Natural versus Synthetic Twins

During my NST last week, the very nice and very chatty woman administering my test was talking my ear off. Did I have names for the twins? What were they? Oh, I'm still stuck on the girl's name? Did I like Chloe? How about Jennifer? No one names their girls Jennifer anymore.

Then, out of the blue, she asks me, "So, are these natural twins?"

I knew exactly what she meant. She wanted to know if my twins were spontaneous twins (meaning, they were conceived in my bed with sex and candles and too much red wine) or if they were the product of infertility treatment. Synthetic, or artificial, twins, if you will.

And the question pissed me off.

I may later chalk this up to hormones and the fact that I feel like utter crap lately, but the question struck me as deeply personal and none of her damn business. I know she didn't mean to be rude and probably never gave a second thought to the fact that she was essentially asking me if I had sex to conceive my twins. Other acquaintances have asked me this question before as well, but it's always been in the form of: "Do twins run in your family?", which is far more benign and doesn't warrant a discussion of my sex life (or in the case of my twins, the lack thereof). To the latter question, I simply respond "no," and the individual can take whatever they choose from that answer.

It's not as if I was extremely private about going through IVF with Isabella. Even though I kept my family in the dark the entire time due to their religious beliefs and the fact that I didn't want them up in my business (literally) the entire time we were going through treatment, I was open with everyone else about what we were doing. And I've been open with people since her birth as well. If the topic comes up, I have no problem disclosing that she's here because of IVF.

But the "Are they natural twins?" question seems to imply judgment or at the very least, a curiosity about something too personal to discuss. There's also the implication, with her selection of the word, "natural" that there's something unnatural or wrong about twins conceived beyond the bedroom, say, for example, in a dish, as mine were. The twin population in this country is exploding because of infertility treatment. Perhaps it's because I've been entrenched in the IF world for so long now, but I tend to think all the twins I see are IF twins.

I've lived through the IF rollercoaster, and as a result, it would never occur to me to ask a couple either when they planned on having a baby or if their multiples were the result of treatment. These are questions people casually ask all the time, but the answers and the reasons behind them can be filled with heartache.

Instead of coming up with a pithy answer, I told her no, they weren't "natural twins." That they were FET twins.

Ms. Chatty Cathy didn't have much to say to me after that point.

Perhaps the idea of my lab-concocted, robot twins scared her.

17 Responses to “Natural versus Synthetic Twins”

  1. # Blogger Sugar and Ice

    I hate questions like that. Of course, no one means anything when they word it that way, but it still stings. I never actually had anyone ask if mine were/are "natural", but I think the reaction "Natural? No, they're robots" is a totally appropriate response. Sure, it matters that the questions weren't meant in a malicious way, but people still need to learn to think before they speak, and they need to be reminded how nosy their questions really are. It's like when people ask "When are you guys going to have kids?"...people ask that ALL the time if you are married and childless. It is looked at as a totally appropriate question. People don't think about how couples might have been trying for a while already and haven't been successful...they don't think about how maybe one spouse wants a baby and the other doesn't and that has created conflict in the marriage, and they don't think about how annoying that question is for a couple to get over and over again if they just aren't ready for a family yet. All those reasons not to ask...and yet, people ask it all the time. They ask it to satisfy their own curiosity, not because they really care about the couple. That's what is so sad about both one really cares how it makes the recipient feel.  

  2. # Anonymous Ness

    Hah. Robot twins. Snork.

    Hey - did you know...that apparently FRATERNAL twins are the kind that are 'hereditary' and NOT identical twins. I had no idea. So in fact, having twins (of two different sexes) while in all probability IS the result of IVF, it's also extremely likely to be eh hem...natural. I can understand that that woman's comment could have hurt. Like holding up your need for fertility treatment to the spotlight. I'd probably have said to her, all incredulously - and to embarrass the crap out of her by alerting her to her own stupidity - "You want to know if I *had SEX* to conceive???" that would probably have had her standing there with her mouth open...going  

  3. # Anonymous Anonymous

    OK, so I have been lurking around your blog for a while now but this post makes me want to comment, although I have been very close before.

    I, too, have a toddler and twins through IVF (the reason I like your blog). My boys turn one on Friday and I can't believe how the time flew by.

    But the question of how my twins were conceived sends me through the roof! My response to "Do twins run in your family?" is "They do now!" I will be forever baffled by the nerve of people to ask such a question.

    Good luck to you. I would be lying if I said it isn't difficult but boy is it worth the ride! Seeing the amazing relationship form among by three boys has been amazing. Try to enjoy it....time really does fly by. And it gets easier!  

  4. # Blogger Tracey

    I have a feeling you're going to need a more upbeat answer. This is a question that will be around for your entire life. It may be personal, but twins as a result of IVF or other means is nothing to be ashamed of. And you don't want the kids to think it is, either. Having twins is similar to, in my inexperienced mind, adopting a child from a different ethnicity: Everyone can see the difference openly. Everyone is excited for you, and wants to talk about the experience that you went through. But the wording and constant questions may appear... nosy.

    My girlfriend had twins the old-fashioned way. She has been the recipient of the same question as yours only with a different answer.

    Maybe a cute comeback would be something like "Artificial? Like robots? No, they're real babies. We were lucky to have these IVF miracles." You may be surprised how many people really ARE involved in the IVF loop. Maybe her daughter/mother/sister has twins through assisted means and she wanted to share?

    Muwah. I know I always hated it when people would say I had "Gotten my girl" when I had Corinne. I made sure to say we weren't trying for a GIRL, we were trying for a BABY.  

  5. # Anonymous Lis Garrett

    I hope I have the good sense to never ask someone such a personal question as that. A child is a child regardless of how he or she is conceived.  

  6. # Blogger Mom24

    Ditto Lis. However, I was always shy and uncomfortable with the idea of people knowing I was pregnant because they'd know we were having sex (yes, I realize that's really odd), there's a bright side. I'm sorry people can be so thoughtless.  

  7. # Blogger Sasha

    Hmmm... As an occasional asker of inappropriate questions (I am a journalist, after all), I am not usually offended by any questions anyone asks of me. That said, I also think there is something to be said for tact, as you mentioned. A simple, "do twins run in the family" certainly sounds better than asking if they are "natural." But people are bound to be curious. I always assume that I can ask anything and people can choose to answer or not. This post gives me some food for though, though.  

  8. # Blogger Shannon

    I have never heard someone ask that question like that before... ever...

    Twins do run in my family and seem to hit ever 3rd generation... and they have been everything from identical to fraternal... and it runs on both sides of my family... and guess who is in that 3rd gen cycle... me... ugh... but there doesn't seem to be any twins in Jeremy's family...

    All I know is who cares how the child got here... is that they are here...  

  9. # Anonymous Jenny

    Ness could've been at dinner with us Friday with her reply!
    I still say practice that response "You want to know if I *had SEX* to conceive???" and use it next time someone asks you :)  

  10. # Blogger Pregnantly Plump

    It's amazing how some people just don't realize how rude and intrusive their "conversational" questions can be. It's weird that someone who obviously works around pregnant women so often would say "natural" anyway.
    I would definitely have been offended!  

  11. # Blogger My Wombinations

    Interesting point about rude and intrusive questions ("some people don't realize") I bet it is not that they don't realize and more that they don't care...  

  12. # Anonymous Kris

    It's funny how people just don't think before they speak. I would wager to guess that it is far from the last time you will hear it phrased that way.

    I have friends who conceived twins (by having SEX!) who get asked that question, and it makes them just as uncomfortable as those of us with fertility issues.

    Good luck with the perfect response! =)  

  13. # Blogger MsPrufrock

    I hate this question. Hate. My logic, however skewed, is that my daughter is the product of my egg and his sperm, hence she is "natural". It doesn't matter how the egg and sperm came together - to make a distinction between natural and synthetic just because of the act of sex is weird to me.  

  14. # Blogger Damselfly

    A question like that would have turned me off, too. When I was pregnant, one chatty person I knew assumed we had conceived Fly by using IF simply because we had been married so long before starting a family. Things like that are no one's business!  

  15. # Blogger beagle

    Honestly, people piss me off.

    Here's my pithy reply suggestion for next time:

    No, they're not fresh, they're previously frozen. Ha!

    Why can't people just see the miracle in it all??  

  16. # Blogger Amanda

    First off, I've been asked sooo many times, "So, do twins run in your family." My typical response is, "Yes, they do. But so does infertility. I am a Clomid twin as are my boys. :-)" That gets a lot of people.

    I posted about the "Are they nautral" questions. My favorite comment was to reply that they're "astroturf". Hahahaha!!!!!! Tell me that wouldn't shut anyone up. Hahaha!  

  17. # Blogger Le laquet

    Cheeky mare ... I'd have probably gone for "no they're un-natural, not quite normal" and watched her squirm!  

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