Are They Natural?

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Categories Attitude, Fertility, How Do The Moms Do It, Mommy Issues, Other people, PerspectiveTags , ,

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.

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Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 10-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. They live in the Austin, TX suburbs, where Sadia works full time in information technology. She contributes to a number of parenting websites and magazines and also runs The Mommy Blogging Guide, where she answers mommy bloggers' technical questions.

13 thoughts on “Are They Natural?”

  1. I usually answer questions along these lines with a “romantic” twist…open for interpretation…and hinting [I hope!] that the question is not up for discussion:

    “They were a gift from God!”

    “Yes, we are just so blessed!”

    To the “Do twins run in your family?” question, I answer, “They do now! They run all over the place…you should see them go!”

    It usually takes people enough off-guard that they don’t try to continue that particular line of questioning.

  2. When I first saw this title I was convinced that you were talking about post-pregnancy boobs :>
    I was also blessed with spontaneous twins (or a bonus baby as we like to call it). For me my response depends on where the question is coming from. Sometimes I’ll see this look in the person’s eyes like they really need a triumphant success story about overcoming fertility barriers and that makes me feel sad and guilty that we were gifted two babies – which i know is also ridiculous.

  3. My twins were a product of IVF. So far I’ve never been asked that by someone who has gone through infertility treatments — it’s always nosey Nellies. I usually get the question “were they planned?”, which is even more jarring to me than “are they natural?” I mean, seriously, if I had accidentally gotten pregnant when I didn’t want to and then it turned out I had twins, that question would really set me off! Luckily I don’t run into those kinds of questions very often, and when I do I make a joke of it or something and quickly move on to the next subject.

  4. We could probably start a blog just about the things strangers say when commenting on multiples…and our responses to them! I like your ‘raising awareness’ response, but I totally relate to not having enough energy to put into a well crafted response!

  5. My twins are the product of IVF. I also have fraternal twin brothers who were not the product of any fertility treatments. If I’m totally not in the mood (which is rare) I brush off questions with the fact that I have twin brothers and people assume that’s why I do. However, most days I use it as a chance to talk about infertility. There is such a stigma attached to needing fertility treatments, for no reason. I didn’t do ANYTHING wrong that caused me to suffer from infertility and neither did my husband. There is no reason to be ashamed of it and I feel like hiding it only continues that theme of shame.

  6. I answer yes enthusiastically. Having twins was a surprise and a shock. It’s special no matter how they come, but the fact that I never even considered twins as a possibility and then was blessed with two babies makes me smile every time some asks.

  7. I answer “Well they’re not artificial!” Although if it seems like they are asking for reasons other than nosiness I will discuss our IVF. I *can* be fairly open about IVF/infertility. Just usually not with strangers when I’m already trying to wrangle 2 toddlers through “Moo-Mart.”

  8. I haven’t been asked this question too much. But the one that really gets my goat is who is the elder one? I usually answer it with – does a few minutes matter that much-. But instead of backing off I have had people express their opinion and it is always in front of the girls.

  9. Ugh. Questions from strangers… I love what people have commented so far! Us mothers of twins seem to be a funny lot! :) I also hate the “Who’s older?” question, because we don’t tell our girls who is, and like to just emphasize they are twins. I mean, really, just because one came out first doesn’t actually mean they are different ages, or one is “older.” I just hate when people say “Your hands are full!” for sooo many reasons. Ugh.

  10. I get that question a lot. My girls are the only set of identical twins in the world where one is a Primordial Dwarf. The smaller twin also has Dandy Walker, so people always assume such a rare set couldn’t possibly have been a surprise. What’s crazy is that people are mean when they “accuse” me of having had my girls via IVF. SMH :) So glad to find this blog. I look forward to reading y’all’s posts.

  11. I love the response you give when you’re more patient. It’s so respectful to those who did struggle to get pregnant, but also educational to those who don’t know better! I tried a new way of responding this weekend. Ran into an old co-worker (that I didn’t work closely with) at the gym who had heard I was pregnant with twins. She came over, said hello, etc., and went on her way. She came back over a few minutes later and asked me if I “had to try to have twins.” I don’t know what came over me, but I just played dumb. It felt that she deserved to feel uncomfortable asking this in the gym, of someone she hadn’t seen in a long time, who she wasn’t close to, not me. Not to mention, that she’d already said hello, and made a point of coming back over to ask this, specifically. She continued to fire off more questions, and seemed to get more uncomfortable while I just answered with, “I don’t know what you mean.” Eventually she just said, “do twins run in your family?” and I said, yes, because they do. And she said, “Oh that’s good. A lot of people need to do a lot of treatments to have theirs.” Not my prouder moment, and wish I always had the wherewithall to say something like, “you know, that’s a very personal question,” but let me tell you, it felt very good! :O

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