A mom friend of mine sent me a link to an article in Boston Magazine about, in part, the above-average number of twins in Massachusetts. According to the article, MA has 34% above the national average. In large part, this is due to the fact that MA requires health insurance companies to cover fertility treatments, including IVF. Fair enough, this is certainly something I’ve noticed in my exposure to the world of twins here in MA. For me, it’s great, because here in Metro Boston, there’s a crap-ton of other twin moms to hang out with. My twin club alone is, I believe, over 200 members. And that’s only a small portion of the state.
Anyways, back to the article. It basically questioned whether or not all of these twins were, in fact, a good thing. Worth noting that the author is, herself, a twin mom. Some notable quotes:
“I adore my boys and wouldn’t trade them for the world. But I would no more wish multiples on a couple than I would bubonic plague.”
“…Hall’s team concluded that if all multiple pregnancies resulting from assisted reproduction techniques had been singletons instead, the hospital would have saved over $3 million per year.”
“…the psychological burden of raising more than one infant at the same developmental stage put mothers at risk of exhaustion and depression.”
“As twins move out of their first year, with luck, parents can stop worrying about whether or not their babies will survive, and concentrate on new challenges.”
“Lest you be tempted to think you’re not affected by all this (all you gloating parents of singletons!), think again. Massachusetts’ astronomical twin birth rate means our state is now home to untold thousands of kids who were born prematurely—kids who could still be suffering from developmental delays that have the potential to overburden our medical and special education systems, and quite possibly require either cuts to other programs or tax increases to help pay for their care. As long as moms here keep having twins at current levels, the resource pinch will only get worse.”
Wow. Susie Sunshine. Makes me feel so warm and fuzzy. The rest of the article is full of tales of preemies, NICU stays, double baby meltdowns, and conspiratorial siblings at bedtime. And not in an urban legend / crazy anecdote / “you’ll never believe what happened to me at the store!” kind of way. No, more in a “wow, having twins is awful” kind of way. The last paragraph has a little shout-out to the MOT club (not mine, but same idea), but the rest of the article is like a greatest hits album and worst-case-scenario of all of the roughest parts of having twins.
To be fair, many of the things she wrote about were not un-true. It’s a riskier pregnancy, it’s really hard to parent two at a time, it’s twice as expensive, etc. Yes. Fine. And there’s a little bit of her “bubonic plague” remark that resonates a little bit, especially when I see people posting on twin pregnancy bulletin boards asking the other moms “how” they became pregnant with multiples, because they’ve “always wanted twins.” It does get a little bit under my skin that people think having twins is this sort of cute, romantic fantasy. It is risky, and it is fricking hard. I disagree with her assertion that it’s because of all the twins that it’s hard to find a spot in daycare or preschool, but fine.
Man, though… if I ever complain that much, reach through your monitor and smack me. Would my life be easier with one baby at a time? Sure, probably. But there’s a lot of fun, great things about being a twin mom, too. The way my kids laugh at each other, the way they can often play somewhat independently without needing my constant intervention, the way they tried to grab each other’s yogurt-covered hands at dinner tonight and cracked each other up. And the fact that being twice as busy has also made me more confident and less high-strung as a mother. There’s lots of great things about being a twin mom. And sure, we all have our war stories, of the time our kids embarrassed us in a store or kept waking each other up at naptime. But I usually try to tell those stories with a laugh and a shrug and a “you’ll never believe what happened at the grocery store today.” Not doom and gloom and “woe is me, my life is so rough.”
But still, every time I go back and re-read this article, I am more and more annoyed with it. As M said, when we were talking about it, “exactly what is the point, and who is the target audience?” I mean, I could sort of get it if it was purely “wow, we have a lot of twins here, and that has some financial / healthcare / etc. implications.” But then you throw in everything and the kitchen sink about the bad stuff. Bed rest, NICU, reflux, colic, developmental delays… Was her point simply to discourage people who are doing IVF from implanting two embryos? Because, I hate to break it to her, you don’t always have much of a choice when it comes to having twins. Sometimes it just happens. And knowing friends who did go through all of the IVF crap… hearing their stories, I think I probably would have gone for the two-embryo implant, too. Not for some romantic dream of having an adorable set of twins, but probably to increase my chances for a successful pregnancy, as well as the possibility of being able to have my two kids and not go through it all again. I get that, and I’m certainly not going to crap on someone for making that choice. I’d do it, too.
I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts on this for several days, now, and can’t quite get all the way there. Perhaps the thing that bothers me the most is the overall negative tone. It reminds me of the strangers who see my double stroller and do the “better you than me” thing, or even worse, just look at us with pity in their eyes. Pity? Don’t pity me! I rather like my life and my kids, thankyouverymuch! And so, after reading this article, and having all the negative and none of the positive put out there for everyone to read by a fellow twin mom… I almost feel betrayed. Not you. You, of all people, should know the great parts. You, of all people, should understand that I wouldn’t want it any other way. Maybe she’s just not a glass-half-full kind of person, maybe she doesn’t have enough social support. I know how life can get away from you and feel overwhelming, and how you can rather miss the days when you could decide at 6:30 to just pop out to a restaurant for dinner. But there’s something about that kind of tone being published in a big magazine… I almost feel like the Massachusetts twin mom community has been thrown under an MBTA bus.