When I was pregnant with my second set of twins and learned that they were identical boys, I don’t think I processed exactly what that term meant: identical. I definitely didn’t imagine that I, of all people, wouldn’t be able to tell them apart.
Then they were born, and I have to be honest, they didn’t necessary look alike but I couldn’t keep them separated in my sleep deprived brain. We used sharpie markers to put a “L” or a “W” on each of their feet.
This worked, except for the middle of the night when one wanted to be fed and I didn’t want to extract a foot from their footy sleeper to see who was hungry or even turn on the light to see the marking.
Since I didn’t have a good system in differentiating them, friends and relatives were left guessing as well. I didn’t even think to “put Luke always in red” or “Will always in stripes.” But the fact of the matter is I wasn’t out there buying new wardrobes either. The boys wore whatever I had stored away from Marc and the amazing bags of hand-me-downs that Scott would bring home from people at work.
Let me just admit here that I didn’t keep any type of feeding-peeing/pooping journal on these boys. If they cried I fed and changed them. God bless the doctor’s visits that proved to doubting folks around me that I was actually feeding BOTH of them.
I do have a certain pang of guilt when I look at their early baby photos and I have no idea which one is Will and which one is Luke. Sometimes if they are looking at the photos with me, they’ll ask. Or, they will say, “That is me, Mom.” Who am I to argue? “Yes,” I lie, “I know that is you, sweet Luke.”
Now, though, I’m much better–except for that one time–okay maybe two times–that I cheered for the wrong child on the soccer field, and I usually have no problem telling Luke and Will, apart.
Of course, as a parent, now I see more than appearance shine through my sons’ faces. I see Will: the child who loves nature, is very competitive and who is as loyal as they come. With Luke I see the happy-go-lucky boy who is always the peacemaker. I know that when I look at Will and Luke I see their personalities as much as I see the minute differences that make them look different from each other.
So, I’m always caught a little off guard now when I see a picture (like our family Christmas picture with Santa) that seems to capture how identical they really are.
But, I do wish now that I had had a system to help friends and family tell the boys apart–and me too in the middle of the night or in pictures. I wonder if, especially family, would have bonded faster and easier with the boys if they could stop wondering which one was which and start enjoying the essence of each child. With identical twins, until you see exactly what makes each child his or her unique self, you will never appreciate two very different individuals with different personalities, interests and ideas.
After talking to other mother’s of multiples, I realize how little I’ve done to help other people recognize my two boys as separate individuals.
But, mothers of multiples are FULL of GREAT IDEAS and here are some they shared to help (especially at family gatherings) other people tell their identical twins apart.
- Always dress the twins in different colors or put one in stripes while the other is in solids. Make sure that at least for specific events the same twin is always in a specific color or design. For soccer practice, because it is hard even for me to tell the boys apart on the soccer field, I put Will in white (Will=white). Their coach, who does an amazing job at differentiating the two boys, knows exactly who is who on the field.
- Put bows or hats on your children that have their names on them (or initials if they are different).
- Allow grandparents or other family members to spend one on one time with each twin to let them get to know each child as individuals.
- When they are newborns, make or buy an elastic “scrunchie” or some type of bracelet that immediately indicates which child is which. The child could wear this on his or her wrist or over footy pjs. What’s nice about this idea is that in the middle of the night, you can tell which child you are picking up just by feeling the scrunchie on his or her foot.