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Hi everyone! First, let me introduce myself. My name is Barbara Schantz. I am a mom of two sets of twins and also the inventor of the patented Baby Dipper bowl. The Baby Dipper bowl facilitates one-handed feeding of infants by parents and also helps toddlers learn to feed themselves. My twin girls, Greta and Cora, born in 2004, were the inspiration for the Baby Dipper bowl. My twin boys, Franklin and Carlton, were born in 2008, just before the Baby Dipper bowl went on the market. Needless to say, the past 6 years have been incredibly busy and the most insane years of my life (so far).
I get lots of comments from people I know and people I don’t know (usually in stores when I have all four with me and am in a hurry) about how I have my hands full or one of the other usual remarks people make about having twins. The thing is that they just don’t get it. They don’t get to experience, to observe, to participate in the daily activities of two little ones of the same age. I must say that one of my favorite ages is 18-24 months, which is precisely where Carlton and Franklin are right now at 22 months. That is the age when they truly start trying to communicate and play with each other and start using their own “twinspeak” words. For instance, my boys call drinks “neh neh” and they both understood that long before I finally figured it out.
I get the impression that people are in awe of MOMs (with twins or more) and are happy that they are not in that position. I would say that I was one of those people before I had twins of my own. Now that I have twins, especially two sets, I really would not want it any other way. My husband, Hans, and I have talked about this many times since our girls were born, even as recently as this week. In our situation with the kids 3 1/2 years apart and the girls the older of the two sets, things flow very naturally in that we are able to assign one girl to watch each boy or hold a boy’s hand. When interaction between the two sets is not needed, each twin plays with her/his co-twin almost exclusively. Yes, we do have four (FOUR!) children, but we only have two ages to deal with. I honestly think that it would be much more difficult to have kids of four different ages than having two sets of twins.
OK, let me back up a bit here. YES, it was extremely difficult at first, especially our first time around. Taking care of two newborns is pretty much double the work of taking care of one newborn. It means double diapers, double feedings, double baths, double the chance of being awakened in the middle of the night, double everything. However, lets clarify that comment about feedings. Generally twin parents are able to feed two babies at once, so that’s not exactly double the amount of work required. MOMs can breastfeed or bottle feed two babies at once (I even know of MOMs who surfed the internet while breastfeeding their twins!). Once the babies are being spoon-fed (with a Baby Dipper bowl, of course), parents can prepare one bowl of food and alternate bites between babies, so while one baby is swallowing, the parent is scooping up a bite and feeding the other baby. The babies can be bathed together once they’re able to sit up, so around 5-8 months or so, thus saving some time there. A big time-saver is when both twins are thoroughly potty-trained. There is no way around it when they are both in diapers. Each baby’s diaper change is a separate event, some more involved than others, naturally.
Once the twins start playing together and sharing interactively, mom will suddenly find that she can actually slip away for a few minutes, though she still must listen in and check on them every few minutes as twins can sometimes get into more trouble than a single child. My understanding is that singleton babies require more parental attention since there is not a built-in playmate. This is not to say that parents of multiples should leave the teaching of things such as colors, shapes, letters, numbers, etc. to the kids themselves, but that this is another aspect of twin life that turns out to be easier than having only one child. Now that our girls are five years old, they play together just about all the time that they are not at school. There is very little arguing, surprisingly. They are really starting to realize how special it is to be twins and like to announce to people (even those who haven’t inquired about if they or their brothers are twins) that we have two sets of twins. I certainly hope that they continue to be close and get along well through their entire lives.
So, when others insinuate that having twins (especially two sets) must be incredibly difficult, I sometimes tell them that it is actually not that difficult, that my girls help with the boys, that each kid has a playmate all the time, that I only had to go through two pregnancies, that we only need to have two types of food/books/toys/clothes around at any given time. But sometimes I just humbly nod and move along, letting them remain in awe of us Mothers of Multiples and ignorant of the benefits that aren’t obvious to outsiders. Let’s not forget that from the time the babies are able to react, MOMs get double smiles, double giggles, double hugs, and double kisses.