The second question always makes me feel incredibly stupid and unobservant. Because the truth is, I don't know how to tell people to tell Thing 1 and Thing 2 apart. I just do. Here's a very unhelpful list I give people.
- Thing 1 is significantly lighter than Thing 2--typically by about two pounds--and it's obvious when you pick them up.
- Thing 1 has a stork bite between his eyes. But sometimes it's visible and sometimes it's not, and occasionally Thing 2 has a stork bite in the exact same place.
- Their personalities are very different, but they've been known to switch personalities without telling me.
- Thing 1 has a flat spot on his head, which is how daddy tells them apart most of the time--by rubbing their heads.
The best answer I have is they just look different to me. But that's not always true either. It's strange because some days they look nothing alike, and other days I can barely tell who is who. I don't know what makes the difference, but that's how it's always been.
The completely, 100% honest answer to the first question--"Can you tell them apart?"--is, "Usually." Because it doesn't happen very often, and it doesn't happen for very long. But we have mixed the kids up before. Really just the one time.
I say "we" but really I mean "hubby."
When Thing 1 was about 9 months old, he had a helmet. He had a severe flat spot, caused by Thing 2 sitting on top of his head for 8 months in utero. We tried to round out his head by all the usual methods--positioning, turning, etc.--but eventually it was to the point where we needed to get a helmet for him. He only wore it for about three months (by 12 months his soft spot was closed up and his head was unable to change shape any more) but it helped tremendously and I'm glad we did it. I wish the pediatrician wouldn't encouraged us to do it earlier, instead of encouraging us to wait.
But that's a different story for another day. The point is hubby mixed up the twins and I didn't.
The twins were about 11 months old. Thing 1 had been playing with the velcro strap on his helmet of late, managing to completely unhook it, and I worried that soon he'd figure out how to take his helmet off. Thing 2 was known to try to assist Thing 1 in his efforts to go helmet-less.
It was Thursday night, which meant I had writing group. Hubby, being the studly guy that he is, watched the guys so I could go. That meant he had to get them in bed that night.
I got home from writers group a few hours later and asked, "How were the twins? Did they go down easily?"
Hubby said, "They were really restless tonight, but eventually settled down. I'm not sure what the problem was."
We shrugged it off and went to bed without checking on the kids. We could hear them stirring on the baby monitor, and if we check on them when they are restless they wake up, and it's at least an hour before we get them back to sleep. So we listened at the door, listened at the monitor, and knew from the stirrings both were okay.
The next morning, I went in to get the twins up. I opened the door, and then stood there in shock. The first thing I noticed was the helmet. It rested, unhooked, in the middle of the bedroom floor. The next thing I noticed were the kids. Thing 1 was in Thing 2's crib, and Thing 2 was in Thing 1's crib.
I looked back and forth between the kids, wondering if my mind was playing tricks on me. No, they definitely were in the wrong cribs. Did hubby do this on purpose? They grinned up at me and babbled nonsensically while I laughed in disbelief. I called hubby.
"Did you put Thing 1's helmet on him last night?" I asked.
"Yes," he said. "Why?"
"Well he's finally learned how to take it off. It's in the middle of the floor." I paused for a moment. "Why did you put them in the wrong cribs?"
I heard the surprise in his voice. "They're in the wrong cribs?" he asked. I confirmed that was indeed the case. I'm pretty sure he swore at that point. "Then I put the helmet on the wrong child last night!" he said. "I am the worst dad ever. I feel awful!"
I couldn't stop laughing. "Wasn't it hard to get on Thing 2's head?" I asked. "How did it even close?" Helmets are made very specifically for a head, and Thing 1 and Thing 2's head shapes were very different.
"It fit just fine," hubby said. I assured him he wasn't an awful father, tried to conceal my giggles, and hung up. Then I picked up the helmet, and sure enough, it fit on Thing 2's head. Not correctly, but it fit. Thing 2 had watched us take the helmet on and off Thing 1 for nearly three months, and so he was able to take it off and throw it in the middle of the room whereas Thing 1 still could not.
I just really hope he took it off before falling asleep. We're pretty sure he did, otherwise he wouldn't have settled down. At least, that's what we tell ourselves so we don't feel as guilty.
So yes, we mix our children up. Not often, but it has happened before. And seriously, this is one of my favorite stories to tell and one of my favorite moments in twinland.
Have any other twin moms out there mixed their children up with hilarious results?
TWIN MOM TIP: Don't beat yourself up if you mix up the twins. It happens, and it doesn't mean you love them any less or are a bad mother.