In August 1998, my sister and I met our husbands in a town called Twinsburg in Ohio. Darlene and I (identical and born 45 minutes apart) were 27 and attending the town’s annual twins festival. It’s the world’s biggest gathering, and we’d been a few times to catch up with friends.
On the Saturday night, the hotel bar was full of attenders socialising, when Mark walked in. He must have thought we didn’t believe he had a twin and went to get his identical brother, Craig (who is four minutes older), to join us.
Darlene and I were picky daters, but we both liked nice, funny guys with dark features and a sense of humour. She was drawn to Mark; I thought Craig was cuter (although to anybody else they would have been indistinguishable). They invited us to Cracker Barrel for brunch the next day, and we exchanged email addresses before leaving.
When Darlene and I returned to work (we took jobs as legal secretaries, in the same firm, after high school) we each received an email from our preferred twin. It felt like destiny. We lived in Illinois, and they were in Texas, where they worked as web designers for the Houston Astros baseball team. They came to visit; we double-dated and took trips together.
In March 1999, we met in Florida to watch pre-season baseball. One night on the way to dinner, they detoured to a hotel hospitality room with a great view and proposed, using matching rings cut from the same diamond. There was never a question that we would have anything other than a double wedding.
Growing up in a small town, we were always known as “the twins”. Our mom dressed us alike (which I hated and Darlene loved). We have the same blond hair and both have dimples, but Darlene’s are deeper. We shared birthdays, baptisms, everything; we’d only ever spent a week apart. We had the same guest lists for our wedding; we’d go dress shopping and save time by each trying on half the outfits. If it didn’t suit Darlene, it wouldn’t suit me.
At our wedding that November, Dad walked us down the aisle, one twin on each arm, and the priest conducted the vows simultaneously. We shared our first dance – to Shania Twain’s From This Moment On – and honeymooned in the Bahamas together. We settled in Texas, where we bought neighbouring plots; we had homes built with a joint backyard.
Darlene and Mark wanted to get pregnant straight away, but Craig and I wanted to wait. In the end, I was the one who got pregnant first, as Darlene had a miscarriage – that was the only time that being so emotionally and physically close has been hard.
At my first ultrasound, they found two heartbeats: twins. I couldn’t believe it. Brady and Colby were born 11 minutes apart in June 2001. Craig loves researching twin stats and found only a few hundred cases in the world of identical twins (where the egg splits in two) marrying identical twins; he’s not found another set who had identical twins of their own. Fraternal (nonidentical) twins marrying fraternals is more common – but ours is a “lottery jackpot” situation.
By the time our sons were born, Darlene was pregnant with her first daughter, Reagan, now 19. She had another girl, Landry, 17, and we had a third son, Holden, 15. He should have been a twin, too; there was an empty sac when I was scanned at eight weeks.
Biologically, all our kids have the DNA of siblings. They all look alike, with the same brown hair and brown eyes. Darlene’s girls, who are only 16 months apart, are constantly asked if they’re twins, too. We even have dogs from the same litter – one in each household.
Darlene often knows what I’m feeling before I know myself. We carpool to and from work every day and meet for lunch. We run errands and get our hair done together, with the same hairdresser.
When people see us all together, they’re caught off-guard – they usually notice one set of twins before the other. Sometimes, the kids get mad when we’re telling someone new our story, but we tell them, “It’s because of this story that you exist.” I’ll never get bored with telling it: I feel very blessed.
• As told to Deborah Linton
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