I have twins. They are 8 years old now. And I can tell you after almost 9 years of having twins there are some things people say that really PISS ME OFF. There are also things that are NOT SAID that PISS ME OFF. So either way, if it’s the first decade post birth, anyone who speaks looks at me the wrong way is treading on THIN ICE.
There is a lot that PISSES ME OFF, but with the TWIN FACTOR I have felt isolated in a whole different way. If my memory serves me well, and it doesn’t because my memory left about two weeks post birth, I’d say my isolation began around my 7th month of pregnancy. That’s also about the time that I had a complete loss of privacy. In other words, that is when random strangers began approaching me everywhere I went. It was like I was a celebrity. I was approached by strangers and asked invasive and sometimes dumb questions. I began limiting the times I left the house. Once the twins were born, boundaries flew out the window. I get that twins are cute and we all have a fascination with twins, but I was tired of being approached. I’ve rounded up 11 questions/comments that have stuck in my mind AND yes, they really piss me off.
1. “Do you have twins in your family?”
This is a backhanded way of asking “Did you take any drugs, or have in vitro?” Random people came up to me in malls, in stores, on my street, everywhere and asked me if I was having twins. And then they proceeded to chat with me like we knew each other. I didn’t like strangers talking to me before I got pregnant with twins, and I definitely didn’t like the attention I was getting seven months into my pregnancy. I’m an introvert at heart. I know people are curious and friendly, but can I say one thing … “It’s not about you!” When you approach a stranger in the street, take a beat, and focus on her body language. Does she look like she wants to be approached? And let me add that a) I didn’t take any drugs to increase my chances of having multiples. b) I already had a 3-year-old when I found out I was pregnant with twins. No drugs. No in vitro. And it’s none of your business.
2. “My kids are only a year apart, so I understand what you are going through.”
BULLSHIT! No you don’t! Having kids 1 year apart or two years apart is TOTALLY DIFFERENT than carrying, giving birth to, and caring for twins. Why? First of all, you have no clue what a mom with twins is going through just because you have kids close in age. Let’s start with carrying twins or multiples in general, I was starving from five weeks on, and I needed maternity clothing by three months. Beginning at 24 weeks, I saw an OB, and a perinatologist every two weeks. Beginning at 32 weeks, I visited my OB once a week. And after 36 weeks, because I made it that long, I had an appointment twice a week! Then there is post birth. See item 11 and then tell me you understand. Did you look at the photo on item 11? Imagine how that felt. I don’t know about you but my first pregnancy was a frickin’ breeze compared to full term with twins. They were 7lbs, 6ozs and 6lbs, 5 ozs—a total of almost 14 pounds!
3. “You look like you are ready to pop. When are you due?”
First of all why would anyone say, “you look like you are ready to pop?” That’s a horrible thing to say. Second of all why ask a stranger when they are due? I know I was huge. I wish they would have just kept quiet. I say this because I was asked every time I went to a grocery store, a department store, and every public place (even car washes), when I was due, with the “you are ready to pop” line. These questions began at six months. I just wanted to buy my groceries, not talk about when I was due or how big I looked. At first it was fine, but then it became ridiculous. I hate small talk. And it was even worse when I was hormonal.
4. “Oh, how cute, are they twins?”
After they were born and I decided to leave the house, strangers came up to me on the street and said Oh, how cute, are they twins?” as I walked with a double infant stroller. I’d just like to say that when you see a mom who looks five months pregnant pushing an infant stroller with two babies in it you can pretty much deduce they are twins. I mean the most age difference they might appear to be is three months. It was even better when I got the “They don’t look like twins” statement. I’d like to make a suggestion for some statements that you could make if you see a mom who looks exhausted while pushing a double infant stroller: “They are beautiful,” “Congratulations, you are blessed.” It would have felt good to be told that I was blessed. A reminder for later when I would be completely exhausted, breastfeeding at 2am after 1 hour of sleep.
5. “Are they identical?”
This is a question I still get even after telling someone they are boy / girl twins. How can children who are the opposite sex be identical? What is the definition of identical? If one has a vagina and the other one has a penis, can they be identical? The answer is no.
6. “Do you watch Jon and Kate plus 8?”
No. I don’t watch Jon and Kate plus 8. Please don’t ask any mom this who has multiples.
7. “Who is older?”
I didn’t plan on calling attention to which twin is older but the incessant question made it become a topic of conversation with my twins. Honestly, it was a C-Section so they were both born at the same time pulled out of my body one after the other as quickly as possible. On the birth record they were one minute apart, but I’m sure it wasn’t an actual minute. There was about 12 people in the delivery room for my twins—5 nurses, 2 doctors, an anesthesiologist, and 4 other people—not sure what they did. Anyway, the twins were born on the same day so does it really matter who is older? Why ask? And don’t ask in front of them. PLEASE.
8. “Did you have a C-Section?”
Strangers ask me this, and it’s baffling. Remember, I had a child prior to the twins so I have some reference, and I can tell you that I never was asked if I’d had a C-Section when I strolled around with my other son. I only talked about my birth with my mom friends when we were sharing birth stories at a mom playdate. For the record, I had a C-Section with the twins but that wasn’t my first choice. I wouldn’t wish a C-Section on anyone. I had my first son naturally (meaning no drugs, no epidural), in a hospital with a doula and all I can say is thank God. I am fortunate to have experienced one natural birth. It was a quick labor and easy delivery. Yes, natural childbirth is painful, but I stood up and walked around just one hour after giving birth. I breastfed my son the moment he was wrapped in a blanket and handed to me.
On the other hand, a C-Section is a surgery. It’s a completely different experience. I was puffed up for a week from the meds I was given. My ankles were the size of my calves. My forearms looked like Popeye. I didn’t see or hold my twins for the first three hours because I had to wait for the epidural to wear off in recovery. That also meant I didn’t see my husband because I told him to not leave their side. That was a lonely three hours in recovery. There were tears. The pain of the recovery of a C-Section was the most horrible pain I have ever felt, worse than natural child birth. Bed pans were involved on day 1. Cut to 2 days later and the excruciating pain I felt sitting up and forcing myself to get out of bed to walk snail laps around the hospital floor. I had to in order to avoid the horrifying gas I was told would come if I did not walk. Other than the twins, my hospital stay was not a fond memory.
9. “How do you breastfeed twins? Isn’t that weird?”
No, it’s not. Last time I checked, I have two breasts. I have two babies, two boobs, works for me. I loved breastfeeding and it helped me lose that weight quickly. And boy was there a lot of weight to lose.
10. “Do they sleep through the night yet?”
I always hated the do they sleep through the night question even when I was a mom of just one child. How does “it’s none of your business” sound? There is so much pressure on moms getting their babies to sleep through the night—from women, from spouses, from doctors. I felt judged and was hesitant to respond. Like I somehow had failed if my child wasn’t sleeping through the night by three months. Worse yet, if I was honest and said they were not sleeping through the night unsolicited advice usually followed (reason 13). I knew why they weren’t sleeping through the night. It’s because I chose to breastfeed on demand. None of my children slept through the night. And I didn’t care.
11. “It must be easier to have them all at once. At least you got it over with.”
Let me check having babies off my list of to do items. Three kids, check.
It’s much easier to put a 2nd mortgage on your house to cover a nighttime doula (or nurse, for some) so your husband can get some sleep and still make a living. Because there is no way in hell any woman can take care of twins all night long alone without going bat shit crazy from a complete lack of sleep. I needed help. Everyone with multiples needs help. If you are reading this, and you are pregnant with twins, do not think you can do it alone because you can’t. I was a hands-on mom. Without that nighttime doula cooking for me, doing laundry, and bathing one baby while I nursed the other, I would have sunk into a great depression, and I’m not prone to depression. Then there was also my 3 1/2 year old who used to be momma’s boy. Sigh.
Some other reasons why saying “it must be easier” is TOTALLY DUMB:
It’s was much easier to have my 3-year-old son get pneumonia eight weeks after the twins were born. All because mommy hardly saw him, because she was so busy with the twins.
It’s much easier to change 2,000 diapers in the first 6 months (600 in the first month).
It’s much easier to purchase a larger car, add on to our house during pregnancy because we found out twins were coming, have two newborn infants screaming at the same time, have two infants crawling and walking around the house, have two high chairs to feed both of them, have literally two of everything.
It’s much easier to have two children the same age fighting over my husband and me because they are both going through separation anxiety at the exact same time.
It’s much easier getting two spots in a charter school for the same grade.
Getting a nanny, then an au pair because it’s cheaper than putting three children in daycare or summer camp.
It’s much easier to do two of the same school projects at the same time for the same due date, or help two children with the exact same thing without one copying the work of the other or getting frustrated because of the “why does he get it and I don’t” mentality.
It’s much easier having nothing to hand down because both children need the same size bike, same size skates, same size helmets, same size everything.
It’s much easier to sleep only 2-4 hours per night, have major stress on your marriage, age a decade in two years, be ostracized from any social life—yes invitations to parties stopped once I gave birth to twins. No one wants two screaming babies at their house, or two 2-year-olds, or two three-years-olds, or four-yearolds, etc. It’s much easier.
It’s much easier to have all my stomach muscles sever vertically because of the amount of stretch my stomach went through because I went full term. I am proud of myself for carrying twins to term. And I am blessed that they were and are healthy, but it’s not easier. No way. And so far, it ain’t gettin’ easier. Just like raising any kids—new age, new issues. There are good days and bad days, that’s motherhood.
12. “Are they really close? Do they like the same things?”
My kids are as close as any siblings. After all they are siblings. “Are your children close?” “Do they like the same things?” They are siblings. They fight like siblings, get upset at each other like siblings, laugh together, play together like siblings. They are siblings. Twins are siblings. Period. One Last T hing—I can’t speak for identical twins, because I don’t have them. I have fraternal twins. Siblings. Two eggs, two sacs. (Yes, I also get asked questions about eggs and sacs too.)
13. “Have you tried to … ?”
This is the best when it comes from a parent who has only one child or no children. Better yet when it comes from a nanny or au pair in her 20s who has no clue what it’s like to be a mom. I detest unsolicited advice. If I want your advice, I’ll ask for it. And if you don’t have twins, and I didn’t ask for your advice, please don’t offer it., because you should know that I’m exhausted, overwhelmed, and trying to stay sane 24/7.
Having twins is hard. Top that with having 3 children within 3 years of each other, and you have total insanity. My husband and I are outnumbered, outwitted, and outlasted daily. Twins are incredible but unless you have twins, you don’t understand. Let me repeat. Unless you have twins, you don’t understand. And the best you can do is say, “You are doing a great job. You should be proud of yourself. You have great kids, and we love having them around.” And, if you don’t love having them around then please, for the benefit of everyone don’t ask that mom and her family over to your house and then give them advice on how you would do it, unless they as!”
In my humble opinion, unsolicited advice is always met with a negative response. Even if a mom of multiples is ranting and raving about how exhausted they are, or how they are at their wit’s end, if you don’t hear the words “What would you do?” the only thing that should come out of your mouth is “Can I help with anything?” or “I’m there if you need me.” and food is always good—if you want to help someone with multiples bring food for mom. If it’s a playdate bring food for you own kids, too. Please don’t expect a new mom of twins to cook or be a hostess.