WHY are twins born? This question has been asked since the beginning of the journey of the human being. Twins are viewed with just as much marvel and wonderment as they had been a thousand years ago.
Different localities have different myths about twins. In Bangladesh, the most popular belief is that a twin is born if the mother eats a twin banana during pregnancy. Some people believe that if the mother sees a multiple-headed deity during pregnancy, then twins are born.
Although no longer practised but in Nigeria once the people believed that a twin is born when a mother has been with two men. Twin babies were also considered as a sign of evil omen in many parts of the world. In some area people would destroy the twins right after birth. In Benin, West Africa, the Sun and the Moon are regarded as twin brothers and sisters.
These are merely myths and traditional beliefs. However, doctors and scientists do believe that twins are indeed a wonder of nature, miracle of creation. To satisfy our curiosity about this amazing subject, we spoke with Dr. Nusrat Zaman, Associate Professor, Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Comilla Medical College.
She explains that twins with the same look are called identical twins. Apart from the appearance, their genes, tissues and even the blood group, are alike. Identical twins are born when an egg splits into two after being fertilised by a sperm. Identical twins are always of the same sex. Not all twins look alike. Those who don't are called Binovular twins. Binovular twins are born when two separate eggs get fertilised with two sperms. Their physical features usually differ.
Recently we have seen several cases of Siamese or Conjoined twins. The twin sisters of Iran who died during surgery were on the national news of every country. Why are Siamese twins born? This is an even more astounding issue. We know that when one egg is split in to two, identical twins are born. If this split takes place at a later stage of pregnancy then it is possible that the twins might have some organs attached. They may share the same organs. "We mostly see the cases of joint head, abdomen, or the back", tells Dr, Zaman. It is very risky to perform surgery on Siamese twins to separate them.
Dr. Zaman also informs us that the rate of twins being born is on the rise. Doctors mostly blame artificial reproductive techniques for that. With the advance of science, artificial reproductive techniques are being used to increase fertilisation. This is basically ovulation with the help of certain drugs. This can cause the fertilisation of two eggs or multiple eggs. Many couples who previously failed to have babies usually approve the use of this method. It may raise hopes for many, but when playing with nature's creation some malfunctions may occur in the system.
The birth of twins mostly brings joy to the family. The fact people usually fail to apprehend is that the mother is more vulnerable when she is going to have twins and she needs more nourishment. Maternal risk is very high during this type of pregnancy. Mothers suffer from all the symptoms that can arise during pregnancy only in double the intensity. Enlargement of the abdomen is doubled. There are also difficulties in movement. The possibility of miscarriage is higher, especially during mid pregnancy. There are also chances of premature birth. In Bangladesh where most of the people are under privileged and are not aware of proper reproductive care, mothers suffer immensely. For lack of food they suffer from anaemia. Child rearing at double the expense and mental pressure can be very painful too.
This type of pregnancy is mostly a hereditary factor if there is no exercise of artificial techniques. Elderly females sometimes give birth to twins. It is a common case among the Negroids. The rate of occurrence of twins is also high in the South Asian region. The ratio is 1 in every 80 pregnancy in the region. As civilisation moves forward more and more scientists are unveiling the mysteries of this wonder. The mysteries may be revealed someday, but for now it remains a wonder and people will continue to marvel at it.
“FARZANA, sit down!" I yell at the little girl. "Miss, I'm Rebeka!" she wails. The two girls are a constant source of confusion for their teachers and amusement for their friends. See, they happen to be identical twins. Such comedies of error are inevitable around twins. "I remember waking up in the middle of the night when my twin daughters were babies," says one mother. "One of my daughters was crying, so I fed her, and then fell asleep. I was again wakened by the sound of wailing, so I fed the other one. I was just nodding off when one of them started crying again…first, I was a little confused, and then I realised that I had fed one of my girls twice, while the other one was still hungry."
When two people look so much alike, there is a tendency to assume that they are exactly alike. "The biggest misconception that people have about twins is that we're clones of one another; they see us as a 'pair' and often forget that we're individuals, with individual personalities, and diverse tastes and opinions," says Afreen, who's got a twin named Armeen. "We like different things…our tastes in colours and music are totally different" Farzana and Rebeka stated in chorus.
According to them and other twins we've spoken to, twins may be close, but they have enough differences of opinions to get into fights. "My girls are very competitive," Mrs. Mulk says about her twin daughters. "They are constantly trying to out-do each other." When asked if the same applies to them, Armeen and Afreen smile, as they are reminded of a hilarious incident. "When we were younger, and went for Arabic lessons, I once fell ill and had to miss three classes. When I got better, the next time our huzur came, I locked Afreen up in the bathroom before going to read, so that I could catch up" Armeen recollects. "I'm the bully amongst the two."
What about non-identical twins? "They're just like any other siblings," says Maisha and Shahryar's mother. "What you hear about the special bond between twins don't apply to my children, as they are fraternal twins (two-egg twins). They look different, of course, being of opposite sexes, and they have different tastes. Maisha is very energetic and outgoing, while Shahryar is of a gentler disposition."
So what's the best part about life with twins? "I've always wanted a 'pair' of children…when I had Afreen and Armeen, it was as though God had answered my prayers," their mother gushes emotionally. "God has given me a pair of living dolls to play with. I always find myself rediscovering my youth when I'm with Maisha and Shahryar," their mother adds. "I remember this one occasion when I was on a boat trip with my daughters, and the weather got stormy…my first thought was for my twins. They're just too precious," Farzana and Rebeka's mother tells us.
What do the twins have to say on the best part about being twins? "Having someone who knows how you feel. Having a confidant that you can trust more than anyone else," answers Afreen. "We have a younger brother whom we're close to, and fond of, but when it comes to serious emotional issues, we always run to each other," adds Armeen. "We have another sister, but she is younger than us, so we're more close to each other than to the little one," Farzana and Rebeka chime together.
So, are twins double trouble or doubly sweet? That's for you to decide, but this much is true, when you have a pair of them around, there's never a dull moment.
By Sabrina F Ahmad
| Issues | The Daily Star Home|
© 2003 The Daily Star