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Twins: double the joy, double the trouble

Family
Last week Beyonce announced she is pregnant with twins. Moments later news arrived that Madonna was in the final stage of her adoption of Malawian twins. At the weekend, we learnt George and Amal Clooney are expecting twins as well.

Twins are actually more common than you might think.

According to the latest statistics, the odds of having twins are far greater than any other type of multiple birth – about 90 percent of all multiples are made up of twins and the remaining 10 percent are triplets, quadruplets and quintuplets.

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Twin joy for George and Amal Clooney.

In recent years there has been a significant increase in the birth of twins due to advancements made in fertility treatments and assisted reproduction technology.

It really comes down to how the egg is fertilised.

To form identical, or monozygotic, twins one fertilised egg splits and develops into two babies with the same genetic information.

For fraternal, or dizygotic, twins two eggs are fertilised by two sperm and produce two genetically unique children.

“Usually the discovery is made during an ultrasound at any time between six and 20 weeks, say Katrina Bowman and Louise Ryan, authors of Twins: A Practical and Emotional Guide to Parenting Twins.

“Ultrasound scans for a naturally conceived twin pregnancy are usually done between 18 and 20 weeks,” they note.

Both authors are mothers of twins.

If you’ve conceived twins naturally, the big question is always: do twins run in the family?

Non-identical twins tend to run in families, whereas identical twins happen by chance.

The outcomes are sometimes bizarre.

When 36-year-old Sanju Bhagat was rushed to hospital after his belly become bloated in 1999, doctors found that his twin was trapped in his body.

How, you might ask. By attaching to Bhagat’s blood supply, the twin had survived as a parasite post-birth for more than 30 years.

Dutch couple Wilma and Willem Stuart opted for IVF after years of struggling to conceive naturally. In 1993 Wilma became pregnant with twins.

When the babies were born, one had considerably darker skin, the result of a lab error that combined another man’s sperm with that egg.

A school in northern Illinois broke the Guinness record for most sets of twins in the same academic year at a single school with 24 sets of twins in Grade 5.

How do moms cope?

East Coast radio DJ Jane Linley Thomas, mother to Cooper, six, and twins Rocco and Lula, four, said: “I did not expect to be pregnant with twins and it was very overwhelming when I first found out.”

East Coast radio DJ Jane Linley Thomas with her little munchkins. Picture: Supplied

The pregnancy didn’t come without its hurdles.

“At the end I couldn’t sit in the bath, I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t get into the shower, I couldn’t get out of bed. It was a very laboured pregnancy.

“But nothing compares to the feeling of having those little warm bodies handed to you for the first time. Lying in that delivery ward and having them passed to me one in each arm, there’s just no words to describe it.”

While they may give you a warm fuzzy feeling, especially now that they’re trendy, twins are hard work.

Linley Thomas said: “I think the advice that I would give is advice that my mom gave me – you can only eat an elephant one mouthful at a time.

“The way that I dealt with it was to kind of micro manage, thinking about the day and the next day and not thinking about the week and the year because it would then completely overwhelm me.”

Famous twins

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

You can’t mention identical twins without these famous Hollywood names coming up. TV viewers fell in love with their adorable antics in Full House.

Knox and Vivienne Jolie Pitt

Not to be outdone by their famous parents, the duo recently turned eight with personalities as different as night and day.

Moroccan and Monroe

These five-year-olds are so fabulous they don’t even need last names and chances are they are bound for stardom with parents like Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon.

Andrew and Brian Chapman

The electro hop music duo are arguably South Africa’s most famous musical twins, better known as Locnville.

Ntando and Hlelo Masina

Popular radio and TV presenters, the Masina twins even had their own reality show on e.tv.


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