Going out in public with your twins in tow can be quite a challenge. Not to mention all the unsolicited comments from well-meaning strangers. What are some of the common questions asked? What’s the best way to respond to them? And when it comes to really personal topics, such as IVF or other fertility options, how do you handle the situation gracefully without divulging too much information? Plus, what to do when people start asking your twins questions and bypass you altogether.
Annoying Questions About Twins (And How to Deal With It)
Episode 3, February 14th, 2014
Please be advised, this transcription was performed from a company independent of New Mommy Media, LLC. As such, translation was required which may alter the accuracy of the transcription.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Imagine going shopping with your infant twins in tow. You notice that in every turn, strangers seem to watch in awe and find your twins irresistible. Then, the comments begin – are those twins? Do twins run in your family? This is just the beginning of what seems like a constant barrage of unwelcome comments heard while going out in public.
Today’s expert is Dagmara Scalise, author of Twin Sense and she’s here to discuss: “How twin parents can deal with annoying questions people tend to ask about twins.” This is Twin Talks Episode Number Three.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: If you’re pregnant with twins or you’re an experienced twin parent, odds are you have heard it all before. Now, it’s time to hear from the experts. This is Twin Talks, parenting times two.
Welcome to Twin Talks broadcasting from the Birth Education Centre of San Diego. Twin Talks is your weekly online on-the-go support group for expecting and new parents to twins. I’m your host Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald.
Have you heard about the Twin Talks Club? Our members get bonus content after each new show plus special giveaways and discounts. Subscribe to the monthly Twin Talks Newsletter and learn about the latest episodes available.
Another way for you to stay connected is by downloading our free Twin Talks app available on the Android and iTunes Marketplace. To start things off, let’s just get a little bit of information about our guests here in the show. We got Sunny our producer; not only is she our producer but she’s also
SUNNY GAULT: I’m also a mama myself. I’m actually pregnant right now with identical twin girls. So, I have yet to experience the barrage of questions that we talked about in the intro but I’m sure they are coming my way. I’m really excited to kind of gear up my arsenal so I know how to respond to these.
Yes, twins are on the way. I do have two little boys already. I have a three year old named Sayer and I have a 15 month old named Urban. Yes, when we found out that we were having girls. We’re like: “Yeah, we even the score” two-on-two, super exciting and lots to learn now. I feel like I’m a rookie in all of these.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Great, yes. Then on the phone, we have our expert, Dagmara Scalise and she’s a Chicago Based Writer. She’s the parent of three children including twins. Maybe can you tell us about your family?
DAGMARA SCALISE: Great. Well, I’m thrilled to be here. So, my twins are now believe it or not over eight years old. I just had a clearly way more experience having twins than I ever thought possible. I can’t believe they’re actually eight years old. I have an older daughter who is nearly 10.
So, my singleton daughter is a little over two years older than my twins. Frankly, when we came home from the hospital and I walked up the stairs and I saw three cribs in my house, I practically passed out. I thought this is a nursery.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Multiple kids are the same. I’m so close in age and all in diapers probably at the same time. For myself, I’ve got identical twin girls who are almost four and they’re a lot of fun I got to say. We decided that we wanted to go for another one. I thought we’d try for a boy. We got another girl and she is about 10 months.
I’m having fun in being a twin mom but also being kind of the new mom with the baby again. So, it’s fun having a handful. Today, we have a special segment that we call Twin Oops. It’s where our listeners call in on our voice mail and leave funny stories about their twin experience.
You can also put a message on our Facebook account. If you’re interested in doing that, you can call us at 619-866-4775 and today, we got a note from Rebecca in North Carolina and she writes:
“Well, my hubby and I have been together for 13 years but we didn’t tie the knot until after the boys were born. So, we’re headed all the way for the beach for the ceremony and I can hear Max pooping on the way. I figured it would just change him quickly and when we got there, it was no big deal.
Well, apparently Max decided to take the biggest poop of his life that day and none of the poop stayed in his diaper. It was all up his back and through his clothes. It was so bad; we had to literally bathe him with wipes. The wedding party was just all standing around the car just laughing hysterically.
So, we threw the one-sy away. It was so gross. There was just no use in trying to save it. Because I foolishly did not pack an extra set of clothes, he had to be wrapped in a blanket for the entire ceremony. Someone was smart enough to snap a picture of the event so we can tease him endlessly in the future.”
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: So, today’s topic is dealing with annoying questions about your twins. Today we’re talking with Dagmara Scalise who’s going to give us some insights and snappy come backs to those annoying and invasive comments and questions that twin parents hear so often. So, thanks for joining us Dagmara.
DAGMARA SCALISE: Pleasure to be here.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Thank you. So, since you are the twin mom and I know you wrote your book out of experience. So, what are some of those odd questions and comments that pregnant twin moms should prepare themselves for? How do you respond to them?
DAGMARA SCALISE: Well, so really be sort of seen to centre around three topics. One is weight gain. Another is belly size and then it’s really about mess it up conception. So, if you think about it – weight gain is all about: “My God, you are huge” which is less of a question and more of [inaudible] observation.
For belly size as in when you’re six months pregnant, you’ll get somebody will stay at the cash register at the store; you’re visiting thing. Are you about to give birth because you’re enormous? So, there are a lot of those and then, my favourite of course is: “How did you happen to have twins? Did you use fertility treatments?”
So, really sort of invasive questions or things that would strike you as potentially offensive but at some point, you are really thinking: “This is so ridiculous. It is hilarious.” So, you kind of have to feed the humour in it. In terms of how you really respond to them – obviously to some degree it will depend on your personality. But, I really feel like developing a thick skin and just anticipating these questions are going to come. You probably have your best defence.
It’s not so much that a bit often is a good defence because you don’t necessarily want to engage with somebody who is telling you things that are just sort of off the wall. But, few only things that you’re going to get these questions and sort of taking it as just one more sort of element of your pregnancy; it’s probably the best attitude you can have.
That’s not that you can’t make a snappy come back, not at all. But, you’re kind of being prepared for it; it’s probably that can serve you well.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Just knowing that people think: “You’re so huge. You’re bigger than the other pregnant mamas they’ve ever seen.” It seems like they almost feel like they have to make some comments about the [inaudible 00:08:10].
SUNNY GAULT: Well, I don’t know that they see – usually, we become a little bit more recluse a later in our pregnancies as we are. So, if you’re twin mama; if you’re pregnant with twins, you don’t have the luxury of staying in your house for the last three months whatever, right? So, you have to venture in public most of us. So, I don’t think people are just use to seeing someone of that size. I think that that’s part of it.
This is actually a question for Dagmara. What do you think gives people that freedom if you will to just say silly stuff that they probably wouldn’t say to other people but for some reason it’s okay to say to twin parents?
DAGMARA SCALISE: Well, that’s the craziest thing right. Coming at it now, several years after the fact I can kind of get into the head of people who really surprise me when I was pregnant. So, I think where people are really coming from is sense of wanting to connect with the mom and just kind of make an observation.
But, in some cases, you would mention Sunny I believe that you can’t have the luxury of seeing in your later stages of pregnancy. But, to some degree; if you’re pregnant with twins, you’re actually bigger early in your pregnancy. I think that shock people. I think literally people are just like taking it back by the fact that you look large.
So, it sounds like the excuse of butting that sort of comes out. They blurt stuffs. It’s not that they’re not necessarily [inaudible]. It’s just that I think they’re disarmed by seeing someone. They feel like they’re really wanted to connect like what else are you’re going to say to somebody? I fear enormous belly coming at me. So, I’m going to comment about it.
In the mean time, you are just kind of like cringing in the inside. It’s well-meant for the most part I feel. But, it is shivery and intrusive.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Now, it’s funny now I had to experience that I wasn’t that big. I gained like about 40 pounds. People said: “I hid it well.” So, I didn’t have so many comments. I did consider going out and I know there’s like a number of really cute t-shirts out there that sort of announce: “Okay, these are twins. They’re girls.” I think I saw a shirt that answered all of the questions.
SUNNY GAULT: So, people are passing you by. They don’t need to talk to you. They just read your shirt.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Here it is just get it out there.
SUNNY GAULT: The question that amazes me is: “How you arrived at this point?” You know what I mean – the fertility treatments or something like that. That is not something that you would normally say to somebody.
If you thought it was just one baby, you wouldn’t be saying something like that. Suddenly, it gives them – they think they’ve got the right to do that. I just don’t get that.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Yes.
DAGMARA SCALISE: Well, absolutely it does feels like because individual to learn that you’re pregnant with twins feel like being at this license to quiz you about your most personal intimate details. I just don’t think that people literally realize what is coming out of their mouth. So, I mean to some degree I feel like if there is certainly a level of curiosity.
Despite the sense that twins are everywhere, it’s so pretty rare in the general population. In fact, in things like being more common to have a mom with a single baby; you can live an only child as suppose to the mom who has multiples. I think people are so sort of overwhelmed by that idea.
They don’t necessarily see themselves as being able to interact or being able to kind of manage that same level of responsibility. They’re just like: “My God, how did you do this?” How did you conceive?
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: So, it’s just like they’re trying to process like go away. It doesn’t add up; so they might not even consider that asking about fertility treatment might be invasive. So, if somebody does ask you: “Well, did you do fertility or do IBF?” How do you respond to that?
SUNNY GAULT: What will you say?
DAGMARA SCALISE: Well, obviously if you’re the type of person who really feels: “I’m just going to let it all hang out.” You’re certainly likely to actually say: “We did fertility or we did that.” But, if you’re not comfortable; I certainly kind of did it a joking way. Yes, actually we did it the old fashioned way. There was really no fertility treatments involved or are you asking for some referral?
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: I like that. Why do you need a referral?
DAGMARA SCALISE: You don’t realize what has come out of their mouths but you can just kind of just trying to give them a little lingers. It really obviously depends on the personality of the questioner because they really felt like people with some of the most intrusive questions about messages of conception were often just complete strangers.
So, the moms that I talked to sort of the book or my own personal experience is really like just deflect or ignored. These are the people who are often extremely persistent and they don’t deserve any of your information. It’s not like you need to engage in a relationship with them. Though, sometimes the dirty fear is sufficient and other times, it’s the: “I’m not going to ask you about how you conceived your children. So, please don’t ask me how I conceived mine.”
It really runs the range from: “I’m going to laugh it off to something that is really like back off person, I’m not interested.”
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Deflect or ignore? If you have a snappy comeback then just throw it out.
SUNNY GAULT: I like humour. I think that humour is a good way because you deal with them; some people won’t care but for me personally, I don’t want people to think I’m this mean twin mama. Jaded or something but you do get to a point where you would hear it so much that you need some stuff in your arsenal to be able to answer these questions.
For me, saying something kind of cutesy Dagmara like you were saying: “We did it the old fashion way.” Something like that it’s easier because you can just kind of laugh it off and maybe start to walk away and hopefully they don’t ask any more questions. You just leave it at that.
DAGMARA SCALISE: Sometimes you feel like a very sort of cutesy like funny remark that is at its core, kind of a little bit of dig back; it sort of puts people and stuffs them in their track. If they don’t really quite know how to respond like making them big that they were ridiculous stuff for their comment.
So, I feel like: “Humour is a good way to deflate the situation and kind of put it back on the person who’s asking the question who then make don’t really know what the follow-up is.” Okay, it’s kind of the daughter or sons and I do feel like that you need to figure out your strategy early on in the pregnancy.
You’re going to get questions often and early. You’re going to have a period of time where you’re going to have your whole set up of questions that you can kind of answers the page. You develop answers to them and then these are like the change in your back pocket. You’re going to be referring to again and again and again.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Yeah, I think I remember reading in your book. You said: “When people ask well, do twins run in your family?” [Inaudible] well, they do know.
SUNNY GAULT: You’re not really answering the question. It’s just obvious.
DAGMARA SCALISE: I still actually say that, eight years after the fact. I mean people did ask me that. I understand more so now. I feel that women who are pregnant whether it’s their multiples or with singletons are like in crazy hormone land sometimes and everything seems offensive. I certainly felt that way.
It becomes a little bit more clear-headed after the fest but you still have the same period of questions. It’s that you’re able to kind of distant yourself from them. I get people who are asking me all the time. Do they run in your family? Well, no. They still get the same series of: “Well, did you use fertility treatments or how do you like having twins? Do they get along?”
I know that they’re based in often in sort of genuine curiosity but I still try and to deflect it. I think deflection is a really, really good strategy for the pregnant mom. The twin mom because there are really very little thing you can do to control other people’s comments. So, you kind of have to have like: “Here’s my boundary and I’m not really going to engage with you in this way.”
Sometimes that works very well with humour. Other times, it works very well with kind of like backing off and being like: “Okay, let’s change the topic.”
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: So, it sounds like early on in pregnancy, you have to figure out: “Okay, what am I comfortable with talking about and here’s what I can kind of anticipate?” Also, to think about once the twins are born, what kinds of questions will come up? So, when we come back; we’ll take a look at how to handle questions once your twins are born especially when they are the ones that are being asked these questions.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Well, welcome back. Today, we’re talking about: “Dealing with annoying questions about your twins with Dagmara Scalise.” We’ve been talking about some of the questions when you’re pregnant with twins that you hear from strangers. In dealing with strangers and their curiosity or their need to know, do you think it’s our place to educate the strangers who ask us invasive questions?
DAGMARA SCALISE: I think it really depends on the person who’s doing the asking right? Often times, people are asking some genuine place of curiosity may as a parent or a parent to be; be comfortable with kind of watching it to this kind of actual educational mode.
There will be times, you may feel like: “Please don’t bother me. I’ve got way too much to be thinking about.” So, there are definitely time and places for both strategies. I definitely like, it is a path of experience of educate people about your experience because they feel – if you feel like, this is something that they genuine want to know about.
So, I definitely have had discussions that I’ve had people I have known who have twins. People are interested to the book that have twins. I feel like: “There’s definitely a space to talk to people and educate them about things like what having twins is like.” Even truly the sort of fertility issues around them. So, there’s a place for that.
But oftentimes, I really feel like deflections and humour is really kind of the way to go. Frankly, there’s more to life than it sort of being identified as the parent of – are they singleton or twins or barbershop with multiples. So, when the conversation is really all about your baby or your belly; it feels like it sort of like its one component of your life.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Right, we don’t want to be a novelty.
DAGMARA SCALISE: Probably the biggest component of your life but it’s still one component. So, it’s kind of like joking about it. It’s probably the stress-reliever that works for lot of people.
SUNNY GAULT: You know because I’m kind of been the boat now where I do naturally I have questions about twins and obviously today’s format is different because this is twin show and I ask whatever questions. But, if I just came up upon a family of twins, mom and dad or just the mom with her twins; do you think comments now – I think people that are pregnant with twins have a different perspective on.
I think we know boundaries better than the average person. But, when just general questions are asked like how do you approach that because I still have questions but I don’t want to be that annoying person, right? I know because I’m going to be in that position some day but I still have questions.
So, would you recommend I mean I guess I’m asking both of you ladies – if you were out in public, someone came up to you and starting to ask some questions that I’m only asking because I’m pregnant with twins. Does that soften the blows so to speak? Does that help? Do you guys feel more compelled to answer questions for someone that you know is coming from a different and a different place I guess?
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: I have to say for me, absolutely when I’m out and about and I see twins; sometimes I’m a part of a local twin’s chapter and so often, I do want to say: “Hey, we have resources.” I’ll give him a little card or something.
I think that first time when I’m like: “Here’s a card.” They’re looking at me strange and the women as soon as I say, “I’ve got identical girls.” Then it’s like: “The defence wall’s come down.”
SUNNY GAULT: It comes down a little bit.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Okay, it’s okay. I don’t have to explain myself and everyone feels comfortable. We’re on the same page. So, there’s definitely a comfort level in knowing that: “I don’t have to be scientific and you get it. You know what it is like. You have been down this path before.”
SUNNY GAULT: What do you think Dagmara?
DAGMARA SCALISE: I think Christine’s absolutely right. I think it is when you realize that the person who’s asking the question is asking them from the genuine sense of wanting information or concern, particularly if they’re also expecting twins. It’s like: “You have [inaudible].” You are amazing. I get it. I know why you’re asking me these questions.
So, I’m going to tell you like the real deal in all the details. At that point, frankly if somebody who had twins or is expecting twins ask me questions that were deeply personal what about breastfeeding for example, I would have no problem launching it to a discussion. I think that really is the key. That’s what a woman join twins’ club for that support factor.
So, I think when you encounter questioners who are like looking for information like: “Where do you get that stroller? How much was it?”? I think that you might typically think like: “Okay, you don’t really need to be asking me this information.” All of a sudden, you find yourself giving it up because you realize that it is helpful to the person who’s asking these questions.
Truly, a lot of times it feels you feel grateful that you’re able to impart some hard one experience and lived on even if it just like a small bit of wisdom to somebody else because you’re so grateful to other people who have shared information with you before you got there. So, when you’re an expectant home mom and you find somebody you know who’s open to giving you information, you feel so incredibly grateful. It’s like a sense of like of to pass it on.
If someone’s asking you questions and you realize that it’s from a place of wanting it now, genuine information – especially if there’s another expectant parent of twins, you give it up and it’s great. You feel good about it.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Definitely, yes. I know that there are great resources and of course here on our show as well. But, the personal – I mean one-to-one you can get so much stuff especially if you’re looking for local resources. It’s interesting I think when they’re babies and then we’ve got the sort of comments; you can kind of come back and have those replies.
Now, I know my girls are almost four and they’re becoming a lot more aware of these kinds of comments. I notice when we’re out in sort of the warehouse stores and people come up and they approached them directly, they’re talking to my girls and I say: “Well, how old are you? Who’s the oldest?”
There’s part of me where I feel like I need to sort of protect them or get them engaged so that they can be better prepared for these types of comments. What’s been your approach?
DAGMARA SCALISE: I feel like it’s very important to own who you are. If you are a twin – I’ve always told this to my kids: “If you are a twin that’s a part of your identity but it’s not the entirety of your identity.” If somebody asks you about it, you don’t have to answer them. I tell my kids to say: “My mom tells me not to talk to strangers.”
In other instances, my kids have been very excited to kind of establish their twin-ship and say: “I’m older, he’s younger but I know that I can say: “They’re incredibly tired of answering that same question.” After some point in time, it’s like they ignore the implication. They ignore the questions and just kind of say: “Yeah, okay whatever.”
Maybe as your girls get older, you’ll start to notice that more than there are some things that they themselves deflect and ignore. But, when I was teaching my kids and I know that friends of mine who have twins – they definitely have either the: “I don’t want to talk about it response to the polite I’m a good girl. I’m a good boy and I’m going to answer your question then I’m going to walk away.” It’s short, sweet, polite and then be done with it.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: I guess maybe we can even sort of arm them with some funny comebacks of someone says: “Well, who’s the oldest?” Maybe, you’ll say: “She is.” They can point to each other or something. I just want my girls to be comfortable and I guess whatever it is that they want to say so that they’re not feeling like they’re being accosted by strangers.
DAGMARA SCALISE: Right, I think sometimes it’s very safe to have this identity of being a twin because it’s just kind of like a label to some degree. In other cases, it can be very limiting. I’m not only a twin. So, I think arming them with some good response whether it’s anything like: “Thanks for asking. I’m older. I’m younger or we’re twins but we don’t want to talk about it.”
Anything that is kind of like a preset is a very helpful to kids because then, they know that they should anticipate these questions and then they have a response and it doesn’t need to be a prolonged conversation.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Definitely, yeah. So, I think Sunny you’re going to have your hands full figuring out what that is.
SUNNY GAULT: Yeah, for sure. I have a question to we obviously know this can start in pregnancy. Actually, haven’t gotten very many comments yet. It looks like I’m full termed and I’m about six months right now. So, I think people just think I’m about to ready to pop and you may seen it before. So, I’m not quite the spectacle yet.
But, we know it can start in pregnancy but I’m just curious Dagmara and Christine too, have you notice a drop like they said drop ever or do the comments stop – I mean they have to stop at some point. But, where is that line?
DAGMARA SCALISE: Well, I can’t speak for Christine. But, I think it really varies if you’re an identical twin versus a fraternal twin. I do feel like the questions around twin-ship do tail off for fraternal twins once they’re like half. Let’s say six or seven.
It really depends on if there’s sort of together. They look like they’re similar in height and people will still continue to ask them. But, once they’re six, seven, eight – they tend to have different interests. They’re not necessarily standing side-by-side each other so people don’t necessarily really think: “Twins.”
They’re identical twins; it’s entirely a different story. I know it’s going on indefinitely.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Definitely. I think especially well for the boy-girl twins. I have friends who have them and even at probably four or five. People might recognize that they’re siblings but that’s about it. But, I think for identical certainly I admit, I do dress my girls alike.
SUNNY GAULT: So, that probably adds for a little but yes.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Yes, I think
DAGMARA SCALISE: I dress my boy and girl like their self.
SUNNY GAULT: All the baby clothes that I bought so far were dressing them alike. So, I guess we’re on the same club there.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Definitely. Okay, I just want to say: “Thanks so much Dagmara for joining us today.” For more information with dealing with those annoying questions about your twins or for more information about any of our panellists, visit the episode page on our website. This conversation continues for members of our Twin Talks Club.
After the show, Dagmara will tell us more about some embarrassing questions she’s heard. For more information about the Twin Talks Club, visit our website www.TwinTalks.com .
We’ve got a question from one of our listeners who called into our voice mail. It’s Alison from Massachusetts and she says:
“I’m carrying twins and I was told that there’s a higher risk of gestational diabetes compared to singletons. Is this true and is there anything that I can do to prevent it?”
DR. SEAN DANESHMAND: Alison, my name is Sean Daneshmand. I’m a perinatologist at the San Diego Perinatal Centre. Excellent question, yes with twins gestations. We think it’s because of the increase of the hormones but you are an increase risk of developing gestational diabetes.
If you have any family history of it for example, if mom had diabetes or let’s say: “You had a very large baby that you delivered previously.” You want to get screen much earlier, if you’re body mass index is more than 30; you want to get screen earlier in the pregnancy. How you avoid it is your preconception body weight is with a normal limits – that’s only reduces the chance of this. Again, eat very healthy.
So, I tell patients: “More fruits and vegetables obviously, a lot more vegetables.” I’d tell patients: “Limit your animal base protein during pregnancy. I maybe saying things that a nutritionist may not like but again, it’s targeting inflammation.” We always talk about inflammation is the key factor. So, anything that potentially more inflammatory, avoid.
The more basic foods you consume, the better it is, and the healthier it is because your body ph is 7.36. Your body cells reside in a more alkaline environment. So, alkaline type’s foods are fruits, vegetables, beans, grains – those things. So, the best way to avoid it, again I’m going to the question is before you get pregnant or during pregnancy, really watch what you’re eating. Make sure your exercising. Exercise is very important during pregnancy.
We don’t talk about it as much but again; at least 30 minutes of some sort of aerobic activity if your physician or your diet care provider doesn’t see any other contra indications to exercise definitely do that. Those all will help reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: So, that wraps up our show for today. We appreciate you listening to Twin Talks. Join in on the discussion by posting your comments on the Twin Talks Facebook page or you can call our voice mail at 619-866-4775.
Don’t forget to check our sister shows:
• Preggie Pals for expecting parents
• The Boob Group for moms who breastfeed their babies
• Parent Savers, it’s an online support group for the new parents.
Next week, we’ll be talking about: “Annoying questions people ask about twins and how to deal with it.” This is Twin Talks, parenting times two.
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