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Now, I was normally not a patient person to start with. Added to that, I got pregnant five years after I got married, the delay being entirely MY choice. (You know how it is in India, if you don’t have a baby in the second year of your marriage people automatically assume you have “fertility” issues). Cherry on the icing on the cake, when I relented and got pregnant, I figured out I was having TWINS!
Twins....the magical, mystical phenomenon of having at one point in your life three beating hearts, and six pairs of limbs kicking every which way, one which inspires poems such as “Twenty Fingers, Twenty Toes, Plenty of Work, Heaven Knows. Four Little Arms, to hold so tight, Four Little Cheeks, to kiss mommy good night! “.
Yes, I have twins. Everyone knows Parenting requires Patience, so Obviously Parenting Twins requires Double the Patience no? No!!!! Parenting Twins requires an infinite amount of patience, MOSTLY because it’s not only that you are dealing with two people of the exact same age at the same time, you are also “fortunate” enough to hear complete strangers come up to you at all times of the day (or night) and ask you totally inappropriate questions and offer completely unsolicited advice on how to cope with twins.
Soon after my babies were born, I would go berserk with the overdose of questions and advice that came my way. My patience level was being tested, you see. Now, almost two years into mommyhood, the patience level has soared, I can handle inquisition about my boys better but the volume of curiosity just doesn’t seem to abate. So I decided to list down the questions and opinions that many Moms of Multiples are faced with, the ones which make them question their tolerance levels and just go Arrggghhhhh !!!
1 Oh, are they Twins ???
Umm yeah. Why else would I be with two kids of the exact same age (and dressed most of the time in similar clothes!). What are you thinking, I gave birth to one and found one free in the parking lot of the hospital? Get real!
To be fair, I feel bad about thinking like this. When I answer yes, people are so excited, like as if they’ve been gifted a new car or something. I get it, Twins are a novelty, but it’s so exasperating to keep answering this question day after day after day!
2 Oh wow, you’ve got your hands full.
Seeing that this line is usually said while I am struggling to maintain control of both boys, attempting to hold onto one while running after the other, this statement does not amuse me. Talk about stating the obvious, not.
3 You’re so lucky, one shot, jackpot and you’re done!
Really? Who made you an expert on family planning? I find this statement incredibly rude. I understand the “hum do humaare do” trend that most of India seems to be following, but wow, what if I ever got pregnant again? Would you come at me with the overpopulation statistics of India?
(To set the record straight, I firmly believe the number of children you and your partner decide to have is entirely your choice. We are lucky to live in a democratic country where we are free to take our own decisions; shoving them down another person’s throat is not democratic! )
4 Did you breastfeed your babies? How did you manage both at the same time?
This question is a trap. If I say yes, I’ll be pulled into a conversation about the evils of formula. If I say no, I’m guaranteed a lecture about the benefits of breastfeeding. I usually say “We do what works” with a smile over my shoulder.
Truth being told, my boys were exclusively breastfed for 11 months, and then I started supplementing. I had the help of a wonderful device called an automatic Breast Pump that saved my sanity, but I did not have a life beyond my children for the first eleven months of their life. Feeding, Pumping, and then feeding again took up all my time, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.
The corollary to this question, when do I answer truthfully, is “Oh but your boys are so lean, you are definitely not making enough milk for both of them! “. Once again, thank you for those encouraging words, but contrary to what you believe in, my boys were born healthy, steadily gained weight, and have pre-empted all their developmental milestones. (touchwood!) So yes, they are not those cherubic babies that you see in the Johnson and Johnson pampers ads, but I am happy with them and I am sure they are with me too!
5 Oh wow! They look exactly the same!!
Ok, NO THEY DON’T! My boys are fraternal twins, not identical. This means that they don’t look the same, and probably never will. I could still understand this statement when the boys were younger, because let’s face it, most babies do look similar! But now that they are almost two and running around everywhere, please don’t generalize on the basis of every Bollywood movie ever made about twins and say they look exactly the same, because they don’t!
6 How long was your labour?
I can almost feel the disapproval coming off in waves from the aunties when I say quite truthfully that on the advice of my doctor I went in for a scheduled C-Section, so technically I was never in labour. (I mean, I’m not counting the nine months that they were inside me obviously....that felt like labour to me but not the outside world!)
7 Look out, its double trouble!
I seriously hate it when anyone says this to me, because generally speaking my boys are quite well behaved in public, more often than not smiling and waving at everyone and passing flying kisses around. Its double trouble yes, but it’s also double cuddles! (Yes, that was my lame attempt at trying to rhyme. Thank you very much! )
8 “My kids are 11 months apart so it’s just like having twins.”
I may smile and nod, but really, I just want to scream. This is by far the most irritating thing that people have said to me. Having two newborns is NOTHING like having kids 11 months apart. Caring for two newborns is both physically and mentally exhausting. The developmental differences between a 1 year old and a newborn are enormous.
9 “My sister’s friends second cousin had twins. I know JUST what you are going through.”
Oh no. You don’t. You may think you do, but you don’t. Unless you’ve carried them around inside you, delivered them, spent those 365 sleepless nights of their first year together and rejoiced at their first birthday because you managed to get there without losing your sanity, trust me, you don’t know what I am going through.
10 “You must be SO busy!”
Unless you are volunteering to clean my house, do the dishes or the laundry or cook for me, this question doesn’t even merit an answer. Moving on.
11 What do you do when they are both crying at the same time?
Sometimes I cry with them. Most times though, I sing silly rhymes and make funny faces. That seems to work. Now you know where all those laugh lines on my face came from.
12 “Just wait till they’re older. It will only get harder.”
This has to be by far the most annoying thing I’ve heard ever since I’ve entered motherhood. Thank you to all the people who say this to me. I wake up every morning hoping I receive such words of discouragement from random strangers, because it only makes me want to embrace my blessings and be more thankful than ever.
I'm sure most people just don't realize that they're asking stupid twin questions but you wouldn't believe how many times I’ve heard all the same ones! Let’s be honest. I understand that people are fascinated with twins. They don’t mean to say dumb things. It just happens. It happens to all of us. Saying stupid things is one activity that joins us all together as human beings. I have now learnt to try to forgive the frailties of others and enjoy the laughs later, take life as a journey and enjoy the double-stroller roller coaster ride!