Thursday, May 10

Pecking order of twins...

When my twins were babies I did a stint as a PR Director (volunteer of course) for the Australian Multiple Birth Association.  It is a great organisation where you get 'support from those who know' and at my local chapter just being in the company of those with twins and triplets older than mine I had some hope I would have time one day to wash my hair and have more than a 5 second shower and more than 2 hours sleep.

As the PR Director nationally when it came to National Birth Awareness Week I organised a few publicity events - The Today Show, Channel 10 Evening news in Sydney, Kerrie-Ann (yes, me and my family were on Kerrie-Ann) Ready Steady Cook and even 2 sets of quadruplets playing each other on Family Feud...

The families of quads I found were utterly amazing - the parents seemed so calm and proud and their family units were so tight.. but with one family in particular there was a strong sense of pecking order.  Although as babies they were all born by caesarian section and within 4 minutes of each other from there was no illusion amongst them all who was the 'eldest' and who was the 'youngest'.

This I found so interesting because the youngest of the four being a girl was termed as 'the baby' and treated that way where the eldest, a boy was the natural leader of the siblings.

It perplexed me.  I didn't want one of my girls feeling like they had something over the other one and when I discussed this with hubby we agreed - we wouldn't tell them or people who didn't know (close family and friends who we briefed that we wouldn't tell them).  So our girls have always grown up with no real birth order 'older/younger' twin thing in their vocabulary.  There's no greater responsibility with being the 'eldest' twin or leniency with the 'youngest' twin.  They are equal.

When people ask me in front of them 'Who is the eldest?' I let them answer:

'We're twins, we're born on the same day'.
'But which one of you were born first?'
'Both of us'.

Love the gappy mouths!

I truly don't understand the fascination about this with others - my girls say 'Eloise is the big sister and we're the little sisters'.  That's enough don't you think?

Of course there's going to be a time they will know - it's on their birth certificates 'older or twins/younger of twins'...

If you have or know twins - do the twins know?  Do you think it has a bearing on their relationship with each other or within the family/outside the family?
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8 lovely comments:

Katie on May 10, 2012 at 6:52 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

What an interesting idea! I don't have kids yet, but I can't see why anyone would make a fuss about the birth order of twins. From memory, the twins I knew when I was young knew who was elder, but it didn't make a difference in their treatment. As a teacher, I think this is common - I've heard lots of twins (I don't think I've come across larger sets) bicker playfully "I'm older" "Yeah, by 2 minutes!"

Mel on May 10, 2012 at 9:37 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

The only set of twins I know definitely gets into that big/little debate. I find it odd, too. You are the same age! I love your approach.

Janet on May 10, 2012 at 9:44 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Oh wow! Yes! you're the only other twin mum I've come across with the same view as us! Our boys are the same age, born on the same day - and that's led to some very funny conversations with people who simply can't cope with idea that neither is older than the other. The only people who knew who was born first (by two minutes by caesarian in the opposite order to the one they'd have turned up naturally) are me, hubby and the two grannies. One granny has since died, and the other can't remember :). The boys sorted it for a while when they were about 6 - one decided that since he was a centimetre shorter at that time that he was the littlest and therefore attempted to take on the baby role but that lasted for about a month. So I have an older son (18) and two second children. They are exactly different so why not exactly the same age too? Janet

Jen on May 11, 2012 at 8:51 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

I'm always perplexed when people ask me which of the boys is the 'older one'. I always say they were born in the same minute, which is the truth. My twin sisters were born 26 minutes apart and I think always knew which one was older, but I don't recall it ever being an identity issue for them. I'll ask them actually :)

katef on May 11, 2012 at 9:39 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Always drives me nuts that people want to know who is 'older'.

Even when I would say they were both born at the same time, people would push me to pick out which was born 'first'.

Truth be told our girls were born almost simultaneously because they were born by c-section due to complications with their shared placenta (TTTS). We had two OBs and two sets of nurses and two NICU peads because they needed to be born and have their cords cut at the same time so as not to make things worse.

On their birth certificate there is a one minute time difference recorded and I was told that is because legally you can't record twin's birth times as the same. So 'twin 1' (Izzy) gets to be 'older' by a minute because she was the one on the bottom...

So really... it means nothing!

gertrude on May 23, 2012 at 11:26 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

My twins are now 24 years old and everybody has always known who was born first (by 10 minutes). I honestly don't believe this has had any influence on their pecking order. They sometimes bring it up as a bit of a joke, but their personalities, likes and dislikes, and disagreements between themselves are like any siblings who weren't twins. The fact that they are girl/boy twins may have a lot to do with it, but I think their personalities are more influenced by their genetics and they way they are treated, not their order of birth.

Vanessa Borham on May 29, 2012 at 7:37 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

My identical twin boys were born by c-section only minutes apart. In the special care unit their id bracelets came off, so until a day or two later when we managed to find a birth mark on one them, they could have been either baby. It doesn't really matter in the end.
We have never disclosed who was born first (although one does say on documentation we have) and never told those who have asked except grandparents. People would tend to treat them differently I think if they knew. throughout their 9 years they have been like see-saws - up and down, one doing something first or better, and then the other doing something else better or first. Our love for them is still the same!

Anonymous said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

I have always wanted to have twins when I have my own family already. Seeing your little girls made me fall in love with the idea of being a mom :)


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