Saturday, March 19, 2011


People ask us on a regular basis whether Piper and Rosemary are identical.  We don’t know.  They could be identical.  Usually people assume that you can tell whether or not they are identical by whether they shared a placenta (Piper and Rosemary did not).  However, there are different types of identicals and sharing a placenta is not a requirement of being an identical.  You can read all about that here under the heading of Degree of Separation.  If Piper and Rosemary are identical, they would be dichorionic-diamniotic (because we know that they did not share a placenta or an amniotic sac). 

At first, we assumed that Piper and Rosemary were not identical.  Particularly because Piper weighed 3 pounds 2 ounces at birth and Rosemary weighed only 1 pound 14 ounces.  However, we learned the day after they were born that Rosemary had a velamentous cord insertion, which means that her umbilical cord did not pass through the middle of the placenta.  Velamentous cord insertions are more common with multiples, and low birth weight could result from a velamentous cord insertion.  Having a velamentous cord insertion is unrelated to whether Piper and Rosemary are identical.  Anyway, Piper and Rosemary looked so different at first that we assumed they couldn’t possibly be identical (you can see our first photos of them here).  Then, as time passed and Rosemary fattened up a bit, they started looking more alike.

Many people claim that Piper and Rosemary look exactly alike.  To us, however, they don’t look what we consider to be identical.  But, I have to admit that as they get older, I actually find myself confusing them even more.  If I have time to really look at them I can easily tell them apart, but if I just get a glance or a couple of seconds, then it takes me a while to figure out which one is which.  The two biggest differences are (1) Piper is still bigger than Rosemary and (2) Rosemary has what appears to be a shorter chin than Piper, which I think makes her appear to have a rounder face.

And then there are those other things that make me think they may be identical:  they have the same feet and toes, they have the same eyes (which are pretty unusual in color), they have the same ears, they both got their teeth in the exact same strange order, they both have unusually short legs which causes all sorts of pants issues, they have the same mouth and teeth spacing (according to our pediatric dentist), they have the same hair color, etc.  All of these similarities didn’t seem that strange when 2/3 of my children had the same characteristics.  Now that just 2/4 of them do, I start to wonder.

Henry and Penelope look very different from Piper and Rosemary.  I mean, all the kids look like siblings I think, but they do look different.  Henry has the lightest hair color and bright blue eyes, and Penelope has darker hair and green eyes.  At first I really just assumed that my “boys” looked like Henry and my “girls” looked like Piper and Rosemary.  But I was thrown for a loop when Penelope was born looking like herself and no one else.  I don’t know why it surprised me so much, but I had truly expected that she would look like either Henry or Piper/Rosemary.  Now that I see that I have three “looks” to my kids, I have to wonder even more if Piper and Rosemary are identical.

We can have them tested to find out.  We’ve talked about doing it before, but so far haven’t paid to have it done.  Gary said that he sort of enjoys guessing whether they are identical and doesn’t want to know if they are not identical.  I’m in sort of the same boat.  It’s pretty fun to guess.  But in a way I also want to know for sure, though it really doesn’t matter – other than that we could finally answer all those people who ask us if they are identical. 

What do you think?  Are they identical?  Should we find out or just keep guessing?


Rikki said...

We got our twin girls tested. It wasn't very much money and it's piece of mind. Its just more so I can say for sure. Chance are though, if you think they may be identical they likely are. I don't think our girls look that similar but turns out they are indeed identical!

Triple U said...

I had the same question about two of my triplets. However, now that time has passed, they are definitely not identical! The first test is whether they have the same blood type. All three of my trips have the same blood type (mine), which is strange. I had long conversations about this topic with my preinatal specialist. I think you should have them tested. I'm sure you can get their blood type from the hospital (or their records that you brought home with you).

JoLynn said...

I have actually heard there are times that non identicals look more similar. That is the case with my cousins twin girls who just turned 5. I can rarely tell them apart unless I study them. The only difference is in the shape of their face around the chin. She had their cords tested at birth and they are not identical.

Since following your blog, I often have an extremely hard time telling the girls apart and am caught off guard thinking why did she post a picture of Henry and then 2 pictures of the same girl! :)

I think you should have them tested. The question will remain not only for as long as you live, but as long as they live, as well. As they get older, the direction of the question will change to be pointed to them. I supposed you could either choose to have them tested yourselves or wait until they are old enough to understand and help in the decision.

Cathy said...

So interesting! I cannot tell Piper and Rosemary apart in pictures -- at all. I always have to go back to the text to see who's who. I think it would be neat to know for sure!

Leclercq Family said...

I am a twin. We assume we are identical but have never been tested. We assume we are identical because according to our orthodonist when we had braces, our teeth impressions were exact opposites of one another, which apparently is very rare even for identical twins. We assume we are mirror image identical twins based on this information.

My 2 girls (of my GGB triplets) are identical. I know this for sure because I did IVF and my doctor only put in 2 embryos. The girls had separate sacs and separate placentas. To me they look nothing alike. To others they look identical. Their hair parts in separate directions and always has. This is how we first could tell them apart in the NICU.

Just like me and my twin, one of them has a longer face and the other has a rounder face. One has about 1/2 an inch longer foot and is about 1/2 an inch taller. All of this is very common in identical twins. But because of the mirror image knowledge (about 1/3 or 1/4 (can't remember which) of identicals are mirror images), and b/c their hair parts in different directions and b/c they look just different enough- I assume they are mirror image identicals, just like me and my sister. With all of that said my sister and I are both right handed and it looks like my girls are both right hand dominate, and commonly mirror image identicals use different hands.

That's a lot of information, but thought I would share this as a possibility to Piper and Rosemary.

Lori said...

I vote identical. If they were my kids I probably wouldn't be able to stand not knowing. Someday they will probably want to know too.

Heather said...

Thank you everyone for leaving comments! I am starting to lean toward getting them tested. Gary and I are even talking about saving the results for a fun time (perhaps the night of their 3rd birthday party) to open up the results and find out. We will have to keep thinking on it, but I think I will go ahead and order the kit to get them tested.

Rikki -- It's so interesting to hear that you don't think your girls look that similar but they are identical. I think I feel the same way.

Triple U -- All of the big kids have my blood type too! Penelope actually has Gary's blood type, which surprised me after the other 3 had mine. I hadn't even thought about how that would indicate that they are identical as well.

JoLynn -- What a good point about how eventually the question will be asked directly to the girls. I have never even thought about that, but as much as I hear that question they are bound to hear it even more. That actually makes me want to find out even more.

Cathy -- I am starting to think that I want to know. It would be nice to be able to answer someone when they ask!

Leclercq -- TOTALLY not too much information! Thank you! I'm going to start looking out for the mirror image possibility. I do remember that their teeth came in on opposite sides first, and even though we part their hair on the same side we've recently noticed that Piper's seems to want to part on the other side. I'm going to have to think about other things. I think it's really great that you have a twin and that you have multiples yourself. That must give you a really amazing perspective on raising multiples.

Lori -- I'm with you -- the not knowing is starting to drive me crazy!

Krystyn said...

They do look a lot a like, but I'm with you...I think it's more fun not knowing.

Maybe if something medical came up where you needed to know, but otherwise, I think it's fun this way!

Anonymous said...

No way! They don't look identical at all to me. I mean, yes, they look related and like sisters. But, apart from that I think they look so different. Even when I first met y'all and the kids, I never confused them and thought they looked completely different! I don't know, I guess that is just me :)