With 2018 in the books, parents of 'New Year's Twins' look back
BAXTER—It's double trouble in the Peterson home.
2019 dawns—another day, another year—and with it comes all the hopes and surprises, fears and expectations that every every new year brings.
For the Petersons, it's an opportunity for the young family of five to continue grow—but, notably, it also presents an opportunity for Mark and Jessica Peterson to watch their two youngest sons grow and develop their own distinct traits, unique personalities that are just starting to emerge from the dimpled faces of twin boys identical in nearly every way.
Readers may well remember when the Dispatch reported the first baby of 2018 born in Crow Wing County was, in fact, two babies—boys Rhys and Kai, born 9:12 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. respectively at at Essentia Health-St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd on Jan. 1, 2018.
The pair's names have a special duality combining the elements of fire and water: Rhys means "fiery warrior" in Welsh, while Kai means "ocean" in Hawaiian—though, by observation of his parents, it looks like Kai is the more fiery one of the two a year in. Joining the rambunctious duo is their older brother Axel, just shy of 3.
While they've raised one child before, Jessica admitted it's nothing one can really prepare for when they're facing the prospect of raising infant twins.
"You don't know any different. You just adapt," Jessica said. "It doesn't matter what you have—twins, triplets, singles—it's what you know. We survived the first year, hopefully we'll survive the second."
And what the Persons now know is that twins often go hand-in-hand in more ways than just birth—whether it's catching the same flu bug, or waking up together at the same times of the night, or taking their first steps—although, as they get older, Jessica noted, they're going their own ways just a little bit more and more.
As of now, the verdict's still out on whether the boys are identical or fraternal—another mystery that will be answered with maturation and the passage of time—though it's so difficult to distinguish them that, if Kai and Rhys are fraternal, they're features are very, very close.
"We're leaning toward identical a little bit," said Jessica, who added that tiny differences—whether it's Kai's more assertive personality and tendency to "talk," or Rhys' propensity to cry, slight variations in tone and volume between their voices, or even minute features, such as a dimple or the size of a birthmark—distinguish one brother from the other.
This early on, it's hardly an exact science. It still took Jessica and Mark a few moments to determine just who was who among the little tykes romping about energetically. For Dispatch reporters, it was a futile effort from the start.
"We still mix them up, now and then," Jessica admitted.
While Jessica is a stay-at-home mom and Mark works for Charter Communications, juggling three boys under 3 is no small task—a job that now requires a little tether for Axel, as well as little in the way of downtime or time outside of the house for Jessica, who relishes every moment Mark is home so they can share parenting duties and give her a breather.
When they do go out, pushing a pair of twins down the street in a stroller leads to no shortage of well-wishers and a flurry of questions, Jessica said, such as how old the twins are, are they fraternal or identical, and so on.
So what milestones do Mark and Jessica have their sights on most of all for 2019 now that 2018 is in the rearview mirror?
"Sleep," Jessica said, not skipping a beat. "Hopefully they'll sleep through the night again, hopefully we'll sleep more the second year."