It's my life, but not as I knew it!

Being pregnant and having babies seems to break down the very British, invisible barriers that stop people talking to strangers. I have had people come up to me in the street, in shops, on the bus, on the train and even, God forbid, the underground to talk about my twins/offer advice/pass some sort of judgement. I’m sure most new mums have experienced this phenomenon, even if it’s a lovely little old lady in the supermarket queue, and it appears to be a harmless norm that we all accept as part and parcel of being a parent. But, if you ever go out with multiples (and I have only experienced this with twins, so goodness knows how those saintly parents of triplets, quads or more cope with it) then it grows exponentially. I can’t go out without at least one comment from a passerby.
Now, I am not a complete grumpy pants, I like having a chat as much as the next person. I have even been known to smile at strangers on the tube. It is just what people deem to be acceptable to say to parents of multiples that really gets to me.
I’m not talking about the most popular conversation we seem to have on an at least weekly basis:
Them: are they twins?
Me: yes!
Them: (looking at Cracker dressed top-to-toe in blue with a blue dummy and Biscuit in top-to-toe pink with a pink dummy) are they two boys?
Me: no, I have a boy and a girl.
Them: are they identical?
Me: no, they’re a boy and a girl (apparently one having a penis and one a vagina does not count as a big enough difference to lots of people).
I’m also not talking about the harmless, constant questions and comments like “aren’t you lucky, that’s your family sorted then”, “oh, double trouble”, “two for the price of one”, “I don’t know how you do it” and “they must keep you busy”. Or the stories about the twins their friends/family/next-door neighbour/milkman has (everyone has a twin story).
I’m talking about that comments and questions that you would never ask someone in polite conversation, normally…. I am always asked if they were conceived naturally or did I have IVF. Would you ask a woman with a single baby how her fertility was? I get asked how I cope and if I have help at home. There are two of them, not an army (however much it may feel like that at times). I have even been asked if we tried any special positions to get pregnant with twins! Yes, of course, you do it once and then do it again quickly afterwards!! What makes complete strangers think it is ok to ask you about your sex life in the nappy aisle of Boots? Why does having more than one baby at a time open you up to this? Do we look more open than other people or do we simply look so exhausted that people think they’ll get an honest answer out of us easier than people who have had a full nights sleep in the past two years? I can confirm that on the rare occasion I have taken just one of the twins out at a time then I do not hear these sorts of questions!
All I ask is if, after reading this post, you see a mum or dad with more than one baby then spare a thought for the repetitive nature of people’s comments and how they might have already been shocked to the core by someone’s brazen questioning over their weekly shop. If you do want to speak to them then may I suggest something like “do you want a hand” or “can I help you with that”?!


Let me know what you think.

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