EDMOND — For parents of twins or other multiples, the normal strains of parenthood can be even more daunting. That's why mothers such as Gwen Shogren, of Edmond, are engaged in the Multiples of America organization, also known as the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Club Inc.
Shogren is the new treasurer of the national organization, which has a membership of more than 23,000.
“My passion is to help others seek and find relationships that are helpful and provide emotional support to help them as parents,” she said.
It's a mission faced by many. According to Multiples of America and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States had 3,953,590 live births in 2011. Of those, 131,269 were twins, 5,137 triplets, 239 quads and 41 were quintuplets or more.
Shogren is mom to twins Caitlin and Chelsea, who are 20 and in college. She and husband, Dale, also are parents to Taylor, 16, and Matthew, 12.
Once she established friendships and bonds with mothers nationwide, she became a big advocate for Multiples of America, attending 15 national conventions. Her first was in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1995.
For parents of multiples, the children are at the same developmental stage of life, but each child has different needs.
“You are constantly working to satisfy their individuality,” she said.
In Oklahoma, there are an estimated 200 members in chapters in Edmond, Lawton, Tulsa, Norman and Oklahoma City. Edmond's club has about 60 members and meets the second Thursday of the month at St. Mary's Church.
Shogren said a mother of a twin might not have a friend or immediate family member with multiples. With the organization, there are thousands.
The outreach doesn't stop with child rearing. There are programs for members who have experienced the loss of a child or spouse. The single-parent program is for those who are widowed, divorced or never married.
The group comes to the aid of parents with multiples who have disabilities or parents who have a disability affecting child-rearing ability. There also is what's known as higher-order multiples, for those with triplets, quads or more.
“They can face serious challenges,” Shogren said. “At least with twins you have one arm for each.”
Now it its 53rd year, the organization establishes a lifetime of relationships.
“Some of the moms at the national convention have children older than me,” said Shogren, 50.
She was elected to her one-year term at the recent convention in Phoenix. She'll be eligible to be elected to a second term at next year's convention.
The meetings are more than briefings from educators or health professionals. They're also for socializing.
“It's fun,” she said. “I've developed a lot of friendships.”
To learn more
Any mother, with multiples or expecting them, can contact the Multiples of America organization through its national website: www.nomotc.org.