Lancaster County Mothers of Multiples is a support system for mothers of twins | Whole
For every thousand live births in the United States, about 31 of them are twins. For every 100,000 live births, approximately 80 are triplets. Being a parent is never a simple task. But raising twins, triplets, or other multiples can present its own set of unique challenges, as well as joys. For these mothers, there is a club in Lancaster County dedicated to providing support and camaraderie related to this particular type of parenting: Lancaster County Mothers of Multiples.
The group was founded in 1964 as Lancaster County Mothers of Twins, club president Kate Acker said. In 1971, the group became the Pennsylvania Club of Mothers of Twins; in 2006 it was renamed to reflect greater inclusion as the Pennsylvania Club of Mothers and Multiples.
Finally, in 2009, the group takes its current name. He is part of the national and national organization, the National Organization of the Mothers of Twins Club.
There are currently 15 mums in the group, with twins ranging in age from infant to mid-twenties. Despite the band’s name, the mothers hail from Lancaster, Lebanon, and Berks counties. During the pandemic, the club actively stopped recruiting members.
“Today we welcome new members and support moms of all ages with multiples,” says Acker, of Berks County.
The group meets monthly at various locations, providing a much-needed space for moms to connect. The organizers plan to organize other types of events in the future.
A useful shelter
For Tara Ulrich, 34, mother of seven-month-old twins, the club has been a useful refuge. A member for four months, she finds solace in the camaraderie of other twin mothers and the sharing of knowledge.
“Being a twin mother is so different and brings challenges not present with just one child,” admits Ulrich.
Ulrich carried his twins to term, delivering them on September 20, 2021. Connor arrived first, weighing 7 pounds, 13 ounces. A minute later Colin arrived, weighing 8 pounds and 5 ounces.
Twins run in the family. Ulrich’s husband, Lee, has a fraternal twin brother, as does his grandfather. Due to the common belief that twins usually skip a generation, the Mount Joy couple were surprised to become parents of multiples. (While twins can run in families, the idea that they always skip a generation is a myth.)
As fraternal twins, the boys have different looks and personalities. Connor, born with black hair, is now blond and has more gray eyes. He likes to sleep, loves attention, and physically pushes boundaries by crawling or trying to stand. Food is more enjoyable for him than his twin. Colin, a strawberry blond with blue eyes, is calm, very content and more curious about non-toy objects like the baby carrier or the buckles on a chair.
“I am reminded daily that both are individuals and recognize their differences instead of comparing each other,” Ulrich says lovingly.
Big sister Chelsea, 3, takes her role very seriously and thinks her brothers are a lot of fun.
Although she credits Lee for being a good father, he is busy as the owner of Allegiant Tree Care. Prior to the birth of the twins, Ulrich was a clinical nutrition supervisor for Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health. She now works as an accountant for her husband’s business.
Lancaster County’s mothers of multiples support system doesn’t stop once the kids grow up.
Ask Alicia Sheppard, who joined the group 16 years ago. Today, her fraternal twins, Paige and Ally are 17 years old. Lititz’s mother values the friendships she has made over the years as a member.
“These women continue to keep me sane with lots of laughs and conversation,” Sheppard says with a chuckle. She especially enjoys attending the annual multi-state convention in April. Canceled since 2020 due to the coronavirus, three of her mom friends had a weekend at the beach in 2021 and this year.
At 49, she and other older twin mothers can share support and advice with the younger ones.
“We know what they’re going through and we’re here to support them,” she said.
Her daughters were born four weeks early on April 14, 2005. Paige was a natural childbirth while Ally arrived by caesarean section 28 minutes later.
When Sheppard learned she was pregnant with twins, she and her husband Peter already had a daughter, Zoe. Sheppard recalled her husband joking that the couple would soon be outnumbered by their daughters.
Like most twins, Paige and Ally share a special bond knowing each other’s thoughts and feelings. But like the young Ulrich twins, the two have different looks and personalities. Paige is blonde and taller than her sister. she is also right-handed. Ally has dark, straight brown hair and is left-handed.
Ally is more sociable and Paige is a homebody. The two love the same music, food, and casual clothes. Juniors at Warwick High School, they are good students who achieve distinguished status on the honor roll. Both play field hockey (Paige, goaltender; Ally, defenseman) and lacrosse (Page offense; Ally defenseman). Sheppard says Paige tends to lead her sister; probably because she is the first born.
Sometimes the twins gang up on 20-year-old Elizabethtown College student Zoe.
The competition between Paige and Ally was a challenge for their parents. Sheppard says her husband was a big help in raising the couple. He recently retired as a police officer for the Ephrata Police Department and is employed as a Warwick School District Security Officer.
As an X-ray technologist at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, Sheppard took three months off when the twins were born. Grandmother Christine Sheppard looked after the children until the girls went to kindergarten.
A support system
Sheppard served as LCMOMS Secretary for two years during his long-term membership.
“I encourage all mothers of multiples to join. It’s a good group whose biggest benefit is friendship,” she says.
Acker agrees. The 34-year-old has been with the club for four years, following the July 20, 2017 birth of her twin boys, Carter and Connor. With their 5th anniversary on the horizon, their different personalities emerged; Colton is more easy-going and Carter more empathetic. Although Carter is 17 minutes older, he’s not the only twin in charge. They both share this trait, says Acker.
Carter is taller and harder to eat, which explains why he weighs less than his brother. He loves music and singing more than Colton. Both have blonde hair. Colton wears glasses.
Both are outgoing and share a love for the outdoors, camping, the beach, dinosaurs, tractors, and Legos.
“Each stage of breeding multiples has its challenges,” says Acker. Like Ulrich, she found it difficult to get enough sleep when they were babies. With worries about giving big sister Rileigh, now 7, enough attention.
During COVID-19 the twins were toddlers and being outside was the only option. It wasn’t without stress for Mom as Colton stayed close while Carter ran off. As preschoolers, their energy leads to difficult housing. Being in separate class groups leads to better behavior. Acker and her husband Terry must decide whether to enroll them in kindergarten or keep them in kindergarten for another year.
After three months of maternity leave, Acker returned to work as a treatment counselor in a prison. Lee is a service writer for a car dealership.
Acker says the group helps find solutions to challenges mothers face and provides resources. While her boys are now older, she is still seeking advice. But also feels able to offer help to mothers of younger twins.
“LCMOMS provides support and knowledge,” says Acker. “It helps to know that you are not alone and that others have been in the same situation and survived.”