I had one of those moments this afternoon. One of those moments that make me want to stab my eyes out with a blunt object….
At the shops with the girls someone asked me ‘The Question’…
“Are they twins?”
Lets ignore the fact that the girls are now well old enough to be addressed personally and answer that question themselves. Lets jump right to the next question…
“Are they identical?”
Harmless curiosity, while sometimes annoying, I know most people mean well and I can smile and answer both those questions with a polite ‘yes’….
That is until they ask the next question.
“Are you sure they are identical??”
We get this a lot, so much in fact that I’ve written several articles about it for different publications, but I thought I’d share the information here too…
If I had a dollar for each time someone asked me if my girls were identical or not… and if I had two dollars for each time someone argued with the answer I gave… I’d be a rich woman!
I have identical twin girls, and yes I am sure they are identical… and here’s how I know.
During the an early specialist scan a number of things were found to make us think our babies might be identical.
* They appeared to share a single placenta.
Of course you can’t be 100% sure there is only one placenta using ultrasound, but the technology is pretty good and they were confident there was only one placenta. Fraternal twins do not share a placenta. Some Identical twins share and some have separate placentas, but if there is one placenta the twins must be identical.
* They appeared to have one ‘outer sack’ with only a thin membrane separating them.
Fraternal twins always have separate chorions (outer membrane of the amniotic sack) and amnions (inner membrane). Some identical twins also have separate chorions and amnions, but some share an outer membrane with a thin inner membrane separating them (as in our case) and a small percentage share both outer and inner membranes (this causes an increased risk for both babies). If the babies share a chorion they must be identical.
* We had Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome.
Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) is a complication where the babies don’t share the placenta equally. It only occurs in identical twins who share a placenta.
* They look the same…
While I’ve always been able to tell them apart (even though I was scared I wouldn’t be able to before they were born), from the very beginning they looked the same, despite the differences caused by the TTTS. As they’ve grown older they’ve gotten more alike, of course they are not totally identical in appearance but they are very similar.
* They’ve had a DNA test that confirms it!
Of course the only way to know for sure is with DNA fingerprinting. As part of a research study we take part in, the girls were tested when they were babies. DNA samples are collected either from blood (usually a finger prick) or cheek cells and sent away to the lab… the results came back that our girls are 98.9% genetically identical. Aboust as identical as you can get without being a conjoined twin.
But you know… without all the fancy testing and technical talk I think most parents of twins, triplets or more have a pretty good idea if their children are identical or fraternal. I see so many differences between my girls, but I also see how incredibly alike they are. I see how often even people who are close to us mix them up. Without any testing, if you feel that your children are identical… then they probably are. And if you ask someone if their twins are identical, please accept their answer and smile and move on.
Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:
We have friends with boy/girl twins. If they had a dollar for every time someone asked if they were identical, they’d be very wealthy, too!
I just had to melt at the picture of them together… they are just too sweet! I can only imagine how annoying the questions would get. I doubt I’d be able to be polite and not ‘give a silly answer’ back to silly questions. ;) (No, we liked the first one so much we cloned a second…) Bad me!
ahhhhhhhh yes the stupid questions…………
dont miss it at all,
my fave was after being asked if they were twins and I answered yes….she then asked me…”are you sure???”
hate you should print in the local papers, age , herald sun etc etc… Well said!
Do you know i actually had someone argue with me once, she didnt think Noam had down Syndrome!! She also said ‘are you sure?’
Oh gosh i wish people would just shut up and get on with their lives!!
Some people ask the dumbest questions. When my son was born, he was decked out in all blue and people would still say “Is it a girl” or “She’s so cute”…grrr.
Lots of people are a bit insensitive, or ignorant. I get the ‘where’s he from?’ question all the time because my son’s got different colour skin and different hair to me. I innocently answer that he’s from Adelaide, knowing full well they really want to know his ethnic background.
Wow I can’t believe people would ask a mother if she was ‘sure’??? It’s right up there with are you sure it’s a baby?
Oh my, people do sure ask dumb stuff when the brain isn’t engaged.
I would love to know what people are thinking when they ask ‘twins’ while looking at my 6 months olds. …what else could they be?? Rates right up there along with comments of ‘double trouble’
Ps; We were the *lucky* 1% that shared the placenta and both the sac, the cords looked like a knotted ball of wool with two true knots, but miraculously, it caused no problems and they were safely evacuated at the recommended 32 weeks!
Wow! What beautiful babies they were! Strangers do say strange things! I recently had a lady call my baby “Porkchop” and tell me, “It’s ok that he’s fat!” Unfortunately, she was on every aisle of the store with us. It made me want to make up a name for her. But I just smiled and kept moving :)
Jen Walpole says
I’m an identical twin. The most annoying/common question I get is, “Are you psychic?” as if being a twin gives me supernatural powers!
We shared the same placenta and I believe our umbilical cords were fused at the base. We don’t look so much alike now but even I have trouble telling us apart in pictures from childhood…
Lisa jay says
I can’t believe anyone would question you on that! Amazing.
Housewife in Heels says
I’m a twin and throughout my life was always being questioned about whether my twin and I were identical. Whilst we look alike we only had the DNA test performed this year which confirmed we are indeed identical (we’re 30). It’s great that your girls have some solid information to defend their identicalness (we only had our similar looks), as I believe it is a key part of twins’ identities.
I love it when I hear from twins… since I am not a twin I have no clue what it is like and whether I am making the right decisions for my girls. But while many people have told me that it doesn’t matter whether they are identical or not, I’ve always felt that since they get asked it so often it would be good for them to know… not because it makes any difference to them, but because at least they can answer with certainty and confidence.