South County club offers help for moms of multiples

After discovering she was pregnant, Linda Simpson told her husband James she wanted another baby. With three young children at home, James didn’t like the idea. But Linda challenged him, joking, “Don’t tell me what to do — I’ll have twins!” And she did. Twins weren’t new in the Simpson family. Simpson’s husband James is an identical twin. Her twin daughter Jana later continued the tradition, having a set of twins herself. Still, twins were a surprise for Simpson. She found out only six weeks before giving birth. So she was thrilled to receive an invitation to join Valley Mothers of Multiples Club, Inc., (then Valley Mothers of Twins Club).

  • Friday, June 13, 2008 6:26pm
  • Life

Jenny Schrepfer tosses one of her 10-month-old twins

Club gives busy moms their time to get away

After discovering she was pregnant, Linda Simpson told her husband James she wanted another baby. With three young children at home, James didn’t like the idea. But Linda challenged him, joking, “Don’t tell me what to do — I’ll have twins!”

And she did. Twins weren’t new in the Simpson family. Simpson’s husband James is an identical twin. Her twin daughter Jana later continued the tradition, having a set of twins herself.

Still, twins were a surprise for Simpson. She found out only six weeks before giving birth. So she was thrilled to receive an invitation to join Valley Mothers of Multiples Club, Inc., (then Valley Mothers of Twins Club).

With clothing exchanges, a resource library and friendly moms of twins and triplets from across South King County, Valley Mothers was a “lifesaver,” says Simpson, 65. She says it was “mom’s time to get away.”

At 36, Jana and her twin Jill are grown, and Simpson no longer needs to get away. But she and other Valley Mothers veteran Carol Callia continue their membership. They are some of the 40-year-old club’s longest members.

“Obviously, we don’t need support, but we’re here to support newer moms,” says Callia, 60, of Renton.

She and Simpson answer questions and give advice to the 60-some members. They also join club members in supporting research, organizing scholarships and advocating placing twins (or triplets) together in school. One member has triplets.

“A lot of new moms ask questions, and they’re happy to know they can get through it and that we’re still alive,” Simpson says. Simpson lives on the Renton-Covington border.

In a lot of ways, Simpson says twins were easier to raise than singletons (slang for single kids). Jana and her sister Jill aged at the same time, and the best friends entertained each other. But twindom was expensive, with both girls requiring new basketball shoes and other sports gear at the same time.

Simply telling the twins apart could also be tricky. Ankle bracelets with name charms helped when Simpson’s curly haired girls were babies. As did Jana’s rounder face and Jill’s fuller eyebrows.

Callia could tell her identical boys apart, but her husband couldn’t. Victor and Michael are now 37. They are the first two of her six children. Like Simpson, Callia discovered she was pregnant with twins only six weeks before their birth. That was before ultrasounds were common.

Callia received a Valley Mothers of Multiples newsletter while still in hospital recovering from childbirth.

“I said ‘I can’t go, I have new twins,’” Callia recalls. “They said, ‘Hey, somebody can come get you. You need time out.’ And it was true; I needed time out.”

She gave birth in January and joined in early March. Callia doesn’t remember asking many questions during “Twin Talk,” which closes each meeting. But school placement and birthday parties could be challenging.

Trying to maintain their individuality, Callia once held separate birthday parties for her sons. But it ended with left-out feelings. “It was the worst thing ever,” she says.

Still, Simpson says she sometimes had to remind party guests that two people don’t share cards or presents. “Which scrapbook would you like this to go in?” she would ask.

Callia’s sons shared classes in school until fourth grade, when they received identical grades. She knew that couldn’t be. One was good at science and the other math. The teacher’s response? “Hey, they’re twins.” Callia separated Victor and Michael after that.

Jana and Jill didn’t have class together until high school. Jana lives in Renton and Jill in Tacoma, but they talk at least three times a day. They have plenty of twinship connections. Both work in the travel industry, and each had their first child only a week apart. The two sometimes show up at events wearing the same clothes.

“We finish each others sentences,” Jana says.

“We can look across the room at each other and know what the other is thinking,” Jill adds.

Both have curly brown hair and glasses. Jill still gets mistaken for Jana and Jana for Jill.

But the twins have different personalities. That’s how their mom tells them apart on the phone. Jana is more outspoken, while Jill’s old nickname is Switzerland, for her neutral stances.

With fraternal 15-month twins Sadie and Riess, Jana is a Valley Mothers member. Jill has two children, but no multiples. She comes to meetings when in town.

Both girls grew up in the club, hunting for Easter eggs and attending Christmas parties with the other children. Building what they call “twinship friendships.”

“It was a nice thing for us to grow up with other twins,” Jana says. “We didn’t feel odd.”

Jana gets a lot twin tips from club members. As does Fairwood resident Kriss Bridgham, a two-year club member.

Like Jana, Bridgham had fertility treatments, which increases the likelihood of twins or multiples. Although her pregnancy was difficult, she was “ecstatic” to have twins.

She calls 16-month old fraternals Rebecca and Kimberly “little opposites.”

“At three days old, Rebecca rolled over and slapped Kim, then 10 minutes later they were holding hands. I was like, ‘Oh, this is the rest of our life.’”

Valley Mothers of Multiples Club will be there along the way.

“It’s a good support system for parents of twins growing up,” Jill says.

Mothers of Multiple

The Valley Mothers of Multiples Club, Inc. meets the third Thursday of each month from 7-9:30 p.m. at the First Christian Church of Kent at 11717 S.E. 240th St. Meet and greet begins at 7, followed by the general meeting and a speaker or workshop. For more information, visit www.valleymothersofmultiplesclub.org, or e-mail info@valleymothersofmultiplesclub.org


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