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0790 Giving Birth to Twins

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 790: Giving Birth to Twins.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 790. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Our website is eslpod.com. Check out our special courses in business and daily English on our website.

Today’s episode is about having a baby – two of them, in fact. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Jerome: Congratulations! I just heard that you’re pregnant with twins.

Paula: Thanks. We’re very excited, although I’m a little worried about a multiple birth.

Jerome: I come from a long line of multiple births. My father is an identical twin and he had cousins who are fraternal twins.

Paula: I see what you mean.

Jerome: That’s not even the half of it. My maternal grandmother gave birth to triplets and my aunt had quadruplets.

Paula: Wow, multiple births certainly run in your family. What about your immediate family?

Jerome: You’re not going to believe this, but my mother had octuplets. I have seven brothers and sisters the same age.

Paula: And all of you survived?

Jerome: Yup, every single one of us. We often joke that my mother didn’t have babies. She had a litter!

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue begins with Jerome saying to Paula, “Congratulations! I just heard that you’re pregnant with twins.” “Pregnant” (pregnant) is when a woman has a child inside her body who is going to be born. But Paula is not just pregnant with one child but with two, and that’s why Jerome says she’s going to have twins (twins). So, Jerome congratulates Paula, so I guess he’s not the father.

Paula says, “Thanks. We’re very excited.” Presumably she means her husband, the father of the child. “We’re a little excited, although I’m a little worried about a multiple birth.” “Multiple” (multiple) means more than one – multiple anything. You could have multiple children, more than one child; multiple birth would be giving birth to more than one child. The expression “to give birth” means to have the child come out of the mother’s body.

Jerome says, “I come from a long line of multiple births.” Probably one of the few times that sentence has been said in English! “To come from a long line of” means that you have a history in your family. I could say, “I come from a long line of teachers.” My father was a teacher, my brother was a teacher, and so forth. Or I could say, more truthful, “I come from a long line of plumbers.” “Plumbers” are people and fix toilets and sinks. My great-grandfather was a plumber, and my grandfather was a plumber, and my uncles are all plumbers. So, Jerome says he comes from a long line of multiple births, meaning there must be a lot of twins in his family. And that, in fact, is what Jerome means. He says, “My father is an identical twin and he had cousins who are fraternal twins.”

Well if you remember back to your biology class, you should know that there are two kinds of twins: there are smart twins and there are stupid twins. No, that’s not the difference! There are identical twins; these are two babies that look exactly the same, they have the same sex – two boys or two girls, and usually they look very much alike. My two brothers – older brothers, Mark and Mike, are identical twins. You can also have fraternal twins. “Fraternal” (fraternal) is a word that comes from the Latin I believe, “frater” (frater), which can mean brother, though in the plural it often means men and women – brothers and sisters, and that’s really the meaning here. Fraternal twins are two babies born at the same time who may or may not be the same sex. They could be two boys and two girls or it could be a boy and a girl, and usually they don’t look alike. Or at least, they don’t look identical – the same, as identical twins do.

Paula says, “I see what you mean,” and Jerome responds, “That’s not even the half of it.” This expression, “that’s not even the half of it,” means that you still have more things to say about this topic. Jerome has mentioned two facts: that his father is an identical twin and his father’s cousins are fraternal twins. But he has even more information about this – even more things on this topic, and then we hear what those are. Jerome says, “My maternal grandmother gave birth to triplets and my aunt had quadruplets.” Wow! “Maternal” (maternal) comes from “mater” in Latin – we’re having a Latin lesson today! “Mater” (mater) means mother, and so when Jerome says “my maternal grandmother,” he means his mother’s mother, not his father’s mother. If it were his father’s mother, we would say his “paternal grandmother,” from, of course, “pater” (pater), Latin for father.

Jerome says that his maternal grandmother gave birth to triplets. “Triplets” (triplets) are when you have three babies born at the same time; that’s somewhat rare. But, even rarer – even more unusual is what happened to his aunt. His aunt – or his aunt, either pronunciation is correct – had quadruplets. “Quadruplets” are when you have four babies at one time. Five babies would be “quintuplets,” and so on and so forth. Quadruplets is very rare also – well, even rarer than triplets.

Paula says that multiple births certainly run in Jerome’s family. When we say something “runs in your family,” we mean it’s something common in your family, that different members of your family share. This could be anything. It could be the height: “Tall boys run in our family.” Or it could be anything that is genetic, although sometimes it’s used for things that are probably more from the environment. Some people say, “Oh, playing soccer runs in our family.” Everyone does it: my father does it, my sister does it, and so forth. Well, we don’t mean that there is an inherited trait in that family for soccer, that it comes from your genetics. But, it means it’s popular or it’s common in your family.

Nowadays, there are actually more people – well, more women having multiple births, probably because there’s more use of fertility drugs, drugs that help a woman get pregnant. And these often lead to – or at least more often, I understand, lead to multiple births. But of course I’m not a doctor, and I have never given birth to a child, so I’m not really an expert in this area. But Paula asks Jerome, “What about your immediate family?” Your “immediate family” is your mother, your father, your brothers, and your sisters. It doesn’t include aunts, uncles, grandparents, and so forth.

Jerome says, “You’re not going to believe this, but my mother had octuplets.” Okay! “Octuplets” (octuplets), if you know a little Latin, you’ll know this means eight children. Well, that would be very usual, indeed! He says, “I have seven brothers and sisters the same age.” Paula says, “And all of you survived?” Obviously, when you have multiple birth there’s more of a risk of one of the babies dying. But Jerome says, “Every single one of us (survived).” “To survive” means not to die. “Every single one of us” is just another way of saying all of us – all of us survived. “We even joke that my mother didn’t have babies. She had a litter!” “Litter” (litter) is normally a word we use for a group of animal babies, born to an animal at one time, like a cat would have a litter of kittens. So Jerome is sort of joking when he says that they say to their mother that she had a litter. “Litter” actually has some other meanings in English as well, as does the word “twin,” and you can find both of those in our Learning Guide.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Jerome: Congratulations! I just heard that you’re pregnant with twins.

Paula: Thanks. We’re very excited, although I’m a little worried about a multiple birth.

Jerome: I come from a long line of multiple births. My father is an identical twin and he had cousins who are fraternal twins.

Paula: I see what you mean.

Jerome: That’s not even the half of it. My maternal grandmother gave birth to triplets and my aunt had quadruplets.

Paula: Wow, multiple births certainly run in your family. What about your immediate family?

Jerome: You’re not going to believe this, but my mother had octuplets. I have seven brothers and sisters the same age.

Paula: And all of you survived?

Jerome: Yup, every single one of us. We often joke that my mother didn’t have babies. She had a litter!

[end of dialogue]

She doesn’t have any twin brothers or sisters, but she is a wonderful scriptwriter. I’m talking, of course, about our own Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan, copyright 2012 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
pregnant – for a woman to have a child growing in her body; for a female animal to have a baby growing in her body

* Ophelia is pregnant and will have her baby in October.

twins – two children born at the same time of the same mother; two children born during the same birth

* Angelica and Ted’s twins are very close and like to do everything together.

multiple birth – having more than one baby during one birth; for two or more babies to be born at the same time from the same mother

* Are there any examples of multiple births in your family?

to come from a long line of – to be from a family with a history of; to be from a family known for a particular thing or characteristic

* Julie comes from a long line of farmers and she plans to continue the farming tradition by becoming a farmer herself.

identical twins – two babies born at the same time of the same mother who look alike

* Our neighbors’ identical twin daughters look so much alike that I have trouble telling them apart.

fraternal twins – two babies born at the same time of the same mother who do not look alike

* Maria and Carlos are fraternal twins. They have similar personalities, but don’t look alike at all.

not even the half of it – a phrase used to mean that the speaker has not yet said the most interesting, surprising, or shocking thing yet, but is preparing to

* A: You went out Saturday night after your parents said you couldn’t?

* B: You don’t know the half of it. I stayed out until 2:00 a.m. and when I got home, my parents were really angry.

maternal – related to the mother; related to the mother’s side of the family; related to being a mother

* When I visited my maternal grandfather, he told me stories about my mother’s childhood that I’d never heard before.

triplets – three children born at the same time of the same mother; three children born during the same birth

* You would know that Donny, Danny, and Duncan are triplets simply by looking at them, even if they weren’t wearing the same clothes.

quadruplets – four children born at the same time of the same mother; four children born during the same birth

* Trying to care for quadruplets is a job for two parents.

to run in (one’s) family – to have a common characteristic in one’s family members; to be a common occurrence in one’s family

* Being overweight runs in Marla’s family, so she’s very careful about what she eats.

immediate family – one’s closest family members, including father, mother, sisters, and brothers, but not aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.

* Leila and Dong decided to have a very small wedding, inviting only their immediate family and a few close friends.

octuplets – eight children born at the same time of the same mother; eight children born during the same birth

* Having octuplets can be difficult and dangerous for the mother and for the babies.

to survive – to continue to live despite difficulty or danger; to live even though one has experienced or is experiencing hardship

* Monique is one of the toughest women I know, and I know she’ll survive her husband’s death and the loss of her business.

every single one – a phrase used to emphasis that all are included, without exception

* As punishment, you are going to clean every room in this house, every single one!

litter – a group of baby animals born to one animal at one time

* Our cat had a litter of six black kittens.

Comprehension Questions
1. Which has the most children?
a) Octuplets.
b) Twins.
c) Triplets.

2. Why does Jerome know so much about multiple births?
a) He is a doctor.
b) Multiple births run in his family.
c) His wife had octuplets.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
twins

The word “twins,” in this podcast, means two children born at the same time from the same mother: “Dan thought his wife was having a boy, but just found that she’s actually having twins.” “Twin” can also describe someone or something that looks very much like someone or something else: “Melky wore a hat to the party that was a twin to the one Lawrence wore last week.” Something that is a “twin” can also be something that is closely matched or connected: “The twin problems of this bad economy are a lack of jobs and a poor real estate market.” Finally, a “twin bed” is a bed that is made for one person to sleep on: “Our daughters share a bedroom, each with her own twin bed.”

litter

In this podcast, a “litter” is a group of baby animals born to one animal at one time: “Would you like to take home a puppy from this litter?” “Litter” is also used to refer to trash that is left in a public place: “It’s a shame that people leave litter all over the park, instead of putting it in the trashcans.” Or, “Leaving litter on roads or freeways is a crime and if a police officer sees you, you’ll be fined.” “Cat litter” is a material like sand that is used for the bottom of containers where cats urinate (remove water from one’s body) or defecate (remove solid waste from one’s body): “Georgina wanted a cat and so her mother said she could have one if she remembered to clean out the litter box every day and put in fresh cat litter.”

Culture Note
Trends in Giving Birth

Many babies are born in the United States every day. Most are born in hospitals, where they are “monitored” (watched over) and cared for by a team of doctors and nurses. However, some of these babies are born in the home of their mother without the “aid” (help) of a doctor or a nurse.

In the U.S., one of the biggest birthing “trends” (popular things to do) at the moment is “home birth,” or giving birth to a baby inside a person’s own home. Some doctors say that this method of birth is more “risky” (dangerous) than giving birth in a hospital, and the mother may feel more pain during “labor” (the process of giving birth, when the baby is coming out of the mother’s body).

There are many ways in which a woman can get through the pain of childbirth without the aid of pain “medications” (drugs), though, and many of these involve breathing techniques. One such breathing technique is called “Lamaze.” Lamaze breathing involves deep “inhaling” (taking air into one’s body through the nose or mouth) and “exhaling” (removing air from one’s body through the nose or mouth) to relax the “expectant” (pregnant) mother.

Lamaze may or may not be incorporated into other methods of home birth, such as “water birth.” To have a water birth, a woman lies in a tub of warm water, as if she is taking a bath. When the baby is born, it “emerges” (comes out) beneath the water, which is a lot like the water and other fluids it was in when it was inside its mother’s “womb” or uterus. Some experts say that this birthing method is the most natural of all, because the baby is born into an “environment” (place) that is more natural and similar to the environment that it had been growing in for nine months.

Comprehension Answers
1 - a

2 - b