When I was pregnant with Addison and Mackenzie, I remember the doctor telling me one time that quite often, one identical twin would have slightly rounder features than the other. Usually, she said, it would be Baby B that was a bit rounder, though no one could really explain why. Whatever the reason, it turned out to be true in our case. Mackenzie, Baby B, has slightly rounder eyes and a rounder face than her sister.
People would ask me how I planned to tell the girls apart after they were born. I would answer, "By their hospital bracelets, of course!" Jeremy joked that it wouldn't matter if we mixed them up at first...after all, they would never know the difference, right? Though I knew he was kidding, it hurt to imagine that our girls might not have their own identity, that it wouldn't matter whether she was switched with her sister or not. We had decided that Baby A would be Addison, and I felt that I knew something about her by her position in my womb, by her movements and her kicks. Likewise with my sweet feet-down Baby B, Mackenzie, who liked to curl up on my left side and kicked her sister more than she kicked me so that I didn't feel her nearly as often.
Truth be told, I was a little scared about how we would tell them apart. I have not had an easy time identifying who's who among the few sets of identical twins I know, and the thought bothered me...What if I couldn't tell my own children apart?
There was so much overwhelming activity after their birth that I didn't have too much time to think about it at first. Thank goodness for those hospital bracelets! I did notice fairly quickly though, that the shape of their foreheads were different, giving Mackenzie the appearance of a much fuller set of cheeks than Addison. And one of the first things I noticed was that Addison had my nose...like exactly. What a strange feeling it was to see MY nose on another person and being reminded that she truly did come from me. We finally took the bracelets off after a week or so at home, but painted one of Addison's thumbnails a light pink, just in case. I still sometimes needed to see the girls together to be completely sure who was who, but I felt more sure that I would eventually be comfortable knowing my own children with some certainty.
Here's a picture when the girls were about three months old, where I think you can see Mackenzie's rounder features (particularly the eyes and head) and maybe the difference in their noses (Addison's is a bit sharper and ever-so-slightly crooked at the bottom, while Mackenzie's is more rounded):
Mackenzie is on the left; Addison the right
So, as the girls grew and changed and developed unique little personalities, we all realized that we would know them apart after all. I even began to believe that old adage from twin parents, that "You just know who's who after awhile." For the first few months, Jeremy still felt unsure of himself at times, so he was elated when we discovered that Mackenzie had developed a small brown freckle on her upper right hip, just under the leg of her diaper, so he could be confirm an identity when he needed to!
Of course, looking back at old pictures, there are still some I have to think about!
Addison is on the right in this one...identified by her nose and the fact that her left eye crinkles up more when she smiles sometimes.
Around 4-6 months, we became aware that Addison's head was slightly flat on the back, caused by being the presenting Baby A (farther down in the uterus) and taking the brunt of all the pressure of her sister resting on top of her (Poor Addison!). So for a time, the girls could be identified by the shape of their heads...until they grew enough hair to throw that theory out the window.
Addison on the left.
Again, in looking back at old pictures, I can see how they could easily be confused for one another at times. They look pretty alike in these pictures, even to a mama who "just knows" which is which!
Addison on the left; Mackenzie on the right.
That's Addison in the front in this one...though I had to think about it for a bit to be sure!
I identified these next pictures as the point where, even looking back months later, they have really started to take on unique personas and really look like themselves, not just my identical twins, if that makes sense. I rarely have to think about who's who from this point on in our pictures; it's obvious that it's Addison on the left and Mackenzie on the right. I stopped looking at features and just know. It became much harder to tell people "what to look for" in telling them apart.
This is also the point where Addison's (L) hair began to grow quite a bit faster than Mackenzie's.
Here is another one where you can see how much longer Addison's (R) hair is. You can probably also pick out Mackenzie's fuller cheeks and rounder nose:
Several of you noticed that their hair parts differently. It does, and it also swirls in opposite directions at the crown. Mackenzie's part is on the left side of her head, while Addison's hair parts on her right. Sometimes, as in the bed-head picture above, it can be difficult to tell where a part might be! Mackenzie is still slightly fuller in the cheeks than Addison, and she has retained the perfectly round eyes, particularly when she's concentrating or watching something intently. Though the girls have stayed almost exactly the same weight most of their lives, Mackenzie has now pulled ahead of Addison by nearly a pound. You can feel the slight difference when holding them, but it's not obvious in looking at them. Mackenzie may also be a hair taller than Addison; I'm curious to see for sure at their two-year appointment.
Addison (L); Mackenzie (R)
So, in short, there is no magic feature to look for in identifying my girls, unless you can catch the hair part or check Mackenzie's upper thigh for a freckle! It sounds so cliche and yet I was afraid I would never be able to say it, but I really have stopped thinking about how to identify them. I really do just know that it's Addison or Mackenzie. They have become such separate little people...which is a good thing, in terms of personality development, I think. They each have such specific facial expressions and habits now. Even my aunt, who struggled for a long time, can tell them apart now...at least, most of the time.
We are trying to teach them to tell people who they are, to make it a little easier at school and such. You don't think much about this until you experience it with multiples (and particularly same-sex or identicals, perhaps?), but can you imagine how hard it would be to learn who you really are as a child when you nearly always hear your name in conjunction with someone else's? Or when you look in the mirror (which is tricky for babies anyway!) and see a reflection that looks just like the person you share a bedroom with? It's got to be hard on a little mind. Addison is getting better at identifying herself. Mackenzie can do it too, but she often points to her own chest and says, "Addison", with a little grin that makes me think she knows exactly what she is doing. We could be in for a wild ride with these two!
So, after the lesson, can you identify who's who in this picture?