Dear Friends, Family, and Nosy Strangers,
Please stop comparing my twins!
The comparisons began in utero. As with many multiple pregnancies, mine was considered "high-risk," and the babies were monitored diligently by both my OB and a perinatolgist. Early on in my pregnancy, baby B became growth restricted (Intrauterine Growth Restriction), and the pace of her growth and development became sluggish. After careful inspection (three hour ultrasounds!) the perinaolgist didn't seem terribly worried about the baby's growth and said, "let's keep an eye on it." It may have just been the worried new mommy in me, but I had a nagging feeling that the doctor had seen this type of problem before, and knew all too well the difficult road that waited ahead. As baby B's progress began to fall heavily behind, my bi-monthly visits became weekly, and my weekly visits turned into more urgent visits of several times a week. Getting my pregnant self to the doctor became a full-time job.
I absolutely understand the medical and health reasons behind comparing the babies in utero, and even during the early stages of their lives when growth and weight were incredibly critical conversations to be had. But now that they are out, healthy, and thriving, can we stop with the comparisons? Can we agree that although these girls shared a space together for 33 weeks and 3 days, although they share a birthday, and although they fall into the special designation and title of "twins," they are two drastically different human beings?
Who's bigger? Who's taller? Who's harder to handle? Who crawled first? Who's your favorite (OK, that one was from an adorable seven-year-old)? These are all common questions from the people that surround me. At just 14-months-old, these questions and comparisons are harmless to the girls. With two side by side, we can't help but compare them in their development, appearance, and personality. We are all eager to compare twins. I get it. Sometimes even I am guilty of this.
My fear now is - at what age do these comparisons become harmful? At what age do they drive a wedge between two sisters? At what age to they create a perfect storm for competition, rivalry, and resentment? At what age are they left to feel inadequate because people are constantly pointing out that one is more artistic than the other, more athletic than the other, more popular than the other, or more conventionally attractive?
My family is often eager to hear the weight of each baby after check-ups with the pediatrician. Maybe this is simply the pleasure we get from watching children grow and flourish, or maybe this is part of our instinctive desire to compare? Friends often comment on how different the girls are in personality. Maybe this is just something that we do - like comparing our babies to our friend's babies, or singleton babies within one family to each other - or maybe this is part of our distinctive desire to compare? Strangers come up to me daily with unsolicited comparisons (and assumptions) like "this one is bigger," "this one has more hair," "this one is the social one." These may very well be true statements, but can we keep the comparing and contrasting to ourselves?
I'm not sure of what age these comments and comparisons will begin to morph from curious and innocent into destructive and dangerous, so to be on the safe side, let's stop now.
Let's move our focus away from the fallacy that twins should look and act the same, and onto appreciating two completely individual human beings. Let's praise them for their uniqueness, and encourage the special quirks, passions, and talents that make them the little girls that they are.
I need your help.
Let's stop comparing my twins.
Worried Twin Mommy