My sister, Jennifer, and I are identical twins. Whenever someone new finds out, there is the inevitable question, “What is it like being a twin?” My answer is always the same: To me, it’s normal.
Jennifer, “Baby A,” was born two minutes before me. My mom had an emergency caesarean section after going into labour at seven months. Prior to her arrival at the hospital she hadn’t known she was carrying twins. My older brother was 11 pounds at birth, so as her stomach grew and grew, she just assumed she was going to have another enormous baby. Instead she was surprised with two tiny ones.
We spent our first month in incubators in the hospital. Even with a month to prepare, my parents will admit that they weren’t sure quite what to do with us when they brought us home. None of the newborn clothes fit so they ended up dressing us in doll clothes. We were so small that they would put us in a single stroller when taking us out for walks. There’s a photo of my dad holding one of us in each hand –our heads in his palms, our feet in the crook of his elbow.
Sharing a stroller –maybe we could have used a double!
Fortunately for them, they had a good network of support. Grandparents nearby. An aunt and uncle who were happy to take my brother to their house to play, so they could have some quiete(r) time. A wonderful neighbour who, when my mom had to return from her maternity leave after a few months, offered to care for us.
In many ways I think things got easier as we got older. My mom will often remark how nice it was that we always had someone to play with. Granted, I think we got into a good bit of mischief together, like trying to get the dog to finger paint, playing hide and go seek in the department store, and making “snow” out of baby powder. Having Jennifer was like having a built-in best friend.
|Age 5 - playing with dolls|
Things weren’t always sunshine and rainbows though. I remember getting quite frustrated with friends on the playground calling me “Allison or Jennifer,” as if we were interchangeable, and the constant remarks about how similar we looked. By the time we reached age ten I was ready for more independence. We had always been in the same class at school, but once we started middle school we were put into different classes. I was happy with the change, but Jennifer had a harder time with it. I remember getting so mad and shouting at her to find her own friends and to leave me and my friends alone. We went to different high schools, but continued to have similar struggles. Of course, there were still times where we would chat in our bedrooms (by that point, separate) for hours, share clothes, and go to concerts together, but looking back the teenage years were definitely the “dark years” in terms of our relationship with each other.
I moved out of my mother’s house when I was 20. Jennifer continued to live at home and I would see her when I went over for Sunday dinners and holidays. Our relationship gradually improved.
Jennifer sat at the head table at my wedding and I was the matron of honour when she got married. When my wife and I were expecting our son, my sister gave us bags of clothing she had gathered to fit him over the course of his first year and she’s been our go-to babysitter for the past ten months. Now that she’s expecting a little one, we’re going to be able to return the favours.
| My sister’s wedding.|
There are days when I never would have believed that I would be calling her to hang out, but it happens fairly frequently now. And as far as friends go, I would consider her one of the best ones I have.