We both have twins -- and a few singletons to boot -- and we like lists as much as the next blogger. We agree twins offer unique gifts, as others have pointed out, but we also think they come with certain things we would rather give back. Here are twelve:
1. The pitying looks from friends and neighbors, when we broke the news it was two buns in the oven and not one; the comments, tacit and explicit: "Better you than me" and "What the hell are you going to do now?"
2. The epic morning sickness, the constant doctor appointments, the time lost to bed rest, the impossibly stretched skin. If pregnancy is a monster, a twin pregnancy is a double-headed hydra. "So you're due really soon, right?" Um, no, I'm actually due in three and a half months.
3. The misguided aphorisms. Buy one get one free? Tell that to my bank book. Two birds, one stone? Not particularly apt when the twins are birds three and four. Or when the infant experience was so traumatic it made you want a do-over with a single bird.
4. The surgery and the C-section scar we most likely wouldn't have had if there was only one baby. The two months spent beside incubators in the NICU, when one of our sets came too soon, a common risk with multiples.
5. The obscene amount of milk it takes to feed two tiny mouths, whether it comes from breasts that are cartoonishly large or jumbo packs of formula hauled home from the store. The hospital-grade pump that became a constant companion; the freaky mechanical swooshing sound that became the background noise to our lives.
6. The baby carriers we bought, perhaps deluded that there would be a way to do the whole attachment thing with two babies. The trendy mommy-and-me music class we couldn't attend, because we didn't have another set of hands.
7. The 3,267 answers we gave to well-meaning but misinformed questions. No, boy/girl twins cannot be identical. Yes, identical twins can look a little different.
8. The damaged lower back we both have from lifting the dead weight of a small child in and out of the crib, in and out of the stroller, in and out of the car seat, in and out of the high chair. TWICE. EVERY TIME.
9. The scratches, the bite marks, the bruises, the stereo screaming that are part and parcel of toddler twins. With one toddler, life is insane. With two -- at the same stage, at the same time -- it is Lord of the Flies.
10. The same class/different class issue at school, especially when you have no choice in the matter. Different classes: the separation anxiety, the jealousy when one of them gets the "easy" teacher, the curriculum night you have to miss because you can't be in two places at once. Same class: the repeat homework, the fighting over friends, the constant comparison.
11. Always having to share a birthday. Schlepping double the cupcakes to school (half of which have to be vanilla and the other half chocolate). Hosting the extra party, because not every pair of twins wants to share this rite of passage or can agree about its details. The garbled rendition of "Happy Birthday," because nobody knows which kid's name to sing first.
12. The fantastical and romantic notions outsiders have about twins, which bear little relationship to the reality of raising them. Not every set of twins will be soul mates. Not every set of twins has a magical connection inspired by their time in the womb together. We are pretty sure by the way our twins fight over sitting in our laps that they have no memory of ever sharing that space.