August 2016


8 things you may not know about identical twins…

We all know they’re super cute, but there may be some things you don’t know about identical twins…

identical twins
My boys at 3 months!

1. Identical twins are not hereditary. 

Fraternal (non-identical) twins are caused by the release of multiple eggs from the mother’s ovaries and therefore she conceives multiple times at once. The tendency to hyper-ovulate is passed on from generation to generation, although there are other factors such as age that play a part here. On the flip side, identical twins are essentially fertilization gone wrong (sorry twinkies)… No one knows what causes that tiny fertilized egg to split, essentially cloning the conceived child (although there are theories). It is one of the those freak-of-nature events that can happen to anyone. Yes anyone… no one is safe here people, it could be you.

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2. The chances of having them is 0.3%.

The chances of conceiving twins has risen considerably in the last 30 years. In fact the rate has risen from 2% to 3.3% of babies being born a twin. This is likely due to moms wanting babies later in life, where the chances of releasing multiple eggs is higher (your body’s natural way of trying to increase the chance of conception while getting closer to menopause). However, the rates for conceiving identical twins have not changed… It has stayed steady at 0.3%. What lucky freak moms we are!

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3. People are obsessed with them. 

Prepare yourself to become an instant celebrity as soon as you leave the hospital. Plan an extra 20mins on your grocery store run and prepare to answer the same questions again and again. On an average trip to the shops I am stopped around six times… Not only are people super excited just to see two babies that look the same, but they will all have a set of twins somewhere in their family they will insist on telling you about. And occasionally you come across an adult twin… They go nuts for it! People are literally obsessed with the science and the cuteness and everything in between. And of course their’s all the freaky horror movies…

4. They don’t have identical fingerprints.

I’m pretty sure there are a number of crime dramas that use this nugget of knowledge in their screenplay… A basic DNA test will not identify ‘who done it’, but if the criminal was careless enough to leave a print at the crime scene it’s all over. This is because the formation of fingerprints is semi-random (I know… What does that even mean?!) and are influenced by chance fluctuations in hormones which would be different for each child. This also goes for the position of freckles – these are random mutations and are therefore different for each child.

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5. They are often born very different sizes. 

A pregnancy with babies sharing a placenta is considered ‘high-risk’ because there is the chance of Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. The size of your babies will depend partly on how much oxygen and nutrients they are receiving from the placenta, and occasionally one gets greedy and takes more than their equal share, leaving the other a little behind in growth. It is very normal to have a slight size difference, and unless the discordance goes beyond 20%, it doesn’t tend to cause a problem. Growth of twins is frequently monitored, and don’t panic, we live in the 21st Century and there are things doctors can do to remedy severe cases such as placenta laser surgery (I know… sounds terrifying) and delivering a little early.

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6. They don’t always share a placenta. 

Whether or not identical twins share a placenta and an amniotic sac is dependent of when exactly the fertilized egg splits. If it happens during day 1 after fertilization they will form separate placentas and amniotic sacs. However, it is more likely the split with occur around day 4-5 they will have time to form separate sacs but will end up sharing a placenta. 1% of the time the split happens at day 9-10 meaning the babies end up sharing a sac which can cause complications with the little ones getting wrapped up in each others umbilical cords. And lastly, if your embryo decides it wants a clone buddy around day 13-15 they are unable to separate fully, causing the babies to be born conjoined.

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7. They won’t necessarily like the same food. 

This is where the nurture/nature thoughts start to explode your mind, and as a mother of twins I can say it baffles me everyday. Genetic clones, these babies should have identical taste buds and therefore enjoy the same flavors… right? But alas, the first food I offered my boys was banana – one liked it, the other didn’t. Butternut squash – a hit with one, the other is not impressed. Outside influences are supposed to make the difference here (the nurture) and once the kiddos get older they may start to oppose each other on purpose to enhance their individuality – french psychologist Rene Zazzo called this twin phenomenon ‘The Couple Effect’. Personally, when 4 month-old babies treated the same show different tastes I’m not really buying either. I like to think its a difference in the soul… OK I’m getting all fluffy now.

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8. They might be mirror twins.

Mirror image twins are a subset of identical twins, occurring when the fertilized egg splits between day 7-12, and is characterized by asymmetries of the body being on opposite sides. For example, one may be right handed while the other prefers the left. One may have a birth mark on their left cheek while the other has a matching one on their right. Partings in their hair, or asymmetries of their teeth, it can all be mirrored, and in extreme cases can be seem in organ positions and skeletal features – we’ve all seen Orphan Black, right?

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Sleeping upright – a joy of twin pregnancy

twin pregnancy
Funny Cat Pictures :

When I heard the words “today is extra-special because I can see two healthy heartbeats…” the first word that uttered from my mouth was “oh”, quickly followed by “no”. Not because I don’t love babies, and not because I don’t love a good BOGOF deal… But how the hell was my 5ft 3″ body going to house two whole babies? And how do you even hold two babies at once when they’re on the outside anyway??

Twin pregnancy was tough, I’m not going to lie. All symptoms are essentially doubled, from morning sickness to swollen ankles, along with that irritating ‘incredibly full but could eat a horse and it’s cart’ sensation. My least favourite of these was not being able to lie down.

Closely linked to the horse and cart issue, finding a comfortable position to sleep is a challenge for all preggo ladies. You’re told not to lie flat on your back so as not to pinch the vena cava (an artery that supplies the placenta), so many of us spend considerable time training ourselves to sleep on our side. Once the round belly arrives we spend our evenings jamming pillows in from all directions including those giant body engulfing cushions designed specifically for this purpose (my husband renamed ours the cock-blocker). Even after all this, sleeping in the third trimester is a bit shit, let’s be honest.

Now I don’t like to be the bearer of bad news, and I’m really not all doom and gloom, but sleeping in the third trimester of a twin pregnancy is worse than shit, it just doesn’t really happen. My boys were delivered at 36wks and for that last month I didn’t sleep for more than 2hrs at a time. Gravity is your enemy here because as you lie down the two cuties on the inside move from squashing each other to a team play full-body-invasion. They work their way up inside your rib-cage and your lungs really haven’t got a look-in. So you can’t breathe, at all, and breathing being essential to all players, you are left no choice but to retire to the couch. We are lucky enough to own a corner sectional (check us out), so I found the corner spot a comfort where I could remain upright but with my head propped to the side. In this position I could usually get two stints of up to two hours before having to awkwardly manoeuvre myself back to my puffy feet. Oh the feet… Another joy of twin pregnancy.

To end on a happy note, the advantage of a month of mommy sleep training is that you are more than ready to take on 24hr feeding of those space-invaders once they arrive. But do consider making an addition to the registry… When hubby thought that lazy-boy with the cup holder was a great idea for the lounge, he might have been right.


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