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Do Twins Run in My Family? Nope.
by Dena Fischer
Over the five and half years since my twins were born, I’ve been asked, probably close to a gazillion times, whether twins run in my family – usually by a total stranger. My answer, no matter how rushed I am, how friendly I’m feeling or how much my kids are driving me crazy in that moment, usually contains something along the lines of “nope – it was a whole lotta science.”
I’m not uncomfortable “outing” my infertility – even in line at the grocery store or the bank or yet another trip to Costco. Not so, apparently, for many others in the same boat.
Every once in a while there is a minor dust-up on a listserve to which I belong that’s exclusively for parents of multiples. A harried (usually new-ish) mother will offer up a post, incensed at the nerve of people, their insensitivity, their lack of common decency, their shameless invading of privacy by asking a stranger such a probing question. The aggrieved mother will beg, in desperate frustration, for responses others have used, witty retorts to have at the ready for future insults. And then the floodgates open. Like-minded mothers of multiples respond with a slew of snarky questions to fire back such as “No, does rudeness run in yours?” or “I’ll let you know after you tell me what position you and your husband were in when you conceived?”
I don’t get it. By the time my boys arrived, we had been through four fertility doctors, one donor/surrogacy agency, two attorneys, two egg donors, one surrogate, her family and her doctor. There was nothing private about the making of our family. So why would I be sent over the edge by an innocent question? Hell, I was so overjoyed and so grateful for those who helped us along the way and so relieved that that part of the journey was finally over so NOW I could be a mother, I was ready to shout it from the rooftops.
And, more often than not, I find those perfect strangers are looking to open a door to talk about their own fertility struggles, to ask questions from someone on the other end of that struggle, to find a moment of connection and understanding.
The more we talk about it, the easier it becomes, for ourselves, and for those coming after us along the rocky road of infertility. They will struggle with the same issues, the same emotions, the same difficult decisions. If the veterans of infertility keep the process of their success under a bushel, how can they light the way for those traveling the same path?
I’m honored by the numerous people who helped us become parents and thankful for the medical advances and opportunities that made it possible. And I’m not ashamed to tell anyone who wants to know.
So here’s my snappy comeback, “No, twins don’t run in my family but let me tell you how I got so lucky…”
Dena Fischer is a literary agent with Manus & Associates Literary Agency, Inc. and a freelance writer. In addition to working and raising her children, she is actively involved in education in her community and is a founding member of The Potrero Residents Education Fund whose mission is to improve public education in her San Francisco neighborhood of Potrero Hill. She lives with her husband of 15 years, Brad Rothenberg, and their twin boys Henry & Sam.