| Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Bumps and Babies

Twins and triplets in Dubai

As the TwinsPlus festival comes back to Dubai we meet the city's 'multiples'

Identical twins Tayla and Kerryn, 12, with mum Nikki
We already had a two-year- old son when we found out I was pregnant with Tayla and Kerryn. It was a huge shock. We were young and broke – my husband threw up for a week and lost five kilos!

But I’d always wanted twins, and watching them grow up and the bond they share is truly amazing. I think it is so special to be a twin – they think it sucks, but then again they are 12 and lots of things suck. They don’t know life without a twin, a best friend forever!

The girls are mirror image twins, meaning that if they sit across from each other they are the exact opposite. Tayla is right handed and Keryn is left handed. Their hair parts on opposite sides and amazingly they lost their teeth in perfect mirror image of each other! On a couple of occasions, Keryn has been looking for Tayla, and caught her own reflection in the two way glass and she thought she was her sister!

Having twins has been fun, exciting and exhausting. The first six or seven weeks was a blur of feeding, burping, changing nappies, bathing, sleeping. Establishing a routine is the most important thing.

Carrying twins is not easy – I carried them 40 weeks and I was as round as I was tall! The biggest challenge for me personally is that everyone wants to compare them to each other: ‘who is the shy one, who is the naughty one?’ They don’t get compared to their brother and I feel the constant comparisons make them feel inadequate. I think having identical twin sisters has been hard for our son too – they have such a tight bond that he has sometimes been left out.

There’s been more than one occasion where they’ve walked out of their bedrooms wearing the same clothes, and if we’re shopping and they want to see what an item of clothes looks like, they don’t bother with a mirror and just use each other instead. When they were in their first year of school, the decided to swap classes – they planned it by drawing each other a map of their classrooms. They asked me for watches with alarms so they could synchronise the time, go to the toilet then swap back! But with the double school fees, sometimes we joke apart that we’ll pay for one and send them on alternate days!

Ayesha and Kayan Hassan, 21 month old fraternal twins, with mum Mariam
Ayesha and Kayan are our first babies. I was actually hoping to have twins as my husband wanted a girl and I wanted a boy. When I first found out I was pregnant, the doctor said, ‘Let’s see how many babies there are.’ So I was relieved there were just two and not three or more!

The unique challenges of having two children took place mostly in the first months as it is hard to establish a feeding and sleeping routine. Thinking back now, I just remember constant crying as either one of them always needed to be fed or changed. Moreover, our twins were about three-and-a-half weeks’ premature and due to their lower birth weights needed more frequent feeds than a singleton baby born on its due date. Now that they are 21 months I find it easier to handle the twins than a tot and a newborn baby.

Ayesha and Kayan are fraternal twins and the difference is clearly visible, obviously because they’re a boy and girl. Kayan is quite a bit taller and heavier than Ayesha, too. They love each other but that doesn’t mean that they don’t fight for toys or their mummy’s or daddy’s attention. At nursery they also interact with other kids and don’t just stick to each other. There are a lot of instances when their special twins bond shows. They really watch out for each other – when we go somewhere, they always make sure their brother or sister is close by. They also bring their nursery bags and shoes for each other when they get ready in the morning.

Identical twins Erin and Tara, 10 months, with parents Michelle and David
Our identical girls are so similar, even David struggled at the start to tell them apart, and family members often find it difficult to tell the difference over Skype. It gets easier after a couple of days, but at this age, there’s no distinctive differences between them.

It was a shock when we first found out we were having twins. We were told at our six week scan that there was only one baby – it wasn’t until the second scan three months later that we were expecting twins. The doctor who did the scan was a good friend, and when she saw the screen, her jaw nearly hit the floor!

With twins, you are always on the go, so it’s very important for both parents to get involved. Michelle has been integral in getting the routine organized – and it sometimes becomes like a military operation to get the simplest things done.

People have different reactions to the twins here in the UAE – they’ll often take pictures or ask the most bizarre personal questions! On the other hand, we stop people with twins and ask them are they aware of the TwinsPlus support group, as I came across them at their first festival last March.

Only recently, the girls have really begun interacting and playing with each other and fighting already over toys. We can already see completely different personalities shining through so we’re looking forward to all the fun stuff that’s ahead of us.

Parents Maggie and Rohit, with fraternal triplets Rabir, Avi and Mehul, age 10
We found out we were having triplets on a visit to the radiologist. When he found three heartbeats, my husband and I looked at each other totally blank. I still remember how I burst out with fits of laughter, wondering how on earth I’d manage raising three babies. It was a mixture of shock, surprise and joy.

The first two years of their lives just whizzed by, and I was lucky if I got to see the sunlight! Overnight I turned into superwoman with extraordinary strength, learning to multitask at the speed of Concorde. A strict routine, discipline, perseverance and positivity were the key things to practice everyday. The boys came with their own packages – premature, underweight, colic and severe eczema, followed by asthma and now severe food allergies! But even after all that, this is the best thing ever happened to me. How I do look forward to Mother’s Day every year!

Having triplets is like having an instant family, all done and dusted with. The boys are fraternal but ironically last year won an award for the ‘most non identical triplets’. They grow together, while I learn how to tackle new challenges every year. My only worry at present is that the triplets are tweens which itself is quite a challenging stage with a lot of curiosity about the world. And what are their teens going to bring? We just have to go with the flow and take one challenge at a time.

Parents Alyaa and Sinan with triplets Farah, Jasmin and Jana, 4
The triplets are fraternal and different in every way: their look, their characters and attitudes. The oldest, Farah, is bold and a leader, but very kind and caring of her sisters. Jasmine, the middle sister, is smart, athletic and a thinker, while Jana, the youngest, is quiet and shy, and likes to help around the house.

It was a big shock when we first found out we were pregnant with triplets, and our biggest question was how we’d manage. The most important challenge for me was whether it would be possible to return to work.

One of the most challenging aspects of triplets was managing our finances. Everything is multiplied by three, so we needed a bigger house with enough space to fit everything in! Actually, nothing about raising three kids at the same time is particularly easy – we took a long time to get used to our new life. In fact, I’d say that raising triplets here in the UAE is a bit like going to battle without a helmet!

It’s very costly, when you look at things like school fees, and because we couldn’t find a suitable nanny, my husband and I decided to depend on our own efforts only: when I’m night duty, my husband returns early from work to feed the kids, do homework and showers, then and when I work mornings, it’s my turn.

But when they surround us with hugs and kisses that make us so happy, we forget all the day’s tiredness and we just sit there enjoying listening to their conversation realizing they are growing up so fast. Having a triplets is really a challenging experience full of cries, fatigue and effort, but at the same time, full of joy, happiness and love.

Time Out Dubai,

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It can be an amazing experience to meet so may twins, triplets and more at one place, we were at the fashion show of twins and triplets and will definitely be there for the TwinsPlus event!

Review by : macci

Can't wait to see them and more at the TwinsPlus Festival 2013. Heard it is in Zabeel park on 22nd March, this is their website for those who want to join the fun! www.twinsplusfestival.com

Review by : Nathalie