Twins and Massachusetts

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Categories Mommy Issues, Multiples in the News, PregnancyTags , ,

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.

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22 thoughts on “Twins and Massachusetts”

  1. VERY interesting. I think all of your commentary on the article is right on. Just who IS the target audience? It sounds like she is trying to say “STOP! Don’t have twins! [And, ohbytheway, don’t encourage anyone else to either….]”

    I will think twice about pushing MY double stroller down Newbury Street now.

  2. Wow. That article is unbelievable. Now, my twins are only 7 weeks old so I don’t have a full year of sleep-deprivation to make me super bitter, but my twins are a delight!! My husband and I were never in the ‘oh-I’ve-always-wanted-twins’ club and we held our heads in our hands when first we saw TWO babies on the ultrasound (with my husband holding our then-14-month-old on his lap) but we love our twins and would not go back and change anything. I already have people rolling their eyes at me when I’m out in public and I certainly don’t need someone (least of all a twin mom) creating more negative views of twins and twin moms as though everyone with twins planned it in an attempt to keep singletons out of preschool and put our health care system in a downward spiral! Long live this website that promotes the positive ways to survive AND thrive with multiple blessed children at one time!!

  3. I followed that link from Mommy, Esq.’s site…read it with my mouth ajar. That woman is either still in PPD or Post Partum Psychois, or she is having the hardest time I have ever heard of. Her words were HARSH. I never realized that people might think of us MoM’s and our offspring as a burden to society. I am sure she is going to get a lot of flack for that article.

  4. I don’t even know where to start on this one. I am really impressed she talked about some of the hard stuff. Lord knows during my worst days I wished I only had one child, but those were momentary and fleeting. But overwhelmingly, I feel the same way you feel – BETRAYED!

    I may have to write her on this one. We moved to Raleigh and got pregnant with twins immediately. Did not know a soul. And what we did was reach out and get as much help as possible. Begged people to visit us to help. Joined a moms group. Joined the twins group.

    Basically you can sit back and feel sorry for yourself and how hard your life is, or you can get out there and do something about it.

    And the money?? If you’re complaining about cash, do you need a NEW double jogger and a NEW double stroller? Can you use formula checks and diaper coupons? There are plenty of ways to make the first year cheaper.

    Oh my, I hate that I read that article and I’m glad.

  5. Yeah, I’ve been annoyed about this article for days. It’s quite cathartic to read your rant about it.

    Several additional thoughts.

    It seems to oversimplify the issue of IVF and how many embryos to transfer, totally ignoring the fact that there are many reasons that even conservative doctors (such as the one they interviewed) will recommend you transfer more than one—the cycles are so expensive an dhave their own side effects for women, and if you already have at least one failed cycle, or are older, they will often recommended you transfer two in order to increase your chance of a positive outcome. In fact, we used the doctor who was interviewed in the article who was/is against transferring multiple embryos—and transferred two, at his recommendation—and had our twins.

    The other thing I think you left out of your diatribe (and please, diatribe away), is something I’ve heard you talk about before, that in some ways, having twins gives you more support than a new mom with one baby has access to. That has certainly been true for me….twin clubs, playgroups, a listserv on which to post questions…all great resources that are open to be because I have two babies, not one.

  6. All I can say is “wow”. After reading that I didn’t know whether to be mad at the author or to feel sad for her. When you wrote “you of all people” that was my sentiments exactly!

  7. How sad for that woman and all that follow her sentiments on twins. I love my twins and I feel blessed to have been chosen as a twin mom. We can’t imagine life with just one of them. And as to Eva’s comments I too hope her children never get wind that she feels as if they are the bubonic plague.

  8. I had to come back here and comment again.

    I wonder if she would point out the “downsides” to IVF twins if she had her own IVF twins. Reading it, it sounded almost like she didn’t consider herself part of that group since hers were natural. Good for her for never having to go through infertility!

    The other thing that irked me was her “having” to give up her career because her boys were preemies. Last time I checked, it takes two partners to make a baby. And nanny is always an option, one of my local MOTs uses a nanny for her 26 weekers.

    Also, the stories chosen about losing twins when out and about… that can happen whenever you have two kids. Or even one kid! I don’t think that’s a twin thing.

  9. LauraC, I’m back again too! I wonder what it is exactly about this article that gets us all going like this.

    Anyway, if anyone wants to be more annoyed, especially my fellow IVFers, someone posted on my MOTclub listserv that the same author wrote a column in Boston Magazine a couple of years ago (called “Status Symbol”) about the glories of conceiving “spontaneous” twins (as opposed to those conceived with the assistance of fertility treatment).

    Super. Just super. I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t go dig up that article, since it’ll just raise my blood pressure even more. I should probably just do my work (that somehow I manage to do even though I have twins??).

  10. Yeah, I (obviously) go that same email about her earlier article. I tried to look it up, but have not yet been successful.

    Does she just have something against IVF in general? Something against IVF and multiple embryo transfer?

    I also just really don’t care for the whole artificial divide between those whose twins were a result of dumb luck, and those who were a result of intervention. Who cares how you got here?! I admit that I’m sometimes curious when I meet a fellow twin mom, but that’s more from a standpoint that I like hearing people’s stories and think they’re interesting, not because I think one “type” is somehow superior to another.

  11. What a sad article to read. No matter how a couple got pregnant with twins, children are a blessing. Like previous commenters said, there are more risks, expenses, etc. but it all works out – those things are circumstantial. I’m not convinced this author would be more content with a singleton. There are underlying issues of the heart here.

  12. There are so many things about that article that bother me. As I read, I wondered, “Do you even like your children?” I’m sure she loves them, but does she like them? I can’t sense joy or feeling blessed at having her twins, only resentment, and bitterness. Reading her article made me feel like I should feel badly because my children were born 8 weeks premature, or that they needed NICU time. Regardless of our twins conceptions, I hope that most MOT wouldn’t trade their experiences with anyone. Besides, every stage passes, anyway. As hard as the first few months are, I knew they would end soon, its wasn’t permanent, and I knew I would sleep again. It wasn’t like I felt like my life was over because I didn’t have the same freedoms as when I was single. Sure, I have to plan things out more, and I don’t get to just pick up and run out to meet a friend like I would in the past, but the tradeoff is so worth it!

    My twins were spontaneous, the latter half of my pregnancy was difficult, and our boy/girl twins spent 5 weeks and 8 weeks in the NICU, respectively. I didn’t have to go on bedrest, but at 24 weeks baby B looked small (diagnosed severe IUGR), and was behind in size compared to A. I had an amnio, checked into the hospital for consultation and ultrasound. The bottom line: the blood flow to B was not as it should be, and they didn’t know if B could withstand all the stress of the final months of pregnancy and the demands on the cord to provide nourishment. At 24 weeks, we had to decide if we wanted to have them intervene, and deliver both babies if Baby B went into distress, OR, if we wanted them to focus on Baby A, and not intervene yet if B was in distress, thus, helping extend chances for successful survival for Baby A, but also risking the strong possibility that Baby would die in utero.

    I was scared, and I worried constantly, wondering if something was wrong with Baby B, wondering if she went into distress if I could live with our decision. It was no kind of choice that I would ever wish on anyone. I look at Lucas and Charlotte, and I am amazed by them. These little people have truly made me a better person. Its a shame that writer seems intent on highlighting the negative. I understand her points, but she wrote them in such a polarizing way, I don’t think she will reach her audience in the way she wants. Sorry to ramble!

  13. My Husband read the article and like M didn’t understand the audience or point of her diatribes. He also thought it might be about IVF but she didn’t express it well. I was just talking to a friend undergoing IVF and she will try for 1 this time and reevaluate if it doesn’t work out for next cycle. But if you pay for it yourself if you live in another state (since MA pays) I can see why you would try to implant more than 1.

    I think she was just bitter and venting. Seems disatisfied about the fact she gave up her career. I know it is hard to juggle it all but I’m hoping to make it work and I have a supportive Husband to help. It does speak to the fact she feels isolated. I know Goddess in Progress struggles with this every day and I’m very happy I have family near by to help out.

  14. The type of perspective conveyed in the article is VERY challenging for me to “connect” with…

    In the INTRO paragraph, the use of the word “epidemic” immediately brings to mind all sorts of negative connotations before one even GETS to the bubonic plague mentions!

    Although, I have a real-life friend — a fellow twin mom — whose experience with her twosome was not what she had “envisioned.” In her words, now that her twins are much bigger/older, she’s “recovered” (and her twins are healthy and wonderful) her “happier” perspective, I have to think the author may be speaking to some folks who are “out there,” but feel silenced.

    The piece was SO disconcerting to me personally, I actually did not read it in its entirety (kind of like with some parenting/pregnancy books I started!)…but I think I’ve just got to hope if the piece speaks to even one “upset” person, maybe it helps?

  15. I think everyone else has summed the poor lady up pretty well! She sounds like she’s having a rough time…as some mentioned above…i kinda feel sorry for her.

    Having twins was not what i expected…and yeah, we ALL have those days that seem to go on and on. BUT, having twins is a blessing in my book.

    The negativity in this article is really sad. Hope she gets some help!

  16. I agree with all the other posters. What ticked me off most about her article was the assumption that having twins means automatically having NICU time! My boys were born at 38 weeks with no issues. They were good size and they roomed in with me and went home with me. My best friend had a singleton at 32 weeks that spent ten weeks in the NICU. Any baby can have issues and have to spend time in the hospital.


  17. I’m not sure I see what all the fuss is about. I read the article and feel very much the same way about my experience and the twin “epidemic” in our country. I also think she brings up a lot of very valid points about the impact of twins/multiples on our healthcare system as well as the negative impact on the health of children due to multiple pre-term births. Sorry, but that’s just how I feel. And no, I’m not depressed or angry. And of course I love my twins, but if I had been given a choice, I would have done it the old fashioned way – one baby at a time.

  18. That article made me shake my head all the way through! I mean, it wouldn’t have been so bad if it was written by someone who doesn’t have twins herself! Like many others, I sincerely hope her twins won’t read it when they grow up. They would surely feel like it’s their fault that their mother had to give up her job, her ‘lovely’ home, and practically her life, just by having them.

    This lady definitely has issues, and I really hope she’ll get herself some help.

  19. I feel betrayed too! By one of our own, no less! Let’s banish her from the sisterhood.

    I can’t stand it when people boo-hoo-hoo about their life situation 24/7. You don’t get to PICK what happens in life – you get what you get! Chin up, buttercup! Put your big girl panties on and deal with it!

    I love having twins – it’s so special! I DO wish multiples for my pregnant friends, just so they can see how much joy there truly can be in life.

    Man, that woman needs to get some counseling or smoke a doob or something.

  20. Woah. THAT’S IT!!! *That’s* what I was feeling – betrayal. THANK YOU for making me realize why I was so uncomfortable with this woman. et tu, ju-lie??

  21. Geez, that article is horrifying. I enjoyed the above commentary much more than the article itself. I’m thrilled there are so many insightful twin moms out there, because where I live, I am the only twin mom on the planet.

    My husband and I were living in Cambridge MA, twin capital of the world, when I became pregnant with twin girls. My husband received a great job offer in Hawaii when I was only about a month or two along, and we thought- sure, why not! Little did we know we were moving from the state with the highest rate of twins to the state with the lowest rate of twins. I would kill for a twins mom group. Everyone I know has only one child and I haven’t been able to find anyone who can relate to the twin experience. I haven’t even seen another set of twins on this island, if you can imagine that. Last night I started a blog just to have a forum to talk twins, and I know nothing about blogs. This is the first blog I have ever commented on or read in depth, and its awesome! I can relate to so many things being said. I’m hooked.

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