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We Have Twins!


During the pregnancy, we knicknamed the kids Paperback Writer (Twin A, Maddy) and Creed (Twin B, Brock). Paperback Writer is from the name of the Beatles song that was playing when Richard found out he was going to be a father. Creed is from the name of the band that was playing in the background when Lisa first found out she was pregnant and again when she found we were having twins. The name of the Creed song was With Arms Wide Open, appropriately enough, about the impact of having a child on the lead singer of the band.

It took us 6 days after the births to assign real names. We have decided upon Zoë Madison Merlin Grassy and Richard Brock Merlin Grassy IV. Both will have two middle names, one being Lisa's family name of Merlin. We will call each by their other middle names, Brock and Maddy, Wisconsin themed names. Brock is Gaelic for badger. The Badger State of Wisconsin is where Lisa and I grew up. Madison is for the city in Wisconsin where we met. We will abbreviate Madison to Maddy. The name Richard is a nod toward tradition, as I am the third Richard George, after my father and grandfather. I wanted to add a twist to that tradition by coming up with a different middle name (or, in this case, 2 middle names). Since Richard Brock Merlin is different than Richard George, we were not sure if the fourth was appropriate. But we can't locate any source that says we can't. Afterall, he is the 4th generation Richard in a row. As for Zoë, there is no significance other than we like the name.

Maddy footprints
Brock footprints


Below are sonograms of the twins. Originally, Lisa accidently found out the genders at the ultrasound on 10 April 2001. Richard decided to wait until the births to find out. At the ultrasound on 8 JUNE 2001, the tech told us that the earlier ultrasound was incorrect on the gender(s)! We are not sure if she meant one or both of the babies. So, now we are both back to not knowing the genders.

Sonogram on 23 FEB 2001 - Week 10
You should be able to make out the two amniotic sacs. Baby A is on the left.

Baby B on 10 APRIL 2001 - Week 17
Baby B

Baby B waving
Baby B hand

Baby A during ultrasound on 8 JUNE 2001 - Week 25
You might be able to make out the torso and leg. The baby is facing right.
Baby A

Baby A during ultrasound on 7 AUG 2001 - Week 34
The profile of the head facing left.
Baby A

We searched long and hard for a doctor and hospital. We finally decided on Dr. Wendy Atkinson. She and her staff are wonderful. She is affiliated with the University of Washington Medical Center. It is one of two Level 3 facilities in Seattle. It was necessary to find a hospital with a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) as multiples births are automatically put into the high risk category. The UW Medical Center is well geared for multiple births. We are currently enrolled in their Expecting Multiples Class.

Dr. Atkinson and Lisa
Dr. Atkinson & Lisa

The big question, are they identical or fraternal? Identical twins mean that they share the same genes. So, if the babies end up being girl and boy, then we know right away that they can’t be identical.

Identical twins start out the same way as a singleton, with one egg (monozygotic) and one sperm. But the zygote then divides an extra time, producing two separate and identical zygotes. The timing of this additional division determines the structure of the fetal membranes- the inner membrane, or amnion; the outer membrane, or chorion; and the placenta. When the split happens within three days of conception, while the original zygote is traveling down the fallopian tube, these identical twins will have two separate placentas, two chorions, and two amnions. This is called a diamniotic, dichorionic twin pregnancy. When the extra division of the zygote occurs four to seven days after conception, the twins will have separate amnions but will share one chorion, and their placentas will be fused. This is termed a diamniotic, monochorionic twin pregnancy. If the split occurs after the eighth day following conception, the twins will share the same placenta, chorion, and amnion. This is a monoamniotic, monochorionic twin pregnancy.

Fraternal twins result when the mother produces two eggs (dizygotic) instead of one in the normal monthly cycle and are fertilized by separate sperm. Fraternal twins always have separate placentas, chorions, and amnions, though sometimes when they are close enough, the placentas may fuse. About 2/3 of all twins are fraternal.

From the ultrasounds, it appears that they are diamniotic and possibly dichorionic. This can occur with identical or fraternal twins. If the babies end up being the same sex, we may not be able to determine if they are identical or not right away. One reference states that only 3 to 5 of each 1000 pregancies are monozygotic, meaning the chance of having identical twins is pretty small.

We originally did not think there was much of a history of twins in either of our families. Richard knew of two sets of twins in his family history, but now seven sets have come to light. All derive from his Grandmother Grassy's lines. Richard's Great-Great Grandmother Melia, back in Ireland in the late 1800's, is known to have given birth to twins. The rest are cousins from that line, the Diskins, born in the Ireland and the US. If they end up being fraternal, we know that this must have come from Lisa’s side as producing two eggs can be inherited only from her side’s mother or father’s families.