April 17, 2013
Two incidents yesterday reminded me how precious and strong a bond is between twins. Unless you are a twin or have had the honor of parenting twins, you’ll just never get it. It’s incredible. Here’s my story:
Imagine our surprise when I thought I was expecting Baby #4 (our 6th together), only to be told on OB/GYN visit #1 that there were TWO. There aren't very many adequate words that describe that moment and that day. Shock. Disbelief. Elation. Shock. From that moment on, I wished only to carry my babies to as close to term as possible. I didn't care the gender; I just truly wanted non-premature healthy babies.
Only 4 weeks early (and with big brother Jace only16 months old), Asa and Aiden were born healthy (albeit a little skinny). I brought home two healthy 5-lb babies with no medical complications. My wish came true.
Asa and Aiden at 3 weeks old. All head and eyeballs!
Our first year was filled with diapers (in triplicate), sleepless nights and very little money, but every bit of it was worth it to watch these boys grow together. We were told they were fraternal twins, but we could find no differences, and we had to be very diligent in how we dressed them in order to tell them apart. By age one, we still couldn't tell easily, so we had them genetically tested. They are indeed identical twins. I figured this information could help us answer the questions of interested friends and nosy strangers; this information could serve them well medically in the future.
Asa and Aiden, Age 1
Watching them throughout their infancy was amazing. They'd hold hands while breastfeeding. They'd snuggle up to each other in the night. They'd crawl to each other. Laugh at each other. Look for each other. They walked at approximately the same age. They erupted teeth at the same time. Once upon a time, they were ONE person (one ball of cells), and they turned into two magnificent and cute baby boys!
The twins went to preschool together at age 2. They were nervous to leave Mommy, but they were secure as long as they had each other. If anyone suggested separating them so they could "form their own identities", I think all three of us cried. It just wasn't right for them. Even in preschool, the girls loved them. One loved them "because they have the same head". :)
First Day of Pre-K 4
Fall 2007...Lookin' JUST like their Daddy's kid photos!
When Kindergarten started, we opted to keep our boys together. They needed each other to brave this new adventure of "big boy school". Seated apart in class, they thrived. They made friends. They learned, they excelled, and they sat by each other at lunch and PE. The girls chased them mercilessly. Asa recently told me, "You don't EVEN understand Mommy! They hug us, and kiss us! It's tough!"
After Kindergarten, Asa decided he wanted to be in different classes for First Grade. Aiden did NOT. I talked to each of them individually about their feelings. Asa said, "I don't like people always asking me 'Are you Asa or Aiden?'" He wanted his own identity separate from Aiden. (I knew this day would come, and I was glad it was on our terms and not the school system.)
When I asked Aiden about his feelings, he threw a dagger right through my heart.
"When Asa's not with me, my body just wants to cry."
I had to put on my Mommy-Fix-It hat. We compromised and came to an agreement. The boys stayed together one more year in First Grade, and they separated this year for the first time in Second Grade. They are happy, but they still flock to each other every chance they get. They play at recess together. Go to the nurse together. Stay together on field trips. I don't think anyone can really fully make them ever be completely apart. Covalent bond.
Examples of this bond, you ask? Ok. Here's a couple.
When the twins were about 3 or 4, one of them got a swat. Broken-hearted, he sat on the floor and cried. The other ran to his side, crouched down and hugged and held him. In brave defense of his twin, he shouted at me, "YOU NOT HURT MY FRIEND!" How can you argue with that? That's how they are. They'll whack each other out of frustration, but nobody else better even try. They'll immediately rush to each other's aid, worry about each other, and look out for each other.
When Aiden cut his forehead open around age 3 or 4, ASA was the one losing it, scared his brother was going to die. I had to "stop the bleeding" on two fronts there! It was sort of hard to hold pressure on a cut and assess the situation with a hysterical twin in the background.
When Aiden was diagnosed with diabetes, it made me cry even harder to see Asa's face when we told him Aiden had to go to the hospital...as if I hadn't cried enough already. Daddy brought Asa (and the other brothers) up right after school to see Aiden. He NEEDED to see Aiden was ok. That was the first night in their lives they'd slept apart from each other.
Everyone piled in to see Aiden in hte hospital. D-Day 2/20/12
Five months later, Asa was diagnosed with diabetes. When we told Aiden, his face lit up. He smiled. Now, he was worried on one level, but he knew Asa would be ok. And, he knew that now there was again no difference between the two of them. Now, he had someone to brave this fight with.
Aiden hugging Asa in the hospital, August 2012
Asa and Aiden getting their new Omnipods!
Now, with Diabetes running the show, they have a new level of concern for each other. Their bond is stronger and deeper. Like atoms and electrons, it's on a cellular level that isn't even visible to the eye. The first time Aiden's sugar got crazy high (due to Mommy's bad SWAG), ASA was the one who was most worried and scared. He was freakin' out, wouldn't sleep, demanding I take Aiden to the hospital because he didn't "want him to go into a coma". It was more work reassuring him than it was to correct the bad glucose level. The same happened in reverse a couple of weeks ago. Asa's sugar got way high; Aiden exhibited the most concern. He didn't go into a full-scale panic like Asa, but I knew he was terribly worried because of the questions he fired at me (like the Spanish Inquisition).
"What number makes you go into a coma?"
"When will you check him again?"
"Will you check him during the night?"
"Did you give him insulin?" "How much?" .... and on and on.
In all fairness, what 8-year-old should have to know this much, worry this much?
Asa and Aiden on their 8th birthday, October 2012. In another day and time, they may not have lived to see this day.
So, yesterday, I was given another glimpse into the level of covalent bond of these boys. I took the boys for a walk. Asa decided to ride his bike. Since they are not immune to the laws of physics and momentum, I require they walk their bikes down the hill. To Aiden, Asa looked like he was about to ride his bike down the hill, and Aiden clearly felt immediate terror. He shouted, "Asa, no! Asa, Stop. Walk!" When Asa got off his bike to walk it (as he'd already planned to do), Aiden said, "He scared me to deff. He broke my heart cuz I thought he was going to be hurt".
At the park, Aiden tied up with his older brother over a ball. Before I could respond, Asa ran Olympic speed to Aiden's side and was pulling Jace away from him! He also threw himself over Aiden and fussed at Daddy for ticklin' their toes! They don't even consider the consequences; they are just immediately by each other's side for defense or protection.
It never ceases to amaze me how much these boys love each other. How they feel each other. How they worry deeply about each other, oftentimes before themselves, and will defend each other against the strongest forces (ie., Mommy and Daddy).
Diabetes may have invaded their bodies, but it didn't destroy that bond. Yet another thing you can't break, Diabetes!
It can be difficult to raise twins; it's very hard managing two identical diabetics. But, watching this impenetrable bond makes mothering them an honor.
100 years ago, Type One Diabetes was a death sentence. I cannot imagine how I would have survived to have these children placed into my care, watch them grow, witness this amazing bond...only to have them taken from me by a cruel disease. I'm thankful every day that times have changed, and although Diabetes is Stupid, it hasn't taken them from me! However, we still have a LONG way to go in finding a cure and better treatments for Type One Diabetes. Help me help JDRF in finding a cure for my boys.