Episode 126 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes
We continue our father of twins interview series with Dakota Hubbard, father of identical twin boys.
Listen as we explore his twin journey, including:
- How to plan a division responsibilities with your spouse for when the twins are born
- What happens when your plan meets the reality of newborn twins
- Dealing with bed rest for the last 2 months of the pregnancy
- When twins’ arrival doesn’t go according to plan
- The results of one twin interfering with the birth of the other
- Why they could only breastfeed the twins for a week
- Balancing work and caring for newborns
- Choosing between staying at home with the kids and returning to full-time work
- Why they chose to separate their twins in school
- Why traveling was so much easier before the twins turned 2
- A simple trick they used to make it easier to travel with young twins
- The unique way they used to get twin boys to potty train
- How they have fostered individuality in their twins
- Helping their daughter go from being an only child to the oldest of three
- How sibling relationships evolve as the kids get older
- A daily habit that helped keep things moving in the household
Joe: Hey there and welcome to the 126th episode of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast. This is Joe Rawlinson. As always, you can find me on the web at twindadpodcast.com where you’ll find much more information about having and raising twins, along with the show notes and transcript for this podcast episode and all previous podcast episodes. Once again, that’s twindadpodcast.com.
Today’s show is brought to you by twintshirtcompany.com, where you’ll find dozens of t-shirts designed specifically for parents with twins like yourself. We’ve got t-shirts for fathers, mothers, grandparents. Pretty much the whole family is covered. You’ll find unique and hilarious designed t-shirts which thousands of twin parents like yourself have enjoyed over at twintshirtcompany.com.
Today we continue our father of twins interview series with fellow father of twins, Dakota Hubbard. Let’s jump right into that interview. Today I’d like to welcome to the show, Dakota Hubbard. Welcome to the show.
Dakota: Hey, thanks for having me.
Joe: Can you give our listeners just a quick snapshot of your family right now and then we’ll rewind the clock and jump into your history?
Dakota: I’m a stay-at-home dad. My wife’s military. I have a 8-year-old daughter, my 7-year-old nephew and 4-year-old twin boys.
Joe: Excellent. Let’s go back in time to when you found out that you were having your twins. Tell us about that experience and some of the things that you were feeling and thinking.
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Dakota: Well, first off my wife swore she knew something was up before any blood work was done or any ultrasounds or anything. I took it with a grain of salt until we got into the first ultrasound. When they said there were 2 little globs on the screen, I went through basically the whole range of emotions. At first I was excited and I was calling everybody, I was letting my mom know all that.
Then as we were leaving the hospital and walking back to our vehicle, it kind of starts to sit in, the whole, “Oh crap, what am I going to do with 2 of them?” I kind of shut down emotionally for 2 or 3 days there. All of my responses were like 1 word answers. I guess after that original outburst, I didn’t take it too well for a few days.
Joe: Yeah, I hear you. That’s a pretty natural response. I know I felt very similar. Was there something that you did to pull yourself out of that or was it just time helped?
Dakota: Time, a lot of thought. Really I distracted myself with planning. I figured that was the best thing I could do. I wasn’t carrying the kids, so really the best thing I could do was just plan for when they got here.
Joe: What are some things that you were able to plan that really served you well later in the pregnancy and when they arrived?
Dakota: Well, originally it was start piling diapers because I couldn’t even count how many thousands of diapers we actually went through, but I’m very glad we started piling them early on. A big thing that helped right about the time they arrived is me and my wife we figured out I guess kind of like an attack plan.
Like I said she’s military so she was used to waking up very early in the mornings. I’m nocturnal, so I was used to going to bed really late at night, so we devised a plan to just kind of split the difference. I would basically take the kids the first half of the night since I was going to be up most of it anyways and she would take care of them the second half of the night. That was probably our biggest planning accomplishment of the entire first year of their life.
Joe: Did that plan actually work when the babies arrived?
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Dakota: It actually worked admirably. We kind of winged the exact hand-off time for the first couple of weeks till we figured out the twins’ cycles and when they woke up, when they wanted to be fed, things like that. We wound up settling on about 2:30 in the morning. I had to go in there. I’d basically go in the bedroom and go to sleep and when the kids woke up in the middle of the night, I guess she would look over and see I was down and she would know it’s her turn.
Joe: Yeah, that’s a good schedule. I think the fact that you planned and agreed beforehand I’m sure that made things go a lot more smoothly than if you had done it ad hoc or day by day basis.
Dakota: Neither one of us ever actually got a full night of sleep, but some sleep wound up being better than none at all.
Joe: That’s true. Was the pregnancy smooth or were there any complications?
Dakota: It was relatively smooth, just the basic morning sickness, 1am Taco Bell runs, things like that. The only I guess somewhat issue my wife had is that [inaudible 00:05:15] wound up being pretty big for twins. They were born right at 36 weeks and each twin was 5.5 pounds. Carrying around 11 pounds of baby and everything that came with that, my wife wound up on bed rest for the last 2 or 3 months, just too much weight to carry around.
Joe: How did that work out with her, with her job and your family situation?
Dakota: Being military, she got put on bed rest. Basically she would have to call in once a day and tell them, “Hey look, I’m still alive.” On her side, it was pretty easy. Shortly after we found out we were having twins, I figured I needed to get out of the house to try to make some more money.
I was doing real estate at the time. It came with a very flexible schedule. It’s one of the reasons why I went that route. If she had any issues at home, she could just give me a call and 9 times out of 10 I could just jump right over and assist her with whatever she needed.
(RELATED: Don't reinvent the twin parenting wheel. Get my 7 Things Every Dad of Twins Needs to Know.)
Joe: Did you have the other 2 kids in the home at the time?
Dakota: I only had my oldest, my daughter. She was 4 at the time. She was just starting pre-K so that helped some during the day too. The timing all around worked out pretty well for us.
Joe: Tell me about the birth of your boys. Was that a scheduled delivery or did they just decide to arrive at 36 weeks? How did that go?
Dakota: It was scheduled. It didn’t go as planned, but it was scheduled. The night before her water broke, so we were like okay. We hop in the car, go to the hospital. The twin that was on the bottom was actually turned the right way and presented the right way, so the doctor was going to let her deliver naturally.
Twins being twins, when it was time to go, one of them, the one that was on top decided to stick his foot in the way. It wound up turning into an emergency C-section. It was planned, but it didn’t go as planned.
Joe: You were there for the C-section?
Joe: Did your babies get whisked away or did you get to spend some time with them there in the operating room?
Dakota: Yeah, they actually rolled in 2 of the little I guess little baby beds into the delivery room. Yeah, they were in there I don’t know, 15 minutes before they got taken out and cleaned up and all that. It was pretty smooth. The first one they pulled out took about 30 to 45 seconds before he decided that he wanted to start breathing on his own, which was a little freaky. Other than that, they came out 45 seconds apart so there wasn’t a lot of time to do a lot of thinking at all.
Joe: Yeah, that is pretty quick. Our girls were about 2 minutes apart which is just enough time to catch my breath before the next one. It sounds like there weren’t any complications at birth. Were they able to go home shortly thereafter?
Dakota: Yeah, they had to stay about an extra 12 hours. One of them couldn’t quite keep his blood sugar quite where they wanted it, where the doctors wanted it. The other one, his body temperature was like a degree lower than they wanted it. They each had to stay about another 12 hours, but I guess it wasn’t really an emergency or anything of that nature.
Joe: When you bring the babies home, you already talked about kind of the schedule and the routine you had at night caring for them. Does that mean that you were bottle feeding the babies?
Dakota: My wife tried breastfeeding and then pumping and storing, but I guess supply couldn’t keep up with demand. We had to go to bottle feeding relatively soon after we got home, like inside the first week we had to move to bottle feeding.
Joe: Yeah, that’s the similar path that we took. We tried breastfeeding and it just didn’t end up working out. I guess one advantage is that enabled me to participate and it sounds like you as well in actually feeding the babies, particularly at night when mom was resting. Were you still working real estate after the babies were born and how much time did you get off after the birth?
Dakota: It’s about the same as a contractor job. You kind of got to choose your own hours. I actually spent a decent amount of time away from it. I mean, I still had houses to sell and things like that, but I tried to spend as much time at home as I could.
Then at some point, I just had to make the decision that I either had to choose staying at home with the kids or continuing real estate and putting them in daycare. My wife was basically the primary earner at that point, so I decided that what I was making wasn’t that much more than I would have paid for a daycare to justify it.
Joe: Yeah, that makes the decision a little bit easier, when the cost of the daycare approximates what you’re making.
Joe: It’s much easier to make this decision to stay at home. You’ve been home with them since then, since they were infants?
Dakota: Yes, about 7, 8 months old, from about that time. I tried the real estate first and then I just made the decision I’d rather spend more time at home.
Joe: Now are they all in school?
Dakota: They are. Luckily where I’m at now, actually the school system here has pre-K for 3-year-olds. They were actually able to start last year, so this is their second year in school.
Joe: What have been some of the challenges you’ve seen with your twins in school?
Dakota: They’ve always been very, what’s the nice way to put it, aggressive with each other. They like to fight and wrestle and things like that, so we decided to separate them more for the sake of the teachers than for their sake. Even then, when their classes wound up together on the playground, they would get together and fight and bring other kids into it and things like that. Once the teachers learned that during school time is probably not a great time to be around your twin, they actually did really well.
Joe: That’s good. It is interesting to see how your kids’ behavior at home translates into school or other public environments. Our girls are separated in classes too. Have you guys been able to travel with the twins, with the whole family?
Dakota: Yes. I’ll say it was a lot easier before they turned 2. Like I said, I’m at Fort Hood, Texas. My family is only about 3 hours away. My wife is from Northern California so that’s about 26 hour drive, so we didn’t really drive until they turned 2, I think it was 2 and we had to start buying them their own airplane seats, then it became a little more cost effective to make the drive.
Joe: Yeah, I hear you. We’ve had the same experience, yeah. In retrospect, I wish we had traveled more before they were 2 because it was cheaper in that regard.
Dakota: You can all sit in 1 row on the airplane and you can pass them around. It’s actually not as bad as you would think flying with twins. It works out.
Joe: What are some things that you found to be helpful when you are flying or traveling in general with your kids?
Dakota: Skipping a nap beforehand doesn’t hurt because once they get on that flight, in my experience, the longer you can keep them sleeping the better because they’re kids. They want to squirm and kind of move, have a little bit of freedom of movement that airplanes normally don’t give you.
Joe: Yeah, that’s true. The more they can sleep, the better. Yeah, we try to time our flights or travel kind of to use that to our advantage too, their traditional nap times. Let’s rewind the clock a little bit, back to when you were potty training your boys. What are some things that you found helpful in that adventure?
Dakota: At first, nothing seemed to want to work. They just basically refused, so I had decided to try to make it I guess more entertaining, more fun. My wife likes collecting yard gnomes, little concrete animals and they thought it was the best thing ever to go outside and use those to assist their potty training. It was great until we tried to make the transition to come inside, use a regular potty and there was definitely some resistance to that. We’re a lot better with that now.
Joe: You were training them both simultaneously it sounds like.
Dakota: Just give each one a different little yard statue and they would just run over and do their business and laugh the whole time and it worked. The downside of that is they I guess got used to doing it together so even now with them being 4, I often have to say, “Hey, only 1 in the bathroom at a time.” We’re still working on trying to, “You don’t have to do everything together.”
Joe: Now that your boys are 4, what’s one of the favorite things about this age?
Dakota: They’re really starting to differentiate their personalities. One of them is really outgoing, likes to talk to everybody and make friends, go play with their friends. The other one is a little more antisocial. He would rather just sit at home, peace and quiet, do his own thing. The past 6 months to a year, the difference has really begun to show between them.
Joe: Yeah, that’s fun to see their individual personalities and habits and quirks kind of come out distinct they actually are. Are your boys identical twins?
Dakota: They are, yes.
Joe: Yeah, our girls are identical but everything is different about them besides their physical appearance.
Dakota: Sometimes as parents it’s hard. They’ve done everything together for so long, it can be hard as parents to I guess treat them separately. They have different interests now, different things they want to do. It was a little difficult for me because they’ve always done everything together. It was relatively much easier when they did everything together. That’s something I’ve had to recently adjust to.
Joe: What adjustments have you made to accommodate them each individually?
Dakota: My wife and I, we try to do basically one-on-one time. We have an even number of kids, so we’re able to divide it pretty equally. Instead of keeping them all together and doing things as a group, we’re trying to help them establish their own identities.
One of the twins will go with me. The other will go with my wife and we’ll go different directions and do things that they want to do. We’re trying to nurture that individuality, but it’s much more time consuming.
Joe: Yes, it is time consuming. You’re right. We’ve had some success with that as well when we spend individual time with each of them. It does help foster their unique hobbies or interests without always grouping them together. Your daughter was 3 or 4 when your twins were born?
Dakota: She was 4 when they were born.
Joe: What are some things that you did to help her adjust to life with twins in the house?
Dakota: First of all, we tried really hard to make time for her. She went from being the only child to being the oldest of 3. That was as much a shock to her system as it was to us, so we made a point of making time to do what she wanted to do. She wanted to do dance lessons, so we made time to do that. We wanted to make her feel that she’s still an important part of the family dynamic.
She did baseball and soccer. She’s a bit of a tomboy, but I think I coached both her baseball and her soccer teams. Definitely made sure to make time for her and then when we did need to focus on the twins, we tried to include her.
She was still pretty young at the time, so it would be, “Hey, go take this diaper to the trash for me. Thanks for your help. Hey, can you go grab me the baby wipes?” Things like that, making her feel like she was a part of the team helping us out with the twins.
Joe: How has her relationship evolved with the boys?
Dakota: One of them idolizes her. She’s very outgoing and our twin that’s very outgoing just she’s like his best friend. The other one, not so much. He would rather antagonize her and do the brotherly things like that. I guess it had a different effect on each of them.
Joe: Yeah, that’s something we’ve seen evolve with our kids. We’ve got 2 older boys that are much older than our girls and interesting to see how they play off each other. One of them drives each other crazy and others they play together nicely. That’s evolved over the years.
Dakota: Right, they tend to pair off into groups and then go at one another.
Joe: As you look back on your twin journey here, what’s a piece of advice you’d give to your fellow fathers of twins in helping to keep their relationship with their spouse healthy and strong?
Dakota: Basically do as much as you can. I mean, if there’s anything that needs to be done, just … It’s a hard habit to develop, but just get up and do it. I mean, if it’s with the twins, if it’s doing the dishes, try to keep active because once you sit down that exhaustion is going to kick in and you’re not going to want to get back up.
Joe: That’s so true. Yeah, once you stop moving, you fall asleep is how it works.
Dakota: Yeah, pretty much. I will say that maternal instinct is definitely a thing and it’s something that is very difficult fathers to not just relate to, but mothers just know. When you’re the dad, you still kind of have to figure it out sometimes, got to kind of stick with it. Eventually you’ll know what crying means what. It doesn’t come as naturally to the fathers I don’t think.
Joe: As long as we keep at it, we observe what’s working, what’s not working, we can learn a little bit from our spouse as well.
Joe: Dakota, as we wrap up today, if listeners want to connect with you what’s the best way to get in touch?
Dakota: I’m on Facebook. If you search Dakota Hubbard, Fort Hood, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one.
Joe: Dakota, thank you so much for sharing your story with us today. We appreciate it.
Dakota: All right, cheers. Thanks.
Joe: I hope you enjoyed that interview with Dakota. Once again, you’ll find the complete transcript of today’s interview over at twindadpodcast.com. Today’s show was brought to you by twintshirtcompany.com, where you’ll find dozens of creative and unique t-shirts for fathers, mothers and grandparents of twins, twintshirtcompany.com. Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you next time.
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