The ‘why I am like this’ category

Baby Spirits Abound

August 17th, 2017

 laughing twins

“The sister is different from even the closest peer friend… for sisterhood is an ascribed not chosen relationship… Because that permanence helps make it the safest relationship in which to express hostility and aggression, the bond between same-sex siblings is very likely the most stressful, ambivalent one we will ever know.” — Carl Jung

Being an identical twin is complicated. Yesterday I was holding Eliza in front of a black-and-white photo of her and her sister laughing in a lake. “Who is that?” I asked, pointing to Phoebe.

“Phoebe,” she said.“And then who is this other little girl?”

“Phoebe.”

It’s gotta be an identity mind-fuck, right? I, like most people, spent my youth and adolescence with a strongly cultivated conviction that no one understands me. It was always a dream to have a person in my life who was JUST LIKE ME — wanted to do the same things as me, needed to eat and sleep at the same times as me, knew exactly how I was feeling without having to verbalize it. A soulmate, in other words. My daughters have that, and I’m here to tell you, being a soulmate is not the Disney movie you might think it is. 

For one thing, they fight. A lot. I suspect this is a twin thing in general, although I have friends whose older twins “never fought,” according to them. My twins battle it out every day over toys, water cups, food, dresses, and me. It’s not enough to share my lap—or share anything, for that matter. They want independent experiences that don’t always involve another little creature just like them. And who can blame them?

. . . . . . . . . .  

When I was pregnant, I found out I was having twins very quickly. I was about to move to Utah and had pushed for an extra early appointment with my California OBGYN before leaving. That’s where, thanks to a very, erm, invasive wand, I was coolly informed about “the heartbeat” and “the other heartbeat” by a tech I’m pretty sure had Aspergers.

My close friend Karen was in the room with me, since my baby daddy was still in Utah, and she had to handle my panicky reaction to the news. I vividly remember sitting in the waiting room with her a few minutes later, a million “what ifs” racing through my anxious head.

The main thing I was thinking: I should have known this would happen.

I had always fantasized about having twins when I was younger. A lot of girls do, but in my case, having a dad who was a twin, and another set of twins among his siblings, made my twin-goal palpable. Add to that the fact that I didn’t have kids until I was in my early forties—when the risk of twins increases—and it’s really not that shocking that I ended up with twins.

Although, now I know, all of those factors were irrelevant because it turns out I have identical twins. Identical twins are not hereditary, and not necessarily age related.

No, identical twins are utterly random.

“The causes of identical twinning are much more vague. No clear explanation is offered by science.” — Verywell.com

We didn’t actually know the girls were identical until after they were born. Because they had their own amniotic sacs up in there, and all the aforementioned probabilities, we were told and I assumed they were fraternal. But for the first few months, we couldn’t tell them apart, and eventually, we had them DNA tested.

. . . . . . . . . .  

Once, many years ago, a healer in California told me that she saw baby spirits all around me, and I just needed to choose to “let one in.” In that moment, she basically lost all credibility with me as a clairvoyant. I tried not to roll my eyes, but I don’t really swing that way.

Still, as an allegory, I do feel pretty special that I was able to wrangle not one, but two of them baby spirits up into me and back out. I always wanted to have more than one child, but since I was 43 when these two were born, that was pretty much my one shot.

On the other hand, being an identical twin has its cachet. I never get annoyed by people in public who want to ogle my kids or marvel at their genetic freakishness / good fortune. I proudly flaunt my beautiful daughters on Instagram. And when people say to me, “Wow, twins, you are so lucky!” I have to admit that yes, I really am. 

I do worry that having a genetic carbon copy of themselves will somehow mess with my daughters’ psychology. Being an identical twin is complicated—and having identical twins is a lotta work. But on the other hand, there’s something holy about it. And I don’t mean that in the sense that I’ve been chosen (by baby spirits or otherwise), but on some level, the weirdness of it inspires a profound reverence in me that I do not take lightly.

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