I’ll never forget the first time. It was a chaotic morning in our household. I had to take the boys with me to run a few errands before nap-time. We all know that this is a race against time before one of the kids experiences an epic meltdown in public. Our first stop of the day was at everyone’s favorite store: Target. I was walking through the aisles with my two-year-old twins and their four-year-old big brother looking for some household essentials.
As usual, several people stopped me throughout the store saying, “Boy, you sure have your hands full!” and “Are they triplets?” This is nothing new for me. It happens on a daily basis when I’m out with all three boys. It doesn’t typically bother me though because, for the most part, people tend to be very sweet and have the best of intentions.
However, that day was different. That day, I was also asked the most bizarre question a twin mom can get:
“Are your twins natural?”
When I heard this perfectly nice stranger ask that question, I was completely dumbfounded. What do you mean are they natural?, I thought. Did she think they were aliens? Robots? Goonies? I hated to disappoint her, but my handsome little fellas are about as natural as they come. They are made up of DNA from both mommy and daddy, carried in my belly for 33 weeks, and then born in a hospital via C-Section. In my opinion, there is absolutely nothing unnatural about any of that.
In all seriousness, I know what she was really trying to ask me: did I need the help of infertility treatments to conceive them? For the record, the answer is YES. Unfortunately, we struggled with infertility for years and had to endure multiple rounds of In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to conceive all three of our precious miracles. I’m very proud of the fact that we survived infertility and now have three little boys to share our lives with; not everyone is so lucky.
However, that is a very personal question for most people, especially coming from a complete stranger. Due to the stigma still surrounding infertility, many couples are not vocal about their struggles. Think about this for a moment– when a mom walks around with her single baby, no one ever asks if the baby is “natural.” It’s a bit absurd, right? Now, I realize that when strangers ask if your twins are natural, they don’t have bad intentions; people are simply curious about twins. Trust me, I get it. I’m a twin mom, and I’m still fascinated by them.
But, put yourself in their shoes for a moment, especially if that mom has been through infertility and has fought tooth and nail for those twins. That question can feel too personal to answer to a random stranger in the grocery store and can trigger some very strong emotions. And even if the twin mama conceived hers the “old fashion way,” this question still seems absurd. You are basically asking her if she and her partner did the deed. Awkward!
Today if someone were to ask me if my twins are spontaneous (the proper term for twins conceived without medical intervention), I would tell them no and proudly explain that they are IVF miracles. However, when the twins were newborns, I know I would not have had the same response. The memories of our painful miscarriages, negative pregnancy tests, procedures, blood draws, and ultrasounds were still fresh in my mind and made me emotional just thinking about it.
If you feel inclined to stop that twin mom at the store. you could simply tell her that her children are beautiful miracles or tell her she is doing a great job! Raising multiples is an extremely challenging job, so any positive comments we receive from strangers are much appreciated.