Well meaning ignorant people
When I was pregnant with my twins (now nearly 9), I was stunned at the stupid things people felt they had the right to say to me. Twins? Oh, you’re going through IVF? Low sperm count? Did you wait too long to start trying? And that was just the beginning!
My husband is far more laid back than I. Nothing riles him – except the stupid things people said to us. After a while, he grew weary of hearing “Oh, IVF?” - like our reproductive life is anyone’s business! So one day someone asked it and he answered, “No, missionary.” That ended the questions. Awesome.
People felt the need to tell us horror stories. “You know, my cousin’s next door neighbor’s daughter was pregnant with twins. One died….hope that doesn’t happen to you.” Nice. “You know twins will have language delays or (fill in the medical horror story blank).” We got used to it but it was always unnerving.
One day when my girls were just a few months old, I was walking down the boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ, and a man saw me walking by. He yelled out “There’s double trouble!” I shot back my normal retort: “No, they’re a double blessing!” He started to argue with me, explaining that he had daughters, he knew of what he spoke. My husband had to steer me away from him before I punched him in my hormonal rage. On the same trip, while holding one of my girls, a woman approached me to tell me I was permanently damaging my child by using pacifiers. She was a chiropractor, she explained, so she knew this to be true. Seriously? This is what motherhood was going to be like?
That continued for several years. People felt they had the right to touch my children and offer me advice that I clearly didn’t want. Until recently, we would be asked things (in front of my kids!) like “Who’s the good one?” They didn’t seem to understand that if you label one good, the other becomes the bad one. “Who’s the smart one?” They’re both smart, thank you very much.
People were also curious about my delivery. I had one non-medical person in the delivery room with me: my husband. Why on earth do people care about my vagina? “Wow, you probably had a lot of tearing….lots of stitches?” I don’t know you. You have no right to ask questions like that. One day I did ask some random person who bombarded me with questions on a particularly bad day if she asked others about their vaginas? No? Then don’t ask me.
There were two locations that were full of crazies. Walmart, not unexpectedly, harbored quite a few. “I knew a twin once. Can I touch yours?” No, you can’t. “My mom has a neighbor with a daughter who married a guy with twins in Kansas. Do you know them?” No, I don’t. Then there was the Superfresh grocery store in Silver Spring, at the time one of the few stores that had all their aisles handicap accessible (big enough for the double stroller). Without fail, every single time I was in there, a man (different every time) would ask me to demonstrate how I breastfed them simultaneously. I stopped shopping there.
My kids grew tired of the questions, too. One day at our local mall, a woman started to approach us. One of my girls turned to look at her and spout out “We’re 7. Fraternal. Yes, we know we look alike but trust us, we’re not. We’re both good.” I stood there, dumbfounded, but also kind of proud. What a shame that my kids have learned that people are so intrusive.
We chose not to have more children for a variety of reasons, one of which was what happened when we went out with our friends who have multiples AND singleton children. Those singletons didn’t even exist to the strangers who felt the need to ask a million questions about the twins. Another mother told me the story of someone asking all about her twin sons – when is their birthday? How much did they weigh? Their beautiful non-twin daughter volunteered “My birthday is in May! I weighed almost 9 pounds!” The stranger paid her no mind…and she never forgot that.
There are nice stories as well: countless people who helped me when my hands were full, people who are very kind to my children and the very few who helped in public places during potty training. I remember those far more fondly than those who felt the need to invade my private life with their inappropriate questions. When asked by soon-to-be-parents of multiples what to expect, I usually tell them to prepare for the onslaught of weird questions.
I know parents of singletons get their bellies felt and commented on as well. Maybe it was my crazy pre- and post-natal hormones but I was stunned that people felt they had the right to ask such questions. The good news is now as my children get older, the questions lessen a bit. Now it’s “Are they twins? I thought so but wasn’t sure….” I like that much better!