“So, Were You On Fertility?” and Other Questions Not to Ask a Complete Stranger

Since this blog is open to all readers, we wanted to take a minute to address some of the perceptions that we find are floating around about MoMs, and families of multiples in general. The object of this post is not to create an “us versus them” situation, but to shed a little light on our position as MoMs so maybe a greater understanding can be reached. I should also preface this with a disclaimer: 99.4 (yes, that’s scientific) percent of people mean well when commenting on your children/situation. However, there are just some questions that should stay where they belong- in your head.


1. “Were you on fertility treatments?”

After having our babies, it was obvious from the beginning that going anywhere in public would elicit all kinds of comments from strangers. It was especially hard for me, because I am a fade-into-the-background kind of person. Since the use of fertility methods is so prevalent and somewhat controversial now (thanks, Octomom), I think people are used to discussing it freely, which in many respects is a good thing. I didn’t give it much thought until I became pregnant with triplets, and was constantly asked about it. The more I thought about it, the more I realized what a personal decision it is. If someone wants to be open and discuss a personal topic with you, all the better; but they should be allowed to make that decision for themselves, without being forced into a potentially awkward situation, yes?

And as a follow-up.. “Do twins/triplets/etc run in your family?” After hearing this about 89 times, it becomes obvious that’s its just another way to ask question #1.

2. Not so much a question.. but a comment. “Wow- you have your hands full!”

This one is not so much offensive, but boy, oh boy, does it get old. The first five times I hear it when I go out, I smile and nod. The next five, just get a nod. Eleven through fifteen, I might pretend to not hear, or be talking on the phone, say with an invisible bluetooth. Number twenty and beyond, I’m trying hard not to roll my eyes. It’s something I have to work on.

3. “Oh, wow, bet you’re done now, right!?”

Maybe we are, maybe we’re not. Again, it’s a personal decision and most of us don’t necessarily have time or inclination to explain our future childbearing plans to complete strangers. I mean, how do you know? Maybe I’ll win the powerball jackpot, and have enough money to hire eight nannies and have six more kids? I’m just sayin’.

4. “Whoa, and I thought one was bad!”

Bad? Really? I think what people mean by “bad” here is “a lot of work”. But it sounds strangely like an insult when you refer to our kids as “bad”, so… rethink your choice of words, and we’ll be ok.

“So, Were You On Fertility?” and Other Questions Not to Ask a Complete Stranger

5. “Are your (boy/girl) twins identical?”

No. Boys have a penis, girls have a vagina, and there’s nothing identical about those anatomical structures.

6. “My cousin’s friend’s sister’s neighbor who lives over in Winchesterfieldsville had twins etc…”

That’s awesome. Really, it is, but I have several small children with me that are about to have a meltdown, so maybe you could tell me about your cousin’s friend’s sister’s neighbor’s twins later?


7. “Have you seen that show.. Jon + Kate?” or worse “Wow a couple more and you could be Octomom!”

No, no we couldn’t. I would never be like Octomom, because she’s a nut. And actually, it is a little offensive being compared to her. Just refrain. Thank you.

8. “Can I take a picture of your babies/kids?”

Amanda and I get this one ALL THE TIME. Some say we ask for it, going out together in public with our twins and triplets to places like Disney. Really, it’s a fact of life whether we are together or not. But the point is this: they are children, not animals at the zoo, not a Disney attraction, and not celebrities. They are people that deserve respect, just as adults do. We all have the right to enjoy the same activities that everyone else does, without the comments, questions, gawking, and picture-taking. Maybe if I was a celebrity, with all the benefits that go along with it, it would be easier to swallow. But I’m not. So just put that camera right back in your pocket, please.
And for the record, it’s completely inappropriate (ok, creepy)for a total stranger to want to take pictures of your kids. There are a lot of wackos out there. Enough said.

9. “I bet it gets annoying when people ask you all kinds of questions when you’re trying to get stuff done, huh?”

*Crickets chirping*

Ok, it felt pretty good to get that out of our systems. It just has to be done every once in a while, or we’re liable to flip out one day on some unsuspecting inappropriate commenter. Picture Britney Spears flipping out with the umbrella and the shaved head; you don’t want that, now do you? I apologize if we came off as jaded or negative…but if one inappropriate question was avoided by the writing of this blog post, then it was all worthwhile.

Did we forget any? What’s the craziest question/comment you have ever received about your multiples?

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45 comments

  1. So very, very true. Each and every one. I’ve had each and every one of those happen, I even had a woman follow me around the zoo once taking photos of my kids as if they should have been in their own exhibit.

    Here’s some more:

    Oh a boy and a girl, how perfect, you don’t need anymore now … as my older son stands next to me.

    I’m glad it’s you and not me

    Oh you poor thing

  2. “If they’re fraternal, they aren’t really twins, right?”

  3. I actually had someone flip out his cell phone and take photos without even asking! I was so offended. I pretty much told him to quit taking pics of my kids, and move out of my way. Creepy is right.

  4. i have to say that the comments don’t bother me nearly as much now that the little ones are older. i used to be so afraid of them getting sick. i appreciate that they draw attention, but there are still a few that get me every time. the “i just have to take a picture” and then doing so without even asking. the “you sure have your hands full” or “i don’t know how you do it” as they STOP me while going through a store. and “are they natural?” umm, no, they are plastic. gotta love it 🙂

  5. I’ve heard ALL those comments too, esp since having the 2nd set of twins. Sometimes people don’t know how to word the whole fertility meds question so they’ll ask “did you have help getting pregnant?” and I just stare at them and say as seriously as I can “well, my husband ‘HELPED’ for about 5 minutes”.

    And with the 2nd set of twins, who are boys (unlike my 1st set which are boy/girl twins), people will ask if the boys are exactly alike even though they’re fraternal. I just say “um…they’re just like any other siblings, except they’re twins…they’re not clones”.

    Nowadays I let a lot of the comments roll off my back but I can’t help myself when people say “wow, you have your hands full”….I always always always smile and say “better to have hands full than empty arms and a broken heart”. Shuts them up right in their tracks.

  6. I think the craziest/worst comment we have ever gotten was in a little shop doing some Christmas shopping and the boys were sitting there in their strollers and this lady came up did the normal asking if they are twins and then looked at the mand told them to get used to being stared at because they are little freaks. I was shocked speechless. Probably a good thing.

  7. How about “Do you have a favorite?” I mean, really?? I feel sorry the kids in that family..well at least the non-favorites anyway!

  8. Oh my dont I know relate to this post! I actually just did a post like this on my blog. =) Its amazing the comments I get. A personal offensive favoite of mine “I’d Kill Myself”. Ugh!~

  9. Well, wonderful post! I have always hated being asked the “questions” listed – my parents and friends thought I was crazy and then once they were with me and saw it – then they got annoyed too!

    I have gotten: “Double the Trouble” remarks – which is frustrating – why does someone assume they are trouble,. I respond – No, more like Double the Blessings

    Are they twins or identical twins? Are you sure? Um, yeah, I was kind of there!

    Did you want twins? (I took this as a IVF type question) which I answered Yes! Glad I got them!

    I assume you do NOT want any more? (I would love to say – you know what they say about assuming things) but I really just choose not to answer and smile. Why is it a strangers business what I plan or want in the future.

    And finally, the best, Are they yours? Which my husband responded, No, one is with my wife and the other is my girlfriend’s (crickets chirping)
    I am close to pulling a Britney somtimes!

  10. Away2me (Deanna)

    The worst comment (in addition to those mentioned already) was when my mother in law comment about how one of my boys is better looking than the other (6 weeks old). I about slapped her! My husband bless his heart told her she was rude and she immediately apologized. Needless to say she will not be left alone with our children!

  11. This is too funny. My hasband was ready to sit down and write out a list of Q&A and print them out to hand people when they start asking questions.
    We always got:
    -"How did you do that? One has brown hair and one has blonde." I started telling people that God did it!
    -"Are they twins?" Nope, we're just quick!
    -"Did you have them natural?" It is nobodys business what comes out from between my legs!

    Now that this is bringing back so many fond memories, I will have to blog about it later. 🙂

  12. I think I had about 1/2 of these questions asked of us yesterday on a 2 hour outing! I think the question I did an eye-roll on was a woman who asked “are they going to turn identical?”

  13. This is a best post…I love the comments just as much. We have B/G twins, and we lost identical twins before this set; both sets were natural and no we do not have twins in our families. Both were the power of GOD! Honestly, children were not on our radar…that is when God took over. He is 100% in control, and only He knows what we can handle. I love my kids more than anything, and when people ask if we will have more…I tell them I would love two more as long as they come at the same time. Then I get the “have you lost your mind look”.

    However, I will say…I tend to get more help from store people…I walk in with a list and when they see two babies, they are usually happy to help. I also love it when people ask about them or have you put more pic on your blog. I am truly blessed not to have very many FREAKS in my circle. Love the MoMs blog!!! You guys are ROCK STARS!!

  14. I get the “you’ve got your hands full” one ALL THE TIME since I go out with my 6 month twins and 2 year old. My record is 8 in one outing!

  15. My brother (who is adopted) has twins, too. So we REALLY get the ‘run in your family comment alot’.

    I used toexplain that they wouldn’t be the run-in-the-family kind bc –

    a. he is a boy, and it’s all about how many eggs with the fraternals (we have frat boys, he has frat girls), which would be up to his wife, and

    b. he and I are not bio sibs!

    (c. my boys are DE boys, so they are like double-not bio related to my brother, or hell, they stand a better chance than me that they ARE related to him biologically – LOL – but I didn’t get into that!)

    People always looked really confused when I tried to explain it, so eventually I just gave up and started saying, yeah, sure…with just a hint of sarcasm…

    Once when someone said, twins run in your family? I looked at them and said, ‘Infertility treatments do.’ They were probably offended, but I couldn’t help it…It’s what they wanted to know after all – I just shocked them for a change.

    I also like “Are they twins?” Ummm…what are my other options?

    You girls rock.

  16. THANK YOU! these questions/comments make me insane!!! the fertility one is the worst as i have a 9 year old, a 4 year old, a 3 year old and twin 2 year olds…there are a total of 28 months between my last 4 children. if i had a 4 month old baby when i got pregnant, what are the chances that i was using fertility treatments? would any doctor even treat me if i had a newborn like that? ugh…i know they are well meaning, but come on! i actually did a blog entry about this not too long ago. here is the link:
    thanks again! enjoy!

  17. Christa @ Quintooples

    OK, One I PERSONALLY hate (applies to fraternal multiples only) is, ooooo she’s the PRETTY one!

    Ugh.

    Especially as they get older. There really is no need to point out the “pretty” one. Odds are that the parents have already picked up on the differences between the babies.

    ALSO, don’t ask me if I am SURE they are triplets….because they look nothing alike. TRUST me, I carried them. It was painful. There WERE THREE in there. I did not steal a baby to play pretend!!!!!

    LOL!!!!!

    99% of the time I get “Boy, you sure do have your hands full!” Especially when I am out will all 5 of them. I don’t mind so much. I take that one as a compliment, though a VERY REDUNDANT compliment!!!

  18. Amen!!! Gotten all those! Had someone ask if we were the grandparents!!! Do I look that old!

  19. Popping in from Quintooples. Very interesting. You raise some very good points that I would never have thought of since I have 2 singles and no mulitples.

  20. LOL!!! I had someone tell me when speaking about my twins…
    “Those are yours?” Um yeah!!!

    “You know, in order to have boy/girl twins you had to drop two eggs!” Um DUH…

    And I wanted to tell her that my husband also had a penis and sperm!!!

  21. Wow- two of my all time favorites

    “Are they twins?”
    Yes
    “Were they born on the same day?”
    Yes they are twins
    “well they look four months apart because that one is bigger?”
    ( I have had that question twice)

    Struggle to get in the door at the store with my 3 year old and 10 month old twins. A lady who let the door shut behind her, turns around and asks me if they are all mine? When I say yes, she says and so close together. When I say they are twins she asks me if I need any help. I was thinking uh no, I do this everyday by myself.

    My husbands dental hygentist argued with him for 15 minutes that B/G twins could be identical. Even after someone pointed out the obvious anatomical difference.

  22. The one I get more than any other isn’t a question, but a statement. “I always wanted twins!” I seriously had no idea how many people hoped for twins the first time around, so they could be done having kids! They glamorize it and think it would be so cute, but never think about how much work twins really are.

  23. I get a lot of the same questions and stares as the rest of you guys times two. My whole family is blond hair blue eyes and then I have Asian virtual twins. I have five kids in all. Imagine the double takes we get. People actually stop in their tracks and stare with their mouths open trying to figure it out. I get all the same twins questions PLUS the adoption questions. It turns a 15 minute shopping trip into an hour.

    Here are some of my not so favorites:

    Are they yours?

    Are they REAL brother and sister?

    Are they REAL twins?

    You have your hands full!!

    Did you ask for two?

    Are all your kids adopted?

    Where are they from?

    Are you done now?

    They are so lucky!! “No,I am the lucky one”

    I will never forget when I was waiting to go get my children in Vietnam I saw a young couple with 6 month old twins in Walmart. I wanted to ask their opinion on their twin stroller so I went over to the father. I was overly thrilled to be expecting twins but obviously not carrying them. I proceeded to tell him I was adopting twins. I will never forget how the father looked at me like I was crazy and asked “Why???”. I felt uncomfortable and left. When I was at the checkout later he dragged his wife over and said ” See this is the woman I was telling you about who is adopting twins.” They both continued to interrogate me about WHY I would want to do such a thing? When they found out this would be my fourth and fifth child they looked at me like I was truly crazy. This is not the last time I have gotten this response. Some people think I am truly crazy to have made this choice to adopt twins.

  24. I saw this topic on someone’s blog roll and had to pop over.
    I personally like these two questions asked in sequence.
    Did you delivery naturally?
    Are you breat-feeding?

    How I answer, “No”
    How I would like to answer, “Thank you for thinking of me naked, could you at the very least tell me your name.” (Obviously laden with a heavy dose of sarcasm in my voice.)

    Love the blog adding your button to mine today.

  25. I know I’ve said it before, but when people say things like “I’m glad it’s you and not me” I always ALWAYS say “So are they”
    My favorite 2 things my husband has ever said to people (he actually said on the same day) were…
    “Are they twins?”
    No they’re triplets we left the other one in the car, we could only afford a double stroller.
    “Are they twins?”
    It’s a long story.
    The look on those peoples faces was priceless!

  26. this is a fabulous post and I think that it pretty much sums things up. The best question that I got once was, “They are triplets!?! Does that mean that they were born all on the same day?”

    I so wanted to say, No it just mean that I had one then a week later had another and then just for grins I had another a week after that.

    Some people.

  27. Love it!! Well HATE all those questions I get but my husband has fun with it:
    He tells them “one is my girlfriends, two are my wife’s!”-)
    Breast feed? “Ya she grew another boob when pregnant with three, don’t ya know” people say REALLY?? They really think that is possible?! LOL
    Oh and my favorite he says, “we did it three times in one night!!”
    Nichelle (GBG triplets)

  28. Thanks for posting this! I may need to link and then add to it on my blog!
    I’ve gotten all of the above +.

    One lady asked me once….Are they normal? (She was trying to ask the fertility question vs spontaneous, but obviously got it wrong) I said, They look pretty normal to me….to which she says…Oh I mean did you do drugs? (Seriously, what is wrong with people?) No I didn’t DO drugs. I’m blessed with 3 kids and it’s noone’s business how! Geesh…that lady really made me mad.

    Another guy who passed by, but was still within earshot, said…Did you see that? Triplets! I would kill myself! I yelled over my shoulder…”Wow, that’s a really nice thing to say!” His wife tried to start apologizing for him, but I kept walking.

    I know people mean well, but I think it’s because on one trip out we MoM’s get SO MANY of these questions all day long it just wears us down. I’m like the person who said….1-5, I’m nice, 6-10, I nod, 11+ I avoid eye contact! LOL!

    Loving this blog ladies…keep it up!

  29. Absolutely love this post! I also recently posted about the annoying comments I get while out with my twin boys and 2 and 1/2 yr old girl. Everything you ladies mentioned and then some. But THE most annoying one I ever got was just last week while at McDonalds. I was walking out of the playland when an older woman literally stops my stroller and says “you need to wake this one up, or they will be off schedule” (one of my boys was asleep in front). I just said “uhm no thanks, i don’t believe in waking sleeping babies” she responds “are you the mom or the nanny?” I say I’m the mom and start walking past her. She then turns to her friend and says ” you could tell she’s the mom, she looks tired” I was inches away from her! She knew I could hear her. I was so shocked I just walked away nearly in tears. Afterwards I thought of a million comebacks I wish I would have said. People need to THINK before they speak.

  30. I’ll never understand why people want to know “which one is older?” or “which one came first?” as if 2 minutes could possibly make any difference in their personalities…they are different because they are different people, not because one is older than the other.

  31. Oh this was so good!!! I have two sets of twin boys (plus a little girl) and I get these questions all the time. When I am out with the kids I try to look super occupied (not hard to to with 5 ages 5 and under!) so that I can avoid some of the questions. What I love is how you acknowledged that when people ask if twins run in your family…that they are REALLY trying to figure out if you used fertility methods. When people ask, I usually just volunteer that we did not have any type of fertility treatment and that it is all God! For the most part I don’t think twice about the comments. You know, what does bother me is when people passing by just announce “double trouble, huh”. I QUICKLY respond, “double blessing”.

  32. I cant think of any different crazy comment offhand, but everytime i go out i get asked most if not all of those, and some multiple times:) Im still wokring on the not rolling my eyes after a few. My fiance says i give people weird looks but still smile and answer. I dont notice. LOL

  33. How funny and oh so true. I once had a nurse at the eye doctors ask me directly if they were real or fake twins, meaning if I used fertility treatment they were fake. I was shocked a nurse would ask that question!

  34. Yeah, I love the “are they natural?” question. Nope. They’re astroturf. And even crazier is when people argue with me and claim that they look “just alike”. I think I know what my boys look like.

  35. The good news is that it does get easier. My girls are nearly 2 now and I don’t get even close to the number of comments that I used to get when they were tiny babies. I think it helps that my girls are fraternal and really look nothing alike. Every once in a while someone will say, “They aren’t twins… are they?” Ummm… yeah, I kinda carried both of them in my body at once for 8 months, pretty sure they ARE twins.

  36. I love it! I have gotten all of those and more. We have a set of foster to adopt twins, so we especially have fun with the “do twins run in your family?” and “how was your pregnancy/delivery?” For a while my husband and I had the contest of coming up with the craziest labor and delivery stories to tell these nosy strangers!It was pretty fun.

  37. How funny….I have had SO many of these questions/comments in the last 4 and a half years!!!

  38. All the above comments get 2 minute education on twin to twin transfusion syndrome. I’m already a TTTS awareness spreader (having had my boys go through it) and versus get irritated that they didn’t think before speaking, I make them regret it. Hopefully when they see twins(or higher) in the future they don’t blurt out whatever nonsense comes to mind… and think wow, what a blessing!

  39. I have had almost all of the twins comments… and one more that drives me crazy.

    ‘Wow, twins! And you are pregnant again already?’

    No, idiot, I have TWIN INFANTS!!!

    I am tall and relatively slender, but I carried twins to 39 weeks and I still have a bit of a pooch. Just in that one area. So despite the fact that I had babies less than a year old, people would think I was pregnant again. Megh.

  40. At the end of a conversation with a medical professional about my pregnancy, that the boys were born a month early and that I had pre-e…. she proceeded to ask, “So, are they yours?”

    HUH???

  41. You know, I don’t mind the questions. And yes, I’ve been asked many of the things mentioned above.

    I just figure that people are intrigued by twins and don’t know exactly what to say.

  42. Like Libby, my identical girls had TTTS. If I have the time to spare, then the person foolish enough to ask questions about their zygosity or how they were conceived gets a unexpected and very detailed biology lesson.

  43. Don’t forget: Did you deliver vaginally? (To which I thought, do I know your name?)
    Did you breastfeed?
    And now that I have a little girl that is twenty two months younger than the twins, was she planned?
    Are they identical?
    And all of the ones you listed, it’s amazing when I do the grocery shopping without the kids it’s 30-45 minutes, with it’s about 2 hours….

  44. Oh, thank you! After being out today with my trio + big brother, and dealing with all those comments I needed that laugh!! I wish all the nuts that ask all those questions would read this so they’d know how annoying/offensive/ignorant they are!

    Jessica

  45. Thanks for the laugh! We have heard these questions numerous times over the past 6 months. My all time favorite though, is:
    Are they twins?
    Our replies have varied.
    “Nope, we just carry around the extra carseat for fun.”
    “We didn’t think one baby was enough so we adopted another baby. Yah, it is funny that they look a lot alike.”

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