Feb 29, 2012

twins in the family?

I managed to spill a whole water bottle over my laptop a few days ago, rendering it useless until it gets to the repair shop, so I probably won't be writing too much until it gets fixed because I really don't like typing on the tablet. Yesterday marked two weeks on bed rest and two weeks more pregnant since the big bleed - I'll take it! Honestly, though, I feel like cabin fever is really starting to set in and I am beginning to go stir crazy.

My big outing of the week was going to the hospital to get my platelet function tests repeated a few days ago. Going anywhere with me is such a big ordeal these days and I am so dependent on Y. Using a wheelchair also really really embarrasses me and makes me feel so weird - I mean I can walk! Oh well, it is what it is, and I know the inconveniences and embarrassments are nothing if I keep my eye on the end goal.

One thing I actually wanted to write about a while ago is the questions people ask when they find out we're expecting twins. This issue is actually no longer immediately relevant, since I now spend all my time sequestered in my room and don't interact with the outside world, but I still think it's an interesting issue.

Y and I were always quite private about fertility treatments when we were going through them, so only our immediate families and a few close friends know about our ordeal. For a little background, both my maternal and paternal grandmothers were twins (obviously not with each other;-)). My mom had a miscarriage with twins (spontaneously conceived) and my cousins are spontaneously conceived triplets.

When relatives or people who have known my family for a long time found out through the grapevine that we are expecting twins, the common response was "Wow! Based on the family history I am not surprised at all!" I don't think anyone questioned for a second whether or not they are spontaneous - the possibility of IVF didn't really seem to register in anyone's mind given the strong family history.

Among friends or relatives on Y's side of the family, people right away asked if twins run in my family. I've always interpreted this as a perceived to be tactful attempt of asking whether the twins were conceived spontaneously or with fertility treatment. The fault in this logic is obviously that we fall into both categories - honestly, multiples do run in my family but obviously that has nothing to do with how we conceived multiples.

So of course we have enjoyed smugly and honestly answering that why yes, twins do run in the family - an accurate answer that is at the same time deceptively inaccurate at answering the real question usually thinly veiled underneath.

At first it didn't bother me - actually it made me feel a little smug knowing I wasn't really answering the question being asked and in some sense it was definitely a relief - an out from having to answer painful and personal further questions that quite honestly are generally never the questioner's business. It also really suited Y, who is super private and never a sharer of information.

But eventually, I started having mixed feelings about our easy out from never having to really talk about how our twins came to be. It began to feel a little disingenuous, especially among certain people.

When friends who we believe are going through their own fertility challenges asked whether twins run in the family, we gave our usual response, but instead of feeling smug, I started feeling like shit about it. It started to feel totally disingenuous, especially when talking with people we believe are struggling, too.

Not only did it make me feel like an impostor - passing myself off as a fertile myrtle, but it also made me feel like in some sense I was hurting the cause - perpetuating the notion that infertility is something to be ashamed of and keep silent about.

I always wondered whether we would be the kind of couple who would become more open about our infertility experiences if at some point we were fortunate enough to be expecting. So far, it seems like apparently we're not. I have surprisingly mixed feelings about this.

On one hand, I feel like it is really no one's business and we have a right to our privacy. I also can frankly be a little judgmental sometimes of people who are incredibly open with everyone they know about all of the sordid details, because sometimes I think it can have an AW-ish or strong woe is me component to it.

On the other hand, I feel deceptive and untrue to myself when I intentionally lead people to believe that the events that have defined my life for the past few years never occurred. It feels doubly deceptive if the people I mislead might be struggling with infertility themselves. What obligation if any do I have to the IF community to be open about our experiences? What does it say about me if I am unwilling to share - is that unwillingness coming from a place of shame?

If we are lucky enough to become pregnant do we have an obligation to share and educate others that we didn't have before or does this obligation not come into effect until we have actually made it to the other side with living child(ren) OR does it not exist ever - to each her own, with the understanding that what is right for some isn't right for everyone?

These are all unanswered questions for me. I am curious to hear your thoughts!


  1. This is a difficult and very personal topic. On the one hand I feel like I want to be an outspoken advocate for IF, if I am unwilling to fess up does that perpetuate the isolation of IF? On the other hand, I get not wanting to disclose to everyone the details to anyone who will listen. I tend to take the middle road, I emphasize how hard it was for me to get pregnant, how long it took and that I had a miscarriage. No, I don't say it to everyone but I am comfortable telling most people. If I happen to come across someone who may be struggling in their own private, infertile hell I hope that they will be able to infer what my description means. If someone asks, which no one has, depending upon the person I would probably disclose some more detail. I don't think there is a wrong or right, I would just go with what feels right.
    Aside from the line of thought, I am glad you are 2 weeks farther along! May things continue to move in a positive direction!

  2. You're really in such a unique position. I do believe that the answer is "to each her own" for how to "represent IF." I always said I'd be open about our process if we were ever lucky enough to be successful. I was very private about it beforehand -- only very few friends and family knew even vaguely what we were going through.

    But, the question I have even for myself is would I have been that open about it if we'd only been pregnant with a singleton? Because, with twins I, too, get those questions a lot and they open up the dialogue. It depends on the situation, though. I don't really feel the need to discuss the details of my reproductive life with my students -- and, they rarely ask the specifics. But, in general, I'm very open that we did IVF and what we went through to get there and it has led to lots of conversations about people who did IVF or other IF treatments, etc.

    Of course, often the question is the much less tactful "are they natural?" which I usually answer with "yes, but we did IVF." I mean, I know what they mean -- they mean "spontaneous" -- but my children aren't unnatural! (I'm going to have to get over that slight twinge of annoyance that comes out whenever someone asks the question that way.)

    And, I do have a set of twins and a set of triplets in my family -- but the triplets were the result of ART and I'm pretty sure that the twins were, too, as I look back on it. So, when one person asked if multiples run in my family (based off of the triplets) I said "no, but infertility does."

    My husband has been amazingly frank about our IF journey ever since I got pregnant. He is willing to talk about it with anyone who asks (or doesn't). It seems like every guy he talks to has an IF story -- and guys just don't talk about this stuff. But, it seems like whenever he's mentioned it, he's ended up in a long bonding session about it. (Like the hour-long conversation he had with our insurance agent over IVF and adoption.) I think he feels like he's becoming an advocate for all the men he knows.

    OK, that got long. Sorry about that! It's been on my mind lately, too.

    SO glad you're two weeks further along since the bleeding!

  3. As a mom of IUI twins, I know *exactly* how you are feeling. We also have twins in our family (my grandmother was a twin, I have two sets of twin cousins). There are even twins on my husband's side so we can say "why yes, we BOTH have twins in our families in fact!" (even though the link is really only through the maternal side, whatever, people don't know that).

    It's such a difficult and personal decision as to how you want to reply to people, but I think the bottom line is we shouldn't feel guilty about what we choose to say. (I say that, but I, like you, have struggled with how I answer these questions myself.)

    I can also say that the questions don't stop once you have the twins... so you will have lots of time to decide if you want to change your mind about how you answer people!

    Twin pregnancy is tough enough without these philosophical questions to answer, eh?! All the best of luck, keep on baking in there babies!

  4. I think there is no obligation whatsoever towards anybody other than yourself. You should share if it is easier or better from your point of view, and not share if you prefer it that way. Other people don't tell us everything about how they conceived either, like how long they tried, or even who the father is (about one in six cases the father is not who we think it is). So why must we? that being said, I did share, because that is what I wanted to do, not because of any sense of obligation. Do what is best for you!

  5. Like others have said, the only obligation you have is to yourself and your Hubby. You need to do what is right for you. Most of my family knows about my situation, but there are a few Aunts that I know would have stupid things to say so I decided not to tell them.

  6. I think your feelings might keep evolving, and you might choose to share more or less at different times. I wouldn't assume it's from a place of shame, some of us are just more private than others. It's not the same for everyone, and not even constant within each of us over time necessarily. But I appreciate you thinking of others who are struggling. Hug!

  7. I don't feel it's an "obligation" for you to share your IF story when people inquire about the twins but I do wonder if there isn't a certain level of shame that we all still carry around. My first pregnancy was conceived with Clomid and I was quick to share that we had to resort to fertility treatments to get pregnant...don't know why, but I guess I wanted everyone to know it wasn't easy? Like hi, I'm the face of infertility. After my miscarriage we conceived again naturally, now I'm quick to say it happened on it's own. What am I trying to accomplish here? Do I care if people assumed that we did Clomid again? Am I trying to seem more normal, like a fertile? Like my one spontaneous ovulation wasn't kind of a miracle? I don't have the answers to my own questions and i can't explain my own behavior. But to each his own, you have to do what is right for you and it's honestly NO ONE's business but your own how you conceived your twins.

  8. http://twinpregnancytoday.blogspot.in/2011/05/how-much-iron-should-i-take-for-twin.html?showComment=1336734794872#c7723497182237462568