They called their twin boys 'the bros.' Then one broke the news: She was actually a girl.

There is a lot of noise coming from the other room, but it’s happy noise.

It's the sound of children playing, laughing, and talking in broken conversations that only make sense to 3-year-olds. I peek around the corner to see what my twins are up to and watch Ryan tackle Ben. I wait for Ben’s reaction, and walk away when he starts to giggle. They’re fine.

Ben was quiet in utero, in terms of movement. His twin was not. Ryan was restless, seemingly fighting for space, or perhaps looking for it. When my partner’s water broke at 36 weeks, it was Ben who entered our world first.


Ryan would have been right behind, but for about 30 seconds his heartbeat could not be found. The monitor had been bumped off during the commotion of Ben’s birth, so once the room started to breathe again, the doctor broke the second sac so that Ryan could be born.

All photos via Amber Leventry, used with permission.

For nearly three years, Ben and Ryan were our sons.

They were the baby bros to their big sister, our first child. Two boys born into a house with two moms and a sister, they balanced the hormone levels a bit. We were relieved they would have each other to lean on in a house filled with women.

We quickly realized our boys were very different babies with very distinct personalities. Ben was, and is, the easier twin and our easiest child. He has always been more content and quicker to smile.

Ryan, on the other hand, has been the child who has challenged us the most. His restlessness in utero translated into a baby who was not easily comforted, who always seemed to need something we weren’t providing. Our love was strong, but our previous experience as parents seemed weak.

In the early stages of getting to know our twins, we noticed the unmistakable bond they already had with each other. They didn't know themselves without the other. And in some cases, when I or my partner (or both of us) were busy taking care of their then-toddler sister, all they had was each other.

They would babble to each other from their cribs when we couldn’t rush in to get them after they woke. They would stare and giggle at the other when seated on a blanket full of toys, entertained more by each other than the toys at their feet. They would feed each other food from their trays, sitting side-by-side, heart-by-heart.

When Ryan was an infant, there were many times we didn’t know what to do or how to make him feel better.

As he got older, the independence of crawling and walking eased some frustration. Words helped, too. Ryan just wanted to be understood, and we were doing our best to understand.

His gravitation toward his big sister’s clothing at 18 months told us he liked dresses, pink, and purple. His desire for long hair made us regret cutting all of his long curls off before he turned 2.

A few months later, Ryan’s declaration that he was a girl made us question his motivation for saying so.

Perhaps he loved his big sister so much he wanted to be just like her. Maybe he thought he had to be a girl to wear dresses, to play with princesses, and to grow long hair. We didn’t care that he was a boy who liked "girl" things and told him so. But he cared. He was not a boy who liked dresses — he was a girl who liked dresses.

We skirted around gender by no longer referring to Ryan as a boy. We called him our kid, not boy or girl, and we lived a few months in a land of neutrality. His moodiness, anxiety, and sadness told us we needed to do more. We were loving our child, but not validating who he really was and who she needed to be.

After a lot of research and consultations with our pediatrician, and with Ryan’s unwavering wishes, we began the process of socially transitioning him from a boy to a girl. A month before Ryan turned 3, we once again broke the sac that contained her and celebrated her birth.

This new Ryan was happier than the first. She became easier to please and more relaxed. Our new understanding came with acceptance and support, and our internal struggles with saying goodbye to what we thought was going to be, were overshadowed by the confidence and joy radiating from our daughter.

Our twins are now a boy/girl set, and we have two daughters instead of one.

Our family’s dynamics have changed, and sometimes I miss having "the bros," but I worry more about the impact Ryan’s transition will have on Ben.

Ben is not just the only boy in the house, he is now the twin brother to a transgender sister. His identity was changed too, and when Ryan pulls away to stand alone as a girl, or to search for more ways to solidify her identity as a girl, I worry about their bond.

Ryan was home sick from school one day, and when my partner picked up Ben, the teachers said he had a good day, but missed Ryan. “She’s my best friend,” he told the teacher.

I realized their bond has always been there and always will be. Ryan has been pushing and pulling to get where she needs to be from the beginning. And Ben has always been next to her, seemingly not bothered by her restlessness or aware of her differences.

This love they have for each other is there, waiting behind doors, peeking around corners, hidden in simple gestures, and shared in conversations only they can understand.

I have been waiting for Ben’s reaction, but I now know it’s okay to walk away. They are fine.

This story was originally published on Motherly and is reprinted here with permission.

More
Facebook / Mikhail Galin

Putting your pet in cargo during a flight isn't always safe. In 2016, the Department of Transportation reported a total of 26 pet deaths and 22 injuries on flights. Because conditions in cargo can be uncomfortable for animals, the Humane Society recommends taking your pet aboard when you fly, or just leaving it at home.

It's not surprising that one Russian man didn't want to put his overweight cat in cargo during an eight-hour flight from Moscow to Vladivostok. What is surprising is the great lengths he took to fly with his four-legged friend.

Russian airline Aeroflot allows pets to fly inside the plane's cabin, as long as the cat weighs under 17.6 pounds and stays in its carrier during the flight. When Mikhail Galin went to check in, he was told he couldn't fly with his four-year old cat, Viktor. Viktor weighed in at 22 pounds and would have to be relegated to cargo.

But Viktor was sick from their earlier flight from Riga, Latvia to Moscow. And besides, Viktor had been allowed to fly inside the cabin during that flight. The airline staff didn't even bother to make Viktor sit on the scales. Galin was unable to persuade staff to bring his fur baby on board.

"To all attempts to explain that the cat won't survive there on an 8-hour flight with the baggage and would haunt her in her nightmares for the rest of her life, she (the Aeroflot staff member) replied that there are rules," Galin wrote in a Facebook post translated from Russian.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Photo by Kelvin Octa from Pexels

Newborn babies don't seem to do much beyond eating and pooping and, of course, hiccupping. A lot. Parenting advice on how to cure a baby's hiccups runs the whole gamut. It's recommended parents try everything from nursing to stop feeding the baby so much, from giving the baby gripe water to letting the hiccups play their course. But when your baby hiccups too much, you shouldn't freak out. There's a good reason why.

A new study published in Clinical Neurophysiology found that hiccups play an important role in a baby's development. Researchers from the University College London found 217 babies for their study, but only looked at 13 newborns with persistent hiccups. Ten of those babies hiccupped when they were awake, and three hiccupped during their "wriggly" sleep. We have no idea how the scientists got any work done with all that cuteness lying around.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon / YouTube

Actress Kristen Bell and "The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon showed off their vocal and comedic chops on Tuesday night when the performed a medley of 17 Disney songs, spanning nine decades, in just five minutes.

The duo started with 1940's "When You Wish Upon a Star" and ended with 2013's "Let it Go" from "Frozen."

Bell will reprise her role as Anna in Disney's upcoming "Frozen 2."

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Ask almost any woman about a time a man said or did something sexually inappropriate to them, and she'll have a story or four to tell. According to a survey NPR published last year, 81% of women report having experienced sexual harassment, with verbal harassment being the most common. (By contrast, 43% of men report being sexually harassed. Naturally harassment toward anyone of any sex or gender is not okay, but women have been putting up with this ish unchecked for centuries.)

One form of verbal sexual harassment is the all too common sexist or sexual "joke." Ha ha ha, I'm going to say something explicit or demeaning about you and then we can all laugh about how hilarious it is. And I'll probably get away with it because you'll be too embarrassed to say anything, and if you do you'll be accused of being overly sensitive. Ha! Won't that be a hoot?

Keep Reading Show less
popular