What Are Twiblings Doing at Your Mommy and Me Class?

Jeanne Sager

twiblingsTwiblings. Sounds like a disease, doesn't it? Something with sacs of puss and a high fever? And now for the good news! Your kid may be playing with them at playgroup as you read this on your smartphone!

Put down the hand sanitizer, it's just a bad name for a really good thing. Twiblings, which as far as I can tell was coined by mom Melanie Thernstrom, actually means siblings born so close together they might as well be twins. And it's an occurrence that's cropping up more and more frequently in America thanks to reproductive technology.

Thernstrom has a pair herself, born five days apart. Daughter Violet and son Kieran were each carried by surrogates, two different women, and she shared their story in The New York Times last week. They joined families like Lauren and Joe Kamnik, who found their surrogate was pregnant just around the time their adoption came through and about the time that Lauren herself became pregnant.

So why the new word? Imagine standing at Mommy and Me looking at the two kids your child is playing with and trying to figure out how one "twin" can possibly be that much smaller than the other and still be healthy. The kids are siblings, but so close in age that there has to be a new word to address their relationship. Their parents face challenges more similar to raising multiples, from trying to feed two (or more) babies at once to ensuring one baby's screams don't wake up the baby in the crib nearby.

And the kids themselves will have a different experience than either multiples or standard siblings. They'll grow up together on much the same level, probably in the same grade in school, but without that shared womb experience that inexplicably links many of the twins I know. Everyone they meet through childhood will have questions.

It's an amazing thing for these families. But like the word "step" that was introduced at one point to help people explain relationships in mixed families, it seems the sooner people accept this new classification of kids, the easier it will be on everyone involved. Do you know any twiblings?


Image via oskay/Flickr

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