Episode 134 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes
We continue our father of twins interview series with Josh Wise, father of twin boys.
Listen as we explore his twin journey, including:
- Dealing with one twin in the NICU and the other at home
- Chronic lung disease in one twin
- Extremely long NICU stay (6+ months)
- Bringing home one twin on oxygen
- Finding out you’re having twins at 20 weeks then having them 8 weeks later
- Switching from planning for a natural delivery to a c-section
- Discovering TTTS during the pregnancy
- When ultrasounds uncover one twin isn’t doing well
- Having twins before the baby shower
- When twins come so early you didn’t have time to get anything ready
- Dealing with dad’s nerves during delivery
- That moment when doctors tell you one twin might not make it
- Not getting to hold your babies right after their birth
- The long ten minutes where they didn’t know if their twins were OK
- Dad’s initial reaction to how small preemie babies are
- Staying near hospital while twins were in NICU
- Difficulty of leaving one twin in the NICU when the other comes home
- Milestones a baby must reach before coming home from the NICU
- Realizing your baby can come home but with health assisting machines
- Concerns when one twin requires a lot of attention
- Paying for six months in the NICU and night nurses
You can email Josh here.
Or reach out on Twitter @wiser91
Joe: Hi there, welcome to the 134th episode of The Dad’s Guide To Twins podcast. This is Joe Rawlinson. 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. As you may know, I’ve written two books for fathers of twins. Today’s show is brought to you by my second book for dads. It’s called, Dad’s Guide To Raising Twins: How To Thrive As A Father Of Twins. You can learn more about that book at RaisingTwinsBook.com
Today we are continuing our father of twins interview series with fellow twin dad, Josh Wise, who shares his incredible story of his twin journey so far, and it’s just getting started. Let’s jump right into that interview. Today I’d like to welcome to the show Josh Wise, father of twins boys. Welcome to the show, Josh.
Josh: Thanks, Joe.
Joe: Josh, tell us how old your boys are now and what’s the best part about where you are right now in the twin journey?
Josh: Our boys are currently 6 months. The journey’s been a roller coaster so far. We have one twin home with us right now, we have another twin in the hospital. The twin that’s in the hospital should be coming home next month sometime, around February. He’ll be coming home with a trach tube to help him breathe. He was diagnosed as chronic lung disease. His lungs weren’t fully developed so they had to put in a trach tube and he’s adjusting to that well. Hopefully he’ll be home within the next month or so. He also does have a G tube that we can help feed him through that has been put in place as well, and we’ll use that to supplement his feedings. We’ll use that so that whatever he doesn’t take by mouth we can supplement through the tube.
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Joe: Your one son’s been in the hospital for the entire 6 months and your other son spent some time there as well before he came home? Is that correct?
Josh: Yes. Our other son, Corbin, he’s the one that’s home now, he spent 3 months in the hospital. They were both born at 28 weeks, so they were born pretty early. They had they typical stay in the NICU, growing and stuff like that. Corbin was on the oxygen for a little bit. He came home on the oxygen. He was on the oxygen for maybe a month and then we weened him off of that. He’s no longer on the oxygen. He’s doing well. He has no issues. But like I said, Caden, he does have the trach tube and he will be coming home with some nurses and stuff like that.
Joe: Your boys were born really early. Tell us about that experience and how you found out it was time to go to the hospital so early in the pregnancy.
Josh: We actually didn’t find out my wife was pregnant with twins until around 20 weeks. When we went to find out the gender of the baby we found out that obviously while they were doing the ultrasound we found out that there were two. Once we found out there were two we waited to weeks and then we transferred to a different facility because we were originally going to do a natural birth to a place called The Birth Cottage where they practice natural births, they do midwives, they don’t do any kind of drugs or anything like that, or any medicine to help you with the pregnancy. They just do it all natural. They do not practice delivering twins so they recommended that we go see a practice, so we did.
Fast forward from two weeks, we did another ultrasound. They said everything was good. They told us to wait another few weeks, six weeks or so. We did another ultrasound, they saw that the babies were growing, but one baby was significantly larger than the other so then they decided that it was a high-risk pregnancy, or higher risk than normal because twin pregnancies are always typically high risk. It was higher risk than normal so they had us come back another two weeks later and they found out that my wife had twin to twin transfusion.
We had to wait a couple days then we could go see a specialist. The specialist said Caden, the one that is still in the hospital, he wasn’t doing his practice breathing, he wasn’t moving as much as he should be, so they said, “You guys need to get to the hospital and prepare for delivery.” We went to the hospital. They monitored my wife overnight. They did lots of more ultrasounds and they decided, the doctors decided that they needed to be delivered via C-section because Caden wasn’t practice breathing, he wasn’t moving, he wasn’t doing any of those things that he should have done. They actually said that there’s a chance that he’d be stillborn. They said, “We can’t wait around. We have to deliver these babies. The chances of surviving in the NICU will be better than if we wait.”
Joe: Wow. In basically less than two months you went from finding out you’re having twins, to actually having them.
Josh: Yeah. It was crazy. It was absolutely crazy.
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Joe: So instead of proposing any kind of surgery they just said let’s just get these babies out.
Josh: Yeah. Like I said, the doctors said their chance of survival in the NICU were better than if they stayed, because of the twin to twin transfusion.
Joe: So, were you able to make any preparations for your babies, or was it just … You’re describing every two weeks you had another visit and all of a sudden, boom, the babies are here. Were you able to get anything ready for their arrival?
Josh: We actually ended up … We did live in an apartment, we actually bought a house knowing that we were going to have a baby. We did not know at that time yet that we’re having two babies so we bought a house thinking that, alright, we need enough room for one baby. We bought a house thinking that … We had no idea we’re having twins yet so we bought a house thinking that we were going to have one baby, we set up for one baby, and then shortly after that we found out we were having twins and then a couple weeks after we found out we were having twins things just kind of progressed and we really didn’t have much time to set up. My wife actually had the babies before her baby shower, so nothing was set up and we weren’t ready at all. I thought I had two more months at least to get things ready with the house and get the remodel done and the nursery ready, but I didn’t have a chance to finish any of that. It was very unexpected but it all worked out.
Joe: When it came time for that C-section for your boys to be delivered, what was your experience like as a father through that procedure and when they arrived?
Josh: I was very nervous. The doctors came in and they did a great job. They told us exactly what was going to happen. But like I said, my wife and I, we went in for the ultrasound, it was just a typical checkup, they didn’t tell us that we needed to prepare for the babies or anything they just said, “Yeah, just come in. We’d like to see you. No big deal.” We went from going to the doctor’s office and they said, “You need to get to the hospital as fast as you can. No stopping. You can’t even go home to get your stuff. You need to go to the hospital as fast as you can and prepare to have these boys.”
From going to the doctor’s visit thinking it was just a normal doctor’s visit, just to do an ultrasound for the boys, which we’ve done a couple already so I was just expecting another ultrasound. We went from going to do an ultrasound to going to the hospital to delivering the babies all within 24 hours. It was a very emotional rollercoaster. I was very excited, I was also very nervous. My biggest fear was they told us that there wasn’t a very good chance for one of the babies. That was my biggest fear going into it. I was shaking like a leaf. It was very nerveracking. Obviously very exciting at the same time.
Joe: You were in the operating room with your wife for the delivery?
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Josh: Yes. I was.
Joe: When did you realize that both your babies were born alive and were you able to interact with them?
Josh: When the babies were born they took them away to a separate room immediately. They didn’t let us see them or hold them or anything. When twin A, which was Corbin, he’s the one that’s home now, when he was born we heard him cry when he was born so that was a sigh of relief. When Caden was born, baby B, they said, “Alright, this is baby B.”, and we didn’t hear anything. We didn’t hear him cry or anything so we were kind of nervous about that. They took them out to a different room to kind of get them prepped, get them cleaned up and everything and it was probably maybe 10 minutes, they were finishing up my wife’s C-section, 10 minutes went by and we asked the anesthesiologist, we said, “Can we check on the babies? Do we have an update on them?” He actually went to go check for us and he told me, “You can actually go check on them right now and go say hi.” So I did and I saw them sitting there. They were cleaning them up and they actually asked me, “Do you want to hold them?”, or, they wouldn’t let me hold them, but hold their hand. I declined because I was so … They were so small. I was just so nervous to even go anywhere near them. I saw them and I saw that they were alive and breathing, and that was a huge sigh of relief. I took pictures of them on my phone and I went back to my wife, she was still on the operating table, and I showed her the pictures on my phone of the babies and that’s the first time she got to see them. I got to see them personally in the room, but my wife didn’t get to see them for probably three hours or so.
Joe: How big were your boys compared to your hand or your fingers?
Josh: Caden, if you hold your hand open he was about the size of your hand when he was born. He was born at one pound, four ounces. Corbin was born at two pounds, thirteen ounces.
Joe: Two and a half times bigger, huh?
Josh: Yeah. It’s funny. People take pictures of the newborns diapers, and then you see the preemie diapers and they’re so much smaller than what people realize. The preemie diapers are absolutely micro. They’re small.
Joe: What was the transition like for you and your wife from the deliver procedure to getting your boys into a routine at the NICU?
Josh: When they were born we obviously, we stayed at the hospital for the five days after her C-section. Then, this is very convenient, the hospital has a house they call the David’s House, it’s a house where you can stay or any parent could say that has a kid in the hospital. You could stay there as long as you need to. It’s actually a house that has bedrooms in it. You can stay there. They have a kitchen, they have staff that cleans up and stuff. You can stay there and you can actually visit your kids and come and go to the hospital as much as you want. The house is actually on the same property as the hospital.
We stayed there and we visited the kids probably two or three times a day for maybe two months. We stayed at the house just visiting the kids, and then we eventually moved back home and then we went to go visit them maybe once or twice a day instead of two or three times. We’d just drive to the hospital and visit them in the morning and in the evening.
Joe: How were you juggling work and visiting your boys?
Josh: So, my work was actually very gracious to me. They said take off as much time as you need. I took off three months, the first three months of the boy’s lives I took off. Once the doctor said that they were stable, that they had no concerns, that’s when I went back to work. My work was very gracious. Even now with Caden in the hospital, they say if you need anytime off to do anything with your kids, just let us know and that’s fine. I was very blessed by that.
Joe: Yeah, that’s a great situation to have that support from work. It’s one last thing you have to worry about. Tell us about when you were able to bring your first son home from the hospital, and what was that experience and transition like?
Josh: So when we brought Corbin home it was about three months into the stay at the hospital, we brought him home. He had to come home on oxygen because his lungs weren’t quite there yet. He came home on oxygen and a monitor. We had to do an overnight stay with him at the hospital while he was on the monitor to make sure that we were comfortable with it. After we did the overnight stay we brought him home and we kept him on the monitor for, like I said, a month. I’m sorry, the oxygen for about a month and then we weened him off of that and my wife stayed home with him and I went to work. It went pretty smoothly.
Joe: Did you keep up the routine of a couple of visits a day back to the NICU with your other son?
Josh: We tried to go visit Caden at least once a day in the hospital. At first, we were trying to go twice a day like we were before, but with Corbin being home that became more difficult. Now we try to go once a day. Sometimes we can’t get there, depending on what our schedule’s like, but we try to get there at least once a day.
Joe: So what were some of your thoughts or emotions when you had to leave one of your boys back at the hospital and not bring them both home?
Josh: We were obviously very excited to bring Corbin home and that was awesome to bring him home and everything, but we were kind of … It was very hard to leave Caden there. It was very frustrating to leave Caden there, but with that being said it was nice to bring one home and kind of get used to having one baby at home. These are our first kids so obviously we’ve never had kids or taken care of a baby or anything like that, so it was nice to bring Corbin home to kinda get used to having a baby at home and getting used to being up at night with him and feeding him and doing all that stuff with him. It was hard to leave him there, but at the same time it was nice because we got to bring one home and get used to one, and kinda get him on a schedule and then once Caden gets home we’ll already have Corbin established on a schedule and it’ll be that much easier once Caden comes home.
Joe: So what’s been the biggest surprise about being a new dad and taking care of a baby at home?
Josh: I didn’t really grasp how much time it involved it would be to take care of babies. My wife deserves all the credit as far as taking care of Corbin. She’s a rockstar. She’s an awesome mother. Corbin is actually teething right now so he’s been really fussy lately and my wife has just been amazing with the patience of taking care of him and keeping him happy and everything.
Joe: Yeah, teething is a bit of a challenge. Just when you get into a routine, it throws everything in wack again. How do you and your wife schedule your overnight care for Corbin?
Josh: Again, my wife is awesome. She pretty much takes care of him. He’s actually been really well. He only wakes up about twice enough. When he wakes up she breastfeeds him and then he’ll go right to bed on his own. He wakes up to feed, he feeds for about five to ten minutes, then he goes back to bed and he does it twice a night. I really don’t have to get up at all right now.
Obviously, that will probably change when Caden comes home. He will have a nurse that stays with him overnight at the house. It’s been pretty easy so far. I’ve been lucky.
Joe: Let’s talk a little bit about Caden’s progress and what are some of the milestones he has to reach before he can come home?
Josh: He has to be down to a certain level on his oxygen. Right now he’s at around 40%. Well, between 35 and 40%. They want him down below, consistently, below 35. They want him to be lower on, what they call, a peep setting, which is just setting on his ventilator because the ventilator that he takes home is different than the one in the hospital and it’s not quite as capable of these settings that hospital one is, so he has to be down to a certain setting on the home ventilator before he can actually come home from the hospital.
Joe: How long ago did you find out that he could come home but you would need to overnight nurse and some of these other supporting pieces?
Josh: I think he got the trach around a month ago. Obviously we were hoping that he could come home without the trach. That was our biggest goal, was to get him home without the trach. Once we learned that he had to get the trach … He was actually doing really well with his oxygen. He is weening off of his oxygen, this was before the trach, he was weening off of his oxygen, he was doing really well, then he would get an infection and it happened I think three or four times. He was doing really well, he would be very low on his settings, they’d actually extubate him, they would take the tube out of his mouth and just give him a nasal canula and he was doing really well with then, then he would get infections. He did this like three or four times and then the fourth time they said it’s just not worth it anymore. It would be better for him to be at home with a trach tube, developmentally wise, than it would be to keep him in the hospital and to keep trying to ween him down to a point where he’d go home just on a nasal canula like Corbin did.
They told us to get a trach would be better for him in the long run. He’ll have the trach for two or three years. He won’t be able to talk or cry because the trach interferes with the vocal cords. It was a big blow for us, but we take it as it comes and he’s doing well with it. He actually does look happier with the trach than he did without it. He looks a lot more calm. He looks healthier, he looks happier.
Joe: That’s a great sign. Next month or so both your boys will be reunited. What are some of the concerns you have about having two at home?
Josh: So, I think our biggest concern is Caden being home with all the … I mean, he’s going to need three or four different machines. Our biggest fear is kinda dealing with that and trying to keep Corbin happy at the same time. My biggest fear with bringing Caden home is that we won’t be able to spend and give Corbin enough attention because Caden’s going to need a lot of care. He needs care around the clock. We do have the nurses to help with that. We’re going to have nurses for 16 hours a day that actually come to the house and help take care of Caden. My biggest fear, I guess, is not being able to give Corbin enough time with all the cares that Caden will be needing.
We’re looking forward to him being home and it’s an absolutely accepted challenge and we have overwhelming support from our family, too. My sister in law’s been great. She’s been here helping us out. My mother in law’s been helping us out. My parents have been helping us out. We have a lot of support from our family which will definitely help when Caden comes home.
Joe: That’s great to have support for mothers, in particularly when you get both boys home together. Six months plus in the NICU and a night nurse, how are the finances behind all this to make it happen?
Josh: We actually get a lot of help from the state. They’re giving us a lot of help as far as covering for the nurses and everything. Because Caden’s condition, he qualifies for some Medicaid and other help from the state. Between the state and my insurance everything’s 100% covered. We’ve lucked out in a tremendous way with that. We actually aren’t spending a dime out of our pocket as far as nurses and the equipment and all that, besides for the insurance that I have.
Joe: Right. Relatively speaking that’s a small price to pay.
Josh: Yeah. Our hospital bill with Caden is astronomical, so the little bit that we have to spend on insurance is definitely better than obviously what we’d have to pay for out of pocket.
Joe: How have you been able to maintain your relationship with your wife through this whole rollercoaster of twins so far?
Josh: My wife and I try to get out once a week. We try to go on a date or just get out of the house. We’ll have either my mother or her mother or her sister come to the house and watch Corbin. They’ll watch him for three to four hours and we’ll go out either to a movie or have dinner or do both. Our goal is to get out at least once a week. We try to keep open lines of communication and I read in one of your books that we should set time aside to have our communication time and have our time for ourselves, so we try to do that.
Joe: That’s great. I’m glad you have a regular schedule and cadence to make sure that your keeping that relationship strong through all these trials that you’ve had so far. So Josh, you’ve had an amazing journey so far with your twins and I can’t wait to hear how it goes when Caden comes home and the progress that your boys make over the coming months and years.
If listeners want to get ahold of you and connect with you what’s the best way to get in touch?
Josh: They can send me an email at [email protected] or they can contact me, I’m on Twitter. My name is Wiser91. Those are probably the two best ways to get ahold of me.
Joe: Wonderful. We’ll link up to those in the show notes at TwinDadPodcast.com. Josh, thanks so much for spending time with us today. We really appreciate it.
Josh: No problem. I appreciate it.
Joe: I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Josh about his journey so far with his twin boys. What an amazing experience so far, from finding out so late in the pregnancy that they’re having twins, to having them almost less than two months later and the ups and downs they’ve had with their boys and the health challenges they’ve had in the NICU, bringing one twin home while the other’s still there even at the time of this recording.
They’ve got a great adventure ahead of them. What I really appreciate was the great enthusiasm and positive attitude that Josh has had though this whole experience. That’s something that we can all take to heart as fathers of twins regardless of the challenges that we’re facing. We keep a look on the positive and the bright side and the progress that we’re making with our twins and as a parent and things are always going to be getting better and improving.
Thanks again, Josh for sharing your story with us. Again, you’ll find the full transcript of this podcast over at TwinDadPodcast.com. Today’s show is brought to you by my book, Dad’s Guide To Raising Twins: How To Thrive As A Father Of Twins. You can learn more about that book at RaisingTwinsBook.com. Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you next time.
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