I always thought that the pronouncement of a pregnancy should merit an offer of congratulations, or at least a wish for the best of luck. If a woman has gotten to the point where she is announcing her pregnancy, she is clearly taking it to term, so what other response could one have? My assumption in this regard has been recently quashed by the reactions of both friends and strangers to the news that I am expecting identical twin boys.
“Twin boys? Have fun with that.”
With a roll of her eyes and a smug grin, I was summarily dismissed by an acquaintance at a recent gathering. Upon learning of my news, this was her reaction to what was clearly not a joyous occasion in her mind. Though I didn’t know her well, I had been acquainted with her through my daughter’s school, and, as both of us were already parents of young children, I erroneously thought that she could relate. Not so much. Her words were stinging, casting a pall over the remainder of my day.
By that point, my husband and I had heard it all.
“Brave.” “Courageous.” “Bold.” These were just some of the adjectives that had been applied to us when we had revealed the news to various people about our babies-to-be. I’m not sure if these descriptors really apply to us as they are based on the incorrect assumption that having identical twins is a conscious choice. Last time I checked, these types of twins are a result of a fertilized ova spontaneously splitting into two after conception – no planning involved. So to call us “brave” or “courageous” because we happen to be in the small percentage of the population that has identical twins due to a random occurrence of nature is misplaced, to say the least.
Now don’t get me wrong – my husband and I have definitely had our moments where the sheer terror of the impending arrivals have rendered us into stultified zombies, visions of our currently mundane life vanishing rapidly as my pregnancy progresses. The news gave us pause for not only self-reflection, but for the realization that while our lives will forever change, we truly believe it will be for the better. The thought of two little ones with whom we can add to our family both excites us and chokes us up a little inside. Unfortunately, this is clearly not the general consensus as we have learned in sometimes the most startling ways. The looks of pity that are bestowed upon us when we deliver the news are getting to be a bit much, seven months into my pregnancy. As a result, we have now learned to use “preemptive strikes” in order to fend off inappropriate comments.
When someone now asks me how far along I am, I immediately reveal this information as well as the fact that I am having twins. Before they can muster even one raised eyebrow, I tell them “...and I can’t believe the incredibly ignorant comments people have made about twins! Can you believe that people are rude enough to insult us regarding our great news? These people must have been raised in a barn!” This tactic seems to work, as it stops people in their tracks before they have the time to convey any negative views on the situation. If they were actually excited and happy for us, they are in total agreement; if they’re of the ilk that would make the nasty comments, it shuts them up before they can get a word in edgewise. Sneaky? Perhaps. But then again, who would have thought that a twin pregnancy could be the impetus for a form of psychological warfare?
On the whole, this experience has taught us a lot about human nature. On one hand, we have seen first-hand the kindness and genuine happiness of friends, family and strangers regarding our news. On the other hand, we have experienced the more unpleasant side of the human psyche, one that revels in breaking someone’s bubble and destroying what should be a joyous and celebratory time in one’s life.
Two sides to a singular topic. Sort of fitting in this situation, isn’t it?