Episode 167 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes
In this episode, we continue our Father of Twins Interview Series with RJ Armbruster, father of fraternal twin boys.
On the show, we dive into RJ’s twin journey, including:
- A daily schedule for 5 month old twins
- How they got their twins to sleep through the night
- Expecting twins after losing a singleton during pregnancy
- Conceiving twins after a last ditch effort
- Dealing with a difficult twin pregnancy
- When Mom went on bed rest at 20 weeks
- Getting to cut the umbilical cords after the twins’ birth
- Juggling self-employment with caring for newborns
- Preparing financially for twins
- Their first overnight trip away from home
Joe: Hi there, and welcome to the 167th 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 the complete show notes and transcript for this episode along with all previous podcast episodes.
Today, we are continuing our father of twins interview series with fellow father of twins RJ Armbruster, father of fraternal twin boys.
Today’s show is brought to you by my second book for fathers of twins. It’s called “Dad’s Guide to Raising Twins: How to Thrive as a Father of Twins”. It’ll guide you through those newborn phases, infants, the first year, toddlers, and beyond. You can learn more about that book and get a copy of yourself at raisingtwinsbook.com.
I chatted with RJ on the phone, so there may be a little bit of background noise, but hang in there because his story is worth a listen. Let’s jump right into the interview.
RJ, tell us about your family situation right now. How old are your twins?
RJ: This Friday they’ll be five months.
Joe: What’s the best part of this age at five months?
(RELATED: Don't reinvent the twin parenting wheel. Get my 7 Things Every Dad of Twins Needs to Know.)
RJ: Probably watching them discover their own body, their hands and just learning what they can do. They’re also starting to discover each other and that there’s another baby next to them and see that bond forming between the two of them.
Joe: Excellent. And what are some of the challenges that you’re seeing right now at this age?
RJ: Twin B, Jordan, he’s been having issues with formula and additional spit ups. That’s been a little bit of a challenge. Did have a little bit of regression on some sleeping habits overnight. Jordan looks like he’s gonna have to get a helmet.
Joe: Has he had a helmet already or he needs to get a new one?
RJ: He just went to the doctor for the evaluation last week, so now it’s waiting for the next step. Yeah, we need a helmet.
Joe: What was the reason for needing that and how long do you think that he’ll need to wear that?
RJ: They said it was two reasons. One, in utero, while my wife was pregnant that he was kind of squished, and the fact that he is a flat sleeper on his back. In 8 to 10 weeks he can have the helmet off.
Joe: What’s the typical day in the life with your twins right now as far as sleeping and eating? What’s that schedule look like?
(NOTE: Still expecting? Get weekly updates on your twin pregnancy here.)
RJ: They usually wake up around 5:30, 6:00 in the morning. At that point, they’re up, and my wife works and gets everybody ready to head out the door. We have our grandparents to babysit. Feeding in the morning usually goes pretty well. The grandparents’ house and then have a couple feedings and playtime there. And then my wife picks them up after work around two o’clock she comes home. From the time they get home to around five, six o’clock, that’s pretty much it for the day on that last feeding. Then they kind of fall asleep and eight o’clock we go in, give them their last bottle and put them down, walk out of the room at 8:30. Most of the time they sleep through the night.
Joe: Well that’s great they’re sleeping through the night mostly. Did you have to do anything to help them form the habit of falling asleep by themselves?
RJ: When they were real small, maybe like a month, or maybe a little past that, my wife just said I wonder when we could kind of put them down on their own and see if they’ll just fall asleep on their own. And I said to her you know, I did that last night. And everything was fine but the one twin pretty much did it on his own. His brother needed a rock and play a little bit and that kind of did that a few times it helped him out.
Joe: Let’s rewind the clock back to when you found out you were expecting twins. What was your family situation like at that point?
RJ: We went through infertility IUI. My wife got pregnant in December of 2016. In March 2016, at 20 weeks he was born, and he didn’t make it. So then at the time we went back to the infertility doctor, again, to try again. We had one shot, they said we could do this IUI, if it doesn’t work, you’re going to have to go IVF. Which cost wise it’s not going to happen. We got pregnant in February, found out on Valentine’s Day. Two weeks later at six weeks we went to the doctor to check everything out and they looked at her and said “That baby looks happy, and so does the other one”. Me and my wife just kind of looked at each other and looked at them and said what did you say? And then moments later they told us that we were having twins.
Joe: Well what a fun surprise to find out you’re having twins. How did the pregnancy go, with the twins?
RJ: It was a rocky pregnancy. I would say through the third trimester my wife had morning sickness several times a day. At 16 weeks she went in and they informed her that she needed to get weekly shots and be in the doctor’s office. And that the doctor was going to check her out once a week.
At 20 weeks they came in and they said her cervix is opening and if she doesn’t have surgery, we were going to lose the twins. So then she went in for surgery and they put her on bed rest. She couldn’t drive herself to the doctors but I was taking off of work to drive her to the doctor once a week. Just taking it a week at a time.
(RELATED: Expecting twins? Avoid these 4 critical mistakes expectant twin parents make.)
After week 29 we went to the doctor and it was a different doctor and they said “Oh you must be the miracle patient, we’ve heard so much about your medical files, there’s no reason why the twins haven’t been born yet.
This continued on to week 32, my wife got diagnosed with gestational diabetes. So on top of the appointments, also had to watch her diet. We kept asking about a plan, when things are going to happen. And the doctors just kept saying, the babies are healthy, leave them alone, they’ll let us know when they’re ready. And then they scheduled her for a c-section at 38 weeks, two days.
Joe: So she made it from 20 weeks, all the way to 38 weeks.
RJ: All the way to 38 weeks.
Joe: Wow, no wonder the doctor’s were saying that was miraculous. Well, that’s fantastic. So in addition to the logistics of taking her to the doctor’s appointments, what other things did you have to pick up or do because she was on bedrest?
RJ: I got the whole nursery ready. We had everything and we had the nursery together; all the furniture in there and a hospital bag packed. By week 29, we had the car seat in there ready to go. We had a feeling that it was going to happen early so we … We’re both planners, we both want to make sure that things are in place right.
Joe: Did mom have to have a C-section? Or were they born vaginally?
RJ: C-section. One was breech and one was sideways so they had to.
Joe: Yes, that was the case with our twins as well. There was no way they were going to be born vaginally because of how they were positioned. What was your experience like there in the operating room during the birth?
RJ: My wife loves pictures. She wanted pictures of everything and she said: “you have to get the pictures I’m not going to be able to see”. So when I waited out in the waiting room it seemed like forever and then they called me in. I went over by my wife, and it was there and they had the curtain up so you couldn’t see anything. Once they were born, I could go over and see the twins on the warming table as they were cleaning them up. Then one of the hospital staff, nurses, asked if I wanted to cut the umbilical cord. And I heard about it, but I wasn’t sure what the policy was and I asked if I was allowed, and they said yes. So I got to cut the umbilical cord for baby A and baby B. Nursing staff even got a picture of the cutting of the cord, which is a precious memory to hold on to for me.
Joe: Yeah, what a special moment you had there, able to cut the umbilical cord. I know I was … The hospital staff in our delivery room made me stay up by my wife’s head. So I could just take pictures and look, but I couldn’t do anything other than that. That’s great you were able to do that. So how long did y’all have to stay in the hospital after birth?
RJ: Went in Monday, and left on Thursday.
Joe: That’s great, yeah. That’s typical for a C-section if there are no complications. When you brought the boys home, were they staying in your room with you or did they have their own nursery?
RJ: They had their own nursery, they each had their own crib from day one. Which their room shares a wall to ours.
Joe: That’s a very similar set up to what we had. Our girls were right next door. So, what’s been the work situation like? How much time were you and your wife able to have off?
RJ: My wife had off until she told work that she could come back. So she had like six weeks. I’m self-employed so I kind of set my own schedule, my own hours. So probably about the first month and a half or so I was only working if I had to. And just turning down any other work just to spend time with the family. Probably the first month, I was home most of the time.
Joe: How do you balance the need to work, to bring home that money to support the family, with that need to physically be there with your newborns to take care of them?
RJ: Absolutely. Struggle with that all the time. You come home and you don’t want to work in your office because your babies are there and your wife’s there. You’d rather spend time with your family than spend time in the office doing paperwork and all other sorts of stuff.
Joe: Did you have any kind of financial plan coming into the birth? Like you knew you weren’t going to be working for awhile so you saved up, or how did you prepare for that?
RJ: Before we were even pregnant when we first got married, we decided that we wanted to get rid of all of our debt. Prior to my wife even being pregnant; we had no debt, no car loans, no credit cards just our mortgage. So we were really able to kind of stash money and save during the whole pregnancy for that reason.
Joe: That sounds like a pretty wise and prudent plan. So let’s talk a little bit about baby gear. So what’s been a piece of baby gear that you’ve had with your twins that has been something that you could not live without, it’s been a lifesaver?
RJ: The Rock and Play has been a big lifesaver for us. Especially early on in times that we were putting them in there.
Joe: So on the flip side, what’s something you got during the pregnancy that turned out you didn’t actually need or use it?
RJ: A lot of people bought clothes that they weren’t thinking about the size, and the time of the year. So they bought a lot of clothes that were three months or zero to three months that were short sleeves and twins were born in October. And going into winter, there’s a lot of clothes we ended up not using, for that reason.
Joe: What’s a piece of advice that you consider the best piece of advice about raising twins?
RJ: Communication, communication, communication with your spouse. Know what expectations that you have with each other. Hey I’m going to be home at this time, I’m going to be around here, I’ll help with this, I’ll be around here at this feeding and things like that. Or can you be home at this time. Just communicate those things back and forth so you know what’s going on.
Joe: Absolutely. Communication is just so important with your spouse, particularly in those early months where you’re both sleep deprived, and not thinking straight and you just have to be very open and honest and communicate. Otherwise, everything kind of spirals downhill from there. Have you and your family been able to travel since the twins were born?
RJ: We did an overnight trip to a friends house. We had the babies and kind of put them in the car and went both directions. They slept all night, it was good. At the house we had two Pack and Plays, set them up in there. And it went pretty well.
Joe: Yeah, getting the babies to sleep in the car while your driving is a win. We did very similar with pack and plays. When we’d go visit family we’d take the pack and plays with us.
RJ: Yeah, they’re just such good babies that we’re so blessed. That they don’t really cry or fuss for no reason. There’s not really much of hey babies crying and I have no idea why, they’re usually crying because they need food, sleep or a diaper change.
Joe: Well RJ if listeners want to connect with you, what’s the best way they can get in touch?
RJ: They could reach me via email at [email protected]
Joe: Excellent, and we’ll link up to that in the show notes for the episode here today. RJ, thanks so much for sharing your story, we really appreciate it.
RJ: Thank you for having me.
Joe: I hope you enjoyed that chat with RJ about his journey as a father of twins. 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 the book and get a copy for yourself at raisingtwinsbook.com. Thank you so much for listening and I will see you next time.
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