*** In a book at the library, I find an image of twins nestled together in their mother's womb. As a fetus first opening my eyes at the gestational age of six months, I must have encountered my twin looking back at me.
In addition to the traumatic separation from their mother at birth, psychologists believe, twins also experience a brutal rupture from their twin, with whom they have shared an intimate relationship in the womb, negotiating for nutrients and space.
Though consciousness in the womb has not been scientifically proven, many people claim to have a memory of a lost twin. One reason may be that researchers estimate that 12 to 15 percent of us began life in the womb as a twin. Yet only one in eighty twin conceptions survive to full term.
Early in a pregnancy, a second or third embryonic sac may appear on ultrasound tests, only to disappear later. In such cases, these embryos are partially reabsorbed by the mother or by the other twin, or they are just shed entirely. Without complications in the pregnancy, these aptly named "vanishing twins" sometimes go unnoticed, often leaving no trace. Since twins are more likely to be lefthanded (20 percent of twins, compared to 10 to 12 percent of the total population), some twin experts speculate that many lefthanders could be the remnants of a twin pregnancy.
In rare cases, two embryos merge and one twin incorporates the other; the result is called a chimera. In Greek mythology, the Chimera possesses the head of a lion, the body of a goat, and the tail of a serpent. Unlike the gruesome creature for which it is named, the human chimera may only be detected through DNA or blood tests that reveal two blood types in a single person.
And yet, since identical twins share a blood type, it is virtually impossible to determine in a singleton birth if there was originally an identical twin in the womb with her.
PAULA: Dwarfed by the maze of packed cardboard boxes that surround me, I wonder how my husband and I managed to amass so much junk. Piles of books and garbage bags filled with old clothing beckon to be rummaged through and sorted.
We've been in our new apartment in Brooklyn for just over a month and today is the day I have set aside to create some order out of the chaos. The ascetic life is looking good as I envision a sleek, Zen-like apartment with minimal furniture. But reality -- especially with a toddler -- is a lot messier.
It's the sort of brutally cold early February day when you can see your breath. Despite the weather, my husband, Avo, has bundled up our daughter, Jesse, and carted her off to the nearby playground so I can focus on the task ahead of me. I've declared Jesse's second birthday, just two weeks away, as my unofficial deadline for clearing out the moving boxes.
In addition to showing off Jesse's newfound skills of walking and talking, the event will also serve as an unofficial judgment day. When Avo and I decided to flee the funky East Village for family oriented Park Slope, Brooklyn, we knew our more eccentric friends might not get it. Jesse's party will be the first opportunity for our Village friends to inspect our new digs and to give us an earful about how we'd sold out.