Do twins run in your family?

Actually, yes, they do. There are three sets of fraternal twins on my Mom’s side of the family (though not since my grandma’s generation). But obviously I know that’s not why hubs and I are pregnant with twins.


When I told my two bosses we were pregnant last week, one of their first questions was, “Do twins run in your family?” And then when the news began spreading around the office, and various co-workers stopped by my cube to say congrats (soooo surreal but wonderful!), that question was asked at least another half-dozen times.

I know some of you bravely share your IF struggles with others. And I think that is AWESOME! Perhaps you will be frustrated or saddened by this revelation, but the truth is that I am not one of those people. For me, IF has been a very private journey (in my real life, of course not on this blog). And I simply DO NOT want to share my reproductive history and sex life with coworkers or random strangers or even most of my friends.

So when people ask if twins run in my family, I say something like, “a couple of generations ago there were twins on my mom’s side!” or just “yes, actually, they do.”

I also say “YES!!!” when people ask if twins were a surprise. (Seriously? Yeah, of COURSE they were. Does anyone “expect” twins?) But I’ve decided that people who ask that are actually asking if I underwent fertility treatments in a less invasive way than “Did you undergo fertility treatments?” And by the way, people ask that, too—several coworkers and a friend so far. “Did you do IVF?” “Did you take Clomid?” etc. It’s amazing what people will ask.

I am learning that when you’re having twins, that’s just how it goes.


So far I’ve kept pretty darn quiet about our 10 months of infertility treatment. Our parents know. One dear friend of mine knows the whole saga (she is not connected at all to my college friends and 100% keeps it to herself). Another friend in NYC knows I couldn’t get my period after going off the pill (I confided in her when we were visiting friends last Thanksgiving, back when I thought 100mg of Clomid the next month would be my answer—ha!) so I’m sure she’s put this all together. My older brother knows we had some help. And that’s it. (Besides you awesome bloggies!)

But then on Monday my SIL (hubs’s brother’s wife) sent me a really sweet congratulations email. She’s a physician’s assistant and I guess that automatically means she’s been schooled in fertility stuff. Because over the course of emails she asked if twins run in my family. I said yes and figured that was that. But then in the next email she outright asked if—even though they run in my family—they were conceived “au natural or if we used Clomid or something.”

It was really nosy and I was taken off guard. But it’s also, like, well, she’s in medicine and she’s family and she wasn’t asking in a mean or ignorant way, but in a curious and loving way. And it’s one thing to blur the details or evade the truth with strangers and coworkers. It’s another thing to lie to family. You know? It rocked my internal ethical code, as much as I wanted to lie. Plus, it crossed my mind that hubs’s Mom knows about our struggles (as of last April) and while I trust her, I wonder if she couldn’t help but hint at our issues to her kids?

So I said to my SIL, “We did have some help, but were so lucky it didn’t come to IVF. Please keep that between you and BIL.” And then she wrote back congratulating me again, apologizing if she had been prying and promising not to discuss with anyone else, and that she was interested because of her career in medicine.

I still don’t know if I did the right thing by opening the kimono, so to speak. It has really been bothering me. And I can’t figure out if that’s because she knows my secret or if I’m bothered that it bothers me so much.


I’m so protective of how these sweet babies were conceived.  I want to shield hubs, myself and—most important—both of them from the stupidity that is out there. And maybe I’m perpetuating that stupidity and stigma by not courageously sharing our story. But I am shy, I am very private, and this incredibly dark and difficult time has been something between hubs and me. I’m not ready to let the whole world in on all of the miracles we have been blessed enough to benefit from—low-dose HCG, Gonal-F, trigger HCG, ultrasounds, blood tests, progesterone supps, IUIs, the brilliant Dr. Awesome, amazing nurses, and on and on and on….

The truth is that these babies are honest to goodness miracles and we are so so so so so blessed and grateful and bursting with happiness because of them. No stranger/friend/family member/coworker can take that away from us.



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22 responses to “Do twins run in your family?

  1. it is amazing what people say! I’m sorry you have to deal with this!! Here’s to hoping Dr. Awesome can work miracles with me this month! 🙂

  2. I wanted to keep our IF struggles to ourselves…but after our son turned 1.5 everyone (we live very close to hubbs’ very large family) would ask “when is baby #2 coming?” and through the grapevine everyone found out about our multiple miscarriages…so now I am so nervous to tell everyone that we are expecting because I don’t want the “did you do fertility drugs” questions to come up..which I know they will and already are. My MIL knows that we were using the fertility drug Letrozole, and in her ignorance has been telling people. It is so frustrating! So I don’t blame you at all for keeping your IF process to yourself…it is a very private matter. But you should be proud of it…I always think of this quote: “The most beautiful people are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, and have found their way out of the depths. These people have an appreciation, sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
    Hope it helps! Congrats to you again!

  3. Taryn M. Peine

    People are SO nosy. Just wait until you start showing! I have random strangers at football games, grocery stores, etc., asking me these same exact questions. I am not as private as you are, so when it’s people I know, I say we had IVF. People I don’t know, I say they run in our family, now scoot along. But don’t feel bad about not wanting to share the whole saga with everyone. You’re pregnant! With twins! Who cares how you got here!!

  4. This is a great post. I’m *not* a very private or secretive person. I’m much more of a share-my-life-story-with-everyone type. And yet, we have not told ANYONE but our therapists and the blog world that we are doing this IUI. Suddenly, I need the protection of privacy to get through this in one piece.

    Now that you and DH are going public with the news, that private bubble is breaking a little, which must be a hard adjustment after what you’ve been through (because a simple, “yes, we use fertility treatments” couldn’t *begin* to cover even a teeny bit of what the last year was like for the two of you).

  5. As I was reading this post, a co-worker came into my office to wish me congratulations. As soon as I told her about twins she asked me if we did “IVF or anything” …AHHH. I feel your pain, sister. It’s so darn nosy and intrusive! I said shortly, “No we did not do IVF.”

    I think Sloper just hit the nail on the head – that by saying “Yes” it someone negates all the time, energy, tears, effort, etc. etc. that went into that “Yes”…

    Stick with your gut, only share what you’re comfortable. I have a book for you that gives advice on how to handle the questions during and after a twin pregnancy.

  6. It’s an interesting world you’re entering into! Twins certainly must bring out the extra nosy nosiness… I don’t know what I’ll do if I’m lucky enough to be faced with these questions (not the twin one, but the others). On the one hand, I hope I’ll keep up my policy of making people uncomfortable by giving them more truth than they wanted, in the hopes of getting through to them that they shouldn’t ASK THESE QUESTIONS! On the other hand, while all my close friends know the story, I don’t plan on telling my family how Bun Bun was conceived. (You know, in the event I ever tell them anything…) Anyway, I hope your SIL will keep the info to herself–I’m sure she will. And whatever feels right to you IS right, not that you need me to tell you this.

  7. Lesley

    I think that these details are uncomfortable no matter what. And in the end, THEY DON’T MATTER. I am not saying that the hellish experiences of pregnancy loss or many rounds of ART don’t matter to our characters and our personal growth and baggage and all that. But these details of conception don’t matter a bit in terms of the personal history of this baby (or in your case, babies). When the conversation is about this pregnancy, these babies, it IS irksome for people to pry into how they got here, as though it mattered! I think you are totally correct in being annoyed by this, and I think you are totally justified in evading all such questions.

    So far, because we are having a singelton, we have for the most part avoided being asked things like this, but my mom did ask Eric how he felt when he found out we were pregnant, and whether he was surprised, and he was like, “uh, well, no, because we were trying…” and THAT felt really awkward. I don’t know what my mom was thinking! Of course we were trying… Nothing about getting pregnant for the first time at 33 after 4 years of marriage screams “oops pregnancy”! Ridiculous.

  8. You know, if I find myself uncomfortable answering someone’s questions, then I try to be avasive. I don’t know if it’s more of a reflection of that person’s intentions in asking, my emotional state that day, or something else…because it totally depends. Some days I am very honest about our struggles. Others I am quiet. I will tell you that I always regret saying more than saying too little. I would figure out a pat answer that you can dole out no matter the interogater. Because truely, this is your personal information that you don’t need to share. On the other hand, part of me wants to tell EVERYONE so that there doesn’t have to be so much of a stigma on infertility.

  9. PS–I have two friends that got pregnant with twins naturally AND it didn’t run in their family, so it does happen. (Just not with me:<)

  10. People are SO damn nosy! None of your damn business, is what I would want to say! You know, I’m so private about our struggle right now but I feel like if the day comes I may open up. I may not. I don’t know. But twins definitely gets the gossip going for sure! In a way, I want people to know how badly we struggled so they know it doesn’t always “just happen” when you want it to. But I love that you’ve made this decision and are sticking with it. And you should know there’s not a damn thing wrong with it :). xoxo

  11. I would absolutely go with the “twins run in the family” line. It’s not anyone’s business. I’ve opened up to lots of people I trust and care about, but I’ve never let it be known to the general public that I got pregnant through IVF. A part of me is still too scared. I think that once I have this baby in my arms and know that he’s healthy and safe that I really won’t give a damn who knows and who doesn’t. But until then, I want to protect this little miracle. It is hard, though, because people really are curious (especially with twins) but I think you’re right that it’s usually coming from an interested and loving place, not a hurtful or judgmental one. I’m sure SIL will be discreet.

  12. FCblacksheep

    Opening the kimono!! Love that phrase.

    I think your response is good, and truly, if you don’t feel comfortable telling people, don’t…even family. This is about you, hubs, and those beautiful little babes. Everyone else should mind their own.

    I asked Blue a little while ago if we do conceive, if he’ll be upfront with people on how it happened. His response was pretty blunt: “hell yeah, we’ve gone through way too much not to.” It surprised me b/c he is a private person, but I feel the exact same way. I don’t know why, but for us, it’s a journey we’re willing to share (once it’s done), not shout it from the rooftops, just share. But it’s different for everyone.

    And what the hell, hasn’t IF taken enough, does it have to erase the fun of just being pregnant with twins b/c mother nature made it that way too??? Enjoy it and tell all those nosy nellies to go sniff up a tree.

  13. I think you’re handling this all really well. It’s definitely complicated, and it’s definitely your prerogative to share as little or as much as you want right now. Your SIL’s apology strikes me as a little lame, because it’s not just health workers that get nosy like this. But I guess it was part of her acknowledging the intrusiveness of her questions.

  14. Isn’t it ridiculous what people ask?!? Get a life. Your response it exactly what I would say “yes, twins run in our family” (you nosey idiot!). But the people that ask these questions have no clue what it’s like on our side. If they had any idea of the heartache and stress that was involved to get to this place, they would keep their too personal questions to themselves!

  15. Heidi

    oh my….i feel exactly the same way!!! i just got my BFP via IUI, and i truly think i’d prefer just to tell MY immediate family, if i thought that it was anyway acceptable. i have no interest in telling hub’s family (who i dearly love) for some reason (but of course hubs would like to be able to share so i’m sure we will), and i’d rather not even get into it with my friends if i could get away with it. i have no idea why….it’s like i’m shameful about it for some sick and twisted reason… and don’t want them thinking about it when i’m around the time to try to conceive again…

    i’d definitely go with the “twins run in my family” thing. i cannot believe someone would come out and ask about IF treatments… TWINS! HOW FUN!!!!

  16. I would have so much trouble answering this question, too. I don’t think you should feel bad about answering however you want – in the end it’s none of their business!

  17. CW

    I totally understand your need for privacy. A big part of me wishes I had kept my trap shut at the start but I stupidly believed I would be one of those girls that just had to sniff the air around her husband to fall pregnant. Then I wouldn’t have to deal with those semi smug looks of compassion when they say oh still not pregnant yet. Grrrrr.

    Also, I just think that your twins are such a miracle. You had so many lining issues that it is a miracle that two jumped on board. Not just a miracle but friggin fabulous. Perhaps if you feel guilty you haven’t come out of the closet so to speak you can reserve your truth telling for those that need it. If you have a friend that confides in you, you can be the person that can give her the positive hope she needs.

    I can’t believe how quickly this pregnancy is going!

  18. I think I’d be tempted to take the bunny approach (give them the awkward truth and see how they react), but yeah, I might regret that later. Because not everyone deals well with such details. So although I’m not very private about this, I totally see your point. And the twins question really sounds like did-you-do-ART in disguise.

  19. I think it’s perfectly fine to keep your secret…from whomever you wish. I think it can be insensitive for some people to out right ask if you had treatments, but I guess in this day and age, it’s bound to happen. I understand wanting to keep it a secret. I always thought I would keep it a secret too. I haven’t been successful but there are many people that know I can’t have kids at this point so I’m sure they would all be able to guess how it happened if I turned up with twins. I’m just so happy that you are having 2 babies! I just got done reading Eileen’s post about her twins and looking at her pictures and I just can’t believe how cute and cuddly they are. I can’t wait to see your little ones!

  20. Kelly

    I completely relate to this. There are VERY few people who know about our IF struggles in my real life–three. I keep that stuff close to the vest.

    You and your husband are going to be parents and that’s what’s important. (Also, awesome)

  21. People all of a sudden feel they have a right to know everything about how and why you got pregnant no matter which road you took to get there. It really shocks me and I swear I must just stare at them with the “Are you serious” expression before they mumble something and walk away.

    DH & I got pregnant – you put two and two together and figure out how it happened. Don’t ask me what goes on behind closed doors.

    But in other news – I’m so thrilled things continue to go so smoothly for you and your double blessing. I cannot wait to read more updates!!

  22. The thing about having twins is that people will ask you about them non-stop. I don’t think it will ever end. Everywhere we go we get multiple comments and questions about our multiples. I think you have a great attitude about the questions, and it’s totally cool to answer with how you feel comfortable. If you don’t want to share about IF with people at the grocery store, you don’t have to!

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