Almost every woman whoâ€™s ever been pregnant has a story about somebody touching her belly uninvited. But belly touching isnâ€™t the only invasion of personal space that happens when youâ€™re in that most delicate of conditions. People feel entitled to ask you all manner of highly personal questionsâ€”and this is doubly the case (as are so many things) when youâ€™re having twins.
The number one question I was asked while pregnant with my girls was, hands down, â€œDo twins run in your family?â€ It sounds innocent enough, and maybe Iâ€™m being paranoid here, but I always got the feeling that people who asked it were probing to see whether or not Iâ€™d had fertility treatments. Especially when their follow-up question (after I replied â€œNoâ€ or, more likely, â€œNow they do!â€) was â€œSo, were you surprised?â€ To me, it sounded like what they were really asking was, â€œWere you surprised, or did you know that this was a possibility since you had BIG FAT FERTILITY TREATMENTS??â€
Itâ€™s not that I was ashamed of the fact that weâ€™d had â€œhelpâ€ getting pregnant. I just felt like it wasnâ€™t anyoneâ€™s freakinâ€™ business. Itâ€™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 werenâ€™t nearly as bad as some of the more direct ones, like the insulting â€œAre they natural?â€ (No, theyâ€™re 100% synthetic, machine washable and wrinkle-free!) and the mind-boggling â€œWas it on purpose?â€ (Yep, we just used the twins position â€“ itâ€™s right there in the kama sutra â€“ and voila!)
The questions didnâ€™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 Iâ€™m so over it that Iâ€™m much more likely to call their bluff and say, â€œNope. Fertility drugs. Me and Octomom, baby.â€ Itâ€™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.