I am learning that this triplet mom thing is more than I expected. I mean, they arent even here yet, and I am already seeing some of the challenges we will face. Let me explain...for some strange reason, people seem to feel that a woman pregnant with triplets must have no need for privacy and that somehow her personal life should become a matter of public record, simply because she is having an 'unusual' pregnancy. I think I am beginning to understand how a 'circus freak' must feel. I want to preface the rest of this by saying that if you are reading this, then you are a friend and are therefore immune from the following criticism. :) Questions from friends are welcome and expected. I love telling our story, just not to random strangers who are just nosey.
Well, since I am showing about 12 wks ahead of my 19wks pregnant, people must assume that I dont have far to go. They first ask what I am having or when I am due. (innocent questions) I could lie, but why would I? I say '2 boys and 1 girl' or November, or December we hope". And that leads into the triplet discussion. The very next question out of their mouth is almost always the same, like they were each handed some script before meeting me and they are simply delivering their lines as instructed. "Were you taking fertility pills?' or "Did you do invitro?" or, my personal favorites, 'are they natural?' & "are they artificial?" Now, the first 30 times I was asked these personal questions, I was gracious and answered and let it go, but now I am really over it. I mean seriously, why is my reproductive history anyone else's concern? And how do they not know that that is a ridiculously rude question to ask a stranger in the bathroom?? (yes, that happened to me) I try to be gracious, but I sometimes think some really mean answers. When they ask if they are natural, I want to say, 'well I havent had augmentation surgery if that's what you are asking'. And when they ask if they are artificial, I am tempted to say 'yeah. we are really hoping that they dont come out looking like Gumby'. And as for the "did you take fertility pills' question, I want to say "what is that to you? why do you care?"
And the WORST part is that if I say, "Yes. I was taking medicine", I inevitably get this sigh and they say "oh...well...then" in this condescending tone that implies that my babies are somehow less of a miracle b/c they were not spontaneously conceived. In those moments I want to give those people a lesson in manners and in the miracle of conception. I want to tell them that there are a thousand things that can go wrong that will prevent conception, regardless of medical intervention. And I want to tell them that these little darlings are the ABSOLUTE miracles of our lives b/c there was a day that I didnt think we could ever have one child...needless to say, three never occurred to me. In fact, when a friend of mine learned of our infertility struggle she reminded me that God can do "immeasurably more than I could hope or imagine". At that time, I remember crying and thinking that I couldnt even imagine a positive pregnancy test much less the experience of holding my own baby. And then, true to His character, God knocked my socks off! There was a less than 1% chance that I would get pregnant with twins on the medicine I was taking, and God blessed us with triplets. Then...in the first ultrasound, baby C...our little girl...her heartbeat was undetectable and the doctor feared she was not alive. But we prayed and our friends prayed, and one week later her little heart was beating like crazy on the ultrasound. I have never seen a more beautiful sight in my life. All of this runs through my mind as some stranger belittles this grand miracle acting as though we somehow sold out b/c our miracle came with a little help from a doctor and modern medicine. I want to remind her that God is in the details and nothing that happens is out of his control. BUT...I dont. I try to be gracious and I go on, but I wonder if she/he ever thinks about how they made me feel in that moment. I doubt it.
But why would they judge me? Clearly they have never dealt with infertility or they would know that that experience changes everything. I remember walking around and just feeling raw, like anything that got close enough to touch me just might shatter me in a million pieces. My heartbreak was always bubbling just below the surface, and I lived in fear that one day I would no longer be able to keep the tears from coming. I knew in my heart that if I ever started crying,I just might not ever stop. It was a risk I couldnt afford to take. I was always on the cusp of a break down. Pregnant women were reminders of what I might never have. Walking through Target was a nightmare b/c those rubber ducky bath robes sent me over the edge every time, and I couldnt seem to avoid the baby department. Then, it never failed, I'd have yet an other negative pregnancy test and someone would ask me when I was going to have kids. And believe it or not, someone asked me this in the bathroom at work. (what is it with me and bathrooms?) On a side note, this is just a public service announcement--if you have a friend or family member who is without children...don't ask. Most likely that person will tell you if they want to, and if they dont, that's certainly their right. Just please don't put someone on the spot. I have been there many times and it is embarassing and excruciating, not to mention inappropriate. You just dont know what they might be dealing with, or how your curiosity might hurt them.
Anyway... back to the point. The other response that just kills me is the "Oh. I'm so sorry" response. I understand that the word triplets sends fear coursing through people. And I understand the shock factor. BELIEVE me, we were shocked. But that doesnt change the fact that there are 3 beautiful lives in my belly right now. How exciting!!! I am not naive. I have NO IDEA how we are going to pull this off. And I have no idea how we are going to afford 3 babies, but I have no doubt that somehow we will. God didnt give us 3 babies only to let us starve. He doesnt work that way. So I know it will be ok. Again, I reiterate, this little ones are the loves of our lives. We are thrilled! So having people apologize for this great burden makes me want to shake them. And then I feel sorry for them b/c I realize that they have spent 30,40, 50 + years walking this earth and somehow they have missed the point. Life is a beautiful and precious gift that can be gone in an instant. We are never to take this great miracle for granted. I am sorry that their glass is half empty...sorry for all of life's glories that this attitude caused them to miss. What a shame.
These people blow my mind. Before you decide that I am a little too sensitive, think about it. You wouldnt want a stranger asking you about your gynecological history or your prostate as you washed up in the bathroom, would you? So why do strangers ask me these personal questions expecting an answer as though they had merely asked for the time? People are weird. It's like rubberneckers on the interstate, some people just cant help themselves. And just when I thought it wouldnt/couldnt get any weirder, it does. We recently bought a used triple stroller from a local triplet mom. This thing looks like something you would rent at an amusement park, but according to triplet moms, it's the cadillac of triple strollers b/c it is easy to maneuver and it lasts through toddlerhood. Anyway...as we were making our purchase, my friend was showing me the features and attachments, and one was a net that attaches to the canopy. You should be able to see it in Brando's picture. I assumed the net was to keep the bugs off the kiddos. Wouldn't you think that? Well, guess what? It is actually meant to keep strangers from touching your babies. Apparently this is such a problem with triplets that the manufacturer makes these nets specifically for this purpose!! When my friend told me that I laughed and said "you have got to be kidding". She assured me that she was serious. She has even had strangers reach up under the netting to touch her kids. ISN'T THAT FREAKISH?? What are people thinking? Again, it just seems that the public in general feels that with 3 babies (or more) the rules of ettiquette (and common courtesy) just dont apply.
So as we make our way into this new world of triplethood, we learn something new everyday. The lesson for today is that people are weird, well-meaning most of the time, but weird nonetheless. I guess I might as well get used to the intrusion of my privacy. It doesnt look as though much will change in that arena for the next several years. So we march bravely on. May the force be with us...