Wednesday, August 3, 2011
A Literal Parade of Triggers!!! Yay!!!
So, my rant on the twin thing partly (but not wholly) was sparked by the fact that this weekend there is a friggin' FESTIVAL devoted to twins not far from my home. (Aren't I oh so lucky?!) In fact, one of my friends/coworkers lives on the parade route. When she moved there, she did not realize what she was in for. Soon, she grew to love living on the parade route (or at least did a good job making the best out of an annoying situation). Obviously, if we lived there, we’d be moving in a split second away from this PARADE OF TRIGGERS. I can’t imagine much else that would be as horrific to me at this point on my grief journey as seeing droves of parents flaunting their twins and putting them on public display. My friend has a party at her house every year on the weekend of this parade. Every year we have gone, mostly to humor her. It is the one big party she has every year, and we don’t get out to her house often. I remember the first time saying, “Well…I feel kind of odd attending a party for Twins Days when I am not a twin.” What place was it for me to go there and just stare at all the twins? Seemed incredibly voyeuristic, no? She said it was her party and anyone was welcome, that there would only be one or two sets of twins at the party. Basically, it was a good excuse to have people come over. She explained that people from all over the world come to Twins Days to participate in the parade and/or see all the twins and that it would be fun to “people watch”. So, every year, we would go. Mostly to visit with our friend hosting the party. To be honest? It always made me uncomfortable, but I don’t know if I ever thought through the “why” outside of feeling like a tourist. We just kept going every year as to not disappoint my friend. When we conceieved twins, this friend was over the freaking moon, obviously. Going on and on about how Twins Days would be so much fun. In her mind it affirmed we would definitely be attending every year. She was so ecstatic. Immediately, I started to feel even more uncomfortable than I had in the past about this spectacle devoted to twins. I was so incredibly in love with my children already, but in my heart I couldn’t bring myself to get excited about including them in any of it. It really got me thinking about how different my children would be treated simply on account of being conceived during the same ovulatory cycle, and I already started to kind of resent that. I didn't want the label, the extra attention, the early categorization of them as "different". I related so much to the women with living twins who said they hated the very word, that they just wanted their children to be treated as separate individuals. A parade and festival for twins? I didn’t get it. Would I ever get it? If there was a time to get it, it would be at that point when I was expecting twins and could fully participate in these festivities for years to come after their births. But I felt more annoyed at the idea than anything else. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to the parade that year. I was halfway through my pregnancy and wanted to take it easy. My friend assured me that I could lie down or just do whatever I felt was best once there. My parents were invited too (but never attended in the past as they thought the whole thing was odd too), but suddenly it seemed more “relevant” as they were expecting twin grandchildren. I thought it might be fun to go and bring them. My pregnancy was not only stressful and taxing on me and my marriage, but on my parents as well, who had seen their daughter endure the trauma of miscarriage and would worry until the babies were both here kicking and screaming, understandably. I thought, maybe if they see all these healthy twins, they will relax a bit. Hell, who am I kidding, maybe I would relax a bit. I chose a very understated dark gray maternity dress to wear and was mostly uncomfortable the entire day. For many reasons. One being, my friend kept pointing at my stomach, taking photos of my little bump, bragging to everyone that I had the youngest twins there. She even told me I should have worn a sign or something to indicate that I was carrying twins. As I said before, the whole thing just didn’t sit right with me. Sometimes I wonder if I “knew” something horrible would happen, but then I realize that’s ridiculous. Yes, I was worried about my pregnancy, but that's true of most women who are told at their first ultrasound (after already suffering a traumatizing loss in the past), "This means you are high risk. But don't worry, you are the lowest risk of the high risk." Oh, ok. *whew?* And honestly, even if my twins were both napping in their cribs at this very moment, it still wouldn’t sit right with me, and I wouldn’t want them to go. So I don't think my feelings on this point have anything to do with our loss. In fact, last year during my pregnancy, I was already trying to concoct reasons why we wouldn’t be able to go to future Twins Days. Wouldn’t the parade be too loud for the babies?...Wouldn't it be too stressful bring two infants out?...Wouldn't we just want to stay home and spend time with them?... Having living twins, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get out of the feelings of obligation to go. And here I would be, dreading the party and all the ensuing awkwardness. I probably wouldn't be blogging about it (I wouldn't have a blog) but would be feigning excitement and wondering what my problem was. Which would be a hell of a lot better than sitting here missing my son so terribly. Another point that really bothers me is that my cousin will be bringing her twin daughters in from out of state just to participate in this circus. No one has mentioned to me that they are coming into town, but I figured it out (Facebook makes detectives out of all of us). Am I crazy for thinking it would be really nice if they would just skip Twins Days this one time? (They've only gone one other time!) I feel like it's somewhat disrespectful toward me and my family. Maybe I am just oversensitive. (My husband thinks so. He says they should just live their lives and not worry about ours, basically. And an added point he throws in, is that as much as he would rather have his son here, he must admit feeling relief in that we have a "free pass" getting us out of ever attending Twins Days ever again. For me, it still stings to even hear about it, even though I never liked it to begin with. I know, I'm a hypocrite. Guilty as charged.) I think what bothers me even more than my cousin bringing her twin daughters to the parade (I mean let's face it; it's their choice and their right...) is the thought that they will silently slip in and out of town without even so much as stopping by to meet my daughter. They are staying at my aunt's house who lives literally three minutes from our home. I'm assuming this is what will happen, as no one has said anything to me about their visit, and they are in town TODAY. Do they not care about Evelyn now that she isn't a twin? Does she not matter as her own person?Is my cousin's family forever going to tiptoe around me simply because they have intact twins while I lost one of mine??? Do I deserve feeling like such a freaking outcast?!?!*sigh.* At any rate, now that my grief is so intensified by the whole “twin thing” being built up by society, this parade of twins literally sickens me. I think back to before we were pregnant and used to attend, and I remember hearing some people talk about how seeing so many twins in one place was “just so freaky”, which really drives my point home, no? If the festival was about celebrating how much adversity the twins and their mothers had to overcome just to exist, now THAT would be a different story! To be fair, at Twins Days, sometimes I would see twins wearing signs/shirts that would say “32 weeker”, or “Twin-to-twin transfusion survivor”. If in the parade, these people were passing out pamphlets about the risks of a twin pregnancy or something educational / spreading awareness, then I would whole-heartedly agree with the concept of a parade. The subsequent festival after the parade could be a celebration of their lives. However, not many wear such shirts or are looking to spread awareness. Few people even realize that at the festival there are tables where people hand out information on some of these issues, because those tables are hardly a main focus.There are also booths where researchers offer your children a candybar or a free eraser if they agree to be poked and prodded or have some type of testing done. Mostly, there are vendors trying to make money on overpriced merchandise and food sold to people in attendance. It would comfort me to know that the proceeds they make for entry into the festival went toward some kind of fund toward improving outcomes for multiple births (and maybe some of it does; I honestly don't know), but what I do know is that some if not all of it goes toward prizes for twins after they compete against one another in front of an audience on stage for "cutest", "most alike", "most different", and a whole host of other categories. Two years ago I noticed a few people at the festival wearing shirts that said “Twinless twin”, and “Surviving twin” on them. It made me incredibly sad. So deeply sad. I thought, why would they want to come to this festival? I guess to celebrate their twinship? (And, what does that even mean?) I decided that maybe some of them simply wanted to attend in memory of their lost sibling. However, weren’t there other ways to honor them? And what were the parents thinking? Were they there for the “shock factor” of seeing people’s reactions? I kept asking my friends, “Did you see that girl’s shirt?!”, but no one seemed to notice but me. It really troubled me, and I wondered what their stories were, but everyone else seemed more focused on ogling all the look-alikes swarming around. I felt rattled, unsettled, and lonely in those moments. Oh, what horrible foreshadowing.