Sunday, June 28, 2009


One question we seem to get over and over is whether our boys are identical twins. We have varying answers to this seemingly straightforward question, depending on how much we like the asker. Just kidding. But the answer definitely does vary with the context. If you are reading this, you are getting "the long answer." The short answer is "yes."

First, here's some background on twins . . . fraternal twins are essentially siblings born on the same day. They are the result of two separate eggs that happen to be released at the same time, which are then fertilized by two separate sperm (sorry for the biology lesson, but it will get worse from here on out). Fraternal twins tend to run in families, since it is related to the tendency of the woman to drop multiple eggs. Fraternals are more common in certain races (blacks are more likely, Asians less likely to have twins), older women, and those who use IVF or other forms of assisted reproduction. As a result, fraternals used to occur in about 1 in every 90 births. In the past 20 years, that number has doubled to about 1 in every 40 births. If you live in L.A. or NYC, where affluent, older women are increasingly tending to undergo assisted reproduction, you might think that there was a sale at Penney's on (fraternal) twins.

By contrast, identical twins are a completely random phenomenon in which one egg is fertilized by one sperm and then the egg splits within a few days after fertilization. Therefore, identical twins are carbon copies of each other. Identical twinning is a spontaneous thing that occurs at a rate of about 1 out of every 300 births, the world over.

When we had our very first ultrasound, at which we were told there were two babies brewing in there, the doctor assessed the placental biology and told us we were likely having identical twins. This was because it looked like we had two amniotic sacs sharing a single placenta (again, sorry for the biology lesson). This is the biology in about 70% of identical twins. However, what looks like a single placenta can actually be two placentas "fused" into one. Therefore, a pathologist looks at the placenta post-partum.

All of this is very boring, I know, so I'll cut to my point: three doctors told us we had identical twins, but we dug a little deeper and determined that it's really only a "best guess." The only way to know, with certainty, that they are identical is to a DNA test, something that insurance doesn't pay for and most people never do.

I know if I asked my (doctor) dad about identicality, he would say, "Look at them." I don't know. You tell me- identical or not?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Spaghetti Eating Contest

This weekend we went to Feast Days at Saint Anthony's of Padua Catholic Church in Endicott, NY. Around here, this is Big Stuff. The 2-day affair includes not only food and desserts and lots of live music, but also beer and gambling. This year, they added a first: 1st Annual Spaghetti Eating Contest. Two words: Pure Genius.

Contestants had to pre-register to participate. You know, to keep the riff-raff out. I mean, 1st prize was $300, so you want to get good quality contestants. Ultimately, twelve of them were deemed worthy. (And yes, that is a chick in the foreground of the 3rd photo posted.)

Contestants were presented with a big plastic bowl containing 6 pounds of spaghetti and sauce, and had 10 minutes to suck it down. I still don't understand why there was a ziploc baggie full of spaghetti in front of each contestant's bowl. Maybe it was just for decoration/atmosphere? I do understand the water bottles. Not pictured but referenced several times: the barf buckets positioned behind each contestant. Soooo awesome.

Guess what? It is really, really gross to watch a spaghetti eating contest. In order to get photos, I jammed myself into the crowd of sweaty, beer-fueled men who made up the inner circle of the audience. The "splash zone," if you will. I lasted there for exactly 3 minutes. Wow, I suck.

The last place contestant ate just over a pound of the slimy stuff. The first place contestant apparently consumed over 3 pounds. Of spaghetti. For $300. Oh, and don't forget the plaque.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Love your parents? or is it Stockholm Syndrome?

Now that the boys are 10 weeks old, we are starting to get substantially more feedback from them. They seem to orient toward our voices and recognize our faces. We have even been getting smiles for the past couple of weeks. All very reinforcing after so many weeks of nothing but dirty diapers and closed eyes.

But I started to think . . . I would smile, too, if I thought it would ingratiate me to the person who was solely responsible for not only my day-to-day comforts, but my very survival. "Yeah, you better smile at me buddy, or no milk for you!"

Then I remembered a psychological condition in which you identify with your captors: Stockholm Syndrome. Made famous by Patty Hearst when she was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, and ended up joining forces with her abductors.

Apparently I'm not so far off-base, as Wikipedia explains the psychology of the condition as follows: "According to the psychoanalytic view of the syndrome, the tendency might well be the result of employing the strategy evolved by newborn babies to form an emotional attachment to the nearest powerful adult in order to maximize the probability that this adult will enable — at the very least — the survival of the child, if not also prove to be a good parental figure."

Note: People often ask us if they are aware of each other yet, and we don't think so. However, when I put them in the bassinet this morning, they ended up touching hands, as shown in the photo. It is amazing to think that we used to lie them down cross-wise in that same bassinet- now it's crowded even when we lie them down the long way!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Baby Clothes

Why are baby clothes so ridiculous? When we were pregnant and did not know the gender of the babies, people expressed their frustration with trying to buy us clothing, because everything seems to be gender-specific. Sure, there are a few items available in rubber ducky print (I think we own all of them, and I love them), and alligators and giraffes seem to be gender neutral. Good luck finding one-color items, much less white ones, or things with clean, geometric prints.

Thank God we didn't have girls, since pink starts to make me nauseous and the very thought of cheap lace makes me itch. Besides, the girl stuff tends to say things like "Mommy's Diva" or "Gold Digga" or even to have built-in bling.

Instead, we own lots and lots of things that have other kinds of ridiculous things printed on them. Why does a onesie have to say something like "Snugglesaurus" on it (with obligatory cartoon dinosaur)? or "Squeeze Me" (trust me, you don't want to squeeze a baby. Not unless you have a burp-cloth handy, at the very least).

The boy stuff tends to fall into a few categories: sports (see photo of hysterical matching outfits given to us by our 70-something landlords, and do not overlook the built-in track shoes), transportation, and police/fire.

What are the messages we are sending our children? Girls need to be self-absorbed divas and boys need to enlist in the fire/life safety professions?

p.s. Gratuitous baby photo: They are 10 thousand times cuter in real life than in these grainy, two-dimensional pics I've been uploading. You will note that they are wearing plain old white onesies, of which we have an entire drawer, since we go through several for each baby every day!