Seeing Double : Twins Are on the Rise

Photo | Submitted Eleven-year-old twins Alexandra and Zachary Kramer have lived in Lakelands since they were born.

Photo | Submitted
Eleven-year-old twins Alexandra and Zachary Kramer have lived in Lakelands since they were born.

Most residents agree, the Kentlands and Lakelands communities are great for raising kids. Well-regarded schools are close by, playgrounds and green spaces are plentiful, and older kids can easily walk to the movie theatre or a restaurant with their friends. For many parents, these amenities have become almost a necessity. For the parents of twins, they’re a lifesaver.

Christy Froehlich, who has twin 11-year-old girls, Faith and Josie, said living in Kentlands has been a “blessing.” “The saying, ‘it takes a village,’ rings very true in this community,” she said. “The proximity of the schools, retail area and so many friends makes living here fun and convenient.”

Froehlich is hardly alone in the triumphs and hardships of raising twins in these neighborhoods: Offhand she was able to think of three other sets of who lived nearby and attended Rachel Carson Elementary School.

Twins are on the rise across the United States. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the number of twin births between 1980 and 2009 rose by a staggering 76 percent. That means approximately one in every 30 babies born in the United States is a twin.

The simple explanation for this rise is that the age at which women marry and begin to have children is steadily increasing. The average age for a woman to marry is now 26, and many are then waiting several more years to start having a family. With an increasing number of women having their first children well within their 30s, one of two factors can make them more likely to have twins. The first is that older women are more likely to require reproductive assistance to conceive. Whether that is simply fertility drugs or IVF, the chances of having multiples in greatly increased. The second factor is that, even without medical intervention, women in their 30s are more likely to produce more than one egg per cycle, which explains the rise in naturally-occurring fraternal twins.

Froehlich, however, was only 29 when she conceived. It was “a complete shock,” said Frolich. “My husband wasn’t with me for the [prenatal] appointment, so when I called to tell him, he asked me if I was sure the charts hadn’t been mixed up. I had to assure him that [the doctor] was reading a live ultrasound and there [were no] charts to be mixed up.”

For Emmanuelle Kramer, just two years older when she conceived twins at the age of 31, it was a different story. She and her husband had been trying for two years and had just done their third round of IVF when they found out they were expecting twins.

“We knew it was possible,” said Kramer. “Two embryos had been implanted. But my husband almost fainted!”

Kramer’s twins, 11-year-old Zachary and Alexandra, were eventually joined by a little sister, Sydney, now 4.

Kramer, along with many other local parents of twins, is a member of the Montgomery County Multiples Group. She said that, coupled with living in the Kentlands community, was immeasurably helpful.

Photo | Submitted Parents Tom and Beth Bell and daughter Lainey are keeping busy this summer with the addition of twin boys Logan (right) and Jaxson (left) to their family.

Photo | Submitted
Parents Tom and Beth Bell and daughter Lainey are keeping busy this summer with the addition of twin boys Logan (right) and Jaxson (left) to their family.

“It’s such a good, supportive neighborhood for kids,” Kramer emphasized. “[There are] so many parks to go to, and it’s so easy to get to grocery stores. I could always just walk everywhere — even if I just got stir-crazy.”

One of the greatest parts of living in Lakeland, she said, is the sheer number of twin sets: “There are so many twins in the neighborhood. They don’t feel too different. There are six sets just in their grade!”

Lakelands resident Christine Neal, the mother of twin 9-year-old girls Emma and Bella, was 34 years old when she became pregnant with her daughters. She believes her case was a natural fluke because the girls are identical, which is not hereditary and not the results of multiple embryos. Despite all of this, however, Neal said she had a feeling she was carrying twins.

“I just had a weird intuition that I was having twins. And [at my 8-week prenatal appointment] — sure enough— there were two fetuses on the monitor!”

Neal, who also has an 11-year-old son, Sammy, kept a sense of balance by staying at home with the twins for 11 months, then hired an au pair so she could work about 20 – 25 hours a week. She said living in the Lakelands community helped her both during pregnancy and after her daughters were born.

“I love my neighbors and cannot even count all the times I have relied on them for help even if it was just an ear to listen,” Neal said. “I can’t imagine living anywhere else — there is so much support in this community. [While pregnant,] I was on bed rest from 24 to 34 weeks. My friends coordinated to have meals prepared and brought to my house several nights a week. They would even take my son on play dates.”

She noted that having the twins was a significant adjustment for her son, who was just 2 years old at the time. “He was too young to really understand and was quite jealous that his mommy was no longer just his mommy and that he had to share me with two sisters,” said Neal.

Lakelands resident Beth Bell is new to the world of twins: Her sons, Logan and Jaxson, are almost 4 months old. She already had a [now 4-year-old] daughter, Lainey, and was 39 when she found out she was having twins. Despite her age, both Bell and her husband were surprised by the news, which they received at just 6 weeks gestation.

After learning twins were on the way, the family had to buy a bigger car. She also had a small shower, though gifts were gender-neutral since the Bells waited to learn the sex of the babies until they were born.

Bell said so far the neighborhood has been a big help for her and her family. “It’s a great community. I can walk [to most places], there are a bunch of tot lots, a baby pool, and so many of the restaurants are kid-friendly. They don’t mind us making a ton of noise.”

Additionally, Bell said her daughter has been a big help caring for the babies. “She holds their bottles, gets diapers, and helps a lot more than I thought she would or could,” Bell admitted. “She always wants to play with them — even though she says they don’t do anything!”

All these mothers agree that in these traditional neighborhood developments is not only ideal for children, but a perfect place to have and raise twins of all ages. And the added bonus of living in such tight-knit communities?

“The kids don’t get into as much trouble here because there are eyes everywhere,” said Kramer with a laugh. “Everywhere they go, there are people the children know — and the parents know them, too.”