I used to hear this question so often when i became pregnant and began telling people we were having twins……then i heard it over and over when i began venturing out of the house with the toddler twosome as babies…….as they have grown into toddlers and it is a little harder to tell they are twins the question has been slowly disappearing…..until this weekend when i heard it 3 times.
Yes we did have the girls through IVF and yes we did put two embryos back. Why do you ask is what i really want to say.
I sometimes wonder when it became acceptable to ask people such personal questions about their life and their choices….i used to answer everyone (usually total strangers)honestly and then find myself trying to justify our decision to embark on the IVF journey and to put back two embryos in a cycle that was ultimately successful.
I seem to feel the need to defend myself…often unnecessarily i might add….but sometimes with good reason! IVF is an emotional and often heartbreaking journey….not to mention expensive….well it is here in Australia anyway. It is hard to describe the days at the end of an IVF treatment cycle…the wait until you find out whether you will see a positive pregnancy test is just excruciating. You second guess yourself, wonder if you did everything right, wonder if it is all worth it, wonder if you could be strong enough to go through it again…….
The process is tough…without going into too much personal detail about our treatment i will say that is is the most invasive, uncertain and emotional journey i have ever undertaken. I had to inject hormones into my stomach every day (i have a huge fear of needles and was never able to do it myself…lucky the other half stepped up…it did sort of concern me how good he got at inflicting the pain by the end though!) I learnt to place an ice brick on the chosen spot a few moments before the needle…numbed it a little. They actually weren't as bad as i thought they would be…not as bad as vaccination needles anyway!
I then had to go into hospital for a ‘simple' procedure of retrieving the eggs that were stimulated in my cycle….i was fortunate that i could choose to be unconscious for this happy event…especially when i saw the needle used to pierce and retrieve….yikes….no needle that long should be going in that area! You can also just choose to have a local anaesthetic and remain awake….i'm no hero though folks! Just quietly it also freaked me out that so many people would be focused on peering intently into that area that i'm not sure i could have handled any sort of polite conversation!
The specialist told me he would write the number of eggs retrieved on the back of my hand so it would be the first thing i could look at when i woke up……i cannot describe the disappointment when i woke up the very first time and saw the number 2 on my hand. 2 eggs for all that effort and pain…2!
In the days following you wait as they fertilise and you find out if any have progressed and you are in with a chance…time seems to slow and then stop as you alternate between hope and fear…..highs and lows…..always, always glued to the phone.
We suffered a number of failures before hearing that we had had a cycle that was looking very promising….i don't mind telling you that i had already lost hope by then and was seriously questioning whether i could go through with this journey. We discussed putting the 2 good looking embryos back at great length with our specialist. In Australia you must meet certain criteria before being allowed to put back more than one embryo. For us it was a decision taken very seriously with a great amount of thought accompanying it……and then came the day when propped up on a bed, holding hands with his patient self we saw the cells of our future toddler twosome displayed on a screen before they were put in.
We weren't to know that these two little mass of cells would nestle in tightly and come safely into our world almost 9 months later. It wasn't until i went for the 6 week scan and the specialist said ‘ahh we put 2 back didn't we?' that i realised our life had changed forever.
I had morning sickness for 9 months and didn't enjoy the pregnancy at all….as well as being sick i was so very anxious in the first few months as i waited to see if the progesterone levels would rise and whether these two little people would ‘stick' (They could put out a whole new section of the dictionary just with IVF terminology!) The process was indeed long but for us it was successful…i know for many it is not…..and i know many continue to try even though your heart and spirit breaks just a little bit more each time you see a negative pregnancy test.
I am writing about this because i want to help people to understand that IVF is not just a ‘treatment'….not just a means to having a baby….not something everyone wants to discuss….especially with strangers. It is a deeply personal and emotional journey…one that perhaps has taken a very long time.
Don't get me wrong….i am in no way ashamed that we had to resort to IVF treatment to create our beautiful girls….i do often wonder as i look at them who we would not have given a chance of life to if we had only put one embryo back…..we only wanted one baby….but we would not be without either one now, both so different in their personalities and looks….both adding so much joy in their own unique way.
I just wonder when i am asked that question whether people understand how invasive they are being, whether they would ask the parent of a singleton the same thing? Do they realise what an emotional journey it is and how very private? For me the IVF question was always followed by ‘did you have 2 embryos put back ?' and then ‘so you wanted twins then?'
Sometimes i want to scream that we didn't do it to have twins, we did it to try and grasp at our last shred of hope, we thought it was never going to happen and we were so very sad, so very tired and so very willing to take the chance that we might be able to hold a baby in our arms eventually. We needed to increase our odds because strength of spirit was failing.
Well something aligned because today we are blessed to have the toddler twosome in our lives and i can't imagine life without them. To us it doesn't matter that they were conceived through IVF…they were conceived with love and a helping hand and i think that is all anyone needs to know.
Which is why today (and for the last 6 months) i have answered that question with a little white lie….
They usually do then ask whether twins run in the family and i just say yes now. Seems to stop the usual further probing questions…it's not that we don't discuss with loved ones them being IVF babies but i finally understand that i don't need to try and make strangers understand our choices just because we have twins….i don't want them growing up defined as being here because they are IVF…..to me they are here because we tried so very hard to find them and although we needed a little help…..i still know they were always meant to be here…..no matter what.
We never really know the journey others are on….perhaps it is wise to always keep that in mind….no matter what our curiosity and best intentions….
Cuties =) I would never even ask “are they twins?” let alone about IVF. Just ask them back “does it matter?” or “why?”. Or don’t even bother to reply.. For me, I’d do any ‘treatment’ possible that I could afford to have a child. You are lucky to have them and they are lucky to have you! Be happy!
Thanks for your words…i must admit that i have asked ‘why’ before when really annoyed but it doesn’t seem to faze people anyway…they keep asking more questions lol!
such beautiful little girls
Thanks Donna…how lovely of you!
Theresa @ Two Much Fun says
I completely understand. We get that all the time of our 2 1/2 year olds. I wish you didn’t have to go through all of that, but look at the wonderful outcome! We tell the same white lie through gritted teeth, it’s so much easier. I agree with you, I can’t believe that THEY think it’s ok to say that.
So glad i am not alone! people really don’t seem to be at all worried about asking!
I will admit that I have thought that question in my head of most twins I see these days, unless it’s someone close to me…. and then I don’t need to ask because I know! I have several friends who have gone through IVF and are going through IVF. It SUCKS. It is such a heartbreaking journey, and yes, many come out of it with a beautiful baby, but so many don’t, or take many, many attempts until they do. Knowing how precious my current little growing bundle is to me, and how worried I am about it all the time (16 weeks preggas), I can only imagine how difficult the IVF process must be. I completely understand your point of view, and why you give a little white lie now. There is no reason why you should feel that you must discuss the private details of your life with people who don’t know you well enough to know the truth.
Thanks Kylie! I too understand the interest, it’s human nature….but like you say, they don’t need to actually voice their question!
Amie (Triple T Mum) says
Jode, I got a tear in my eye reading your story of your IVF journey. Thank you for sharing such a personal journey with us! But you are absolutely right, the stranger, the person in the street, doesn’t ‘need’ to know. Of what benefit to them is it to know the answer? You will share if and when you think it is necessary! Hahahaha, now you could just say “Here’s my URL. Look it up!” LOL! But seriously, it doesn’t matter if you are saying a little white lie to a perfect stranger, don’t feel guilty about it, I’m sure “No” is far more polite than saying “Mind your own beeswax!”
Thanks Amie…yes i often wonder what they will get out of knowing!And the lie does save me from being a little rude on occasion now lol!
This is touching, I have never considered the ivf journey or thought of how stressful it could be. I’m usually one to ask if twins run in the family (because theY do in my partners & I’ve always been told I’ll have twins but I’m 16w preg with just 1).
But I’d never ask a stranger and I wouldn’t ask if they are ivf twins. That really is inappropriate & no ones business, what’s it matter anyway. You have Your beautiful girls and I can see your frustration at some peoples nosey questions – just ask them why do u ask? Or tell them straight, it’s none of your concern !
Good on you for voicing this 🙂
Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing your thoughts Renee!Good luck with your pregnancy!
Jode this is a wonderful post and I think one that expresses the sentiments of many couples who have tread the ivf path.
Even though Kaizer is a singleton we always get asked why the age gap (17 years between him and our oldest) and that conversation inevitably always leads to our infertility struggle and the path we took in order to realise our dream of another.
Don’t feel bad for about not being open and honest with strangers..really it’sno concern of theirs.
Thanks Tammi…i never thought about the age gap angle…amazing how people can find ways to dig into personal moments!
Oh Jode, sorry you have to endure such inappropriate questions.
I have experienced a miscarriage and have had trouble conceiving and I know that any child we are blessed with is an absolute miracle whether or not we’ve had assistance in conceiving them or not. Sadly, I think it’s easy for people to ‘judge’ when they haven’t been in a particular situation.
In my opinion, not only is it nobody’s business but it’s just not relevant to their lives. I had an emergency s-section with my daughter and I’m quite surprised and offended by the number of people who ask me how I’m planning to have this child (natural or C-section). Like you, I feel like it’s none of their business but I also wonder what they hope to learn/achieve by knowing the answer.
I’ve got no advice to give. I personally just use my reactions to these questions to help me be more considerate of others. I love your last sentence.
Thanks for sharing such personal thoughts Jackie….i am so sorry to hear of your miscarriage x I too got the questions re c-section and i wondered why they needed to know that information!
Lovely post… and something more people need to hear.
Our girls are ID twins and we get asked this question all the time… “Are they natural?” Which I know means ‘were they conceived via IVF or not’ but once I was so fed up with the question from complete strangers I turned around and said “Well they used to be natural, but we had them dipped in plastic to make them easier to keep clean” and walked away! LOL
No one ever asks a mum of a new single baby “How was he/she conceived?” so I don’t understand why they feel ok asking that of parents of multiples. Even if you are curious, don’t ask… it’s really rude to ask a complete stranger about their reproductive history and sex life.
Kate…that is hilarious….i am often trying to think of a response to the Are they natural question lol!
Yes, it is beyond me why people need or want to know anyway really…is it too be able to judge? Thanks for your thoughts!
Boy Mama Teacher Mama says
Thank you for your honesty and for the information. I knew about IVF, but had no more information than that. I am glad to know more about the process both physical and emotional. I know this was not an easy post to write, but you did it beautifully. 🙂
Awww, thankyou xx
Kirsty @ Bowerbird Blue says
It is a rude question, I like your new deflection. I had 3 caesareans and sometimes I feel like I have to explain myself ad nauseum as to why, nothing like a bit of mother judgement to ruffle the feathers. You could start talking loudly about vaginas, I think that could also be a fun way of making the person realise the inappropriateness of their question.
I am going to keep that in mind Kirsty!!!LOL! Mother judegement is certainly going strong out there unfortunately…we are own own worst enemy but also support i guess!!
How odd that people feel that strangers can ask such personal questions. Go the white lie I say!!
Thanks Ali..that’s the conclusion i came too!
holy food says
Great article with excellent idea! I appreciate your post. Thanks so much and let keep on sharing your stuffs keep it up.christian hospitality
Well said, I always wonder why people think it’s any of their business. I keep daring myself to respond with “Yes we did have IVF. What sexual position were you in when you conceived?” Just as personal in my opinion!
Miss Courtney says
Wow, people do ask really personal questions, now. I’ll have to ask my mom if she gets that question. I have twin brothers who are 16 years younger than me. A question we used to get ALL the time when they were little is if they were MINE! I always said yes, LOL.
A touching post Jode. Well done for putting into words the tough, emotional journey that is IVF. We’ve been through it two times to have our girls, so challenging and emotional, but I would go through it all again in a heartbeat. Don’t worry about strangers and their nosiness, how your beautiful girls were conceived is none of their business and is really, of no importance xx
April Matthysse says
I very much enjoyed your post. People feel the need to say anything, we start IVF soon. I would love twins– as long as they are healthy. I am short and look young, and people still just come up and ask me how old I am. I recently went somewhere with co-worker who is about my mothers age. People assumed she was, that was fine. She was amazed at how often people just ask me how old I am just like its no big deal. Since when did it become ok to ask a women how old she is for no reason besides curious. I look young, but I don’t seem that young once I talk or you see my ring. It does get annoying, at times I have also lied. Not that I really need to, people often don’t believe me when I tell them the truth. It often bothers me, because why do you need to know? Why does it matter you are a stanger and I am just a person you came across.
Its hard to know when to be clam and polite, and when to just be like is that something you NEED to know or just noisy? I have said that to people and they act like I just called their mother a whore.
Don’t feel bad about lying to strangers– its easier and no more questions and none of their business.
April Matthysse says
I love your post.
I know people are so annoying!!! I will be starting IVF soon– how I found this its on pinterest if you are wondering.
I come across something like this all the time now, people asking me how old I am. ALL THE TIME– like its not big deal, like where did you get those shoes kind of thing? Since when did it become ok to ask a women how old she is??
I do look young, I know this. I recently went to a craft fair with a co-worker and she was amazed how often people asked me how old I was. Often accompanied by you look so young, but I heard you talking or I saw your wedding band and I just didn’t add up. The co-worker is about my mothers age and people often thought she was my mother. Even she was like I cant believe people just ask you that.
Its hard to know when to be nice and polite, and when to be like ‘Do you really need to know that?’
I have also lied at times, however the often don’t believe me when I tell the truth so its not that crazy.
Don’t feel bad about telling a while lie, you know and they don’t need to know. Also twins are perfectly normal, and it just keeps things with them simple.