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Go Ahead, Ask If My Twins Are Natural

Children sit in buggy
Photograph by Getty Images/Flickr RF

Every time we go to Costco, I count the twins. So far, the record is seven sets in one trip. Seven sets of twins in one store at the same time. It's like families find out they're having twins and immediately decide that along with a double stroller and a gargantuan nursing pillow, they also need to stock up on mega boxes of corn dogs and huge vats of cottage cheese. Or maybe it's the fact that if you go to Costco on Saturdays, you can feed lunch to your entire family by way of free samples. Or it could be the extra large carts. But I suppose it's probably the cheap wine.

And it's not just Costco, of course. Now that I have a set of my own, I'm realizing twins are everywhere. And despite the fact that having two babies at once is a rather common occurrence, the novelty factor remains. And people are curious. Strangers ask whether my boys are twins, then whether they're identical. They tell us we have our hands full. And then the brave ones—or the ones who don't care about being politically correct—ask if they're natural.

From what I've read on discussion boards and heard in conversations with other twin moms, this is a really good way to annoy parents of multiples. It's rude and invasive. And I love it.

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Seriously, I do. I love when strangers put aside social norms and just go for it.

So go ahead and ask if my twins are natural. And I'll tell you that they aren't, at least not in the sense you're implying. I won’t roll my eyes or click my tongue or give you the cold shoulder. I'll tell you straight up that my daughter is the result of in vitro fertilization and my boys were conceived through a less invasive method called intrauterine insemination. I'm happy I get to talk about their medically complicated origins because I'm proud of that part of our story.

I'm proud of the fact that we gave everything to bring these kids into our lives. I'm proud of the countless injections, the vacation plans deleted from our calendars and the fact that even my broken ovaries can create beautiful kids ... with tons of help. Your question doesn't feel too invasive or embarrassing. It feels like an opportunity to share my joy. And I love that.

If I want them to embrace their fertility drug and test tube origins someday, then I've got to embrace it now. I've got to shout it from the rooftops.

Another reason I’m OK with you asking is that I totally do the same thing. I have for years, even before I had twins of my own. I usually choose the "do twins run in your family?" version of the question because other twin parents hate it slightly less than that dreaded word natural.

Why do I risk annoying someone with my boldness? To make a connection. To find others who have struggled like I have and have found abundant success. To celebrate that success for even just a moment—even with a stranger. Because in my life, little is worth more celebration than the victory over infertility that's embodied in these wonderful, curious, wild children. And I want them to hear us celebrating.

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I hope my kids grow up to be proud of the fact that they were created in a lab or in a doctor's office rather than in a bedroom or wherever else babies are created. And if I'm responding to the "are they natural?" question with snippy responses like "all babies are natural" or saying "I can't believe she asked me that" under my breath, then won't they kind of start to wonder if there's something shameful or less-than about the way they came into being? If I want them to embrace their fertility drug and test tube origins someday, then I've got to embrace it now. I've got to shout it from the rooftops.

Even to strangers. Even at Costco.

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