Episode 122 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes
In this episode we continue our Father of Twins Interview Series with twin dad Thomas Cohen. Listen as we discuss his twin journey, including:
- What happens when you get laid off from your job when the twins are born
- Dealing with the emotions of finding out about having twins
- Overcoming worries of providing for twins
- How previous miscarriages impacted stress and worries during the twin pregnancy
- How a full term twin pregnancy resulted in a smooth delivery
- Looking for a new job vs. staying home with the twins
- Lifestyle and budget adjustments to let one parent stay at home
- How having family help made huge difference in the transition to parenting twins
- Cosleeping with twins (pros and cons)
- The few pieces of baby gear that made life easier with twins
- Babywearing twins around the house
- Why things got easier at 7 months
- When one twin starts walking before the other
- Flying with infant twins (when mobile and not)
- Maintaining your marriage when you and your spouse always have a baby with you
This is Joe Rawlinson. As always you can find me on the web at: twindadpodcast.com , where you can find all the twin dad podcast episodes with show notes and transcripts. Today’s show is brought to you by my first book called Dad’s Guide to Twins and you can check out that book at twindadbook.com.
Today we are continuing our father of twins interview series with fellow twin dad Thomas Cohen, who shares his twin journey with us. So lets jump right into that interview with Thomas.
Joe: Welcome Thomas.
Thomas: Hi, How are you doing?.
Joe: Wonderful, thanks for being with us today.
Thomas: I’m glad to be here.
Joe: Can you share with our listeners a quick snapshot of your family and we will rewind the clock and talk about your twin journey; where it all started.
Thomas: Ok, yes. I’m a married father of twins, two girls; they will be one year tomorrow.
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Joe: Excellent. What was your family situation like when you found out you were having your twins?
Thomas: I was working for a major entertainment company and me and my wife were both working when we found out we were pregnant. I at the time was unfortunately laid off and from there we made the decision for me to become a stay at home dad.
Joe: Nice. So from the time you found out you were having twins till now you have been home, on the home front- is that true?
Thomas: Yes, well when they were born, about three weeks in is when I officially became a stay at home dad.
Joe: What were your thoughts and reactions when you found out you were expecting twins?
Thomas: (laughs) It was a roller coaster of emotions. I was very excited, happy, and also scared and in light of the news that I was going to be let go I was sad in a way. I was worried about how I would provide them, how to take care of them. But both me and my wife stayed strong and stayed positive and just looked forward to welcoming our twin girls into the world.
Joe: What were some of the biggest concerns that ya’ll had during the twin pregnancy?
Thomas: Before we even were pregnant we battled through two miscarriages which were really tough over the years before we became pregnant. During the pregnancy there was a lot of nervousness, a lot of stress, a ton of doctors visits and just making sure she was comfortable. I was doing a ton of research on how to take care of kids. I read the book that you wrote. It was just a great experience looking back, but also a scary one as well.
Joe: Because you’re going into the unknown. You ask yourself What is this going to be like for me and my family
Joe: Did mom or babies have any health issues during the pregnancy?
Thomas: No, we were really blessed. We knew they were both breeched, upright and not head downs; so we knew we would have to do a C-section. But we were in and out of the hospital in two days, they did not need to go to NICU, we were very blessed they were extremely healthy. Just being out of the hospital after a C-Section and being up on your feet is just pretty unheard of. Which was great, we were just so happy that they were so healthy and we could take them home so early.
Joe: Oh, absolutely that is a quick turnaround time for a C section. How far into the pregnancy did you make it before the girls were born?
Thomas: They were 37 weeks and 2 days, is when they were born.
Joe: That’s great.
Thomas: Yes, as for twins, as you know; that was full term as far as the doctors were concerned, so they were ready to come out.
Joe: “Are your girls identical, fraternal or do you know?
Thomas: They are fraternal. One, Zara the oldest by 2 minutes she is about three inches taller, well maybe not 3 inches; 2 inches taller than the smaller one Amari. There is definitely a size difference between the two.
Joe: My girls have a size difference as well, which to us as parents where subtle enough but to strangers they didn’t seem to have a clue how to tell them apart. So you got home with your girls pretty fast, what surprised you the most after being home with them as far as establishing a routine with them?
Thomas: I think what was the most hardest was I put more stress and pressure on myself then what was actually needed. Once they got home I fell into a routine, they slept they ate, changing diapers. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. Especially expecting twins, I just thought that things would be extremely hectic and crazy and that I would not know what to do. I didn’t know everything but there were some aspects that came naturally to me and I was pretty surprised by that.
Joe: Where you breast feeding babies, bottle feeding babies, how did that work?
Thomas: Yes, so we breastfed. Amari our youngest is still breastfeeding but Zara did not take to it, so we had to pump and give it to her in a bottle. So she was taking breast milk but does not breast-feed. Which is funny because our youngest does breastfeed but she will not take a pacifier, but our oldest that does not breast feed does take a pacifier.
Joe: We ended up bottle feeding our girls because breast feeding does not work with them. But as a Dad I enjoyed that because I could participate in the feeding, I enjoyed that.
Joe: Which I would not have been able to do if my wife was breast feeding exclusively.
Joe: You brought up that after 3 weeks of the girls being home you made the decision to be a stay at home Dad. Can you talk about how you and your wife talked about and finally got down to making that decision?
Thomas: At the time we knew I was coming home we talked about our finances, if I was even comfortable doing it, would I need help? And you know, I was fairly confident that I would be able to take care of both of them on my own. In terms of me deciding to stay home as a Dad; to be able to provide for my family I had this urge, this need to get out there and find a job quickly. But at the end of the day I knew I did not want to rush back into a job that I would hate ,and be away from my two girls. It would be more beneficial for me to stay, and my wife; which I am thankful for made the tough decision to go back to work. It’s worked out wonderfully and she is a school nurse so she is home during the summer now. We are both home now with our girls over the summer.
Joe: When going down from two incomes to one, how were you able to adjust your budget and lifestyles to accommodate that, to make it work?
Thomas: Yeah, drastic changes. Going out it’s hard to go out with twins anyways, so that was not an issue. In terms of food: not eating out as much, cooking a lot more; just being more concise budget wise, and it has been tough. You know we had to use savings. What was good when we found out we were expecting twins, the financial light bulb went off in my head and I was like we need to save, save save! Not only, just because we were expecting one but were expecting two. That really definitely helped as well so with our savings and family kicking in with: diapers, bottles and clothing as needed we have been able to make it to this point.
Joe: That’s great. It sounds like you had some good prudent planning and savings when you had that available and have been frugal and practical in your expenses to make it work.
Joe: That’s kind of better, we have heard of parents of twins with some creativity, you can make it work which is exactly what you have seen now. Did you have any family or friends stay with you when you first brought the babies home or was it just you and your wife?
Thomas: For the first during the first three weeks the babies were home, my wife’s mother stayed with us during the week and went home on the weekends. That was my transition week, as I knew I was coming home more to be full time. I didn’t feel as comfortable early on as I did three weeks later with experience; that definitely helped out. And then I think at the one-month mark, my Mother flew in to help out as well for when she had some vacation time. We were just really, really thankful that we had family that was willing and ready to jump in and lend a helping hand
Joe: Yes, that really does make all the difference, when it is not just you and your spouse but also have an extra couple of different helping pairs of hands, with infants. What were the sleeping arraignments when you brought the twins home? Were they in their own room or were they in the room with you?
Thomas: They were in our room with us, early on they were in a co sleeper next to the bed, which was only built for one baby so quickly a few weeks later they sort of out grew it. Then we just had one baby in the co sleeper next to the bed next to my wife and the other slept right in the middle of us. Then eventually, now we are co sleeping. We are all on a queen bed, at the moment (laughs). We are going to transition them into their own beds over the summer, they are going to be one this summer. We hope they will take to their own beds, it’s been sort of rough sleeping on the edge of the bed and waking up in the middle of the night with them.
Joe: Was that the plan to co-sleep with them, or did it just kind of happen that way?
Thomas: Yah, In the beginning, I don’t think we planned on it happening for a whole year, but we became so attached and they became so used to it; we just sort of woke up and it’s a year later and they are still sleeping with us. But now we are definitely trying to get them in their own rooms, we don’t want to wake up and them being five years old and still sleeping with us (laughs). I’ve already lowered the crib beds for them so we are going to work on this transition in the next few months.
Joe: So now that your girls are approaching one, what are some pieces of baby gear that have made your lives easier with the girls
Thomas: Our number one thing was the baby monitor, we didn’t have during the first month so I would constantly be in the room with them, watching over them and that was really, really tiring. But once we got the monitor I was able to leave the room and watch from a distance and not have to worry about waking them up if I was in the room and made a noise. That was a lifesaver it pretty much gave us the freedom to move about the house. And then as they got older we did have a Jumparoo to keep them busy and a walker. We also had a carrier to carry them around the house to be used as babywear; wear them around the house to keep our hands free, not having to hold them. Those are some key items that definitely got us through the tough parts.
Joe: Right. Would you babywear both or would you wear one and your wife wear the other?
Thomas: At times I tried to babywear both but it was usually I would have one and my wife would have the other. Or I would wear one and hold the other until one fell asleep and I was able to lay them down.
Joe: So basically what was the certain milestone where things started to get easier for caring for your twins?
Thomas: I would say around 7 months because at that time they were able to sit up, they started eating solid food; purees, so it definitely got a bit easier as they got a little more sturdy. You could sit them down, they could sit in their chairs; that was the turning point. And now one is walking and the other is cruising. It sort of went in a roller coaster, with them running around we have to chase them around the house now. When they would just sit there and play that was pretty easy but now we are running around with them!
Joe: That’s right, once they start being mobile there is like no stopping them.
Joe: So you said one of your girls are walking and the other is crawling around?
Thomas:Well yah one is walking and the other is cruising around, she pulls up on the edge of the couch and she can walk as long as she is holding onto something. But one is totally self sufficient and walking.
Joe: What have you observed in their reactions with one another with one walking and the other not quite there yet?
Thomas:She crawls as fast as she can but she always wants to be were the other is. What I do see is that they are able to notice each other and they like to play together. But if one wakes up before the other they will play by themselves but once the other wakes up and you bring them together in the room they are laughing and smiling at each other, which is a great feeling and a great sight to see.
Joe: Yah I love that too, I love to see my girls interact with each other, even now they play all day even when they are supposed to be sleeping they play. Have you all been able to travel with your twins or take any type of vacation at all with your twins?
Thomas: Yes, we have been to Charleston South Carolina that was our first trip down to visit my sister and my parents , so that was their first flight, that was about four months ago. So now we are leaving again this Friday to celebrate they’re one-year birthday as well as with my parents so that will be a second trip. The first trip they weren’t as mobile and I don’t think they like to sit still now so it is going to be an interesting flight, we will see how it goes. Our first flight was amazing they sat there, they went to sleep they were quiet basically the whole two hour flight and we landed and not a peep. But now I’m a little nervous.
Did you have them on your laps for that first flight?.
Thomas: Yes they were on our laps for the first flight and they will be on our laps for this flight as well.
Joe: Yah I understand the more mobile they are the harder it is to contain them. They always seem to get the wiggles when the seat belt sign is on or you are landing or taking off and you are suppose to be totally still. That’s when they want to run around the whole plane.
Joe: So if you could share one piece of advice to your fellow twin dads about keeping your marriage strong with your spouse through the pregnancy and through the first year with twins what would you say to other twin dads?
Thomas: You know, I know its cliché but communication is really the key. Talk about any issues you are having, any concerns and just know that everyone is tired; try to be there as much as you can, and offer to help as much as you can. And take charge in certain aspects, it will definitely ease whatever tension you know, if you are a couple that you have between one another. It is a stressful time especially dealing with two, you really don’t get any time to yourself so; someone always has a baby, you are outnumbered essentially so that would be my two cents on getting through it.
Joe: Sounds like some good solid advice. Open communication with your spouse and acknowledging the realities of what you are dealing with.
Joe: So tell us you are working on a project here, I’m sure that listeners would love to hear about it, can you tell us a little more about it?
Thomas: I am founding a subscription box business called Ba Ba Hero Ba Ba is for the babies first utterances is Ba Ba. The hero is for the dads that want to be more active and engaged with their children. It’s going to be from age newborn to three years of age. For new dads as well there will always be one gift for you, four to six items in each box . I came about the idea when I was a stay at home dad, I was searching the Internet to see if there was anything that I could use just for me. I came across a lot of survival type ideas; but for me I don’t want to make fatherhood seem like something you have to survive. My motto is to embrace fatherhood, if you take the mindset of needing to survive fatherhood you will always be stressed. If you embrace fatherhood and take it for what it is, the products and services I provide will help you become more active and engaged and to interact with your child and appreciate and embrace fatherhood. That is what I am aiming to do with the subscription boxes that I provide.
Joe: That sounds like a good mantra; to embrace and enjoy the journey of fatherhood. So if listeners want to get ahold of you or want to learn more about your service what is the best way to get in touch?
Thomas: The best way to get in touch is to visit babahero.com and enter your email address. You will receive an email from us from time to time. If you have instagram: BaBaHeroBox as well as twitter; those are the avenues that you can reach me at.
Joe: Excellent and I will include links to those in the show notes over at twindadpodcast.com. Thanks again Thomas for sharing your journey with us, we really appreciate your time.
Thomas: Thank you so much.
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Original photo by Donnie Ray Jones