Technically, Irish Twins are two children born to the same mother from two separate pregnancies within 365 days of each other. The term is intended to be derogatory, which is a total bummer, me being quite Irish and all. Interestingly, it's pretty much become American vernacular to use the term to define any two siblings who were born less than two years apart or so. You know, the ones that are so close in age that they really look like they could be fraternal twins but you're just not quite sure.
My "Irish Twins" are exactly 14 1/2 months apart. Over the last three years I've discovered just how common this really is. Just about everyone I meet for the first time either knows someone who had little ones close together or perhaps has a sibling so close in age. I even worked with someone who was born on her sister's first birthday.
But the best of all is the chance to meet a mom with her own Irish twins, especially a pair that's still little. The conversation almost always goes like this:
Her: How old are your kids?
Me: 3 and 4 (or insert whatever age they were at the time)
Her: And how far apart are they?
Me: Fourteen months (I leave off the 1/2 so I don't sound like a nut to someone I've just met.)
Her: Oh, mine are 15 months apart!
Me; Oh, so you KNOW!
Always, it always goes down that way! There's rarely ever even a deviation from the script. We instantly bond because we both KNOW. We know about the two years straight of lost sleep. We know about the assault on your body from back to back pregnancies and nursing. We know about the infinite, infinite diaper changes. We know about the ease with which contagious illnesses spread and continue to circulate. We miss our bodies, our husbands, our short term memory and our sanity.
But...we also know so much more about how to do it all better the second time because we just did the very same thing a few months ago. We know what to buy and what not to buy. We know how to get two babies and ourselves ready and out of the house in the time it takes one husband to shower and shave. We know how to maximize the space underneath a double stroller and can pack in everything you or I would need on any given Target run. And we know that hand-me-downs are a precious thing, regardless of gender.
The best part, though, is that we also know how two siblings can truly love one another. We know that they can and will develop their own version of twinspeak (and can probably translate). We know how much one child can miss the other simply from being apart while sleeping at night or naptime. We know that empathy develops far earlier than textbooks claim. We know that these two little souls will be eternally tied to one another in a way that only they will fully understand.
Some days I look at my children and wonder what they will be like when they're older. Will they stay this close? (I know they will.) I wonder if there are more babies in our future. (My kids would make a great big brother and big sister.) But I just can't imagine tipping the balance of this perfectly unplanned little family.