Do twins run in your family?

September 30, 2013 § 29 Comments

Over the last few days, the Artsy Engineer and I have told our friends and a number of coworkers about our pregnancy. I cannot conceal my expanding stomach very well anymore, and we were riding the wave all of last week from the most incredible ultrasound I’ve ever had. I promise I will post about this ultrasound soon, but for now, I want to talk about people’s reactions to my pregnancy.

After ohmygodhowwonderful! the first thing out of everyone’s mouth has been, Do twins run in your family!??

Now, for some reason, I was not initially prepared for this at all. I guess I kind of assumed that people would be aware that infertility exists (WHAT? PEOPLE CAN’T GET PREGNANT?!!) and that they would, therefore, know that twins often means infertility and thus refrain from asking questions that would put me in a position to talk about my uterus.

I would have escaped this if I’d only had one in there, for sure. But no dice.

My response to this comment has surprised me, though. I have found it impossible to answer them with a simple little lie. Nope! Weird, right? would often be easier. But, as much as I want it to, that statement just won’t seem come out of my mouth.

See, I do not want to be one of those people who perpetuates the myth that everyone can knocked up. And the myth that getting pregnant means glitter and rainbows and fresh-smelling babies for all. I don’t want to contribute to the silence and the stigma. This may be a semi-anonymous blog, but that’s only because I’m a paranoid woman who watches too many crime reality shows (and by too many, I mean any), and I don’t want some weirdie to find me online and stalk me and cut me up into little pieces. (If you’re out there, weirdie, eff off. Cut up your own self.) It is not because I want to talk about my infertility without anyone actually knowing about my infertility.

But that doesn’t mean that I have, up until now, shouted my empty womb from the rooftops. It was no secret at work and among my friends that we wanted babies years ago. In fact, our voiced justification of our marriage after 7 years of living together in sin as “domestic partners” was that we figured we might as well make things easier on ourselves and do things in order. So when people started asking how it was going or when people mentioned babies, I told them. It sucks. It’s going shittily, actually. We’ve been trying for 18 months and I’ve had a miscarriage and it’s been expensive and black hole distracting and heartbreaking. I didn’t realize this, but apparently it happens to 1 in 8 of us, and I happen to be one of the lucky ones. But I’m fine. Really, I’m fine.

Now, my response to the twin question is similar. So. Do twins run the family?

Yes, they do actually. My husband’s great grandmother was one of three sets of twins born to his great great grandmother (and a member of the only set that survived), and his grandmother had twin siblings who died at childbirth. BUT, that’s not the side of the family that makes any difference genetically. It’s got to be on the woman’s side to have an impact. These particular twins are the result of fertility treatments, because my husband and I had a hard time getting pregnant. But we have had it relatively easy. There are so many women who go through so much more. I barely skimmed the surface.


AE’s great grandmother is the adorable little one looking offscreen just to the right of his greatgreat grandmother. When she got older, everyone called her Mother Jill (even though her name was not Jill). She turns into the warmest-looking grandmother I’ve ever seen in a picture.

And, you know, I walk away from those conversations with my head held high, feeling incredibly proud of myself. A simple “nope” would have been easier. I’ve wanted to say it every single time. But instead, my brain has gone against my will and has chosen to blurt out the truth. Our truth. The truth about us.


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§ 29 Responses to Do twins run in your family?

  • J o s e y says:

    I’m the same way. We obviously don’t get the twin question, but especially now with 2 “perfectly spaced” kids (1 boy, 1 girl, 2 yrs apart), people make comments all the time, and I’m quick to interrupt & say something about how it took us a lot of time and money & struggling with Infertility to get Stella and how this 2nd pregnancy is a huge blessing we didn’t think we’d get, and NO it didn’t happen b/c we relaxed – I still have PCOS & irregular cycles, and it’s just pure chance they’re 2 yrs apart – I’d always wanted kids 3-4 yrs apart. GAH. I try to say it nicely, but I do think it’s important to educate people about how real and how often it is that ppl struggle with family building, in a variety of ways.

    I can’t wait to hear all about your ultrasound!

    • Just like with social inequalities, the burden of educating the ingroup always falls on members of the outgroup. As a white, upper-middle class healthy woman, I have really not been in this position before. It’s eye opening, really. And it makes you think about the responsibility you have as a human to learn about other groups that are different in some way than your own, because it shouldn’t be their burden to act as spokesperson. It’s a tiring and vulnerable job!

  • Amanda says:

    That’s the best answer ever… I hope you say it JUST LIKE THAT. You A- answer their question, B- inform them the question is kind of dumb, C- stop the perpetuation of the myth, and D- support your sisters. BEST ANSWER EVER!

    Can’t wait to hear about your ultrasound!

  • Flicka Mawa says:

    I love your answer. Although I haven’t gone through it myself when I hear twins I definitely think possibly fertility treatments and don’t ask unless they bring it up.

    Can’t wait to hear about the best ultrasound ever of yours!

  • I am not even pregnant and this question bothers me. Along with “Were they conceived naturally?”. In fact I went off on a tangent last week about it.

    Here’s my POV-
    It’s rude. No one (at least that I’ve run into) has ever asked someone pregnant with ONE baby- Oh, did you conceive naturally? Or ” Do only singeltons run in your family?”

    My response, should I be so lucky to get KU, is a simple “excuse me?” in hope that this gives the person asking the question enough time to realize that they’ve asked a stupid, rude, impersonal question. Either that or “Yes, my babies are natural”. Ironically enough, twins do also run in my family.

    Who the hell cares if it runs in your family or if you got pregnant “naturally”. Either way it’s still a miracle! I feel like people that asked, are asking to judge. Sorry, it really irritates me.

    Your way of responding is probably much more effective than mine ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • I’m proud of you and your honesty. I make it very clear to all that Jackson was not easy to conceive and that we are grateful daily of his arrival in our lives. No shame in the truth.

  • Steph Mignon says:

    I’m proud of you as well, and anyone else who’s willing to be open and honest about their fertility struggle. My Mom conceived my youngest brother at 36 with injections, but ask her and it was totally natural. That has always bothered me! But rather than getting on her case, I’ve resolved to be different. My life isn’t some perfect Facebook photo where each day is glossy and fun and flawless. Sometimes life is hard. And sometimes making a baby is hard too. No amount of “relaxing” “praying” “hoping for the right time” will help make a baby appear. Thank you for helping to spread the truth that infertility can happen to anyone, but also that with the right intervention babies can happen too. ๐Ÿ™‚ Can’t wait to hear about your ultrasound! Always on the look out for Lentil updates!

  • thefamilyvan says:

    Right on, sister. I think your response is awesome, and I promise you I’m not a weirdie, but I’m proud of you, too! I always took the “twins” question to be a veiled way of asking whether we had fertility treatments. I was rarely brave enough to answer the true question. Also, though, it’s none of their GD business. Check out Pregnant Chicken’s post on replies to this question. It is awesome.

    Glad things are going so well. Twins are awesomely exhausting and ridiculously cute.

  • YeahScience! says:

    Oh man, that’s just ridiculous — I’ll bet at least half those people know full well that most twins these days are a result of infertility treatment and are just asking “naively” because they want you to confirm it. Well, good for you for being blunt and honest! I’m the same — when someone asked if we had our due date bumped at all after whatever ultrasound or how certain we were about it, I was like, “Dude, I can tell you down to the HOUR when sperm entered egg, so yeah, pretty damn sure our due date is Oct. 23 kthanksbye”…

  • Anonymous says:

    This kind of follows up to your comment on my post, but the other tough aspect about disclosing IF treatments is fearing the judgement, especially with twins. Like you knew you were guaranteed to have twins and did it anyway. And, no twins don’t occur spontaneously. At all. I applaud your bravery for being so open.

  • Sadie says:

    Thank you for speaking the truth about so many of us. People are really not forced to confront some of these uncomfortable realities half as much as they probably should, (and hopefully it also makes them think twice about being so nosey). You should be proud!

  • missymakes says:

    This couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been having a hard time with this question. Twins DO run in my family (on both my mom’s side and my dad’s side), so I could simply answer “yes” to that question truthfully, but it feels like a lie and a cop-out. I know I don’t owe anyone the full response to such a stupid/rude question, but maybe that’s all the more reason to take the time and educate people.

    I’m still a little torn about what to do at the office. I work in a large, very conservative corporate office and I’m not sure how appropriate it would be to get into that level of detail with coworkers (I am truly not one who considers any of my coworkers to be real friends). Yet letting people believe the twins were spontaneously conceived feels so deceitful. I’ll be announcing at work after my ultrasound next week, so I guess I have to decide soon!

  • sarah says:

    Glad you’re being candid – even though I’m not having twins, I do find it really hard not to mention the infertility thing. I’m having a baby at a “bad time” career wise and I’ve gotten questions and comments about why I didn’t/couldn’t plan better (some people have limited insight/social awareness). And, of course, I just can’t help but be blunt. Anyway, thanks for doing us all a favor and chipping away at the great-fertility-myth. Those two inmates are gonna be lucky kids!

  • Gypsy Mama says:

    I think it’s so great that you are being open and honest about how your two little babies were made. You certainly don’t have to, and it would be easier not to say, but in doing so you help make infertility seem more typical. (Which as we know, it is)

    Good for you!

  • belovedburnttoast says:

    When I was pregnant with the twins, the receptionist at my old job asked that same question. I didn’t know how to answer! My friend and coworker (a fellow infertile) jumped in and answered for me “No one runs in her family!” Get it? Ha. Ha.

    I think it depends on the person/situation. It is a pretty personal question, and I think in this day and age people should realize that many, many multiples are born of assisted reproduction. So common! And at the end of the day, why does it matter? People are so nosy.

    Again, I’m pretty sure you handled it beautifully. Get the word out. Good for you!!

  • Aramis says:

    Thank you for speaking up for us. The more of us that do, the less crap the ones who come after us will have to deal with. At least, that’s how it works in my magical happy place.

  • L says:

    I am 17.5 weeks pregnant and do not think I have shared my pregnancy news once without adding that it took years of trying and several treatments to get to this point. Often I go all out and say it was my 4th IVF that finally worked. I sometimes think someone will be uncomfortable with my honesty, but what I’ve actually found is that people are awesome and supportive and some older ladies have even cried with happiness for us. So I will continue to do my small part in a. being honest, and b. representing for all those who continue to struggle with this thing that isn’t shameful but isn’t often talked about. Thank you for being honest in sharing your journey too.

  • Daryl says:

    I applaud your honesty! I still can’t believe people are ignorant/rude enough to ask that question in the first place, but you seem to be handling it with grace!

  • Kudos to you! I haven’t been this open with everyone – with some people only. I’m not even sure why as I’m all for infertility education. Perhaps because it all seems so precious to me, I basically tear up whenever I mention I am pregnant (and this isn’t how most people know me).

  • JustMe says:

    I think its great because, regardless of what reaction they have, you have opened their eyes up a bit. Opened them up to the idea of struggling to get pregnant and the idea that maybe the question asked was more personal than they intended. I know that before I joined the blogging world I was clueless, ignorant and naive….and I am much, much more cautious now asking questions or even talking about my own pregnancy around people when I am not sure. I think people just need a little education.

  • For me, level of honestly equals how well I know them. Random person in the grocery store? Nope, total surprise! (Which is true because it was so hard to get pregnant at all, much less to have both embryos stick!) Someone whose name I know and have time to answer questions? Sure but we knew there was a chance…

  • redbluebird says:

    I think you gave a perfect response! And I can’t wait to hear about your ultrasound!

  • sarah says:

    Good for you! And from those of us still struggling- Thanks for doing a your part to work towards breaking the man +woman= marriage -> dog -> kids fairy tale.

  • katherinea12 says:

    That’s an awesome response – really well put. I’ve never understood why people ask these kinds of questions, but as it seems to be inevitable that people do ask, I love the answer you came up with.

    Glad to hear that you had such a good ultrasound and look forward to hearing about it.

  • nonsequiturchica says:

    Good for you! I have no idea why people think it is their business to ask this question, but they do it anyway. Thanks for speaking up for us Infertiles that have a problem talking about their troubles with strangers.

  • JenS says:

    I got this question all.the.time. And it probably will continue when I am out and about with them as well. This is actually complicated for me to answer because my husband is a twin so anyone who knows that about him assumes that’s why we had twins. And they say “I thought it was supposed to skip a generation”. I am not sure where that little nugget of wisdom comes from. I did always answer the question by telling people they were a result of fertility treatment. Then it got awkward as the other person tried to find something else to ask me so they didn’t have to acknowledge that. I don’t think anyone ever said they were sorry I had to go through that or asked any follow up questions. Which is weird because I always felt like most people asked that question because they were fishing to know if they were “natural” or not. Oh well. All we can do is put it out there and hope people become more aware.

  • Amber says:

    Lentil, I have nominated you for the Sunshine Award, as I really enjoy your sense of humor and honesty. Here is the link to more information:

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