Episode 181 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes
In this episode, I chat with Andrew Curfman father of fraternal twin girls.
On this show, we dive into Andrew’s twin journey, including:
- Introducing twins into a family with two other kids
- Advantages of older siblings when the twins come home
- Giving each of the kids individual attention
- Overcoming the challenges of having enough money for twins
- Making space for twins without having to move
- When you get a new (but too small) car right before finding out about twins.
- Picking the right minivan for a twin family
- Dealing with lingering health challenges for Mom after the twins were born
- When the twins’ delivery isn’t what you were expecting
- Handling two kids at home while having twins in the NICU
- Challenges of toddler twins
- Moving the twins from cribs to beds
- When to potty train the toddlers
- The power of teamwork when parenting twins
Joe: Hi there, and welcome to the 181st 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 and all previous podcast episodes. Today we are continuing our father of twins interview series with fellow father of twins, Andrew Curfman, who shares his twin journey from the big surprise of having twins to some of the challenges that they have had recently with toddler twins.
Joe: But before we jump into that discussion with Andrew, I wanted to remind you that the holidays are coming up and, with that, is a great opportunity to find the perfect gift for the father of twins, mother of twins, grandparents of twins and your twins themselves over at twintshirtcompany.com where you’ll find dozens of t-shirt designs specifically for us: families of twins. Check out those shirts at twintshirtcomany.com. Now let’s jump right into that interview with Andrew.
Joe: Today I’d like to welcome to the show fellow father of twins, Andrew Curfman. Welcome to the show Andrew.
Andrew: I’m happy to be here.
Joe: Andrew, how old are your twins right now, and what’s one of the most exciting things about this age?
Andrew: Right now they’re two and a half. Every day I come home from work and I get to see something new that they’ve learned, something new that they’ve mastered, and that’s to me the most exciting. It’s really a great time because every day is a new surprise. Whether it’s a new song, or a new word or something like that, they’re always learning and growing. Every day is a new adventure.
Joe: That is a fun stage where they’re always learning and want to do show and tell with dad. Do you have boys, girls, one of each?
(RELATED: Don't reinvent the twin parenting wheel. Get my 7 Things Every Dad of Twins Needs to Know.)
Andrew: Two girls but they’re fraternal.
Joe: Do you have any other children in the home?
Andrew: We do. We have two boys, 10 and the other one will be eight here in about three weeks.
Joe: How was it introducing twins into the home when you already had a few kids?
Andrew: Initially, it was pretty stressful. We had two and we had decided to try for a third. We were really setup for a max three. We had a small house. We didn’t really have the vehicles we would need for four. When we found out there were twins coming and we were going to have four, we really had to kind of consolidate our lives a little bit, and that was big challenge. Ultimately, we ended up moving when they were about one to a bigger house and upgrading some cars. We were fortunate to be able to do that, but it was an adjustment.
Andrew: As far as bringing the kids in or bringing the twins in with the other kids, they’ve been great. They were old enough to understand what’s going on, and they were both excited to have little sisters. They’ve been great big brothers throughout this journey. It wasn’t too bad from that aspect.
Joe: When you introduced the twins into the family, and now you’ve got four instead of two kids. How were you able to nurture that individual relationship with each of these four children?
Andrew: Honestly, that’s been one of our struggles is trying to make sure that no one feels left out, or excluded, or no one feels like the others get more attention or that kind of thing. For the older kids they’re both involved in sports. They’re actually my step-children, but we have a great relationship with their dad. With them we’ve been able to spend time with them coaching and passing on our sports knowledge between their father and I.
(RELATED: Don't reinvent the twin parenting wheel. Get my 7 Things Every Dad of Twins Needs to Know.)
Andrew: Right now the oldest is playing fall baseball and the seven-year-old’s playing football, so I’ve been coaching baseball with the oldest, and their dad’s been coaching football with the youngest boy. That’s been real good for time with them. We’ve also tried to carve out here and there a little bit of time to spend with them whether it’s have a movie night or take the boys out to dinner without the girls.
Andrew: A couple of weeks back my wife was able to take them to a local high school football game with her family while I stayed home with girls and get some one-on-one time with them that way. We try to carve out time for all the kids. Especially with the demands of having two toddlers, it’s real important to make sure that you have quality time with your other children too.
Joe: Yeah, that is very important because the toddlers will demand attention and it may be to the exclusion of others, so we as parents have to kind of juggle that. I know we struggle with that too as we have four kids, and the twins came number three and four. It does take some conscious effort as a parent to make sure you’re giving individual time to everybody.
Joe: You mentioned that you had the two boys previously, and you were going for number three and ended up with three and four. How far into the pregnancy were you when you got that news of twins?
Andrew: The very first ultrasound in week seven. We went to the doctor for the ultrasound. The technician put the wand on my wife’s stomach, and we immediately knew they were two little beans right there on the screen. We could see it immediately. My eyes got huge. My wife’s jaw dropped. The tech actually pulled the wand away quickly and let loose with it and oh-oh. We both just kind of looked at each other, and she said, “There’s two in there.” We knew from the beginning pretty much.
Joe: You never want to hear your medical professional say, “Oh-oh.”
Andrew: Yeah, that scared us a little.
Joe: What ended up being some of the concerns that you had once you found out that you were going to be having twins?
(RELATED: Expecting twins? Avoid these 4 critical mistakes expectant twin parents make.)
Andrew: Immediately the biggest concern, and I’m sure a lot of people share this, was money and space. We had a small three bedroom house. The boys were already sharing a room, but the house itself was just small. It was on the small side. Actually, when we were planning to try for the third kid, I had done a lot of research to find a new car because I was in the market for a car. I had done a lot of research to find a car that fit two boosters and a baby seat across the back seat. I narrowed down the list and found a car and went out and leased a car, and then we found out it was twins. I was only a few months into a brand new lease on a car that wasn’t going to be big enough now for our family.
Andrew: Financial was a big one with that kind of stuff and a lot of it being with the size of our house, and the size of our vehicles and then just the amount of stuff we anticipated needing. I did some online research and I actually found your book. That’s how I found you. I had reached out to you from the very beginning and discussed briefly through email some of the things we should expect. We’ve needed far more than I ever anticipated in terms of diapers, and food, and bottles, and clothing and all of that. That was one of the biggest challenges.
Joe: You mentioned that you didn’t move houses until the girls were about one. How did you make do with the space you had?
Andrew: Basically, my wife and I forfeited our space. The living room kind of became a makeshift playroom/nursery. The office got combined into the family room. In the basement we had to put up cribs and furniture or that kind of thing. We put some furniture into storage and really kind of minimized our own impact size-wise. We also gave up the master bedroom and moved into the second biggest bedroom and moved our boys from that bedroom into the smallest bedroom. Where they had previously had some room for play, or homework or that kind of thing in their bedroom, they no longer had that room. We really just tightened up our space usage to make room for all the stuff we needed for the girls.
Joe: It sounds like some creative problem solving to fit everybody in the house. You mentioned a lease on a car. How were you able to figure out the car situation to accommodate the whole family?
Andrew: I got lucky actually. I found a website where you can list your car to try to find someone to take over your lease, and I also listed it on Craigslist and just got lucky that I found someone who’s willing and qualified to take over my lease payments and take the car. I was able to, for a relatively low expense, get somebody to take the car off my hands without really killing me financially. And then we went out, and we were able to get a minivan. We’ve now got two minivans and …
Andrew: … van, so we’ve now got two minivans and all the space we need vehicle wise, but yeah, yeah, we go luck on that aspect.
Joe: What kind of minivan did you all get?
Andrew: A Chrysler Town & Country.
Joe: Excellent. I’ve driven a fair share of those. It always seems like I get those when we’re on trips and traveling and we rent a van, it’s always a Town & Country.
Andrew: Yeah, we like the Stow ‘n Go seating and the power doors, are the two big things we were looking for and that has both. We managed to go that route.
Joe: Excellent. Did mom or babies have any health troubles during the pregnancy?
Andrew: Yes and no. They were early and they did spend some time in the NICU. Fortunately, nothing major in the NICU beyond just grow and feed kind of treatment. The one twin, Kelsey, has had some medical things since that have been a real challenge for us. Especially because it’s one of those scenarios where, without going into too much detail, we still don’t really know what’s going on exactly. My wife has been the rock of the family, handling all of her medical issues while I’m at work. She’s been to appointments, over and over again, and dealing with all of that. She really kept our family afloat, so to speak with that while we deal with those challenges even today.
Joe: How many weeks were your girls born?
Andrew: 34, so they weren’t super early, but they spent 24 days in the NICU. They were four pounds, I want to say, 15 ounces and four pounds 9 ounces, approximately, if I recall correctly. They were on the small side, but they weren’t dangerously small. Like I said, it was mostly just some time for growth and learning how to feed on their own.
Joe: Did they both come home at the same time?
Andrew: Fortunately, they did. They were looking like they were going to be a couple of days apart, but the staff at the NICU was fantastic. They really helped push the one that was a little bit behind, a little bit harder to get her to catch up. She responded and caught up quickly. They were, fortunately, able to come home together on the same day.
Joe: Was the delivery experience what you were expecting it to be?
Andrew: Not at all. Not at all. We were going to have a scheduled C-section or I should say my wife, was gonna have a scheduled C-section. She went in for her 34-week checkup and her blood pressure was a little bit on the high side. So they went ahead and sent her down to the hospital to get some blood work done. Nothing urgent or panic, but head down there, get some blood work done. We get down there. They draw the blood, and hook her up to the monitors, and check her out, and realize she was actually in labor. So they kept her for observation for a couple of hours. Two hours later, they said, “Nope, you’re still progressing. We’re going to deliver them today.” They called her OB-GYN. He made it to the hospital in about 25 minutes, 20 minutes after that, we had both girls out and being tended to and ready to go.
Joe: Wow. That’s very similar to what happened to us. We went just for a regular checkup, expecting just a, “Hey, you’re doing good. Come back next week.” And it was, “Just kidding, you need to go to the hospital and have these babies.” It’s not unprecedented. What was the work situation like for you and your wife, taking time off of work or who’s home with the kids now?
Andrew: My wife is a stay-at-home mom at the moment. Mostly, because of the cost of childcare, dictated that decision. Fortunately, she was able to there with the girls when they were in the NICU and be home with them throughout the day. Like I said, when I come home from work, at this point now, it’s everyday they’ve learned something new. I know that’s because my wife is working with them and teaching them and that kind of thing. But she spent every single day at the NICU for the 24 days. Every single night, she stayed except for one night and that night she barely slept at all. I sent her home. I tried to convince her to go home and get sleep. She finally relented and went home and didn’t get any sleep.
Andrew: She was amazing with that. It allowed me to work. Really, I took a couple days off for the delivery and then I saved my time off until they came home. Then I took … I had, I think it was two weeks, but it may have only been about 10 days. I don’t recall a 100%. When they came home, I took a little bit of time and helped them get settled, helped my wife get settled. Kind of helped adjust, but then I was back to work and most of the day in and day out stuff fell on my wife almost immediately.
Joe: How did you handle the two boys at home during the NICU period?
Andrew: Family. Fortunately, we live close to both of our families. That was a very stressful time for them because they would get off the bus from school, and wouldn’t know who was gonna be there to get them off the bus, and be with them at home. Their dad lives locally, so he helped out a lot. They bounced around for a couple of weeks between my parents, my wife’s parents, and her two sisters, and their dad. It was really … I’d get them up in the morning and on the bus. Somebody else would get them off the bus. Somebody else might keep them for the evening and I’d get them at night. Or they’d stay the night at their dad’s or with their cousin and get on the bus from there. It was really stressful, but credit to the boys. They handled it like troopers and really, really did well through that.
Joe: When you look back now, now that the girls are about two and a half, what have been some of the recent challenges you’ve had with having toddler twins?
Andrew: You name it. It’s all the challenges you would expect of a toddler, times two. Everything from transitioning from cribs to a big girl bed. They’re still sharing a room and they actually share a bed. We’re right now in the process of trying to get them to go to bed without mommy or daddy laying with them. That’s been a real challenge, kind of a current challenge. But generally speaking, childproofing, gating off the child safe areas from the areas where they need supervision. The stairs has been a big one for us. Our girls are very strong-willed and determined and do not like you to tell them they’re not allowed to climb the stairs on their own. If you try to help them, they’re likely to throw a fit and fall down the stairs. You really just have to walk up behind them and hope that they can make it. So that’s been a challenge as well.
Andrew: But, yeah, the big one right now is … Besides, away from Kelsey’s medical challenges, the big one right now is getting them to go to bed, both at nap time and at bedtime without having to lay there with them. Right now, it’s been … They’re winning, let’s put it that way. They’re winning that challenge at the moment.
Joe: How old were they when you moved them from cribs to bed?
Andrew: It’s only been … I think in March. So it’s only been a few months, maybe six months when we took the cribs out and put the bed in. They were just about two and we kind of kept them as long as we could until they were old enough to start trying to climb out of their crib. Kelsey actually gave us a big scare that gave us the push we needed to start. She climbed out of her crib, and managed to open her bedroom door, and get out of her room. My wife found her standing at the top of the stairs crying for her, and so that was a wake-up call that, okay, we need to make some changes. We actually had to change the doorknob on the door and childproof that and then started …
Andrew: … on the door and childproof that, and then started looking at the transition time for the big girl bed.
Joe: Yeah. As parents, we hope the kids can stay in their cribs just forever because it’s contained, they’re usually pretty safe in there. And it always catches us off guard … always caught us off guard with each of our kids … “Oh, no. Now they can climb out.” And it’s a very sudden, swift transition to something else. We did find some success in separating our girls for nap times. We put one of them down to bed in their bedroom, and one of them in our bed to help them not distract each other for bedtime. I don’t know if one of your girls is more prone to want to go to sleep than the other, one’s the troublemaker. We found when they were apart from each other, they were a little better behaved for bedtime.
Andrew: They do distract each other, but they switch off on whose turn it is to be the instigator. We’ve tried to separate them a little bit here and there, but what we found we end up with a lot is, the one we put down first will nap, and the one we put down second will wake the first one. Or, if we put them in separate rooms, it seems to be that one of them will nap while the other one won’t. And then later in the day, the one that didn’t is tired and ready for bed earlier, and super crabby, while the first one that napped is wired and still ready to go. So, it’s been difficult. And, with the fall sports, the schedule has been kind of off again for the last eight weeks or so. Every time we make some progress there is always something comes up that sends you a step or two back.
Joe: Yeah, that’s tough with schedules, because the kids get used to a particular schedule and then it has to change because, like you say, something else is going on with the family, or somebody’s sick, or whatever. It kind of throws a wrench in the works and resets everything.
Joe: Have you already potty trained the girls?
Andrew: No. No, we have not. We started, and they really just don’t have any interest in it. And so, we’re kind of going off of their cues on that one. We’re not pushing the issue. They’re just now getting to the point where they’re recognizing their body signals and then telling us, but they’re usually a couple minutes late to tell us. So, we think it’s going to be pretty soon that they’re ready and actually willing to give it a go. We’re not pushing the issue just yet, but we think that’s coming up pretty soon.
Joe: Yeah. And if they’re able to communicate with you, that’s a big key of successful potty training is them being able to tell you that they need to go, and being able to follow simple instructions. So, you’re right, it will probably happen soon.
Joe: You mentioned having to purchase a lot of different supplies and gear for your twins. What have been some of the pieces of baby gear or kid equipment that had been the most helpful?
Andrew: When they were infants, we had two different carriers that you could wear the babies with. There’s a lot of stigma out there about men carrying babies in a carrier like that. And with twins you just have to let that go, strap the baby on, pick the other one up, and head out the door kind of thing. You can’t really worry about what others are thinking. So, those carriers were immensely helpful.
Andrew: One of the other things early on that was very helpful was Snap-N-Go Twin Stroller Frame. It’s not as big as a twin stroller because it’s just a frame, but you can click your car seats into it, and then the car seats become the spot that the children sit while the frame folds up real small. That was immensely helpful for us because, when they were still in the carrier-type car seats, it was a bear to take them anywhere. And that thing allowed us to really be able to get out and do the things we needed to do.
Andrew: As they’ve gotten older, we really like encouraging reading. So, we have lots and lots of books for them. And we found some of the Look and Find series of books, if you’re familiar with those, have been great because they help with letters, and shapes, and everyday objects, and colors, and all of that. You can sit down and go through them with the girls, and when they want to turn the page, you’re not interrupted from reading the page or that kind of thing. You don’t really have to fight with them to do it that way, and you can sit and work with them and help them learn shapes and colors and things, and letters, and all of that. Plus, a lot of them are their favorite characters — Disney, or Bubble Guppies, or what have you.
Andrew: The block puzzles have been real popular in our house. They’re like the Melissa and Doug style. Clunky woodblock puzzles are a big hit in our house as well.
Joe: What’s been some of the best advice that you’ve received about raising twins?
Andrew: Really having to have a team approach, you know? You can’t … My wife has been the primary caregiver for all four of our kids, but especially for our twins as a stay at home mom. Coming home and not saying, “Oh, well I worked all day,” has been huge, I think for her, but for me as well because it really makes me understand what she goes through on a day-to-day basis when I come home and take a shift. One of the pieces of advice that was given to me was do your share, and you can’t really … You can’t look at it as “I work all day, you take care of the kids” anymore, especially when you’re outnumbered, when there’s twins, or in our case we have four. You have to step up and do your share. And I like to think I would have anyway, but that was something that was really pointed out to me early on that I’ve tried to take to heart, and really step up for me.
Andrew: As far as just general twin advice, one of the big things that my wife and I have tried to do is, even though we like to dress the girls cute and have them in coordinating or matching outfits, we try to encourage them to be their own people, and have their own personalities. So, we try to make sure I’m not spending too much time with one of them, while she spends too much time with the other, or that kind of thing. But also, encouraging the differences between them so that as they get older, they’re not viewed as “Oh, that’s Kelsey and her twin sister,” or “That’s Kylie and her twin sister.” We want them to be known for being their own people.
Andrew: We’ve even discussed … and I know it’s still a few years off … whether or not we’re going to put them in the same class in school, or if we’re going to request that they’re in different classrooms, kind of for that same reason. Something I think that’s been real good for them, and good for us, is to remember that just because there’s two of them that are the same age and going through the same milestones, they’re two completely different people. And they need to grow and develop at their own pace and not be constantly compared to their sister.
Joe: For sure. That’s a wonderful philosophy and some great insights there on raising your twins. Andrew, we would like to thank you today for sharing your twin journey with us.
Andrew: Well, thank you for having me. It’s been fun.
Joe: I hope you enjoyed that chat with Andrew today about his twin journey so far, from the big surprise of finding out they’re having twins, through the ups and downs of delivery and NICU, and finally, twin toddler tornadoes running about the house.
Joe: If you’d like to share your twin journey on the podcast, go ahead and drop me an email- [email protected] I’d love to have you on the show. Again, today’s show is brought to you by my site, twintshirtcompany.com, where you’ll find dozens of t-shirts designed specifically for you, fathers of twins, mothers of twins, grandparents of twins, and your twinnies themselves. Head on over to twintshirtcompany.com.
Joe: Thank you so much for listening, and I’ll see you next time.
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