Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Phoenix update

I feel like I have this ongoing love affair with Phoenix. There is something about her that makes me notice, over and over, what a sweet child she is.

One of the things I like best about Phoenix is her sociability. We recently had the twins first birthday and had a lot of friends and family over. It was busy, loud, and hectic and Phoenix behaved beautifully. She made the rounds from Aunty, to Grandma, to Grandpa, to Uncle and back to Aunty. She visited, she ate, she played and she opened Christmas gifts. It was an awesome night for her. She got some of the most thoughtful gifts: all things Minnie Mouse and some lovely clothes to grow into. We even were given matching dresses for all the girls to wear. There is room for them all to grow into the dresses, so I can wait until the twins are full time walkers and hopefully do a photo session with them all.

I love how you can see her sandle gap (space between big toe and 2nd toe). It is  a marker for DS, one of many that she has.

I know I look through rose tinted glasses at my own child, but I frequently wonder how I managed to get such a great kid. She's pretty easy to manage, her behaviour is excellent and even when she is asserting herself with her sisters she is polite. I frequently hear her high pitched, panicked voice exclaiming "My Ipad please!" to her sisters. She dislikes getting her nails clipped, but when I do she thanks me afterwards. And at night when I lie down to cuddle her to sleep, she holds her bear and gives me her bunny to cuddle. She shares her beloved cuddle toys.

I know not every kid is like this, although we all love our children for who they are. But I am so thankful that this particular kid is mine.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

This and That

I haven't updated in a while, partly because of being extremely busy, but partly because at the end of the night when all the kids are in bed, the last thing I want to do is to sit in front of a computer and write.


Phoenix has been wonderful lately. School is going well. We have set up funding for another 6 months for a private OT and a private aide. We get our amazing, fabulous, talented aide for 9 hours a week and an hour of OT a week. We are seeing progress in Phoenix's independence skills of pulling her pants up and down, being more engaged in the potty routine, trying to brush her teeth herself and doing a better job of eating with a fork and spoon.

Phoenix is still a delight and I really treasure our time together. She has started with some pretend play, making up animals that she sees and telling me what colour they are and what their name is (usually Amma or Gramma, funnily enough)


Our twin zygosity testing came back 2 days ago and we found out that we are monozygotic (identical twins)! Mind. Blown.

Seriously. We were raised our whole life as fraternal twins, who just happen to have a strong family resemblance. Being a twin is pretty special. Being an identical twin even more so. It makes me rethink our relationship and our upbringing. It also makes me rethink how remarkable it is that given a very similar set of inborn strengths and weaknesses, that we have pursued such different paths in life. I am a teacher to high risk and behavioural youth and my sister as a professional photographer. How fascinating.

Ash and Wren:

Are so adorable right now! They are into everything, they are more stable on their feet and getting closer than ever to walking. They are great eaters and love feeding themselves. I give them real people food and they tackle it themselves. Lots of it ends up on the floor, but they chew and swallow much of it too. It's been a nice change to have kids who aren't super picky (yet!) and who look at food without the suspicion we have come to accept from Phoenix.

Monday, 27 October 2014

About being a twin

Since having my twins, I have been doing more thinking about what it means to be a twin. For Ash and Wren, I hope it means a lifetime of friendship and sisterhood, with all the good and the bad that comes with it. Of course, I wish and hope that Phoenix is the third part of this triad of love and she creates strong bonds with her younger sisters. 

I wonder if coming second, and always having Phoenix as part of their lives, will impact their acceptance of her. She has been a consistent part of their life ever since they came home from the nicu. And at 10 months old they are fascinated with her. They try to get Phoenix's attention and try to get close to her on the couch. They follow Phoenix across the room and always have a smile for her. She is a permanent part of their existence in a way that the twins are not for her. 

Phoenix still knows and remembers what it was like to receive all our love and attention. She remembers a time when she had peace and quiet and time alone with mom or dad or her beloved iPad. 

It's been hard for her to begin accepting their presence and what it means in terms of one on one time with us. She's generally very good with her sisters and has found her own way of getting back at them for so thoroughly invading her space - she invades their space now. 

Phoenix's new favorite spot to hang out by herself and play games on her iPad is Ash's crib. She very patiently waits for the twins to wake up in the morning, follows me into their bedroom and hops into Ash's crib as soon as I take Ash out. Then she asks us to turn off the light and shut the door. 

I grew up as a twin too, but in our case Meg and I came first and our brother came next. Apparently, we did not accept his presence as gracefully as Phoenix has accepted her sibs. In fact, according to my mother, we both ganged up on him repeatedly and were quite convinced we didn't want him. 

I know that my twins are identical because right from the 7 week scan they were seen to be in the same larger sac and shared a placenta (mo/di). Back when my mother gave birth to us, doctors thought that when twins were born with separate sacs and placentas (di/di) that they had to be fraternal. Because of DNA testing we now know this is not the case. Approximately 6% of di/di twins are actual identical. 

So, even though my sister and I look remarkably similar, have similar facial features, body types, height, hair colour, eye colour and blood type, we always thought we were fraternal. Looking at us, you know that we are sisters, and most people could guess that we are twins. However there are differences too. 

Until Ash and Wren were born I didn't know that head shape could impact ones facial features so much. But the girls have different head shapes, and to me look very different. I know they are identical twins, but if they had been di/di, I wouldn't be sure. They look disimilar enough to me to think fraternal. 

Maybe, it's the same with Meg and I. In order to know for sure, I finally ordered a zygosity test from a lab in the US that tests twins to find out if they are identical or fraternal. The tests are on their way to our respective houses and in a few short weeks we will know the truth!

In reality it doesn't mean that much. We are the individuals that we are, and the formative years of the development of our personality and our sense of self has passed. However, I can't help but wonder how much of our very different career paths (myself a teacher; Meg a photographer) came from a self perception that we were no similar than any other set of siblings and that if we had know we were identical, if it would have impacted our life trajectory. 

I read an article recently written by an identical twin who specialized in working with other identical twins trying to develop a better sense of self, separate from their identical twin. The author found  that it is important for parents to emphasize that each twin is their own separate, distinct and valuable person, not simply because they are part of a twin set, but because they are both individuals with their own quirks, strengths, weaknesses, hopes and dreams. Ironically enough, the twin sister of the author works as a therapist as well.