I was new to motherhood when I realized that being a twin mother made me a tourist in the Land of Infertility. I remember the exact moment that it happened.
I was at a meeting of my Mothers of Multiples group. Our featured speaker was done speaking and our questions had been answered. We were all gathering up our things to head out to dinner together when my friend said casually, “Hey, who else is going to the fertility clinic reunion?” A couple of the other moms responded, just as casually, that they’d see her there.
I fiddled with my purse, avoiding eye contact, overcome with the realization that for these moms, the “Are they natural?” question wasn’t just an opportunity to shake their heads at strangers’ ignorance. It was a cut to their hearts, a reminder of a long and hard journey to become parents. I thought back on everything I’d said that evening. Had I inadvertently offended anyone with my question about breastfeeding and birth control?
I was aware of the statistics. I knew that fertility treatments had resulted in a 76% increase in twin births between 1980 and 2009. I just hadn’t paired those statistics with my friends’ life experiences. The guilt that settled in at that moment has never quite left me. Conception was so easy for me.
We scheduled it just so. I finished up psychotherapy to make sure that I’d vanquished the demons of my childhood so I wouldn’t introduce them into my kids’ lives. We’d starting building our first home. I’d learned to drive, found a solid job, and bought a car. I spent a year on both prenatal vitamins and birth control to prepare my body. We were ready. We decided to schedule my pregnancy for while my husband would be in Iraq. The baby, we thought, would never know that Daddy was away.
We gave ourselves a 4-month window for conception and achieved success in the first month. Seven months later, I had two beautiful little girls. My husband hadn’t even had time to deploy before our twins were home with us. We used the second pregnancy test in the two-pack we’d bought only because I’d taken the first test way too early to detect anything.
It was so easy for me. How was that fair? I would have perfectly satisfied with adoption instead of pregnancy, but my husband wanted one biological child before adopting. And here were these mothers, these wonderful, inspiring mothers, who’d had to spend thousands of dollars, to endure disappointments and losses, to get there.
When women approach me and my children in public to ask whether they were conceived with fertility assistance, on occasion I see a hopeful light in their eyes. I feel awful, telling them that no, my daughters were conceived spontaneously.
Why do I feel guilty for the fertility that allowed me to be a mother? Motherhood is guilt-infused enough as it is! The guilt can be gift, though, just a reminder of what a miracle it is that I get to experience every day. Every conception is a miracle. Twins, even more so. And my identical twins, these brilliant, funny, energy-saturated, amazing little girls calling me Mommy every day? They’re the greatest miracle of all.
This post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.