I’m walking through the supermarket with my daughters when a woman stops me and starts hurling questions my way.
“Twins! They must be twins, right?”
I nod, and she continues.
“Let’s see…a boy and a girl? No, wait—they’re both girls. I’ll bet they’re a handful.”
“They are,” I nod politely.
“So are they natural?” the woman asks while staring them up and down in an attempt to uncover the mystery that is my reproductive past. “You know, a woman in my office had twins last year, and we were convinced she must’ve had help because she was already over 40 when she first got married…”
As she goes on and on about her coworker (who apparently had the gall to keep the fact that she was trying to conceive a secret), it takes every ounce of self-control on my part not to punch her in the face. I’m tempted to call her out, or respond sarcastically, or simply pick up and walk away mid-conversation.
It happens all the time. And while I’m used to fielding questions about my twins, it’s that question in particular—“Are they natural?”—that bugs me the most.
First of all, the way I came to have twins is none of your business. While there are people who have twins via fertility treatment, that’s not always the case. Some people happen to have twins run in the family. Others don’t have a family history of twins, yet magically manage to produce two babies simultaneously without any sort of warning or medical intervention.
I can’t tell you how much it annoys the crap out of me when people I don’t know (or know, but not nearly well enough for them to be prying) feel that they essentially have the right to ask me whether I had difficulty conceiving. Just because I happen to have twins doesn’t mean you shouldn’t respect my privacy and boundaries. You’d never think to go up to a random mom with a singleton and ask, “By the way, did you have trouble conceiving your baby? Or did you and your partner just get lucky in the sack?” Why don’t twin parents deserve the same basic common courtesy?
And of course this issue doesn’t just apply to parents of twins. People have a tendency to say what they’re thinking without applying filters, which means that for every time I get asked a prying twin question, I’m sure there’s another woman out there who gets asked if her children are “really” hers because they appear to be of a different ethnicity.
But it’s not just the nature of the question that bothers me; it’s also the wording. I have a real problem with the word “natural” in the context of this question, because regardless of the answer, having twins via medical intervention does not make them any less “natural” than other babies.
Babies are babies. Those born via fertility treatments don’t have titanium rods in place of bones, nor do they have “Small Wonder” style control panels in their backs that allow their parents to program them as they see fit. They’re babies just like any other babies, and implying that there’s something “unnatural” about babies born from fertility treatment is just plain offensive.
Of course, I do get that some people are genuinely curious about twins. But people also need to learn to mind their own business and choose their words more carefully.
Back at the supermarket, the woman is still waiting for the answer to her question.
I want to tell her to mind her own business, but instead I face her and attempt to give her the response I know she’s looking for.
“They’re a miracle,” I answer. “My miracle.”
And I leave it at that.