My almost 4-month-old twin daughters are delightful little babies. We had a number of rough weeks in the beginning where it seemed like full-fledged screaming was basically their default setting, but once their stomachs settled down and they started growing into their bodies, they turned into lovely, content little girls.
These days, we spend much of our daytime hours spread out on the floor, where I try my hardest to keep the girls engaged while simultaneously keeping their 3-year-old brother amply entertained. It’s much more fulfilling—and much less stressful—than those early weeks, where it really seemed like all I was doing was struggling through a seemingly endless cycle of diaper-nurse-burp-repeat.
The best part? My girls are finally starting to recognize each other and acknowledge each other’s presence. During those first few months, I’d try putting them face to face to get them to focus on one another, but only recently did they start fixating on each other’s faces. Now, when they see each other, they smile. Sometimes they giggle. And they’re already sort of learning to share—their toys, that is. They’re good at sharing toys.
They’re not always so good at sharing my attention. In fact—and maybe I’m a little paranoid here— I’m convinced that my twins are already displaying active signs of jealousy toward one another.
Case in point: The other day I was playing with both of them on the floor when I decided I absolutely needed to photograph them in their adorable little outfits. I figured I’d pick them up one at a time to position them on the couch, but the second I reached for the one closest to me, the other started scowling. A similar thing happened when the time came to move both girls upstairs to their bedroom. I scooped one up off the floor, and as soon as I did, the other started to pout. I reached down to stroke her cheek, letting her know I’d be right back, and as soon as I did, the one in my arms started crying—even though she was the one being held, it was her sister with whom I was making eye contact.
And that’s not all. There are times when I’ll come into their room in the morning to do their first feeding and find both of them staring intently, almost as if to say, “So, which one of us are you going to pick first?” And trust me, there’s nothing like the feeling of nervously doing eeny-meeny-miny-moe in your head and then watching one baby burst into tears as you reach into her sister’s crib.
I know there’s a chance I’m building this up in my head, and maybe it’s because I’ve had other twin parents share their kids’ tales of jealousy, thus putting it on my radar. Or maybe it’s my own guilt—the guilt that strikes me every time I have no choice but to nudge one of my daughters away from my breast so that my other baby can eat. The guilt that hits me when I realize I’ve been making eye contact with one daughter for several minutes in a row, thus inadvertently ignoring her sister. The guilt that smacks me in the face so hard it hurts whenever I’m forced to choose between two crying babies, knowing that one will inevitably have to wait for her diaper to be changed or cheek to be caressed.
Maybe my daughters are jealous of one another, or maybe I’m just having trouble accepting the fact that my ability to give them individual attention is limited. There’s no question in my mind that I love them both equally, and that I love them to the point where I can’t even describe it in words. I just hope that loves shines through all the time, even during those unavoidable moments where I have to, albeit momentarily, choose one over the other.
I guess that’s the hard part about having twins.