What to Say (or Not to Say) to a Mom of Triplets: a 3 Part Guide
When I first learned that I was going to be a mom of triplets, my biggest fear was that we would be like some freak show and get stopped all the time and barraged with questions and comments.
Actually, that was like my 7th biggest fear after:
- Will the babies be healthy?
- How long can I carry the babies?
- How will this impact my son?
- How will this affect my marriage?
- How will I care for three babies on my own?
- How can we possibly afford three babies?
But you know, it was in the top ten.
We do get a lot of annoying questions and comments. It does take up a lot of time stopping to answer questions. Aaaand some of the questions are intrusive and insulting. I know you don’t want to insult a mom of triplets. So here is a handy 3 Part Guide to follow if you happen to meet a mom of triplets.
SECTION 1: AVOID DOING OR SAYING THE FOLLOWING:
- Are they natural?
Please, please, please, just don’t. I know reality TV is kind of a big deal, but I am not on a show spilling my guts about my family life, my fertility, and my sex life on TLC. Just because others are happy to do so, doesn’t mean I am comfortable getting into this issue with you, Random Person in the bra section of Target. (Although I am at this very moment writing a blog about my personal life, so…. But you can’t assume every triplet mom you run into is writing a blog so, still not ok).
Also, just speaking of babies and using the word “natural” is weird. Try this: the next time you are out and see a baby, a real live adorable baby, look at that baby and ask yourself, is this baby natural? Feels weird, right? The word to use is spontaneous. But don’t ask if they were spontaneous either. Because it’s just really none of your business.
- Do triplets/multiples run in your family?
Let me ask you, Random, Person at the Bakery, are you really interested in my genealogy and genetics? Or are you just more politely asking if my babies were the result of fertility treatment? If you are interested in my genealogy, I’ll get you in touch with my dad. He’s running out of people in my family to bore with that. If you are asking about my fertility, see answer to No. 1.
- Don’t look at mom’s belly immediately after finding out those are triplets.
Here’s how this normally goes.
Random Stranger in Library shockingly asks, “Are they triplets?”
Random Stranger, “Wow,” glances at my belly, looks back at my face, “Did you get really big?” Glances at belly again.
I know, you’re curious. You’re imagining how big a person gets while carrying triplets. The answer is hopefully very, very big so the babies aren’t born too early. You’re wondering if triplet mom’s belly survived. I get it. But you are not being sly. I CAN SEE YOU LOOKING AT MY BELLY! Even as you are asking the question! Just ask about the babies and sneak a peak later when we aren’t talking any more, ok?
- I’d shoot myself
This is a comment I’ve only gotten once. From a woman who was smoking a cigarette, leering over the stroller, calling over to a friend, “Hey, come look at this” as we were leaving the hospital when the babies were finally discharged from the NICU. The. First. Comment. I don’t really think it’s anyone’s dream to have three babies at once. You might not wish that for yourself and believe me, I get it. It’s hard work. But for the love of God, please don’t ever utter these words to a triplet mom.
SECTION 2: SAFE QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS
Here are some questions and comments I get that I may not love, but I don’t really mind.
- Are they identical?
This is okay. I think my kids look so different I’m even wondering if maybe some of my babies got switched at the NICU. But, since you don’t know them and your brain is processing three children born at the same time, wondering about my fertility or lack thereof, and trying desperately to not stare at my belly, I can’t really expect you to spend a lot of time distinguishing facial features. So, go ahead and ask.
- Are they all yours?
I get this a lot, especially since my kids are older. People are trying to piece it all together. Do I have twins and I’m watching a third child? Is this a birthday party? Why are there so many kids? This is fine. Ask away.
- You have your hands full.
This is by far the comment I hear the most. And I get it. When I see my friends with 3+ small children, I think to myself, “Dear Lord! How is she doing that?” But it is a hard comment to respond to.
If I say something like, “Oh, it’s nothing” then I feel like I’m coming across like I think I’m super-awesome mom and that it’s really not hard having triplets which isn’t true.
If I respond by saying, “You have no idea! I’m barely surviving today!” I feel like I’m giving people the impression that I can’t handle this, or that I don’t enjoy having triplets and that’s not true either.
But I totally get the comment, so go ahead.
SECTION 3: IT DEPENDS ON YOUR TONE
There is only one comment in this section.
And that is:
- God Bless You.
This can go one of two ways. This first way is said sarcastically and usually with an eye roll thrown in. The You is usually changed into a Ya. And sometimes there’s a Jeez or a Whew thrown in front.
Like this: barely audible, “Sheesh” then louder, “Wul, God Bless Ya” with the eyeroll starting on the God.
I usually interpret this as the person saying, “better you than me” or “that must really suck.” And although, yes, better me than you and yes, at times it can “suck,” this is not okay to say to someone. Because saying God Bless You in this way, well, it’s hurtful.
Here’s the second way: Genuinely. When people genuinely say, “God Bless You” to me, there just isn’t anything better. It feels like support. Like someone is on my side. It reminds me that I really am blessed. Truly. How many people get to have triplets? It really is special. And my girls are healthy and happy. It feels amazing to be a mom of triplets and to watch them grow and interact and love each other. So, if you meet a mom of triplets and you just don’t know what to say, I’d go with this one.
And if any of you are expecting triplets and are worried about the comments, please know two things, 1. the anticipation of the rude comments is worse than the actual comments. 2. You are not obligated to answer any of the questions or respond to any of the comments that are put to you. Simple answers with no explanation work best for me.