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The ups and downs of being an identical twin

twins, identical, sisters

Litvinov | Shutterstock

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 02/06/23

What's it like to have someone who looks exactly like you walking around in the world? Sometimes convenient and sometimes not!

When my best friend felt sorry that she missed another friend’s event last week, I reassured her in a comically unusual way.

“Oh don’t worry,” I said. “I was there, so I’m sure everyone thought you were, too.”

I’m sure that sounds like an odd response. My comment wouldn’t make sense for most people … but this best friend just happens to be my identical twin

My twin and I have spent our lives riding the wave of convenience and inconvenience that comes with having someone who looks exactly like you walking around in the world.

Sometimes it comes in handy — as when my twin couldn’t make it to the event, and several people probably thought she was there since I attended.

But a lot of the time it’s rather inconvenient, as when people don’t know either of us has a twin and are offended that we “don’t remember meeting them.” Then they think we’re kidding when we say, “Oh, you must have met my identical twin!”

Most of the time, though, it’s just funny, like the time in college that a friend told me, “Before I got to know you both, I thought you were just one person who I would see everywhere and who liked to change her outfit a lot!” 

Or there was the time last summer when I was at the park with my kids and a total stranger sat next to me chatting for about 15 minutes before I finally realized she thought I was my twin sister.

Learning about other twins

As twins, we have always had a fascination with learning about other twins. Once, we both bought the same book about twin research (written by a twin, of course) and sat next to each other on the couch reading it at the same time. That was probably a little too “twinsy,” even for us!

So I was intrigued to read the recent news of conjoined twins AmieLynn and JamieLynn who had a successful surgery to separate them on January 23. Doctors at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, performed the procedure that took 11 hours and involved 25 medical professionals!

(On a separate note, if you are pregnant with twins, I would encourage you not to give them matching names. Individuality is hard enough for twins already!)

Twin stories always move my heart in a special way, and I’m so happy for these sweet baby girls. It can be very difficult to define your individual sense of self as a twin, so it’s wonderful news that these little ones will have the chance to do that in the usual way.

These two little girls will have a more uphill road than most twins. Usually twin struggles are sillier things like teachers and friends mixing up our names. But the great news is that their special twin bond will be a source of strength and love for them throughout their lives, just as it has been for my twin sister and me. 

Whether we were studying together in high school, planning joint birthday parties as kids, navigating new jobs and relationships as young adults, or raising our kids close to each other as adults right now, having a twin has always made my life so much better.

I hope these sweet little girls will love being twins as much as my sister and I do. Praying for a quick and full recovery and a beautiful life for little AmieLynn and JamieLynn!

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