I am the mother of fraternal twins. Fraternal twins means that two separate eggs were fertilized by two separate sperm and essentially, the only thing special about that is that conception happened at the same time so they grew in my womb together. My body happened to release two eggs at the same time and they both fertilized and grew into children.
That’s it. They do not look any more alike than two “regular” siblings. They have no more genetic material in common than regular siblings. Yet they are called “twins” because they were born on the same day at the same time from the same womb. Nothing crazy special about that (well, I think they are crazy special but it’s certainly not front page news!)
In 2007 I grew surrogate triplets. They were created via IVF (in-vitro fertilization). They were created with three different eggs and three different sperm. The only thing that made these babies triplets rather than just siblings is the fact that they grew in the same uterus at the same time and share a birthday. Fraternal triplets but still “real” triplets.
So, Generally (keeping it simple and only speaking of fraternal siblings here and not the phenomenon of identical twins):
One egg + one sperm = one baby.
One egg + one sperm spread out over multiple pregnancies = siblings.
Two (ore more) eggs + two (or more) sperm + one pregnancy = fraternal twin (or more) siblings.
Everyone okay so far with my lesson?
This morning I opened up my MSN messenger browser and I see top billing to this story:
Triplets Born 11 Years Apart
Um, hello!? Who in the world told the news that these were triplets?? I think it’s ridiculous that they are billing the story as such.
Yes, it’s a wonderful blessing that this family now has three beautiful children. I think it’s awesome they were able to use IVF successfully to grow their family. AMAZING, AMAZING, AMAZING! I love modern medicine and IVF and all that jazz. Simply wonderful and beautiful children!
Three eggs + three sperm = SIBLINGS (made of fraternal twins and a singleton)
Yes, the first two grew together resulting in twins. But the third child is no more a triplet than my three boys. I’m sorry, but it’s just not. The wild news stories that get put out are just stupid. This is just as ridiculous as the “man has baby” story from a while back, don’t get me started on that (a woman living as a man is still biologically a woman….a woman had a baby, that’s not news).
Anyhow. This is my little rant and genetics lesson for you today. You’re welcome.
Image credit World Wide Features via Daily Mail.