Bed Rest, Positive Twin Parenting, Constant Changes (a discussion with Joe’s wife) – Podcast 100

Joe Rawlinson by Joe Rawlinson - November 9, 2020

Podcast 100

Episode 100 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes

For this special 100th episode of the podcast, I invited my wife on the show to discuss our twin journey. Plus listen for a special guest appearance from our twin girls.

Listen as we discuss:

  • Overcoming the anxiety of expecting twins
  • How we supported Mom during bed rest
  • What preparations we made that really served us well
  • How we stayed positive and kept our sanity during the first year with twins (we mention this “Positive Parenting” book)
  • Dealing with toddlers and newborn twins at the same time
  • Remembering the time and seasons of the twin journey
  • Dealing with changes as your twins grow
  • You can do hard things
  • Twins each have their own timetables for development and progress
  • How we prioritized our marriage through the challenges of twins

Transcript

Joe: Thank you to my beautiful twin daughters for helping with the introduction today to the podcast. My name is Joe Rawlinson, and as always, you can find me at twindadpodcast.com. It is indeed the 100th episode of the podcast. That kind of blows my mind, that we’ve been able to do 100 podcast episodes already helping parents of twins just like yourself. Thank you so much for being along on this amazing journey, for all the great feedback, emails, and reviews that you’ve left about the podcast. I’m really happy to be able to have helped you so far, and look forward to many more episodes to come.

And to celebrate the 100th episode of the podcast, I am giving away T-shirts from twintshirtcompany.com. In order to win, all you need to do is go over to iTunes and leave me a rating and a review of why you love the podcast and you’ll be entered to win. I know it’s really difficult to go into iTunes, it’s kind of a pain to go on your phone or on your desktop. But if you make that effort to go and log in, and leave a rating and a review, I would greatly appreciate it. And you’ll be entered to win a T-shirt from twintshirtcompany.com.

In fact, this weeks’ winner is as listener from Canada, Karinsky, who commented that the podcast “has great advice, is very practical and realistic to achieve,” and that he loves to hear the guests who tell their stories. Thank you so much for your review, and congratulations on winning your T-shirt. If you want to drop me an email, we’ll work out those details. For all you other listeners, go ahead and head over to iTunes, leave a review and a rating, and I look forward to seeing your feedback.

Now today, to celebrate the 100th episode of the podcast I have a few special guests. You already heard my girls at the beginning, you’ll hear a little bit from them at the end of the podcast. But the main portion of the podcast today is going to be me and my wife talking about our twin journey.

4 Critical Mistakes Expectant Twin Parents Make

I know you’ve heard a lot of my perspective on having and raising twins, so I thought I’d bring her on to share some of her perspective, how I was able to help her, and things I did that could be of benefit to you along your twin journey as well. So let’s jump right into that conversation.

All right, so as our special guest today on the podcast I’ve brought my dear wife, Mindy, to come share some of her experience from her perspective on our twin journey, and she’ll help tell you if I’m way off base or not, with the stuff I’ve been telling you for the last 99 episodes.

Mindy: Hi everyone!

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Joe: So, just so you listeners know, usually I record all by myself in my room. Sometimes my dear wife is sitting in the background listening to me.

Mindy: Once I’ve been listening to him.

Joe: Okay, just once. But notice I said night, because I usually record podcasts after all the kids are in bed, otherwise you would hear them all the time.

Mindy: And on an evening when I’m away.

4 Critical Mistakes Expectant Twin Parents Make

Joe: Right. Well frankly, I do get nervous when my wife is listening to me record, so right now my hands are kind of sweaty.

Mindy: As well you should.

Joe: Thanks babe. Okay, let’s talk about…let’s talk twins. So…

Mindy: We made them, we had them, now we can talk about them.

Joe: That’s right. We had two boys before the girls were born, and they came really close together, the boys did.

Mindy: Well that was the whole idea, we were a little bit older when we got married, and we wanted to have a relatively large family close together so that we could still enjoy them in our youth. And the idea was to get pregnant with our third child and then we would be done, because I only wanted three children, although Joe wanted four. So when we found out we were having twins, it worked out really nicely, because I got my three pregnancies but he got his four children.

Joe: There you go. And I do recall there being lots of deliberation about having our third child because I saw that you had your hands full with our two very active toddlers at the time, and I could not fathom how you would care for a newborn in the midst of those two little boys.

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Mindy: And neither could I.

Joe: So then we found out we are having twins…you’re right, we got the four kids in the three pregnancies. But there were a lot of things that were significantly different from our two previous singleton pregnancies than with the twins. So first of all, we were completely overwhelmed in the beginning when we got the news.

Mindy: Yes. You’ve read Joe’s perspective on it, or heard it. And I would just like to say you should journal, because there are so many things that I had forgotten about in the beginning our twin journey until I went back and read them, so as I was reading through my journal to remember what we were thinking, what we were feeling, I got almost as sick to my stomach remembering those feelings as I did when we found out. And it wasn’t that we were sad, or…I mean we were just literally deer in the headlights. What on Earth is going on? How are we gonna take care of these four little kids? And we were pretty overwhelmed, but we were sick to our stomachs for about a week. It took about a week for all of that nausea to wear off. And unfortunately we were travelling right on the heels of finding out that we were expecting twins. It was fortunate, because we were both happy as a family, but unfortunate in that our routine was upset, and it made it difficult for us to wrap out heads around the news, because we were completely out of our routine.

So it took us about a week of not being able to eat, and just shaking our heads all the time thinking what on Earth we had gotten ourselves into, but finally Joe and I were able to leave the boys with my parents and sneak away for an hour. And we went to a little coffee shop and just sat down at a table, and started making lists and plans of all of our worries, and all of our concerns. And when we left the coffee shop we felt so much better, we felt like we were united and ready to do this thing even though we still had no idea what it really meant.

Joe: That’s right, we really had no idea what we were getting into. But we made good lists of addressing…at least putting on paper the concerns we had at the time, because you can only take steps or control what you knew was going to come. And so we were kind of working with the knowledge we had, and we learned as we went along. But some things were in our control, and some things were not, and if it was in our control we would try to tackle it and make the preparations. But of course there’s a lot of things or worry about in a pregnancy, especially twin pregnancy, that could totally freak us out.

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Mindy: Yeah, don’t do anything on Google in those initial days, just talk to your doctor. Talk to people who have swum down the river a little bit farther than you. But don’t go talk to Google, you’ll just get freaked out unnecessarily.

Joe: Yeah, our mantra with health complications was, “If the doctor tells us that our twins have something, or there’s something wrong with the pregnancy, then we’ll go figure out what we’re supposed to do about it.” Otherwise there’s a million and one ways that this pregnancy could go bad, and we didn’t want to go down that road. We wanted to stay optimistic.

Mindy: And positive.

Joe: And positive.

4 Critical Mistakes Expectant Twin Parents Make

Mindy: Yeah.

Joe: So during the pregnancy, Mindy ended up getting onto modified bed rest.

Mindy: Yeah. About 32 weeks I started experiencing really severe Braxton Hicks contractions when I would stand up. I would stand up, and I would stay standing, and my belly would go hard as a rock. And the longer I stayed on my feet, the pain would start to set in. And so, consulting with my doctor, we made a decision to be on this modified bed rest, which was convenient for when I needed to do things. And being a mom of two really busy toddler boys took its toll, and there were so many things that I needed to do, and I couldn’t be off my feet and leave them undone. I had these two kids that needed constant attention, and supervision, and direction, and meals to prepare, and laundry to fold, and the house to clean, and there was just always more to do than I had time to do, let alone making time to be off my feet. Our couch has a permanent indentation from my butt where I laid for a good portion of the last bit of the pregnancy. I was on the couch a lot, and it was so hard to be there. But Joe was really helpful, what do you remember helping with?

Joe: You remember being on the couch a lot because your doctor told you, even before you were on bed rest, “Hey, you just need to take an hour, at least an hour every day, and just keep your feet up.”

Mindy: That’s true. But an hour I could do, but not when I’m trying to make peanut butter sandwiches for the boys, and then I’m starting to writhe in pain because I’ve been standing for 10 minutes.

Joe: Well, I remember when you went on to the modified bed rest I modified my work schedule where I would go in early…I don’t know, like Monday, Wednesday, Friday. And then I would get home early those days, and I could watch the kids while you would rest. And then on Tuesday, Thursday we hired the girl across the street to come babysit our boys, play with our boys, while Mindy would rest. So that kind of one/two combination helped ease the burden a little bit.

Mindy: Yeah. One thing I needed to hear a lot was the reminder that, even though I was sitting on my butt, I was still doing something very worthwhile. And Joe would constantly remind me that I was growing two babies, and it was going to take a lot of work, and it was going to take a lot out of me, and I really needed to have that be my first priority. So somehow him reminding me of this periodically was really good in letting the guilt go, that I couldn’t do it all, and that I did have a really important job, and I needed to focus on that.

Joe: And focus you did. So we tried our best to augment you, so whenever there was something that you would have done regularly, household chores, childcare, errands, we would try to find a substitute for that. So it was either me going and taking care of those things, or we would have play-dates with our two boys, send them off to someone else’s house, or have a babysitter like we mentioned to try to give you as much rest as possible.

Mindy: Or even, I remember laying on the couch with a bunch of my recipes and making shopping lists, or ingredient lists of what I needed to make several meals that I could put in the freezer. And I remember having three friends come over, and I just handed them each a recipe, and they just made all the meals and got them ready for the freezer so that I could lay on the couch and watch the kids play.

Joe: Freezer meals were our secret stash…

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Mindy: Secret weapon.

Joe: Secret weapon. So we did freezer meals like crazy. Like you mentioned, we had freezer meal parties, where your friends would come make them. We bought freezer meals.

Mindy: Yeah, we found this subscription service, or…I don’t even know how to describe it. A place where you could go and you could assemble your own meals and put them in a freezer, or they could be assembled for you. Joe went and bought a months’ worth, and we had those in the freezer, and those were wonderful, to be able to just go grab something and throw them in the oven for dinner, and not have to think about what I was going to make for dinner that night. And then we had a freezer meal shower, which was the best thing we could have done.

Joe: Yeah, so instead of getting random baby stuff, we asked everyone to bring a freezer meal that we could put in the freezer.

Mindy: Because they still brought cute outfits, like I got cute outfits and freezer meals. It was awesome.

Joe: It’s like a bonus.

Mindy: I know.

Joe: Double bonus.

Mindy: Cute little ruffled baby bums. Yeah. It was great.

Joe: And food we didn’t have to cook. Perfect.

Mindy: I don’t think I cooked until the girls were at least two months old.

Joe: Yeah, we had the whole freezer.

Mindy: It was awesome. Oh, I should mention too that Joe’s parents gave us an upright freezer for the garage for Christmas that year.

Joe: That’s right. So we used it, we filled it up.

Mindy: Was that before we found out we were having twins?

Joe: I don’t know. It worked out to our advantage.

Mindy: It totally did, what a blessing.

Joe: Right. So we’d gotten Mindy and the babies to 36 weeks. And I’ve shared this story with you before, listener, about the birth of our twins. And things worked out pretty well. They were born fine, they went home with Mindy and I from the hospital, and then all of a sudden we have four kids ages three and younger, which was our claim to fame, or claim to insanity, or however you wanna put that. However, we did find a lot joy in the journey in that first year, with twins. What are some of the things that we did to keep that positive spin on things?

Mindy: Well, I think the first thing was listening to all the advice that we got and not trying to be stubborn about doing it our way. We really took to heart all of the advice that we got through the pregnancy journey, and I feel like doing that really helped us have a very smooth first year. Another thing that helped was the fact that we had these two toddler boys, and they were trying to assert their independence all the time, and it was power struggles with mom all the time. So Joe and I found this book called ‘The Power of Positive Parenting’ that ended up being a life saver for us. It helped us learn how to focus on the positive things that our kids were doing, and reinforce that. And if you’ve read Joe’s books, this is a common thing that he says over and over again, you need to look for the positive things to encourage in your kids. And that really did eliminate a lot of the discipline that we were needing to instigate, and a lot of the power struggles. And I think that was part of what helped us have such a peaceful first year, is that we were looking for the positive. Not just in our kids’ behavior, but just in general, the positive. And I remember taking the kids, all four of them, to the grocery store and we were a circus. I trained my boys to hang on to the side of the cart, and I’d have one baby in the basket, and one baby in the top of the seat, or I’d be wearing one baby. And the boys just knew to stay on the side of the cart as we went through the grocery store, and I would just praise them for helping and staying close to me, and whatever it needed. And it was great because we never had any meltdowns at the grocery store, and everyone commented on how well-behaved my children were, which I think in any other alternative reality would have been just complete chaos. So looking for the positive really helped in just about every situation.

Joe: And we would focus on trying to get our kids to behave positively in public, because I guess there’s a limit where the kid is eventually going to stop performing as you expect.

Mindy: True.

Joe: And so we would focus our good vibes and good energy on the boys for errands to the store, or when we go to church, or other activities, and we’d save some of that crazy time for when we were at home. Because in the confines of your own home you don’t have to worry about other people, or embarrassment, or perhaps physical dangers that are outside of your home. So we let them be kids more at home, and kind of train them when we would be out and about to make life easier, especially when Mindy was with them alone running errands or doing other activities.

Mindy: I think one other thing that helped us find joy and ease in the first year with twins was accepting the realities of our situation, and the limitations that this stage of our life provided. But also recognizing that it was only just a season of our lives, it wasn’t going to be forever. When we brought the girls home, both of my boys were still napping, but between all four of my kids they all had different nap schedules. There was only literally one hour in the day, from 10 until 11, that I could get out and do anything, whether it was a play date, or errands, or grocery shopping. And I could have been very frustrated by how home-bound I was, but just accepting that that was what my life was going to be like, it was fine. I found other ways to cope, and I just knew that it wasn’t going to last forever. And pretty soon it didn’t, and it was just the girls that were napping. And then even sooner than I wanted everyone was done with naps, and were in a completely different season. So just recognizing that everything goes a lot faster than you think, and it’s not going to be forever will help you with that mindset.

Joe: Today’s challenge is temporary, tomorrow’s a new day.

Mindy: Yeah.

Joe: The next month will be different to this moth, because your kids are constantly growing, changing, forming new habits, and you’re trying to course-correct as you go along.

Mindy: When you get to those seasons where you’re like, “Man, this is awesome. I’ve got everything under control.” Enjoy it, because you know it’s gonna change.

Joe: So change is constant with children, and so you get into a routine that’s enjoyable.

Mindy: Yeah.

Joe: Because you’ve got to figure it out, you know when they’re sleeping, you know when they’re eating, you know when you can get out and do things. And so when those seasons come, it could be a few weeks that you’re in a good pattern like that, just enjoy it, the predictability of it.

Mindy: Yeah, it’s the calm before the storm.

Joe: That’s right, because it’ll change.

Mindy: It’ll change, but don’t jinx yourself by saying, “Oh, today was such a good day. Tomorrow’s probably going to be awful.” Because that’s not necessarily the case, still look for the positive.

Joe: That’s right, because as your kids go through different milestones, the routine is going to get thrown on its head. So they’re gonna teeth, or they’re gonna have growth spurts. Things are gonna change and you just have to adjust to that.

Mindy: Remember to praise yourself too, not just your kids. You are doing something that’s really, really hard, and you deserve credit for what you’re doing. I mean, you’re doing the best that you can with the information that you have, and you need to give yourself some slack for that.

Joe: That’s true, that’s true. Raising twins is not easy, for mom or for dad. And you have to figure out things as you go.

Mindy: And like we like to tell our kids, you can do hard things. You can too, we can all do hard things.

Joe: We can all do hard things, that’s right. And raising twins is hard. So if you’re in the parent of twins club, or about to be in the parent of twins club, you’re doing harder things than most people will ever do.

Mindy: But the good news is, is that it shows you that you can do hard things, and it kind of empowers you and makes you wanna do other hard things.

Joe: That’s right. So you’re like, “Hey. We had twins, we can do anything.”

Mindy: Yeah, like before the girls even had their first birthday I did a triathlon, and I don’t run, or bike, or swim.

Joe: Yeah, I did my own triathlon of let’s get the four kids to go see mom running the triathlon.

Mindy: That’s true, it was a feat. Also before the girls turned one Joe and I went on a bike ride for a date, and I wasn’t able to dismount my bike correctly, and I broke my wrist. So I had a cast, and I had these two babies that still needed sippy cups that I couldn’t screw the lids on for, or diaper changes…one handed diaper changes were not fun. I think I had the boys stand over the girls and hold their feet up in the air so I could wipe their bum with one hand. But we rolled with it, we knew we could do hard things.

Joe: So if twins weren’t hard enough, you’re like, “Let me tie one hand behind my back and still raise twins.” With a cast on, anyway.

Mindy: But I can do hard things.

Joe: You can do hard things, that’s right.

Mindy: So they’re empowering.

Joe: Twins are empowering, that’s right. So, okay. So our girls are seven now. So what’s hard about this age? Anything? Nothing?

Mindy: Hard? No. I think it gets incrementally easier the farther we get along in the journey.

Joe: Well they become more self-sufficient. They actually do things that you taught them how to do.

Mindy: Yeah.

Joe: They start to have stronger opinions on everything. And once you’re past the infant stage, you go from just like basic life support, feeding, sleeping, changing, clothing, to like, “Uh-oh, I have to be a parent and actually teach my kids principles, and character, and how to function in society, how to interact with each other.”

Mindy: It’s true.

Joe: I think it’s a bigger and more difficult responsibility.

Mindy: It is, but then at that point you’re not dealing with all of these immediate needs right in your face, like two screaming babies that both need diaper changes. You’re able to take more one-on-one time with each kid, and deal with the needs that they have. So when one of our daughters was more eager to read than the other one, we spent a lot of time learning how to read. And then the other one needed more one-on-one time to help with drawing, or playing dress ups, or whatever it was. So it’s still a pull on your time, but it’s not as intense as it is when they’re infants.

Joe: That’s true. The fire that you’re putting out is not as intense or immediate. Immediately urgent. We home-school our kids. Home-school gives us perspective into how our identical twin girls are very different individuals. So what are some things that we’ve learned teaching them that’s helped us teach them better as individuals?

Mindy: Well, I think one started way back when they were babies, and that was just to realize that they had their own timetable. So one girl would teeth first, then two weeks later the other one would cut teeth. Or one would start walking two months before the other one. And it wasn’t…the part that was tricky was realizing that they just had their own timetable, and just because they were born at the same time didn’t mean they needed to do everything else at the same time together. So I think realizing that they come to it at their own time and then their own way has helped particularly with their schooling, knowing that when they’re ready for things we’ll give it to them at that time.

Joe: It’s really hard as a parent of twins to not compare one to the other, and therefore try to force certain milestones on whichever twin is not in theory keeping up with the other one. And so it’s important that we remember that they are in different timetables even though you may have identical twins, or you may have fraternal twins, it’s important that you focus on their individual needs and progress, and then focus on their individual skills that you can develop. They’ll reach different milestone at different times, physical ones, or mental, academic progress, and that’s okay. That’s part of the joy of the twin journey, is that even if you have identical twins, they’re gonna be different.

Mindy: Absolutely.

Joe: So one of the things that I like to ask guests on the podcast is how do you keep your marriage strong through the twin pregnancy, with the newborns craziness, and as being a parent of twins? So I’d love to get your thoughts, honey, on why or how we’ve been able to keep our marriage strong despite those challenges.

Mindy: Well, I think the biggest challenge is that kids are a libido killer. So when our girls were infants, and we had our two toddler boys, we actually had to look at the calendar each week and schedule time for intimacy, because it wasn’t going to happen spontaneously. We were just both so exhausted all the time. But we knew that that wasn’t going to be forever either, and it just was going to keep us going through that season. So, that was one thing we did. Another thing we did was to make date nights a priority so that we could both get out of the house. You were always really good about giving me time out of the house if I needed some by myself, but it was always really nice when we could go out together. And so we would put the kids down to bed, and then we would have the babysitter come, and she would just do her school work, or read, or whatever while we went out. And it was really easy for her, and it was great because we could leave.

Joe: That’s right. Even if it was for just a couple of hours, it was easier to transition having a babysitter when the kids were already asleep, whereas now the kids are old enough where the babysitter comes over before they’re asleep, and we get longer dates. In the early days with twins we’d take what we could get.

Mindy: Yeah, indeed. Another thing that we agreed early on was that we weren’t going to nit-pick and get all over each other for little things. We knew that we were going to be tired, and we knew that it was going to be a stressful time caring for our family. And so if one of us, me, ever said anything unkind, then the other, Joe, would say, “We’re not going to talk about that right now, we’ll talk about it when we’re in a better place, or when we’ve had some more sleep.” Or whatever it was. So that kept arguments from escalating, and feelings from getting hurt, and probably having said things, or kept us from saying things that would’ve damaged our relationship.

Joe: That’s true. So you just have to be conscious of the fact that you are tired, you are sleep deprived, and how you or your spouse is acting is different than normal. And you just have to call that out and maybe postpone more difficult conversations to a better time to help avoid conflict.

Mindy: Yeah. And we talked a little bit about there being a season for everything, and raising children is definitely a season. You have to nurture your relationship with your spouse, because when your kids are all raised and gone your spouse is who’s gonna be with you for the rest of your living days. So it makes sense that you would want to preserve that relationship that’s gonna be more lasting than just 18 to 20 years.

Joe: That’s true. Yeah, we were together before the kids got here, and we’ll be here after the kids are gone, off to school, or their own families, etc. So you have to keep that relationship strong.

Mindy: Another thing was to find a new hobby that we could enjoy together. This wasn’t when the girls were babies, but when they were toddlers.

Joe: So one of the hobbies that we started was gardening together in the back yard, which my wife had done a little bit, and I was slow to get on the bandwagon. But eventually we started working on that together, and it was fun to work side by side, and see the literal fruits of our labors in the garden. So if you’re taking away anything about this, how to keep your marriage strong, it is be proactive in how you’re going to manage your relationship with your spouse, and don’t take things too personally, especially in the first year or so of twins. And then make a conscious effort to do things to help strengthen your relationship. Spending time together, and making time for that, making that a priority despite the day-to-day challenges of raising your kids.

Mindy: There’s nothing that quite says, “I love you” like knowing that I’m at the top of Joe’s priority list.

Joe: Sweetheart?

Mindy: Yes love?

Joe: Anything, any more parting advice?

Mindy: Just know how much we cheer you on. You guys are awesome. You’re doing it. We’re so happy that we can offer any advice and help, and hope that you find something helpful that will make your journey a little easier and joyful.

Joe: So true, so true. I get many emails from you, listeners, that I share with my wife. So she’s really familiar with great milestones, and celebrations, and sometimes the heartaches that you guys have. And so we do cheer you on, and we hope you guys have a wonderful twin journey wherever you may be on that right now, and whatever may come in the future.

Mindy: Absolutely. Keep sharing your stories with us.

Joe: All right. Once again, I want to thank my beautiful wife for joining me on the podcast today. I hope you were able to take away a few nuggets of wisdom from our conversation that you can apply to your family, and your marriage with your spouse as you’re along your twin journey and overcoming the challenges that you face.

Now before we go, I wanted to share a snippet I recorded with my girls, I asked them the question, “What makes you so different as twins?” And this was their response.

My oldest daughter: We get to be identical sometimes.

Joe: What about the rest of the time? You’re not identical?

My youngest daughter: My sister has earrings, and I do not.

My oldest daughter: My sister has tonsils taken out. She has tonsils taken out and I still have my tonsils in.

My youngest daughter: Bye!

My oldest daughter: See you later!

My youngest daughter: Yeah!

Joe: Well thanks again guys for listening to the 100th episode of the Dad’s Guide to Twins podcast. I look forward to many more episodes with you.

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Further Reading

Dad's Guide to Raising Twins book
Don't forget to pick up a copy of the definitive guide to raising twins. "Dad's Guide to Raising Twins" was written for fathers of twins to help guide you through the first several years with twins. Click here to learn more about the book and get your copy.

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