My youngest children are fraternal twins, Heidi and Kurt. I was blessed to have them, and it has been wonderful to watch them grow into the amazing adults they are now. Currently Heidi, the older of the twins by an entire minute, is settling into married life with her husband, Anthony. And, in case you haven’t heard, they’re expecting a baby boy in August of this year. After the baby is born, they plan to spend time in central Asia. Kurt, my baby, is in Boston pursuing a doctorate in analytical counseling. They are doing great, and their futures look bright, which is all a mother could really ask for, right? But…
I have no idea why I had twins, aside from God wanting me to have them. There are many theories, and you can explore some of them here. The most interesting theory, to us at least, is the Sweet Potato theory. I first heard of this theory while reading an issue of Science News, volume 112 from September 17, 1977.
I have no way of knowing if this idea is true, or if it was a factor in my third pregnancy, but there is some evidence that eating large amounts of yams or sweet potatoes increases your chances of having fraternal twins. There is a tribe in Africa, the Yoruba, who have the highest rate of twins in the world. Interestingly, they eat many sweet potatoes. In fact, it is a staple of their diet, so most of what they eat is sweet potatoes.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that Papua New Guinea, where I was living among the Nabak people when I got pregnant with the twins, has similar features. Sweet potatoes and yams are the primary staple of the Nabak diet, and they have many twins, at least according to my experience. It seemed every village I visited had multiple sets of twins.
Now, before I became pregnant with the twins, I would talk to the mothers of twins as to why there were so many. The only consistent thing I heard was “We eat lots of sweet potatoes and yams.” I thought it was an old wives’ tale, and that they were being superstitious. In truth, I just smiled to myself and didn’t take them seriously. Then I gave birth to twins. Of course, I had been living in PNG for many years at that point, and eating mostly yams and sweet potatoes. Hmmm.
Now I should be clear that twins run in my family. My sister has twins, and there are twin cousins in my family. But I wonder if this whole issue regarding yams might not be the “grease on the wheels” that makes women already more likely to have twins to have an even greater chance of it. I’m not a scientist, so I may never know, but it’s interesting to think about!
So, whether the yams and sweet potatoes helped me to have twins or not, I will always think about Heidi and Kurt as my sweet, sweet twins, and I thank God for entrusting them to me! And stay tuned because I’ll be posting a favorite sweet potato recipe or two in the next few days.