Friday, October 24, 2008

So what do we call them now?

Apparently those folks who insist that Matthew and Jonathan are not identical might just be right.
Maybe not now.
But they might be right someday.
Scientists have known for years that identical twins can differ in their expression of genes due to environmental influences, such as diet. But it was always assumed that the basic DNA--the genetic framework--was precisely the same.
A recent study of 19 sets of adult identical twins has throw them for a loop.
The study, conducted by geneticist Carl Bruder of the University of Alabama, found slight differences in DNA sequences in some sets. In one set of identicals in Bruder's study, a genetic variation indicated the risk of leukemia in one twin. That particular twin did, indeed, suffer from the disease.
You see, all of us are supposed to inherit a copy of each gene from each parent, but sometimes, something happens that causes us to have too many or too few. Scientists believe those variations might put us at risk for certain diseases such as AIDS, leukemia, autism or lupus. These differences are called copy number variations and they were just discovered a few years ago.
Previously, the assumption was that if any of these variations were found in one identical twin, they would be found in the other because the twins come from the same egg and share exactly the same DNA.
This study throws that theory out the window.
What remains a mystery, however, is whether these variations occur in utero or as we age. Bruder suspects they come with age. Regardless, his findings mean studies of identical twins could be valuable in figuring out which genes are linked with certain diseases.
But the study raises an even more pressing question: if identicals are not truly identical, what do we call them now? Almost identical? Mostly identical? Sort of identical? Same-egg children?
Will I someday have to admit that those annoying people who stop me in the mall for the sole purpose of informing me that my twins are not identical simply because one has less fat in his cheeks are right?
The implications are frightening.

Friday, October 17, 2008

No longer entirely identical

We can easily tell the boys apart now.

Jonathan and I spent two hours at Children's Hospital today. He broke his shin bone, a small fracture. The doctor said it is a common toddler injury. Orange seems to be his favorite color right now, so that's what he will wear for the next four weeks.

Matthew seems more affected by the cast than Jonathan. With no active playmate, his curiosity is in overdrive. Yesterday, he climbed on the dining room table, got stuck in a small space between the hutch and the wall and repeatedly tried to empty the silverware drawer.

He imitates his brother by crawling on the floor and dragging one foot along.

It's going to be a long four weeks.

Can you guess who this is?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Accidental separation

I've mentioned before that Matthew and Jonathan have rarely been apart. They've made separate trips to the grocery store a few times, but, with two older kids and a husband who works a lot, I just haven't had the time or the energy to intentionally separate them.
According to the experts out there, we are doing everything wrong.
So last night and this morning should have been emotionally traumatic for them. They should have cried for each other. They should have been looking around corners seeking each other out. They should been calling each other's names.
They didn't.
Last night, just before bed, Jonathan was walking through the living room when he somehow took an odd step and fell. He screamed and screamed and couldn't put weight on his left leg. So off we went to the ER while Matthew stayed behind with dad.
X-rays revealed no fracture, but the doctor suspects injury to the soft tissue. We left Matthew behind again today to pick up the X-rays and stop by the pediatrician's office for a quick check of the circulation in the splinted leg. Tomorrow, Jonathan and I will spend an estimated two hours in the orthopedic unit at Children's Hospital, a 30-minute drive away.
There have been no sad good-byes and no overzealous reunions between Matthew and Jonathan. Neither had any trouble getting to sleep on his own last night. Neither seems annoyed or upset to have the other back in his midst.
Aside from logistical challenges presented by the splint, Matthew and Jonathan have fallen right back into their usual relationship patterns without missing a beat. They seem confident in their relationship.
Confident and secure.
So much for the experts.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Wrestle-cuddle fest

It was about 7 a.m. and the boys had been up for an hour. I was putting shoes away in their room when Jonathan came in, begging to climb into Matthew's crib. As soon as Matthew heard the "squeak-squeak" of his brother's bouncing, he came running and reached up, signaling that he wanted to join his brother.
And so the wrestle-cuddle fest began.
This has become their new ritual, usually after nap time.
They meet in Matthew's crib and throw themselves down on the mattress. They cuddle, they wrestle, they laugh and, if I'm not watching them carefully, they sometimes lie on each other's heads. They also kick each other in the face and step on each other's tummies. All in fun, of course.
But today, there was a new development.
Today, for the first time, Matthew kissed Jonathan.
Right on the cheek.
Today, I smiled--inside and out.