Many people, once they know you are pregnant with twins, suggest you join a twins support group. I was excited to join my local chapter, and imagined many of the members would be IF survivors. I also thought many would have comforting words of wisdom about getting through my pregnancy with as little anxiety as possible, and provide tips about how to survive the first few years of raising twins. What I got was quite different.
I went to my first meeting when I was 18 weeks pregnant, and suffering through the worst morning sickness imaginable. I barely made it there and gripped my cracker box and water bottle for dear life. I volunteered to go first during “circle time” and introduced myself, blithely stated that my twins were a result of IVF (dead quiet suddenly ensued) and then asked for advice on how to manage the miserable nausea. The horrified silence persisted a moment, then a few of the women said they hadn’t had any morning sickness to speak of. The moderator quickly moved on to the next woman, who pointed out that “twins ran in her family”. None of the other women mentioned anything about IF during their intros. Not even the grey-haired pregnant woman who was pushing 50. Grandma Moses, I’m on to you.
Next I realized that among the women who were with their infant twins, there was much talk about how long they lasted during their pregnancy and whether they had had a natural delivery. “My doctor MADE me get induced at 38 weeks”, “I was determined that I would not have a C-section with MY twins”. Like they really controlled such things!
The other major topic of discussion was whether one mother should have to pay for a first class ticket for her nanny to accompany them on their trip to Paris. Some mothers agreed that the “help” could stay back in cattle class, while others thought that she was entitled to a first class ticket to keep the kids quiet so the parents could enjoy their champagne and individual DVD players.
Finally, a woman who had really come for some support (as opposed to a platform to brag) began talking about her struggles to breastfeed her twins and as she was telling her awful story (which involved many trips to a lactation specialist, double mastitis, a fever of 104, lack of supply, etc), she began to cry. The other women looked at her like she was a homeless person who had just asked them for money.
“Breast is best!”, exclaimed one quickly. The moderator told her sternly how important breastfeeding was to her babies’ health and stated that she should “hang in there”. Chastened, she looked down and I could tell she was trying to suppress more tears.
I could not suppress my own tears when I got home. I wish I had told that mother to screw those women’s advice and start supplementing with formula. I went to a few other meetings once the twins were born and the tone was similar. My night nurse this, my au-pair that, my twins were born at 39 weeks, etc, etc. I finally stopped going.
Today at the playground I ran into another twins mom. Soon she was telling me how her twins spoke earlier than other children, how having twins is “really nothing more than having two children”, and how she hasn’t encountered the terrible twos at all.
The truth is I find raising twins to be incredibly difficult and stressful, and I don’t want to brag about their accomplishments with another twins mom (they definitely do things worth bragging about, but I’ll tell that stuff to their grandparents). I want someone in my position to acknowledge how hard this task is and give some gentle advice about potty training, getting rid of binkies, and the challenges of discipling. And I don’t want to hear about how great your nanny is, because another truth is I can’t afford one.