Why does being a mom of multiples make us a side show?
Did having multiples make us grow an extra nose?
For some reason, despite multiples being more common in today's world where the miracle of medicine helps so many have children when they can't on their own, moms of multiples are still looked at as though they are members of a freak circus side show. I was totally unaware that conceiving multiples suddenly made me more friendly and approachable and gave other people unspoken permission to touch my pregnant bump and after birth, my babies. I suppose I should have known, but when you are so excited about the new arrival of your babies, at first you don't care about the attention. Once you get to the point that it's hard to get around and people keep stopping you with remarks of, "Oh, you're gonna pop any day now huh?", to which you have to answer, "No, I have 9 more weeks!" and then get onslaught with questions, it gets old. Then come along with the all too familiar touch when they find out it's multiples. If you touch a woman any other time, I'm pretty sure you would be charged in some form or another with assault, sexual misconduct, or etc, but for some reason pregnancy seems to make people think that no longer applies.
Common questions that seem to be received from other people include:
"Did you try for twins/triplets/etc?" Umm... well, we should all know that it's a possibility at anytime, and yes, more so with IVF or other fertility help, but pretty sure no one assumes it's going to happen and there is no one thing that assures it will happen. Even in double/triple embryo transfers with IVF, one or more may not implant, meaning still only one baby, and if more than one does implant the risk of one vanishing in the first trimester is huge.
"Why would you do that?" Again, it's not like it was on purpose (mine are spontaneous, but again with the fertility help, while knowing it's a possibility, it's not a for sure thing). Most IVF information sites lists the risk of multiples as between 20 and 40%, so while higher than average, it's still not 100% or even over 50%! Not to mention most women who have had issue to the point of IVF want a healthy baby, and know that risks are higher in multiple pregnancies so that means double or more of the worry, risk, scare, and chance of something going wrong, so no, it's not "on purpose".
"Does that mean you will have to stay pregnant for 18 months?" Well.... I just can't even go there with this one. "Go back and read your biology book", is about the only retort to that one.
"Why didn't you have them take one out?" Perhaps this isn't such an odd question since as most moms of multiples know, with higher order multiples, the option to reduce the pregnancy is sometimes offered to give one or two a better chance at survival, but the general population doesn't know that, so this should never be an appropriate question. What if that mom was originally pregnant with more than twins or triplets and lost one or more or had to have a reduction? How do you think that's going to make her feel?
"Are they real/natural?" This one seems to come up as much while pregnant as it does after arrival. I am pretty sure that no one in the history of like... well... ever has given birth to a "fake" baby. How they were conceived is irrelevant and does not make them any more or less "real" when you are up at night with them while they scream, nor does it make you any less of a mom.
It doesn't get better after birth.
It's bad enough to get questioned when you are hormonal, feel like a whale, your whole body is sore, you're nervous, and all the other things that come along with pregnancy, but add in recovering from giving birth and all the new fears that come with having newborns, and it's just a volatile accident waiting to happen. A whole new number of questions and remarks come along with the babies, and it's only worse if they have a nicu stay. When you have been pumping every 2-3 hours around the clock and trying to visit your babies in the hospital every chance you have and someone asks, "where're the babies?", it's like a knife to the heart. I was actually asked once, "Why didn't you just stay pregnant longer?". Don't you think that I wanted to? I would have given anything to bring my babies home with me right after birth like so many moms can, but it didn't happen. I would have loved to keep them in longer, but sometimes nature or medicine one intervenes and there's nothing we can do about it. It isn't helped by the fact that those of us who have older children are already worried about them feeling left out and spending time away from them in the hospital, and now people are constantly fawning over their smaller siblings and ignoring them once the babies are home.
I have had a few instances in which I have literally feared for my babies lives because they are multiples. This is NOT okay. It is NEVER okay to just walk up and touch a baby, whether one, two, three, or more of them. I know multiples are exciting, and yes, in a small town even famous sometimes, but that still doesn't make it okay. There was one time in particular that was the scariest. Because they were premature, we had to be extra careful about people being near them and that made leaving the house scary anyway, but once a few months old and the dr gave the okay to get out as long as no one touched them, we ventured out from time to time with the stroller for walks. On one such walk I had the double stroller and the baby in front was covered up snoozing away. Our oldest ran a few feet ahead and then would double back to the stroller again and we were having a nice time. A woman walked past and then doubled back to look at them, which I could handle. I smiled and just kept walking since she didn't say anything. She then stepped between where my oldest was and the babies and pulled the blanket off of the baby in front. I was shocked for a minute, first that she had the nerve to get between me and one of my children, and second that she had touched the blanket. That wasn't where it ended though, she put her hand up to touch my babies face. Without thinking, I smacked her hand. She stepped back for a minute and then seemed to realize what she had done and dropped the blanket and kept walking. At first, I felt bad, but then I no longer did. Touching someone else's child is just not okay. Would she have done it had it just been one baby? I don't know, but considering it has happened upwards of 40 times with the babies and only happened twice with our oldest, it stands to reason that it is more common with multiples.
It's not all scary, because the funny and craziness comes after the fear. For instance one mom wrote that her husband was asked, "Wow, she let you do that three times?" When told that they were expecting triplets, while another was asked, "Which one will have the belly button?" There are instances where some are asked if they will be sterile because, "When horses have twins that are opposite sexes, they are.", and still others who are asked things like:
"Do they run in the family?"
"Are you done now?"
"Can you tell me how to get pregnant with twins?"
"Are they identical?" I could see this happening more with multiples that look alike, and that are the same gender, and while there are those super rare cases where one baby looses or gains a chromosome causing indenticals to be different genders, again, those are super rare. In our case, with totally different skin, eye, and hair colors, it's kind of a "duh" moment when someone asks.
This about sums it up:
With the questions come just as many comments.
Not a lot of explanation is needed for the following, and if you think it's a good remark, please be advised that no, it never is.
"I feel sorry for you!"
"I'm glad that I'm not you!"
"I'd shoot myself if that happened to me!"
"They can't be twins/triplets, they don't look alike!"
"Girls and boys can't be born from the same pregnancy!"
"Man, you must have really made God mad."
"If I were your husband, I would have ran away."
"I bet you drink a lot."
Look for future coverage of the worst questions and comments and funnies along with other multiples related reads to follow.