'I can see two', the nurse said as she did an ultrasound scan on my 7 week pregnant tummy. 'Two what ? I said. Legs ? Arms ? Eyes ?'. 'No', she smiled and said 'heartbeats'. It was official, I was expecting twins. For the next 6 weeks or so, I was afraid to cough or sneeze, but then gradually grew confident about my growing bump.
I looked forward to further ultra sound scans.A glimpse of a face, a little hand and even the moving blobs.My obstetrician began to record their positions on my medical notes, with little doodles.I loved the way that each scan shows how my twinnies had wrestled around inside me, intertwining and moving off again.Bum to bum, then head-bum, head-bum, head-head.
It reassured me that they would be good friends when they arrived. In my pregnant fuzziness, I had notions of them sleeping together until they were 5, or maybe 10 years of age. So, before they were born, I bought them a large cot to share. In reality, the large cot quickly became too small and I up/down sized to two smaller individual cots.
I’m not keen of single-sex schools anyway, but I was determined that they would go to school together and be in the same class. Not that I thought that they would be glued at the hip while at school. It’s just what I wanted, their shared experiences, linked to my romantic, warm, fuzzy feeling about what it means to be a twin. I knew that they had different learning styles and have resisted comparing theie work in school (which is easier said than done).
My aunt Ann, who lived just down the road from us, had twin boys thirty-something years ago, Damien and David. I remember the excitement the night they were born. Ann’s four other children were in our house and we were watching Hithcock's ‘Dial M for Murder’. (Given that our average age at the time was about 8 years, this was an odd choice perhaps ?). As far as I remember, we enjoyed the film anyway and didn't suffer any long term trauma. My main memory of Damien and David as children was seeing the pair of them, with divilish heads on them, charging towards me on toy tractors, with loaders, aiming for my ankles. It is only now that I am writing this that I am wondering about their careers paths as bus operators … All I'd say is - if you see them driving a bus AT you, get out of the way. Fast. It was lovely to see how close the boys were as children and are now as adults. I must confess that I still get mixed up on who’s who. But I’m not the only one – It has been the topic of conversation at many-a-wedding !
Having girl/boy twins means it is unlikely to mistake who is who. Having a blue eyed/blonde boy and brown haired/browned eyed girl made it easier too. Having said that, when my babies were younger, I did get asked if they were identical. I bit my lip and resisted saying that 'he has a willy and she doesn’t’. Leon is a head above Mya now, so it's not obvious that they are twins. Yet people still remark how close they are.
They pretty much do everything together, or at least, alongside each other. They even got the measles within hours of each other. Although they are interested in very different things, they often play side by side. They have separate bedrooms, but they choose to sleep in bunk beds in the same room. (This is common in twins - I've heard that my grown up twin cousins Damien and David still share bunk beds).
In the last year, two big things have happened.
1. Sometimes only one of them gets an invitation to a party, usually because it's a 'boys only' or 'girls only' party. And that's fair enough. That's life. It's just hard to explain that to a little one. The nice thing about that it that it gives you a couple of hours with one twinnie on their own, to do something special. I've started to look forward to those rare times and they seem to enjoy having you all to themselves.
2. The competitive streak has really kicked in. Everything and anything is analysed - Who can eat the most pasta in one sitting. Who is the best gardener. Who can tie their shoe laces better. Who can pee standing up (guess who won that one). I don't care about them winning things, but it was a relief this year when they both won medals at the school sports day.
Recently they began on a mission to learn to cycle their bikes without stablilisers. It wasn't going too well. Mya was frustrated because her little Shetland pony legs couldn't reach the pedals on the bike that Santa brought her. Leon wasn't too bothered eitherway. I was tired of running along behind them, holding the saddle. Mya abandoned the big bike and went back to the pint sized one she has had since she was three. Fair play to her, she was cycling all by herself within hours. Proud as punch she was. Her brother was not impressed. In fact he was raging. 'How come SHE can cycle and I can't ?!'. The competitive streak kicked in and soon after that, there he was cycling his big bike. All. By. Himself. Then he started boasting to his sister 'You can only cycle the BABY bike. I can cycle my BIG bike'. Mya didn't give a monkeys, because she mastered the art first, and there was no taking that from her.
To add insult to injury, on the very same day, Mya's first tooth started to wobble. Straight away, Leon started to yank at his mouth. All twinnies teeth have remained in place for now, but I can imagine the competition when the Tooth Fairy actually lands. I think that Mya is going to win that race ... With learning to cycle their bikes, came the inevitable. A day or so later, Mya crash landed off her bike and cut the arm off herself. There was lots of blood. And lots of screams. And floods of tears. I carried her into the house for a cuddle and to survey the injuries. What was really lovely to see was the way that Leon spoke to his sister. He usually shouts and roars, but he spoke softly to her, reassuring her. He stroked her hair. He asked her if she wanted to sit on his knee. He went to his wallet and gave her a e2 coin (this is from the boy who does not like parting with money). The last time I remember him adopting this role was on their first day at school, when my wee girl was very upset. Eventually Mya's tears stopped. Leon asked for his e2 coin back. He said that 'it was only for a lend'.