each other.
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