Parents of multiples are used to all kinds of personal questions from curious members of the public: Are they twins? Do twins run in your family? Were you surprised? Some even get a little more direct with the infamous, “Are they natural?” For parents of multiples conceived through assisted reproductive technology (including reproductive technologies such as in-vitro fertilization and intra-uterine insemination), these questions can be tricky, offering both an opportunity to educate and receive support and opening up to the possibility of judgment and criticism. Deciding what to share and with whom is a very personal decision, but there are some things you can consider before choosing to spill the beans.
Our fraternal twin boys were conceived via frozen embryo transfer after a failed in-vitro cycle. Although these are the first twins in both our families, we are young, so often people don’t suspect fertility issues. However, my husband and I decided to be open about our journey after considering some issues. First, we weighed possible reactions from our family members. Fertility treatments can be controversial, and the last thing we wanted was to receive a negative reaction from our closest family members. In fact, we even consulted with my husband’s mother before telling his father, knowing that is father is against abortion (an issue sometimes linked with IVF). We were lucky to be greeted with nothing but support. In fact, my husband’s parents also struggled with infertility, and it was nice to share with people who understood some of what we were going through.
Another consideration is how much information to share. Nobody expects parents of naturally conceived children to go into detail about their conception; however, because IVF is a more technical process, some people will ask more probing questions. Before our first IVF, we shared the date of our pregnancy test. When we found out it was negative, the last thing we wanted to do was share that news with family members who were eagerly awaiting our call. Therefore, before our frozen embryo transfer, we decided to keep the dates to ourselves, in case there was bad news. We were able to keep the news of our pregnancy just between the two of us for a short while before sharing with our parents.
Although our boys are too young to be asking questions yet, we know that someday they will be curious about where babies come from. At that point, we will pull out their baby book and show them their first picture: as two beautiful little 6-day-old embryos (that their father and I were already madly in love with), and tell them that some babies happen when two people love each other so much and want a baby so badly that they are willing to endure painful and costly medical treatment to get one. So, they go to a special doctor who helps them have the baby that they so desired, and sometimes, if they’re really lucky, they end up with two (or more) wonderful babies to love.