Twins, triplets share inseparable bond

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 24, 2008

Imagine growing up with, going to school with and living with a mirror.

You have to share clothes, friends and even a face. People call you by the wrong name all the time.

But you have a built-in friend — someone who shares your troubles, someone you can always turn to.

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Welcome to the life of a twin, triplet or other multiple.

Three of a kind

These three toddlers were dressed in matching pink outfits. They all looked in wide-eyed wonder at the world around them. Two are identical, and one looks only slightly different.

But 1-year-old Amani Faith, Ameri Hope and Amiya Joy are very different people already, the whole family agrees.

“They all had different personalities from the very beginning,” mother Sanita Gutter said of her triplets. “Hope was pretty feisty. She’s still the most adventurous of the three.”

As if to prove her mother’s point, fun-loving Hope tried to dance on brother Alec Chandler’s lap.

On the living room floor, Joy examines a toy. Slowly, she turned it over, looking at the brightly colored pieces.

“Joy likes to be the onlooker,” Gutter said. “She gets a lot of pleasure out of that. She’s observant. She’ll take something and work with it.

“They’re all curious in their own ways, but she has the most patience to figure out how a toy works.”

Alec agrees.

“She’s the brains of the operation,” he said.

Meanwhile, the oldest by only minutes, Faith, sits on her father Mitchell’s lap. She gets him to play, giving him hugs and kissing his cheek every so often.

“She is the most affectionate,” Gutter said. “And she’s more determined in getting what she wants.”

And although the three are triplets, identical Faith and Hope seem to share a special bond, their parents agree. They will fall asleep at the same time, play together more and even have the same eating habits.

“If they’re sleeping, they’ll turn at the same time,” Gutter said. “It’s cute.”

Neither parent expects the three girls to get any more alike in the coming years. And although three 1-year-olds can be a handful, it’s worth all the work.

“It’s so much fun to see how they each interact,” Mitchell Gutter said. “And this is just the start.”

Share and share alike

Mollie and Kimble Devening, 12, don’t look exactly alike. But the fraternal twins are similar enough that new people still call them by the wrong names.

And there are some striking similarities between the two girls. They often answer in unison, and they have similar ideas.

They even notice it themselves sometimes.

“The first day of school, we picked the same seat in the same English classroom, and we’re not even in the same class,” Kimble said.

But the girls make a point to distinguish themselves from each other. Not that they don’t like being twins, but identity is important, Mollie said.

“We do different things,” Mollie said.

“We have different best friends, and we sometimes go separately to other people’s houses,” Kimble said.

Sometimes closeness leads to arguments, such as who gets the shower first, an ongoing debate.

But overall, a twin is an important asset, the two said.

“If something happens at school, you can talk about it to your twin,” Kimble said. “Your twin can understand you better than most people can.”

A couple grades up, identical twins Catherine and Elizabeth Schmitz, 15, have learned to share and distinguish themselves at the same time.

Catherine wears her wavy hair up, while Elizabeth’s straight hair hangs loose.

“I’m on the dance team,” Catherine said.

“And I’m a cheerleader, so that separates us a little,” Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth likes math, while Catherine likes English.

Over time, they’ve learned to share clothes, some friends and even a car.

They’ve even learned to share a name. To avoid calling one of the twins by the wrong name, classmates have found a shortcut.

“Most people just say, ‘Hey, Schmitz!’” Catherine said. “I like being a twin. But it might be nice to be, ‘Hey, Catherine!’”

A life of one’s own

Demeshia and Shaneshia Harris might be fraternal, but they nearly share the same face.

The two 25-year-olds have interests that mesh but aren’t exactly the same.

“We like music,” Shaneshia said. “But she sings, and I love to play the piano. We don’t have similarities in everything.”

Both girls are passionate about their music. They both graduated from Louisiana State University. They were even roommates.

“Sometimes we wished we looked exactly alike,” Shaneshia said. “We would say, ‘I wish she looked just like me so she could go to class for me today.’”

Demeshia majored in kinesthiology, and Shaneshia majored in education.

And although the two are different people, they are very close.

“We’re each other’s best friends,” Demeshia said. “We share ups and downs together. We get a chance to help each other in times when we need a helping hand. And we look out for each other.”

For Sheneshia, the most challenging part of being a twin is being separated. She’s staying in Natchez for a time, while Demeshia is still in Baton Rouge. Sheneshia said she wonders how they will cope if future events take them away from each other.

“After we get married and go our separate ways, I would think that will be the most challenging part,” she said. “We’ve been together all of our lives.”

Family ties

Identical twins Nanette New and Annette Rabb solved that problem — at 51, they’ve never been more than a few minutes away from each other.

Ann and Nan have lived in Natchez since they were born. Never more than a short drive apart, vacations without the other are incredibly difficult to bear.

“When Nan took a trip to the Holy Land, it felt like part of me was halfway around the world,” Ann said.

They have such a strong bond, they said, they feel each other’s stress, joy and aches and pains.

“The older we got, the closer we got,” Nan said. “When we’re apart, it’s hard.”

The two share the same taste in clothes, food and love for God. They even share children.

For 12 years, Nan and her husband couldn’t have children, so Ann’s children became hers, as well.

“They have two sets of parents,” Ann said.

Looking and sounding alike presents occasional problems, though. Often, people will mistake one for the other and get offended when the wrong sister doesn’t recognize them.

But the two love having a constant companion.

“I feel sorry for people who don’t have a twin,” Nan said.

Ann agreed.

“I can’t imagine life without her.”