When Twins Are Sick

Welcome to the cold and flu season. It’s inevitable . . . if one twin gets sick, the other is soon to follow! Twins spend so much time together that it’s rare that one will get a contagious disease without infecting the other. For some reason, in our house, the twins are rarely sick together. One of them always starts to feel lousy first, then just as he’s starting to feel a little better, the other one gets hit with the bug. At the moment, we’re struggling with stomach flu! Of course, one of the great laws of childrearing is that there is never a good time to get sick. In this case, Austen came down with the flu on the twins’ birthday—at the dinner table! Yup, he puked before we could even get the cake to the table, and spent the rest of the night in the same manner. The next day, when my parents were here to celebrate the twins’ birthday, Caleb fell asleep at the dinner table and just refused to be awakened! We later learned why when at 2 a.m. he also lost his dinner. Needless to say, my two nights on the floor with them, swapping out towels and clothes, were not very comfortable.

Once one of your children gets sick, it usually does little good to isolate him in the hope he won’t infect his twin because they’ve most likely already shared the bug before you even knew they had it. Of course, it’s always a good idea to have everyone wash hands often and discourage the twins from sharing cups, etc., but don’t be surprised if your best efforts at decontamination do little to deter the spread of disease.

So, if you’re the parent of twins, buckle down and prepare yourself for a prolonged time of illness. If you’ve been blessed with a helpful partner, it’s a good idea to alternate caretaking duties so neither of you gets burned out or rundown. Whether you’ll also get ill remains to be seen. Sometimes we get as sick as our kids; other times we get a watered-down version; still others, we may be lucky and already have antibodies built up against that particular disease. (With this bout of stomach flu, my husband is now very sick, while I am just feeling “yucky,” but surviving.) In the meantime, give your little loved ones lots of hugs and fluids. They’ll soon be off and running around the house again!

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About Susan Heim

Susan M. Heim is an author and editor, specializing in multiples, parenting, women’s and Christian issues. Her books include "Boosting Your Baby's Brain Power"; "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Twins and More"; "It’s Twins! Parent-to-Parent Advice from Infancy Through Adolescence"; "Twice the Love: Stories of Inspiration for Families with Twins, Multiples and Singletons"; and, "Oh, Baby! 7 Ways a Baby Will Change Your Life the First Year." Upcoming books include "Chicken Soup for the Soul: All in the Family," "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Women," and "Moms of Multiples' Devotions to Go." Susan's articles and essays have appeared in many books, magazines and Web sites. She is a member of the National Association of Women Writers and the Southeastern Writers Association, and has a degree in Business Administration from Michigan State University. Susan lives with her husband and four sons (two teenagers and twin grade-schoolers) in Florida.