I first heard the term, "Irish twins," when I was in the hospital, having just given birth to our third child - a little girl. The cheerful, plump nurse came breezing into my room with a big smile on her face, eager to give health and encouragement to yet another new mom. All the nurses I have ever dealt with when having children have been pleasant, friendly, and helpful, but this nurse at the hospital in Rhode Island those twelve long years ago, was by far the friendliest. She actually sat down on the side of my bed and just began chatting away about the blessings of motherhood and wanted to know all about me. She did the usual: checked my blood pressure and other vital statistics, but then she really just seemed to have time on her hands and decided to stay and chat.
After she had been there only a few minutes, my parents walked into the room, having just arrived in town. They had mercifully been babysitting my next youngest daughter for the two weeks prior to my due date, as she was only a year old and still wasn't walking. I had been struggling to pick her up so they took her to their home and cared for her while I rested and waited for the baby. Our oldest, our son who was six-years-old, was with his other grandparents, my husband's parents, and they had already gone home for the evening. When my parents walked into the room, they had my little one-year-old daughter with them, and they stood her down on the floor at the doorway. I watched as my little girl walked to me, taking her first steps on that very day - the day her baby sister was born.
My friendly nurse, who had taken up residence at my bedside and still had not moved, was delighted. She introduced herself to my parents as if she and I were old friends, and she swept up my little toddling daughter into her arms and handed her to me. I hadn't seen my little girl in two weeks and we had a pleasant reunion - her giggling, me crying - and all of us thrilled to have seen her take her first steps.
It was then that the nurse began asking about her age and the age difference between the two babies. When she found out that they were only one year apart in age, she claimed, victoriously, "Oh wonderful, Irish twins!" My mom and I laughed and liked the name, but the nurse explained that it is a very real term given to siblings born one year apart. It had been a tough year, finding out I was pregnant when my newborn was not yet four-months-old. I had gone through morning sickness while still getting up at night, feeding the baby. My husband was finishing graduate school and was right in the middle of his thesis, so he wasn't around much to help. At times, I thought I simply wouldn't make it. A military move added to the stress. So when this cheerful nurse gave a catchy name to our two little blessings, I was all for it. It was almost like a trophy or a badge of honor, for having gone through a tough year. I knew the babies, especially since they were both girls, would one day be a lot of fun and hopefully be great friends, but this time in life was tough. Irish twins - it worked for me.
As time passed, somehow, the term "Irish twins" did help me through some of the rough times. The first year was tough as I battled two car seats, a double stroller, and a bitter Rhode Island winter. But then, somewhere around the time the girls turned two and three-years-old, something wonderful happened. They had played together from the start, but now they had become best little friends. Over the years, they have had their ups and downs, but today, at twelve and thirteen-years-old, they are as different as night and day; yet they love each other and always have a friend to enjoy, regardless of the circumstances. As the years have passed, I've had those who have argued with the definition of "Irish twins" given to me by that nurse all those years ago; but I disregard the nay sayers. My Irish twins are a blessing from God and that fact that I can call them that is part of the blessing, indeed!