Saturday, October 17, 2009


When you have twins, you're gonna get questions. Starting when you're pregnant, people feel very comfortable stopping you to chat about your size, how you became pregnant with twins (does it run the family?), and how you're going to cope. After the babies arrive, the questions - and comments - continue.

Are they twins?
How do you do it?
A boy and a girl?
Oh, that's double trouble!
You must be really busy!

They stop me while shopping to chat, they ask personal questions about my pregnancy, the boys' conception, and make guesses about their personalities. They want the boys to smile, and wave, and say "hi." They guess at who is older, which I find ridiculous because they're basing their guess on the fact that Shoghi is bigger - as if being a minute older than your twin would contribute somehow to your size??

I try to use this as an opportunity to connect with people - to stop for a moment and breathe, and remind myself that in our busy society, most of the time we don't even look at each other, nevermind stop to chat with strangers. I want to model openness and patience to my children. I want them to learn to offer a friendly smile when people bend down to talk to them.

Sept 2009

Sometimes, though, the questions and comments are less welcome. When I am running to enter a restaurant in the pouring rain, with one toddler in a carrier tied to my front, and the other in my arms on my hip, with my bag falling off my shoulder and rain dripping down my face, it would be nice if they'd just offer to help - to get the door or even hold a baby - rather than smiling and offering a mere "you've got your hands full".

playing together at Oxbow Park

Starting this summer, some have begun to ask me how close in age the boys are. When I say "one minute apart," they stare at me blankly before I add "they're twins." "Really?" they balk. "Yes, twins. They're fraternal, so it's just like two brothers in a family - except that they developed at the same time." "Wow, they look so difffffffferent," they say, not in an altogether kind way. Now that they've got a year under their belts, and their teeny-tinyness is gone, Shoghi and Max are obviously different. Shoghi is much bigger - two weeks ago, he weighed nearly 25 pounds, while Max was just hitting 20. Shoghi is about 3" taller than his twin. Max has straight, reddish hair and brown eyes, and Shoghi's got sandy, wavy hair and gray eyes. Max wears a size smaller in clothes and shoes, and soon, diapers, too, as I'm afraid I'm going to have to buy size large cloth diapers for Shoghi in the next couple of months.

Forest Hills Park, September

But there's one more question I've been hearing a lot lately... and it's one that sits so strangely with me that even as people continue to ask, I continue to not know how to respond. Complete strangers ask me if Shoghi has Down's Syndrome. In fact, it's been happening enough that we'll be seeing his pediatrician to find out conclusively. You know, it's been quite a meditation for me. If he does have this chromosomal abnormality, he will still be exactly my same Shoghi. We will just know something different about him - albeit something that may have siginificant implications. My perception will have to shift, my expectations for how I will parent him may have to be altered. But in a way,that's just the life of a parent anyway - personalities, temperaments, learning abilities and styles, physical strengths and weaknesses... sicknesses and diagnoses; they all come with the territory.

But there's that part of me that's always hurt. Why are people asking me this? Even more - why do they think it's ok to ask me? Maybe it's the shape of his eyes. Our donor is Bolivian - maybe AmerIndian. Shoghi's eye shape has never seemed strange to me. In fact, he actually looks a lot like I did when I was his age. But still, having people ask me if my son has a possibly life-altering medical condition is - to say the least - uncomfortable. I hate that strangers make assumptions about my children, and while it's just a normal part of being a parent to discover that people do this, it has come as something of a shock. Why is it ok to ask something like that about a baby? Is it alright if I turn back to the same woman and ask if she is in menopause?


Just as I'm sure I'd have loved to have identical twins, I really adore the experience of having fraternal twins. It is an endless source of fun to have two such different children developing side by side. Whatever their similarities, whatever their differences, I am just so grateful to have them.

*top photo by Amy Crawford Photography


  1. Wow, Celeste, your writings never stop amazing me! This is wonderful, yet disturbing piece. I find it hard to believe that anyone, much less a mother, would ask you such a personal question. I would be tempted to ask if she is mentally unstable! I think both of your boys are quite different, but absolutely beautiful! Please don't let stupid people in our society discourage you from all that you are and all that you do. You are a great mom, and regardless of the outcome with the pediatrician, those two smiling faces are very lucky to have you! *Wendy

  2. I see their differences as a manifestation of the universes ability to create such variety even in such minimal genetic difference. They are both healthy and being raised the same way, and they have a different place on the percentage charts.

    As for the DS questions, I do find that rude, and have never thought that about Shoghi! I would be shocked if it were true... it would have be incredibly mild.

  3. again you are willing to use this blog to bring awareness to it's readers and I thank you for that because feeling what you feel and being able to write about it in this public way are two different things. As your mom and the boys grandmother, I am touched deeply by your words of love for your sons. Maxwell and Shoghi are blessed to have you for their mom and we here love them and you unconditionally and immensely.

  4. Oh Celeste, people are so endlessly ignorant and insensitive (but we knew that right? and I'm being generous...). Shogi and Max are so lucky to have you has a mom!
    Marie CD

  5. It's amazing what people will just come right out and say!

    Re: the first part of your post, it cracks me up when people ask if the IDENTICAL twin baby girls I take care of are twins, and then their next question is "one of each?" or "two boys?" because yes, stranger, We shave their heads so you will know they are boys even though they're dressed in PINK from head to toe. Kudos for gender stereotyping based on hair growth and not clothing. Though I guess I shouldn't fault people for not knowing how else to start a conversation :)

    The thing that really surprises me is how many people come right out and ask the mom about fertility treatments, or at the very least skirt around it.

    re: the DS thing, BIG (((((HUGS))))))), and yes, no matter what happens he will still be your little Shogurt! Exactly the same as he was the day before :)

    Love you!

  6. Oh, and the best is:

    Stranger: Are they twins?
    Us: Yes
    Stranger: Oh, they're definitely identical!


  7. Someone just yesterday asked me how far apart they are in age. I was thinking I should have said, "Twenty minutes," but I think you're right, they would have looked at me confused! Mine are just about the same difference in size as yours. J is 24 lbs, V is 19 and J is 2 inches taller.

    Can't believe someone would ask if Shoghi has DS... people have no clue. No one has asked me if J has autism but I've wondered (gotten paranoid) about it myself sometimes. It's scary but just like you said, if our babies abilities are not "typical" or whatever, they are still the same baby/person. We will love them and parent them however we need to ensure they are happy and healthy. Love to you!

  8. What if you turned back to the questioner and asked if she's bipolar! :-) Ha ha! (Is that mean?) ;-)

  9. My b/g twins are also very different in size! And what's funny is that my baby girl is much bigger than her brother. Which really seems to disturb people along with the fact that she came first. Apparently in our society girls should be second and much more petite than their male counterparts. ;)

    I certainly don't think he look like he's got DS. People can be so hurtful when they speak before they think. :(

  10. Wow, Celeste. Sorry you have to deal with that. It never occurred to me because Shira had the same buggy-eye deal going on as a nb. Now he just looks like Shoghi to me. LOL I get asked things about Batya a lot though. It is hard.

    One thing you forgot are the questions about which is your favorite and then people telling you that their favorite is... WTH?

    my favorite comment along the identical/fraternal line is someone who asked if the girls were identical. I told hom no, their fraternal. He told me that they could be both. Ummm...nope.

  11. Thanks, Miriam... people are just so weird - a favorite? SERIOUSLY?? I haven't gotten that one yet.

    People sure have a lot of strange ideas about multiples!

  12. it is gorgeous watching each child develop in their own way. rather more gorgeous when ppl don't make aggravating/ worrying comments though ,P

    we've had questions about butterfly's 'normality' from the start. even at last check up 'genetic disorders' came up, but there are no signs other than her small size, and nothing would be done differently anyway, so they won't test again in 4 months. i think she's just fine though, and shoghi too.

    (fwiw, mine always seem to have a slight down's look when they're little. maybe it's *their* eye shape too? shog has beautiful, big almond eyes)