Twins Week: “Do twins run in your family?”

I’m excited to feature Jane Roper sharing her answers to the ever-annoying question, “Do twins run in your family?” She blogs at Baby Squared on and wrote Eden Lake, a novel.

Almost every woman who’s ever been pregnant has a story about somebody touching her belly uninvited. But belly touching isn’t the only invasion of personal space that happens when you’re in that most delicate of conditions. People feel entitled to ask you all manner of highly personal questions—and this is doubly the case (as are so many things) when you’re having twins.

The number one question I was asked while pregnant with my girls was, hands down, “Do twins run in your family?” It sounds innocent enough, and maybe I’m being paranoid here, but I always got the feeling that people who asked it were probing to see whether or not I’d had fertility treatments. Especially when their follow-up question (after I replied “No” or, more likely, “Now they do!”) was “So, were you surprised?” To me, it sounded like what they were really asking was, “Were you surprised, or did you know that this was a possibility since you had BIG FAT FERTILITY TREATMENTS??”

Jane at 36 weeks and 2 days pregnant

It’s not that I was ashamed of the fact that we’d had “help” getting pregnant. I just felt like it wasn’t anyone’s freakin’ business. It’s a very personal decision, about a highly personal matter. I was happy to discuss it with my good friends or disclose it as I saw fit. But it bugged the hell out of me when people asked.

Of course, the indirect questions weren’t nearly as bad as some of the more direct ones, like the insulting “Are they natural?” (No, they’re 100% synthetic, machine washable and wrinkle-free!) and the mind-boggling “Was it on purpose?” (Yep, we just used the twins position – it’s right there in the kama sutra – and voila!)

The questions didn’t stop once the girls were born, either. Four years on, people still regularly ask me if twins run in my family. But at this point I’m so over it that I’m much more likely to call their bluff and say, “Nope. Fertility drugs. Me and Octomom, baby.” It’s fun to see the looks on their faces.

Double big thanks to Jane Roper. Her memoir of the ups and downs of the first three years of parenting twins will be published in 2012 by St. Martin’s Press. She lives in the Boston area with her husband, singer-songwriter Alastair Moock, and her four-year-old twin daughters, Clio and Elsa.