The Mystery of Identical Twins…

20 Jun

Being a mother of identical twins, I find myself exposed to two main questions from random strangers:

“Are your twins conceived through IVF ? (“None of your bee’s wax”)

“Do twins run in your family ?” (“Nope”)

Usually, my flat ‘no’ reply to either question is insufficient.  Without fail, this fly-by person will ask the alternative one.

It’s as though they need to hear a logical reason.

Yet, the responses I have to offer are insufficient.

So then, there is a slight pause of disbelief.  Followed by disinterest.

It’s as though I can hear their thoughts:

“She’s either lying or just doesn’t want to tell us.”

If I’m up for it, I sometimes find myself trying to describe the randomness behind identical twins.  That, unlike fraternal (dizygotic) twins, there is no geneological explanation.

Then I realise my voice is fading and the person who actually initially started the conversation has already drifted away.

I always end up wondering what does it take to let others know that there is no clear cut, black and white hypothesis for identical twins ?

Then, I think that maybe I shouldn’t give these sceptical people such a hard time.

Even for ourselves, we were surprised, to say the least.

You see, our road to conceiving wasn’t so forthcoming.  And although we didn’t go through the process of IVF, our story still had struggles and included a fear of lost opportunities.  But that’s another story for perhaps, another time.

So, yes.  When I found out I was having identical twins, I too was surprised to discover just how much of a fluke…or dare I even say, a miracle…they actually are.

At around week 20 of my pregnancy, this is what I found out:

  • The causes of identical (monozygotic) twinning are unknown.  Why an egg splits to produce two (or more) embryos is – for lack of a better term – an abnormal process.  Hence, identical twins can happen to anyone.
  • Identical twins do not run in families.  There is no evidence that suggest identical twins are caused by hereditary traits.
  • Fertility enhancing drugs or IVF treatment is not generally a direct influence to the production of identical twinning.

And these are the facts I’ve chosen to stick with.

Yet, as I scour through the interwebs, I see that people are still in search for some rationality.

There is a plethora of stories talking about high incidences of identical twins in certain families.  Cases submitted by those who are trying to “figure it out” and argue that there are definite causes for identical twinning.

But why does there need to be an answer ?

Just as there are still a small number who decide not to find out the sex of their baby until its arrival – claiming it’s one of the few surprises left in life – why do we need to try and resolve something that’s always been unknown ?

I’ve stopped asking.  I no longer wonder.

I still get frustrated with those who are dissatisfied with my lack of reasoning.

But then, I figure, what does it matter ?

I’ll happily sit back and just enjoy that I’ve been bestowed with one of life’s mysteries.

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7 Responses to “The Mystery of Identical Twins…”

  1. Lina@MothersLoveLetters June 20, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    So incredible and magical, Grace. That ultrasound pic is amazing. Wow. I’m just breathless. I have been fascinated by the miracle of identical twins, ever since I was a little girl. Your boys are just meant to be, that’s all. And you were meant to be their mother. So special.

  2. Jen June 20, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    Yes! I can totally see the need to research all kinds of other things like diseases and abnormailties that have negative consequences for those inflicted. But there doesn’t seem to be any negative consequence to identical twins (apart from above-average-sleep-deprived parents?), so why not invest more time and energy into things that matter and could make a positive difference to those affected by them? If the mystery isn’t hurting anyone, why not leave it a mystery?

  3. Twinisms June 20, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    I know exactly what you mean! Ugh! I hate when people ask if we did fertility treatments. (My answer is, “just vodka and sperm!”) It’s so rude. I also hate when they argue with me about twins, especially about identical ones not being genetic. Mine are not identical, not that most people believe that either. So irritating!!

  4. daisyrooandtwo June 20, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

    Hear hear! Obviously, I hear ya! People are always giving me their theories on why we “ended up” with identical twins, and make connections wherever they can. My MIL’s cousins daughter has ID boys too, so they’re “obviously in the family”. I tried to tell them that it was completely random, but they aren’t having it!

  5. alyceb June 20, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

    Haha, my husband teaches genetics at uni, so he would understand your pain at “stupid” genetic questions!
    We’ve gotten a whole lot of “pigeon pair” comments that are annoying too, like somehow if we’d had a boy again, we would’ve failed?!

  6. lookaroundyounow June 21, 2011 at 12:42 am #

    Last weekend in the park I was virtually cornered by a 6-year old boy who took a good look at my twin stroller and asked me, almost accusingly: “why did you get two babies?” Like I was greedy. Made me laugh.
    I would give that kind of straightforwardness any day instead of “Do twins run in your family?” (In other words: they can’t be natural you had ivf didn’t you you used hormones didn’t you tell me I need to know even though we are not close because then I can give you pity/judgment/further inquiry into your personal life.)
    As if the way they were conceived, or that they happened to be born on the same day (mine are not identical, just same-day sisters), were to make them any more or less wonderful. Look at them! They are PEOPLE!

  7. debwildhope June 24, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    Oh dear, I should have read this post before commenting on your ‘Things I know’ post! Sorry! (been a busy week and I’m just catching up with your posts… backwards and somewhat haphazardly) lol.. It turns out I am one of those curious ignorant people – I am sorry! But I am genuinely interested, in fact, fascinated about the journey of mothering twins.:)

    Beautiful mysteries they are! And beautiful pictures too.

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