Having twins often means double the fun, joy and laughter. The first smile, the first words, the first baby steps, all of the good things comes in a pair! Of course, this also means double the temper tantrums, double the fights, arguments and cries.
We spoke to Sheryl Castro, mother of our cover page models for our online magazine, on what it’s like to raise her very lovable twins, Kurt and Axel.
Hi Sheryl, congrats on winning our cover page model contest! Tell us more about your twins…
Kurt John and Axel John were born on July 18, 2008 in Hong Kong. Kurt, who is bigger and taller was born a minute before Axel and acts like the big brother between them. They have many nicknames from my family and friends but most of the time they are recognized as AK.
Besides the fact that they look identical, they do have many other similarities. They both love playing outdoors and water activities. Both are talented and enjoy singing, dancing, reciting poems and mimicking others. They also love bedtime stories after their pillow fights. Both are jolly and like to laugh together while watching their favorite Tom and Jerry cartoons.
However, when it comes to food, Kurt enjoys all kinds of food and loves to eat while Axel is pickier. Kurt is enamored with Superman and Thomas the Train while Axel likes his 3B’s – Batman, Bumble Bee and Ben 10. Personality wise, Kurt tends to be more sociable while Axel is a little snobbish and plays with only people he knows. The one thing that they both like and always want is my attention!
Do you have any other twins in your family? We heard it runs in the family.
Not from my side of the family but my husband’s. My mother-in-law has twin siblings.
How did you react when you first heard you were having twins?
My first reaction was elation! That I have been blessed to have twins. I felt double the happiness; I got up every morning with a smile on my face knowing that there are two lives inside me. Concerns started to kick in when I had to change my lifestyle to ensure mine and their health during my pregnancy. I felt more aware of the type of food that I eat and the change in personal habits. I sincerely prayed for strength and wisdom to surmount my fears of raising two children simultaneously, and at the age of 25.
How was it like giving birth to not one, but two babies at the same time?
Axel and Kurt were delivered through cesarean delivery. I had fears like all first-time mothers but my fears and anxieties were probably doubled. But I felt protected knowing that my babies will be removed from my womb surgically, as I was already advised by my doctor that it was the best method for my case. It was very overwhelming in the delivery room with my husband and meeting our two angels from above for the first time. Their tags were labeled as B1 and B2.
How do you and your husband tell them apart?
We never get them mixed up but our families and friends do. It was easier for us because we see them every day but later it was easier for everyone as Axel has a mole on the right side of his nose. As they grew older, it also got easier to differentiate them from the way they smile and carry themselves. I can also distinguish and recognize their voices even though they sound alike. Even their crying is alike!
Can you share with us any special moment(s) where your twins had with each other?
They argue about toys but they are happiest when in each other’s company. During rare times when they are apart, both of them will always try to find each other. And although they have a natural tendency to vie for my attention, whenever one needs it more than the other, such as when one of them is sick or hurt, the other will give in without being asked to. This happened even when they were still toddlers.
Did Axel and Kurt try to prank people by pretending to be each other?
Right now there are no such moments as they want people to know who they are as an individual. They want people to know them individually as Kurt and Axel, and to be able to tell them apart. Of course, when it comes to mischief, boys being boys, they will not run out of ideas to try and get your attention all the time.
Sometimes for no reason, one of them will suddenly declare that his brother is playing with his toy. This will be followed by a tug of war of sorts, and a long ‘discussion’ between the two of them as to whom the toy actually belongs to. The result always ends up with a rather teary request to Mommy, to decide the ‘true’ owner of the toy.
What were some of the difficulties you faced when raising the both of them, and how did you overcome them?
Help, in the form of supportive family and friends, was how I overcome the difficulties I faced, especially when we moved from Hong Kong to the Philippines and then to Singapore. During this time, I was also separated from my husband. I am very blessed to have a very strong support system – my family, especially my sisters who were with me throughout and my circle of close friends, who never left my side and had the patience to hear me out when I needed to be comforted.
Having a spiritual faith was another source of support. I was also able to overcome my fears by praying. I always thank God for giving me the opportunity to raise wonderful kids and even though it was hard, I believe that He will provide and He never fails to bless me and AK.
Care to share some tips for mummies out there with twins?
I treat each of them as a unique individual, with their own likes and dislikes and respectful of the fact that even though they are twins, they have their own dispositions as well. When it comes to disciplining them, I talk to them with authority while trying to explain things in a way a three-year-old can comprehend. They recognize punishments such as standing in the corner and not getting a smile from mom when they do something which is inappropriate, such as fighting and hurting each other. I have also taught them the value of sharing and that as twin brothers; they have to be best friends. I try not to spoil them as I want them to learn that if they want something, they have to be patient.
What is the main take away you have learned from raising your two boys?
No matter what difficulties I go through in having them in my life, it is all worth it.
Any words of encouragement to say to the mothers out there?
Being a mother is a privilege and for everything that I try, I think the best I can give them are good memories of love, care and affection. Being a mother is a very wonderful thing and you will find yourself always wanting to be with them, simply because you believe they deserve the best of your time. Don’t feel bad or guilty when if you find yourself wanting to go out with friends. I believe it is important for mothers to enjoy ourselves once in a while, as we also need our own avenues to release our stress. I have also proven to myself that being a mother is not easy but it is a wonderful blessing indeed.
Sheryl Castro is a full time working mother as an Assistant Account Manager for a travel and lifestyle magazine. Her husband is based in Hong Kong and she has been taking care of her twins with the help of her sisters and a helper since she moved to Singapore.
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