On Saturday mornings, my husband and I like to go to our local indoor market. Now that we have twins, we walk around, perusing the items with a baby strapped to each of us.
Twins garner a lot of attention and are always commented on. This past weekend we had an encounter with a stranger.
The well-meaning woman at the bread stand: “Twin girls! Now if you only had boy/girl twins, you would be done.”
Me: (awkward laugh) “Yeah! Have a nice day!”
She doesn’t know that we have a son.
She doesn’t know that these two girls are little sisters.
She doesn’t know that our son was born silently a year and a half before the babies strapped to our chests.
She doesn’t know that these girls are here because of him.
All she sees is a family of four with twin girls.
I know her words mean no harm. I know she was making simple conversation, which is why I just gave an awkward smile and moved along. It’s not the first time we’ve heard these words from well-meaning strangers.
Well-meaning stranger at Target: “Oh you have twins! Do twins run in your family?”
Me: “No, we actually had to do fertility treatments.”
Well-meaning stranger at Target: (awkward pause) “Oh!”
I’m an open book. If you ask me a personal question, I’ll give you an honest answer. However, you may feel uncomfortable after I do. I don’t take offense to these comments because I know people don’t know our story.
But here is the thing… we don’t know anyone’s story.
The statistic is that 25% of pregnancies end without taking home a baby. Around 13% of couples experience infertility.
While they are the minority in comparison to everyone else, they are NOT uncommon. Yet, we still feel the need to comment on what we see, without knowing the whole story.
Some of these innocuous comments can cause pain to the recipients.
Things like having children, being married too long without a child, what we look like carrying our children, the number of children we have, the number of children of the same gender in a family, etc, should not be topics of random small talk with complete strangers; not with the statistics being what they are today.
I, myself, am guilty of making similar well-meaning comments to people, prior to our struggle to start a family. I get it. I never meant any harm in the words I chose, but I can guarantee you those things I’ve said hurt the receiver of them.
I know because I am them now.
So, how do we fix this?
We do it by sharing our stories.
We do it by bringing awareness to our losses and struggles.
We do it by making those, who haven’t experienced similar battles, cognizant of ours.
We need to show how prevalent we are in the world. It is the only way to make ALL of us aware of the fact that we don’t know a stranger’s story and we need to be aware of that before we comment on what we see.
Amy Lied is a wife and a mother to her son, Asher, who was inexplicably born still on February 19th, 2017 and twin daughters. Before losing Asher, she suffered a miscarriage and struggled with unexplained infertility. She has documented her journey from the beginning of her infertility struggles on her blog, Doggie Bags Not Diaper Bags. She is also a co-founder of The Lucky Anchor Project , an online resource for loss families that houses an Etsy store whose profits are donated to loss family non-profit organizations. She hopes to help others by sharing her journey as she continues to navigate the bumpy road that is life after loss.