Episode 182 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes
In this episode, I chat with Tom Williams father of twin boys.
On this show, we dive into Tom’s twin journey, including:
- Having twins as your first children
- When twins aren’t a total surprise
- A smooth pregnancy turns into a surprise early delivery
- NICU milestones the twins needed to reach before coming home
- Leaving one twin in the hospital when the other was ready to come home
- Juggling new job, new home, and new twins all at the same time
- Splitting nighttime duties between parents
- Preparing the twins for a new baby sibling
- Twins’ reaction to a new baby in the home
- What works for spending one on one time with the kids
- Experience with separating the twins at school
- Flying vs road tripping with twins
- Sleep when the twins sleep actually works
- Looking ahead to parenting twins through puberty, teenagers, and driving
Joe: Hi there, and welcome to the 182nd 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, Tom Williams, who shares his journey from an early twin delivery through the NICU, those early years, and now his twins are nine.
Joe: Today’s show is brought to you by My Twin T-Shirt Company, that’s at twintshirtcompany.com where you’ll find dozens of T-shirts designed especially for you dad, father of twins, mother of twins, grandparents of twins, and your twins. Check out those shirts at twintshirtcompany.com.
Joe: Today I’d like to welcome to the show, fellow father of twins, Tom Williams. Welcome to the show, Tom.
Tom: Thanks for having me.
Joe: Tom, tell us a little bit about your family’s situation right now. How old are your twins and what’s one of the best things about this age?
Tom: The twins right now are nine years old. It’s amazing to see just the things that they’re picking up, both in school and from the things that we do on a day to day basis, and how they’re able to apply that to the problems that come up to them through day to day life.
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Joe: Awesome. So, let’s rewind the clock back to when you found out that you were having twins. Were they going to be your first children?
Tom: They were. We had been married for a little over a year at that time. We went to go get the first ultrasound and there were two of them. For us, it wasn’t a huge surprise. There are twins on both sides of our families. Then the fun began.
Joe: So not a surprise because of family history. Did it turn out that your twins were fraternal twins?
Tom: We’re not 100% sure. We think they’re identical, but we just never really got around to paying for the testing. We can tell them apart, so we don’t really have to spend the extra money just to figure that out for us.
Joe: What were some of the surprises or troubles you had during the pregnancy with the twins?
Tom: The majority of the pregnancy actually went fairly smooth with twins, and then all of sudden it didn’t. My wife’s water broke 10 weeks early, so they were just under 29 weeks when her water broke. They ended up rushing her to the hospital and that went to our seven week NICU journey.
Joe: So were they born right away when the water broke?
Tom: Yeah, so they were held for just under a week to pump them full of steroids, try to get their lungs to grow and things along those lines. Then after that, they just let everything go and then we had the twins. They were both done through an emergency C-section.
(NOTE: Still expecting? Get weekly updates on your twin pregnancy here.)
Joe: Tell us about the transition then from birth to the NICU. What was your involvement during that time?
Tom: The NICU was tough. Because of where we were living at the time, the NICU was actually … Well, the closest high-level NICU was about an hour away from where we were living. We were also in the process of moving due to be getting a new job. The stress working a full day of work and then having to drive home, pick up my wife, and meet her at the NICU to spend as much time as we possibly can there, and then go home, try to get some sleep, and rinse and repeat.
Joe: Was she working at the time when she-
Tom: She was not working at the time. No. She’s been able to successfully stay home as a stay-at-home mom. Basically, until now, she’s been able to stay as a stay-at-home parent.
Joe: What were some of the things that your twins had to overcome in the NICU before they could come home?
Tom: Other than the very low birth weight, they were born at … Because they were 29 weeks, it was 2 pounds 9 ounces and 3 pounds 5 ounces. Due to there being two of them in there, they were just kind of beating each other up quite a bit internally as well. We had some jaundice and bleeding. Then right before they were both getting ready to come home, discovered hernias on both of them that they had to have repaired before they were allowed to come out of the NICU.
Joe: Well, how was that procedure?
Tom: It surprisingly went fairly easy. They were able to put them under and they both recovered fairly quickly. One actually spent a little bit longer because he had some breathing issues coming out of the anesthesia. We had one at 39 days total and one at 45 days total in the NICU.
(RELATED: The Twin Stroller Advisor helps you find the perfect double stroller for your family.)
Joe: You had about a week when they were, one was at home and one was in the hospital still?
Tom: Yeah, it was tough. At that point, we had finally moved into our new place. We had the two of us and one of the twins home for that week. We were still going back down every day to check up on the other one.
Joe: What was it like when you had to leave one of them in the hospital and just take the other home? What was it emotionally like for you?
Tom: It was tough. We knew that we were leaving him in good and qualified hands who were able to do everything that they could do, but it was definitely a challenge. It’s was not something I’d wish on anybody.
Joe: When you did finally get them both together at home, what were some of the things that surprised you about having twins in the house?
Tom: Still surprising how much they behave alike and are kind of just … when they were young they were bonded together quite a bit. They would bounce off of each other. One good thing would happen to one of them, and so then it’d be happening for both of them. We’d hear laughter all over the house. Then at the same time, one bad thing happens and they both bounce off of that and be after each other.
Joe: Yeah, we’ve seen that too with our twins. Once somebody learns how to do something, whether that’s a good something or bad something, the other one quick to follow. Were you able to have family or helpers stay with you?
Tom: No, just the two of us. We had actually just moved for me to get a new job after I got out of the military. It was just the two of us and with these being our first kids, we had no real experience in what was going on. It was a lot of learning things off the internet. That’s actually what led me to your blog and quite a few parenting blogs as I was becoming a new parent.
Joe: So you were juggling a new job, new twins, and a new place to live all at the same time?
Tom: Yeah, it was not the best timing at all for any of us, but we made it through it.
Joe: Looking back at those early years with your twins, what were some of the milestones that made life a little bit easier for you?
Tom: I think obviously the biggest one was once we were able to get them into their own room at night. We were living in a two-bedroom apartment and one of those bedrooms, basically just used for them to nap in. But once we could continually leave them in their beds every night and not have to be waking up with them every couple of hours, ’cause we had it set up initially that we had a little bit of room on each of our sides of the bed. We would basically just swap off every night. If one of them woke up, we would be responsible for that one. The other one woke up, the other one would be responsible for that one. Once they were in their own rooms sleeping through the night, our quality just drastically improved because we getting that sleep again.
Joe: You never know how important sleep is until you’re not getting any. Then when you do get it back, it’s like amazing transformation. So it’s good.
Joe: When the time came to grow your family with some additional children, where you worried about having twins again or was that even an issue for you?
Tom: We knew it was a possibility, but at this point, we had already done it once. If it was to happen again, we’d already be a little bit prepared for it. Fortunately for us, that did not happen. We ended up two years later having our daughter.
Joe: So at that time, your twins are still pretty young, probably toddlers, was there anything that you did to help prepare them for a new addition to the family?
Tom: Not particularly. At that point, they were still fairly young. They weren’t really understanding fully what was going on. Why they were getting a new sister. It did take some time before they were able to fully get it and adjust to life with one more.
Joe: What were some of the manifestations with that, with those challenges?
Tom: Initially, they were just … there was a lot of them just being confused. They didn’t really understand quite who she was and why she was there. It was just another person trying to take away some of their parent’s time from them.
Joe: Speaking of time with the parents and the children, how have you been able to balance that time between your different children?
Tom: Spend some time, even if it’s a couple hours on a weekend day, just have each of us go out and spend some time individually with each of the kids. We have to go to the grocery store to get something and take just one of the kids with us or taking one of them to go to the park or something along those lines. Just giving them that individual focus that can be tough to have when there’s four of them and two of us.
Joe: Yeah, we’ve found that too. Even what seems like a small thing to us, like running an errand like you say, can be a huge thing for the child because they get to spend one on one time with you. It’s very valuable even if it seems to us as just a small, trivial thing. Tell us about the transition from home into school, deciding what was the best choice for them whether together or separate.
Tom: With school, we decided initially that we were going to hold them back in kindergarten. And that was, well, to start initially, we decided that we were going to have them be in separate classes. We’ve consistently held that up through a couple of different schools that they’ve been to since they were born. They’ve always been in separate classes. We will hold them to it. We’ve found that it gives them more independence, makes them less reliant on having their brother there with them all the time.
Joe: Have you ever had schools that wanted to put them together and you had to fight that?
Tom: Fortunately, we haven’t. Our schools have been pretty good. They’ve been pretty understanding and they’re not the only set of twins in their grade, so they understand why we want have them have their own time and space.
Joe: Have you seen any challenges having them in different classes?
Tom: Not in particular. We’ve been lucky that if … They seem to enjoy having the time where it’s just them, and not having to worry about however else in the family is in school with them. Then when they come back home, they’re generally happy to see each other.
Joe: Yeah, we’ve had both situations where we’ve had our girls together and we’ve had them separate. There’s pros and cons to both sides of it. But like you mentioned, it does help foster their independence and individuality when they’re not able to rely on each other in the same class. That’s one of the big benefits that we’ve seen. Have you been able to travel with your twins and your family and how early were you able to do that?
Tom: We have and we actually, I think we took our first major trip to Florida. The twins were maybe four-ish years old. My mother moved to Florida about 10 years ago, and she obviously loves seeing them, but it’s … We decided we were gonna take some time to all of us drive down there, at least once a year. We’ve done that every year now. Then the one year that we chose to fly, which was a terrible, terrible time that I wouldn’t recommend anybody to do with four kids.
Joe: How old were your kids when you took that trip?
Tom: When we flew it was last year, so the twins were eight, our daughter was six, are youngest was two. There was a six hour flight to Florida, multiple layovers, multiple times getting stuck in an airplane and not being able to get off. They did not want to be contained any longer than they had to be. That’s the difference with if you’re driving down there and you can stop every couple of hours, get everybody out and stretch. It’s much more flexible.
Joe: When we did travel, when our kids were much younger, we’d always try to get a direct flight if possible, depends on where we were going, if that was even an option. Yeah, a lot of the times, you’re stuck. You can’t go anywhere. You’re stuck on the plane. You’re stuck waiting for the plane. Then it makes a road trip look really appealing.
Tom: Yeah. It’s terrible, but we’ve gotten them all pretty used to the drive down. We tried once where we stopped part of the way through to stay in a hotel. Unfortunately for us, we had stopped after the kids had already been sleeping. The time at the hotel was spent with running around the hotel room while we tried to sleep. It was just not successful at all, so now we’ll just drive straight through and switch us off every so often.
Joe: Because you had your twins first and then a couple kids after that, what are some of the things you learned with the twins that you were able to apply in your parenting to the next round?
Tom: I think having the two of them has definitely made things easier for the rest. If you can isolate the child that you’re dealing with at that time, and make sure that you have their sole attention, they’re gonna generally be more likely to do what you ask. There are pain points with having two versus having three versus having four, but it’s all about adjusting to that individual child and trying to make things go as smoothly as possible.
Joe: Do people still recognize them as twins or now that they’re getting older that doesn’t come up as often?
Tom: At this point, they generally do ’cause they can definitely tell that they look pretty much alike. We keep them with almost the same haircuts because it’s the summers and they love having hair cut as short as possible to keep them cool. We’ve fortunately moved past the days of dressing them the same. Where at this point, they will absolutely be very against dressing the same.
Joe: Yeah, our girls have moved past that as well. Now we don’t push them around in the double stroller or we’re not holding both of them at the sames time, sometimes people don’t even notice they’re twins until they do a double take and they’re like, “Hold on. Wait. Are they twins?” What’s some of the best advice that you received about raising twins?
Tom: I think the best advice, at least initially, was the idea of sleeping when they’re sleeping. I was lucky to have time off initially right after they were born. Like we’ve said, you really don’t realize how powerful sleep is until you suddenly don’t have it and you’re trying to run on two hours of sleeps and be a functioning adult. Without it, you’re a very different person and it’s not fun to be on that side of the house.
Joe: What are some things that you’ve done to be able to keep your marriage strong?
Tom: When we had family near us, finding those one or two days maybe … maybe not even once a month, but to just give the kids to somebody. Pass them off, have some time where we can just go do something on our own, and not have to deal with the kids, and just be a married couple. So we only had about a year before the twins were born after we got married, so it was not a whole lot of time to just be us. But we definitely try, and find that time and make the time.
Joe: When you look ahead with your kids, what are some of the things that you’re planning for or you’re worried about that coming down the road?
Tom: I hoping to hold off, at least a few more years, before we start getting into puberty. The twins are just over nine, so I know it’s gonna be a challenge with, not only them, but with our daughter. She’s only a couple of years behind them. I know it’s gonna be ugly and hormonal and unpleasant. Then hopefully we have a few more years between that and when we get into driving. From there, it’s the challenge of them discovering who they are, and what they want to do with their life, and who they want to be, and go from there.
Joe: Yeah, for sure. Our kids are a little bit older than yours, so we’re in the transition period right now like you mentioned. It does definitely has it’s up and down days. Some days, they’re just like little kids like they always were, and sometimes they’re like they wanna be teenagers. It’s kind of a wild ride.
Joe: Well, Tom, thank you for spending some time with us today and for sharing your story. We really appreciate it.
Tom: Absolutely and thanks for having me.
Joe: I hope you enjoyed that chat with Tom today as he shared so many ups and downs of his twin journey, some of the things he’s learned along the way. If you’d like to share twin story on the podcast, drop me an email [email protected] or you can reach me on Twitter or Instagram @twindadjoe.
Joe: Today’s show is brought to you by twintshirtcompany.com where we have dozens of T-shirts designed specially for you, parents with twins. With the holidays coming up, they make perfect gifts for your sweetheart, for the in-laws, the grandparents, and for yourself. Head on over to twintshirtcompany.com.
Joe: Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you next time.
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