13 Things NOT TO SAY to a Mom with Twins

I have twins. They are 8-years-old now. And I can tell you after almost nine years of having twins there are some things people say that really PISS ME OFF. There are also things that are NOT SAID that PISS ME OFF. So either way, if it’s the first decade post birth, anyone who speaks or looks at me the wrong way is treading on THIN ICE.

There is a lot that PISSES ME OFF, but with the TWIN FACTOR I have felt isolated in a whole different way. If my memory serves me well, and it doesn’t because my memory left about two weeks post birth, I’d say my isolation began around the seventh month of my pregnancy. That’s also about the time that I had a complete loss of privacy. In other words, that is when random strangers began approaching me everywhere I went. It was like I was a celebrity. I was approached by strangers and asked invasive and sometimes dumb questions. I began limiting the times I left the house. Once the twins were born, boundaries from strangers flew out the window. I get that twins are cute, and we all have a fascination with twins, but I’m a private person, so being approached every time I left the house wasn’t easy. In case you are interested, I’ve rounded up 11 questions/comments that began to irk me.

1. “Do you have twins in your family?”

Why not just come out and ask what you really want to know “Did you take any drugs, or have in vitro?” While I was still pregnant random strangers came up to me in malls, in stores, on my street, at the park, everywhere, and asked me if I was having twins. Then, they proceeded to chat with me like we knew each other. I didn’t like strangers talking to me before I got pregnant with twins, and I definitely didn’t like their invasive questions. I get that people are curious and friendly, but can I say one thing to those people… “It’s not about you.” When you approach a pregnant woman in the street, take a beat and focus on her body language. Does she look like she wants to be approached? And let me add that a) I didn’t take any drugs to increase my chances of having multiples. b) I already had a 3-year-old when I found out I was pregnant with twins. No drugs. No in vitro. I’m not sure why I felt the need to answer this question, but I have a hard time telling people it’s not their business.

2. “My kids are only a year apart, so I understand what you are going through.”

BULLSHIT! No you don’t! Having kids one year apart or even two years apart is TOTALLY DIFFERENT than carrying, giving birth to, and caring for twins. Why? First of all, you have no clue what a mom with twins is going through just because you have kids close in age. Let’s start with carrying twins or multiples in general, I was starving  from five weeks. I kept crackers by my bed and woke up in the night so hungry I thought I would vomit—at five weeks pregnant! I needed maternity clothing by three months. Beginning at twenty-four weeks (six months), I saw an OB, and a perinatologist every two weeks. Beginning at thirty-two weeks, I visited my OB once a week. And after thirty-six weeks, because I made it that long, I had an appointment two times per week! Then, there is post-birth. See item eleven below, and then tell me you understand. Did you look at the photo on item eleven yet? Imagine how that felt. I don’t know about you but my first pregnancy was a frickin’ breeze compared to full term with twins. My twins weighed 7lbs, 6ozs and 6lbs, 5 ozs—a total of almost 14 pounds!

3. “You look like you are ready to pop. When are you due?”

First, why would anyone say, “you look like you are ready to pop?” That’s a horrible thing to say. Second, why ask a stranger when they are due? I know I was huge. I wish they would have just kept quiet. I say this because I was asked every time I went to a grocery store, a department store, and to every public place (even car washes), when I was due, with the “you are ready to pop” line. This question and the pop comment began at six months. I just wanted to buy my groceries, not talk about when I was due, or how big I looked. At first it was fine, but then it became ridiculous. I hate small talk. And, small talk was even worse when I was hormonal.

4. “Oh, how cute. Are they twins?”

After the twins were born, and I decided to leave the house, strangers came up to me on the street and said “Oh, how cute. Are they twins?” as I walked with a double infant stroller. I’d just like to say that when you see a mom who looks five months pregnant pushing an infant stroller with two babies in it you can pretty much deduce they are twins. I mean the most age difference they might appear to be is three months. It was even better when I got the “they don’t look like twins” statement. Instead of asking whether or not they are twins and then saying they don’t look like twins, if you see a mom who looks exhausted while pushing a double infant stroller say this instead: “They are beautiful,” “Congratulations, you are blessed.” It would have felt good to be told that I was blessed, that would have been helpful to get me through the night when I was breastfeeding them both at 2AM after 1 hour of sleep.

5. “Are they identical?”

This is a question I still get even after telling someone they are boy / girl twins. How can children who are the opposite sex be identical? What is the definition of identical? If one has a vagina and the other one has a penis, can they be identical? The answer is no.

6. “Do you watch Jon and Kate plus 8?”

No. I don’t watch Jon and Kate plus 8. Please don’t ask any mom who has multiples this questions. Just don’t.

7. “Who is older?”

I didn’t plan on calling attention to which twin is older but the incessant question made it become a topic of conversation with my twins. Honestly, it was a C-Section so they were both born at the same time, torn from my body one after the other, as quickly as possible. On the birth record they were one minute apart, but I’m sure it wasn’t an actual minute. There were about twelve people in the delivery room for my twins—five nurses, two doctors, an anesthesiologist, and four other people—not sure what they did. Anyway, the twins were born on the same day so does it really matter who is older? Why ask? And don’t ask in front of the twins. PLEASE.

8. “Did you have a C-Section?”

Strangers ask me this, and it’s baffling. Remember, I had a child prior to the twins, so I have some reference, and I can tell you that I never was asked if I’d had a C-Section when I strolled around with my first born son. I only talked about my birth with my mom friends when we were sharing birth stories at a mom playdate. For the record, I had a C-Section with the twins, but that wasn’t my first choice. I wouldn’t wish a C-Section on anyone. I had my first son naturally (meaning no drugs, no epidural), in a hospital with a doula and all I can say is thank God. I feel fortunate to have experienced one natural birth. It was a quick labor and easy delivery. Yes, natural childbirth is painful, but I stood up and walked around just one hour after giving birth. I breastfed my son the moment he was wrapped in a blanket and handed to me.

On the other hand, a C-Section is a surgery. It’s a completely different experience. I was puffed up for a week from the meds I was given. My ankles were the size of my calves. My forearms looked like Popeye. I didn’t see or hold my twins for the first three hours, because I had to wait for the epidural to wear off in recovery. That also meant I didn’t see my husband, because I told him to not leave the twins side. That was a lonely three hours in recovery. There were tears. The pain of the recovery of a C-Section was the most horrible pain I have ever felt, worse than natural child birth. Bed pans were involved on day 1. Two days later, I felt even more excruciating pain just sitting up and forcing myself to get out of bed to walk snail laps around the hospital wing. If I didn’t walk, I was told that I would experience horrifying gas. Other than coming home with my beautiful twins, my hospital stay was not a fond memory.

9. “How do you breastfeed twins? Isn’t that weird?”

No,  it’s not. Last time I checked, I have two breasts. I have two babies, two boobs, works for me. I love breastfeeding, and it helped me lose weight quickly. And, it made me feel less depressed.

10. “Do they sleep through the night yet?”

I always hated the do they sleep through the night question even when I was a mom of just one child. How does “it’s none of your business” sound? There is so much pressure on moms to get their babies to sleep through the night—from women, from spouses, from doctors. I felt judged and was hesitant to respond. Like I somehow had failed if my child wasn’t sleeping through the night by three months. Worse yet, if I were honest and said they were not sleeping through the night, unsolicited advice usually followed (reason 13).  I knew why they weren’t sleeping through the night. It’s because I chose to  breastfeed on demand. None of my children slept through the night at three months. And I didn’t care.

11. “It must be easier to have them all at once. At least you got it over with.”

Let me check having babies off my list of to do items. Three kids, check. Got that over with.

It’s much easier to put a second mortgage on your house to cover a nighttime doula, so your husband can get some sleep, so one of you can still work. Because there is no way in hell any woman can take care of twins (let alone three children under four) all night long alone without going bat shit crazy from a complete lack of sleep. I needed help. Unfortunately, I did not have parents or family who could help, so my only option was to hire a helper. Everyone with multiples needs help. If you are reading this, and you are pregnant with twins, do not think you can do it alone because you can’t. I was a hands-on mom, but I still needed help. Without that nighttime doula cooking for me, doing laundry, and bathing one baby while I nursed the other, I would have sunk into a great depression, and I’m not prone to depression. No, it wasn’t easier to have them all at once. And, I never wanted to just get it over with.

Some other reasons why saying “it must be easier” is TOTALLY DUMB:

My 3-year-old son got pneumonia eight weeks after the twins were born, because his mommy hardly saw him, because she was so busy with the twins. I am still horrified that he got this sick weeks after the twins were born. It was not easier.

When you have twins you change 2,000 diapers in the first six months (600 in the first month) – that’s not easier.

When you have twins it means two large rear-facing car seats. If you are tall like my husband and I are, that means a larger car because we sit with our seats pretty far back. Plus we had a third child still in a car seat. Three car seats don’t fit across the back seat of a normal vehicle. We had to find a new car quickly.

Having twins meant two newborn infants screaming at the same time, two infants crawling and walking around the house at the same time, two high chairs to feed both of them, literally two of everything—later, two bikes, two helmets, two scooters, two of everything, and usually three because we couldn’t leave out my older son.

What about trying to secure two spots in a charter school for the same grade, two lottery numbers…

Two of the same school projects at the same time for the same due date. Two children who must do the exact same schoolwork without one copying the work of the other or one getting frustrated questioning “why does he get it and I don’t” or vice versa.

12. “Are they really close? Do they like the same things?”

My kids are as close as any siblings. After all they are siblings. “Are your children close?” “Do they like the same things?” They are siblings. They fight like siblings, get upset at each other like siblings, laugh together, play together like siblings. They are siblings. Twins are siblings. Period. I can’t speak for identical twins, because I don’t have them. I can only speak about fraternal twins. Fraternal twins are simply siblings. Two eggs, two sacs, two children. (Yes, I also get asked questions about eggs and sacs too.)

13. “Have you tried… ?” Insert various unsolicited advice.

This is the best when it comes from a parent who has only one child or no children. Better yet when it comes from a nanny or au pair in her twenties who has no clue what it’s like to be a mom. I detest unsolicited advice. If I want your advice, I’ll ask for it. And, if you don’t have twins, and I didn’t ask for your advice, please don’t offer it.

Having twins is hard. Top that with having three children within three years of each other, and you have total insanity. My husband and I are outnumbered, outwitted, and outlasted daily. Twins are incredible but unless you have twins, you don’t understand. Let me repeat. Unless you have twins, you don’t understand. And the best you can do is say, “You are doing a great job. You should be proud of yourself. You have great kids, and we love having them around.” And, if you don’t love having us around then please for the benefit of all don’t ask us to come over then give me parenting advice on how you would do it, unless I ask!

In my humble opinion, unsolicited advice is always met with a negative response. Even if a mom of multiples is ranting and raving about how exhausted they are, or how they are at their wit’s end, if you don’t hear the words “What would you do?” the only thing that should come out of your mouth is “Can I help with anything?” or “I’m here if you need me.” And food is always good—if you want to help someone with multiples bring food for mom. If it’s a playdate bring food for you own kids, too. Please don’t expect a new mom of twins to cook or be a hostess.

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