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What’s in a Face? A Deeper Look at Mirror Image Twins.


Our faces can reveal more than we think and by observing someone’s physical characteristics, we have the ability to assess a person’s identity, personality, and even emotions.

Olivier Pascalis, a psychologist at England’s University of Sheffield, reported that our facial recognition starts in infancy with the capacity to recognize, “different races, emotions, identities, characteristics and genders and [this] strengthens over time.”

Pascalis further asserts that having ‘individual characteristics helps us form separate lives and identities.’  However, what if you shared the same face with someone else?  How would life be different and how would others respond to you?

We asked Christian Fernandes and Jenn Gruner, mirror image twins, to tell us more about what it’s like sharing physical characteristics.

1 in every 30 births will be twins and 3 in every 1,000 births will be identical twins.  An identical twin is produced when one egg is fertilized by one sperm and then splits into two embryos.  Through genetic testing, doctors can exam if twins are truly identical. Yet the rare mirror image twins, like Christian and Jenn, only make up about 8% of all births.  These twins are characterized by reversed physical characteristics — like looking into a mirror.

In Christian’s and Jenn’s case; Christian (the older twin) is right handed and farsighted while Jenn is left handed and nearsighted.  Also growing up, Christian was more outgoing while Jenn was more introverted. (Read more about mirror twins on Twin 101).

Even more unexpected is that they each gave birth to identical twins.  The odds of this happening are extremely rare.  ”Identical twin women only have a 0.6% chance of giving birth to twins.”  And the probability of them both giving birth to identical twins is a mere 0.02% chance!  Making Christian and Jenn, and their families, some of the rarest twins in the world.

Although their family background is extremely exceptional, we found Christian and Jenn to be much like anyone else.  They have fights, friends and families.  They grew up together in New Hampshire and went to school like any other child, but their unique qualities were handled in different ways.  Often schools separate twins believing it decreases the possibility of competition.

Christian recalls being separated in fourth grade was difficult and told us, “We fought all the time and were very competitive with each other.”  However, Jenn believes the separation was a positive thing and said, “It helped me find my own identity.” Further Jenn plans to “split up” her twin boys in school to, “encourage them to develop their own identities and self-esteem.”

Also Christian and Jenn both share a “mild mannered” personality and similar tastes in fashion and music.  When asked about their relationship, Christian said, “It’s like having a built in best friend, someone to share everything with.  We have always felt lucky.” Jenn adds, “I could never imagine growing up without my sister.  We went through everything together and got through it all successfully.”

Additionally, Jenn expressed, “Our relationship sets the bar high.  With [the other person] having patience, understanding and unconditional love like we do for each other.” Christian and Jenn agree that potential partners should be “figuratively prepared to date or marry both” because twins come as a package.  Although their relationship is central to their life, the sisters admit that being mothers together has been their greatest achievement.

Nine months after Christian gave birth to her identical twin girls Georgia and Quinn, Jenn learned she was pregnant.  And to everyone’s shock, she was having twins as well.  Both were excited about the news and Christian jokes, “I had my twins first and Jenn just couldn’t be out done!”

Following the birth of Jenn’s identical twin boys, Van and Finn, their lives changed.  Both helped each other keep up with the challenges of raising twins and with  two routines, Christian and Jenn were very busy moms.

Looking back, Jenn says, “Get as much help as possible.  Expect the fact that one will be crying and the other will need something else.  It’ okay.  There is only one of you and two of them. You can’t make everyone happy at the same time.”

In fact, their families are the center of their attention and their yearly family portrait gets a lot of attention when they all dress identical.  One year, Christian said, “After the picture we went for coffee with our matching sets of twins and we were a sight.”

People observed them and asked questions that ranged from: how do you tell them apart?  Do they/you feel each other’s pain?

Another commonly asked question is about telepathy, or Extra sensory perception (ESP).  The sisters say they do not necessarily have this ability but instead they are more sensitive to each other’s thoughts and feelings.

An example Jenn gives is when they used to play Pictionary with their family.  During the game, they would have to be separated because Jenn said, “I could tell what Christian was drawing after two lines.”

They may live very connected and similar lives, yet separately, Christian and Jenn have taken individual courses.  For college, Christian went to Plymouth State in Northern New Hampshire where she met her husband Mike. She now designs handbags and accessories for her sore Add it Up Designs

Jenn left for Johnson State and studied Early Childhood Development.  The time apart helped her “increase her self-esteem and develop her own identity.”  From there, Jenn met her future husband Matt.

After hearing their separate yet connected pursuits, it was evident that twins are able to live two separate lives while sharing similar likes and dislikes.  This dichotomy is a delicate balance for twins and it is inspiring how well Christian and Jenn have lived separate yet connected lives.

Life is than similar and different when you share a face–Christian and Jenn follow their own interests and are involved with their families like anyone else, but the biggest difference is life is one big adventure.  More appropriately, Christian explains, “Our adventure started at birth. My life with my twin and our twins has been our best adventure of all.”

We consider them to be super moms with an extraordinary story to go along with the title.  At the end, Jenn sums it up by, “I love being a twin. Always have and always will.”

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Information from:

Degrees of Relation and Number of Genes Shared

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~laetoli/degree.html

Mayell, Hillary. Babies Recognize Faces Better Than Adults, Study Says. National Geographic News

22 May 2005. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/03/0321_050321_babies.html

Fierro, Pamela Prindle. Facts and FAQs About Identical Twins.

http://multiples.about.com/od/funfacts/a/identicaltwins.htm

Twins: Development and Language.

http://www.speech-language-therapy.com/mbc.htm

http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/778268.html

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This article was written by Twinologist

Comments

Comments (8)
  1. Dia says - Posted: June 30, 2012

    Greeting from across the world. excellent post I will return for more.

  2. Yohna says - Posted: August 20, 2012

    This post is awesome, great written and significant info. I would like more of this great stuff!

    • Lea says - Posted: September 27, 2012

      coming up! I photographed these twins in September last year when they were only 16 weeks old (see here). I was so exicetd to see them again at my recent shoots in Kangaroo Valley to see how they had grown!

  3. Jay Dandle says - Posted: August 22, 2012

    Excellent points, you just gained a brand new reader. Love your work:)!

    • Cresanto says - Posted: September 28, 2012

      Hi there!I am 18 weeks pregnant with fraretnal twins. We find out in 17 days what they are! I also have a 2 year old boy He will be 2 1/2 when the twins come.So, my questions are about breastfeeding with twins and a toddler.Is it possible?! What is the best way to do this? Tandem or one on one? I am worried about breastfeeding all day and not having any time for my son!Thank you so much!Krystle

      • Twinologist says - Posted: October 2, 2012

        Hi Krystle,

        Wow, twins and a toddler–busy! Whenever breastfeeding always consult your doctor. Yet, we suggest starting a feeding journal ASAP. Then logging all feeding times and lengths to try to get everyone on a consistent schedule. With this technique, the twins can be fed in tandem and your toddler after or before. Read more about this here.

        Hope this helps!
        Twinologist

  4. Kelly Hay says - Posted: August 22, 2012

    Great blog! I like the stuff you write about and all the twin stuff, thanks for being AWESOME!

    • Kenny says - Posted: September 27, 2012

      I was moved to tears. To capture the beginning of such precious, wonderous miracles. This is just the beginning of a wonderful journey.The Privilege of caring and nurturing new life is indescribable. The joys and tears, hope and fears, blended together is a picture that never can be explained, you can only experience it to know.a0a0a0a0a0a0a0a0 I’m a grandmother of 10 little ones, and I can truly say, I LOVED every age of our three beautiful children growing up, and now as parents themselves, wonderful.

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