If there’s one thing that bugs me, it’s people seeing my identical twin daughters and asking whether they’re “natural.” I know where the question comes from. People are well aware that there’s an increased chance of conceiving multiples with certain types of fertility treatments. They see a pair of children who are pretty clearly twins, and they want to know whether they were conceived with or without medical assistance.
First, let me answer the question. J and M are spontaneous twins. (Thanks to Goddess in Progress, the founder of HDYDI, for giving me that term to use when I complained about how awkward I found the phrase “natural twins.”) I quit taking birth control pills, waited a month, got busy with my husband, and 7 months later had two amazing daughters.
I’ve never struggled with infertility, so I can’t truly understand what that experience is like. I can imagine, though, that I wouldn’t want to discuss infertility with strangers, especially in front of my children. I would imagine that early attempts to get pregnant, repeated visits to the doctor, diagnoses, perhaps even miscarriages, are none of anyone else’s business. If someone is asking because they’re suffering from infertility themselves and are seeking someone who understands, that’s one thing, but most of the time the question comes from pure nosiness.
When I hear the horrible, “Are they natural?” I sometimes answer, “Yes,” and go on about my day. Sometimes, I say, “They were conceived spontaneously.” Sometimes, it’s, “IVF increases the chances of fraternal twins. Mine are identical.” Once, it was, “Are you asking whether my girls were conceived through unprotected sex? Yep, they were!” I was in a bad mood that day.
When I have the time and patience, though, I try to raise awareness. I say, “I was lucky not to suffer from fertility challenges, but I imagine that if I had, I might not want to talk about it. I think of all the tears I’ve shed over friends’ miscarriages. I’m not sure I consider that a topic for casual conversation.” More often than not, the response I get back is, “I never thought about that. Thanks.”
We have fraternal triplets in the family. I don’t know whether they were IVF babies. It’s not my business.
How do you respond to, “Are they natural?”
Sadia lives with her daughters M and J in the Austin, TX area. She is divorced and works in higher education information technology.