Episode 194 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes
In this episode, I chat with Jake Morris, father of identical twin girls + one.
We dive into Jake’s twin journey, including:
- Getting news of expecting twins after the misdiagnosed first ultrasound
- When your brother and his wife are expecting twins about a month ahead of time
- Things he was glad he learned before the twins were born
- Planning to have a natural twin birth versus what really happened
- Feeding challenges during the first three months
- Taking time off to have the twins
- Sacrifices to have one parent stay at home with the kids
- Challenges of mobile twins
- How he helped Mom take care of the twins when she was expecting child #3
- Moving with toddler twins a pregnant wife
- Car Seat Safety tips for your twins
Joe: Hi there, and welcome to the 194th episode of The Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast. This is Joe Rawlinson. Today we’re continuing our Father of Twins interview series with fellow father of twins, Jake Morris, who shares a little bit about his twin journey as a father of twins plus one. As always, you can connect with me at twindadpodcast.com, where you’ll find the complete show notes and transcript for this episode, and all previous podcast episodes.
Joe: Today’s show is brought to you by my book, Dad’s Guide to Twins. If you would like a free audiobook version of my book, check it out at freetwinbook.com. Once again, that’s freetwinbook.com.
(RELATED: Love podcasts? Check out the entire Dad's Guide to Twins Podcast archive for additional twin tips and interviews with twin dads.)
Joe: Now, as I mentioned, today we’re chatting with Jake Morris, father of twins. Jake actually discovered the podcast back when he and his wife were expecting twins. It’s been fun to jump into Jake’s journey as a father of twins, some of the ups and downs of the pregnancy and those first few months of twins, and then the transition from twins to a third child as well in the family, and some of the things that he’s learned along the way.
Joe: Plus Jake is an expert in car seat safety, so stay tuned to the end of the episode for three key mistakes that parents often make with their car seats to make sure that you are not making those mistakes with your twins. Today, I’d like to welcome to the show, fellow father of twins, Jake Morris. Welcome to the show, Jake.
Jake: Thank you so much for having me on the show today.
Joe: Jake, tell us a little bit about your family right now. How many children do you have?
Jake: Right now, I have three beautiful little girls, all under two years old, my beautiful wife Vivian.
Joe: Fantastic. Are the twins your first or did they come after your singleton?
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Jake: The twins came first. We kind of jumped right into having kids. I do not know what it’s like having just one kid.
Joe: Rewind and tell us about that time when you found out you were having twins. What was that experience like for you?
Jake: At first, we didn’t even believe it. My whole family, I have a brother who’s married too, his wife and my wife go to the same OB. They had just announced to the family, about three weeks prior to us finding out that we were pregnant, that she was pregnant with twins as well. We were like, “Wow. That’s awesome. You’re having twins. That’s great.”
Jake: Then my wife and I, we went to the OB, as well, about three weeks later. Went in, the doctor did the sonogram. As he’s doing it, I see the screen focus, and I’m like, “There are two little dots in there.” It kind of just hit me. He said, “It’s just one baby.” I was like, “Wait, there’s two little dots in there though.” He said, “No, that’s just a reflection.”
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Jake: It’s like, “Okay. We’re having one. All right. That’s great. One baby. This is awesome. This is going to be good.” Life kind of went on. Our next appointment, we went back. This is a couple weeks later. We had to go back to do a confirmation, and some of my wife’s blood work came back a little weird. He does the sonogram again, and he said, “Oh, I forgot you were having two kids.”
Jake: I look at him, and I said, “No, that’s my brother. He’s having two kids. Well, it’s my brother’s wife.” He said, “Nope, you’re having two.” I said, “What?” It actually was pretty good. We were in shock that we were having two kids. We stood there probably for like five minutes, just looking at each other. My wife started crying, and the doctor is like, “I’m going to give you guys a couple seconds to gather your thoughts,” so he stepped out of the room.
Jake: We kind of look at each other, and like, “We’re going to have twins. We’re going to have twins. Two babies.” That kind of shock of having twins kind of stayed with us for quite some time.
Joe: Yeah, the shock usually does. It takes a long time to wear off, if ever. That’s pretty unique though. You and your brother were both having twins.
Jake: They were about three and a half to four weeks ahead of us. My sister-in-law had her twins about four weeks ahead of ours. They had two girls and we had two girls. Their girls are fraternal, and our girls are identical.
Joe: Ours are identical too, so that’s why it was such a surprise, as it was for you, because identical are just random surprises, and caught us off guard as well. Having your brother and sister-in-law ahead of you, about a month, did that help you in any preparations or what to expect? How did that play out?
Jake: It did, quite a bit. Kind of seeing a little bit of the work that it can take really helped prep us a little bit, in a lot of ways. To be able to walk through some of the things that he’s already gone through has really helped me as well. His girls, though, what I’ve noticed, are so vastly different from mine, in size and behavior, so it’s really true how much of a baby’s identity you can see from such a small age. It’s quite amazing. It’s really pretty.
Joe: Yes it is. It’s fun to see, twins in particular, how different they can be, even identical or fraternal. I mean they spent their whole lives together, and yet they have such diverse personalities and interests. What were some of the things you were glad that you were able to get a sneak peek at with your brother and sister-in-law’s twins before your twins arrived?
Jake: My brother and sister, the twins were their second. I was able to kind of seeing how the feeding schedule kind of worked out, how to actually manage feeding them, two kids, and how to balance trying to feed yourself too, and taking care of the house a little bit. Just having those couple weeks ahead, and some of the milestones that they make really helped.
Jake: Theirs progressed a lot faster than ours did. We had a little bit of a … I don’t want to say a rough start, but a very different start. It was a slower start for us.
Joe: What were some of those challenges that you had with pregnancy or delivery?
Jake: We were planned to have a natural birth. My wife was planned to have a natural birth, up until the day before we went in. Our doctor, our girls were mono-di twins, and we’ve reached our 37th week, and he said, “Okay, you know what? It’s time for these girls to come out.” We reached our 37 week due date, and we were going to go in for an induction.
Jake: The day before, my wife is just like, “You know, I’m not quite feeling right. Something’s going on. Let’s call the doctor.” We called him. He said, “Okay, let’s come in and do an ultrasound.” We went into his office and did an ultrasound, and found out that one of the babies flipped. Baby B flipped around, so they were no longer both head down. One was flipped around.
Jake: He said, “You know, we can try for a natural, but you may end up having to have an emergency C-section, so he gave us the option of do you want a natural birth, or would you like to just do the C-section. My wife and I got to talk for a little bit, and we said, “What’s ultimately the healthiest for the baby? Do we want to try for a natural birth, and maybe risk something happening to the second baby, or do we want to do a C-section, and just make sure everything’s okay?”
Jake: We trusted his judgment so well. He’s one of the top OBs in our area. We did the C-section, and Baby B took a little bit longer getting out. She kind of really held on in there. They came out pretty healthy. We didn’t have to go to the NICU for anything. We had some problems in the hospital with them, getting latched on and feeding. She really wanted to breastfeed, and I was a huge support for her with that.
Jake: They wouldn’t latch on. They, I guess, hadn’t learned that sucking mechanism yet. For the first three months we had to feed them through a syringe. We had to do it every two hours, with their birth weight being a little low. They were about 5-10 and 6-2, so they were pretty healthy for twins, but their birth weight was still a little low for what the doctors were comfortable with, so they said, “Feed them every two hours with the syringe.” That was quite an ordeal for a long time.
Joe: Yeah, that is a lot of work. How did the C-section recovery go for your wife?
Jake: Honestly, that was one of the biggest surprises for us was how a mom can recover from a C-section, and deal with two brand new babies. It was a lot harder for her than we thought it was going to be. She was in a lot more pain, so she was in bed a lot more. Not able to really do too much, and so she kind of spent most of the time, the first couple months, for two months, in bed or on the couch, kind of planted.
Jake: I know that took a toll on her. She was pretty strong, and kind of went with it reluctantly, while trying to breastfeed still. We tried to breastfeed the kids for those first like three months, and just weren’t able to do it despite all of our efforts.
Joe: You’re trying to breastfeed. I mean you’re feeding them through a syringe, just so they got everything they needed, but still trying to train them on breastfeeding? It just didn’t happen?
Jake: Yeah, it just didn’t happen. She would try to much, and with how often the girls had to get fed, it turned out to be, by the time you’re done trying to feed one, the other one has to try to eat, and then by the time you’re done with the second one, you only have about a 20 minute reprieve for her to try to eat, and then it’s been two hours again, so you’ve got to try again. That was enormously stressful for her.
Joe: Was there any like emotional letdown not having the natural birth she was hoping for?
Jake: She did. She had a little bit of a hard time kind of accepting it. It was something that she really wanted, even though we kind of already told each other that what’s really best for the baby. Is you wanting to have a natural birth really the best thing, or is it really more of a want than a need? Ultimately, the needs and our want to make sure our babies are safe kind of won out on that. There was a little bit of a letdown.
Joe: That’s something with twins, you know most twins are born by C-section, but you still kind of have your own birth plan in mind, and what the ideal situation is for your babies. So often, you just kind of have to roll with the punches. Like you said, one of your girls just flipped around, like in the last 24 hours, and that just changed the course of how their birth would happen.
Joe: Our first born, our singleton boy, we were trying for a natural birth too, and my wife was in labor for almost 24 hours, and then he got stuck, and he couldn’t get out, so they had to do an emergency C-section, and that was just people physically a double whammy for my poor wife.
Joe: Like what you were describing, there’s kind of the emotional burden of that did not go the way we were hoping it to go, so with our other children, we kind of planned a little bit better, saying, “Okay, we know this is what we’re planning for, but we know there could be alternative paths as well.” When your girls were born, how was the work situation? Was your wife working? Were you working? How did you guys take time off to take care of the girls?
Jake: My wife worked up until the last month of her pregnancy. God bless her. She wasn’t really … Her job, she was an administrator at a construction company, so she was doing like book work and on the phone a lot, so she was able to work up to her due date, and then at just some point, at the very end, it was even hard to stay sitting in one spot, and be able to breathe while talking on the phone so much because she was always on the phone all day.
Jake: She was able to kind of end the chapter in her working about a month before the twins were born. I live in Florida. Florida has a Florida Medical Leave Act, and so by law, my employer had to let me off for up to like 12 weeks. I had really never taken a vacation at work up until the twins were born, so I had a lot of vacation time, and they let me apply that, so this way we could keep getting paid while I was off.
Jake: I took just shy of 12 weeks off when our twins were born, and that was such a huge blessing to be able to do that.
Joe: Oh, for sure, especially you were discovering those first three months, trying to feed them every two hours. It was pretty helpful, I imagine, to have both of you at home, and not just one of you.
Jake: Yeah, it really was.
Joe: How did your employer handle such an extensive leave? I mean was everybody cool with that, or were there some challenges?
Jake: I work for a fire department in Florida, and I’m a firefighter/paramedic, so we have over 500 employees, so it was really kind of nothing for them to let me go off that length of time. Some of the guys I work directly with, I work with a crew of like five or six other guys, they don’t have kids, and they weren’t married, so they didn’t really like that I was gone for so long, because I missed a lot of stuff with them.
Jake: With the fire department, it’s like a family, so when you miss trainings together, we missed time together, it affects you there, but it’s been a good time since then to kind of build back that comradery with them. It’s been good now. I have given them a good scoop of what it’s like to have kids now.
Joe: You’re the resident expert now, since you’ve been through three of them now. After those 12 weeks, you went back to work. Did your wife go back to work as well, or did she stay home with the twins?
Jake: We gave it some good thought about her going back to work. It just wasn’t financially feasible for us to try to find a daycare for both of the girls, and for her to work, the cost of it down where we are, it was almost as much as she would make a week, so we said, “Well, it’s a week’s pay just to have both of the girls in daycare. Do we really want to do it?” She, honestly, would prefer to stay home, if we can do it.
Jake: We just made it work, and we made it happen. She’s been a stay-at-home mom, taking care of the girls, ever since.
Joe: That’s awesome. You said, “You just made it work.” What are some things you had to do, or maybe sacrifice, to make that work for your family?
Jake: A lot of luxuries that we used to take. So much as, let’s go out and have so many dinners out. That kind of ended, too, having newborns, but having one income now, we definitely have to budget a lot tighter, and cook home a lot more, which has kind of worked out. I’ve learned to cook a lot more, and really enjoy it. Her as well.
Jake: Keeping that budget in mind, and working with that, and knowing that it’s okay to let something slide, when it comes to money. Pay this bill, and let’s wait on that one, kind of juggling a little bit, to be honest, really it helps out. It makes it work.
Joe: Obviously, you’re motivated because you want that experience for your wife to be home with the kids, and that helps you see, with that lens, of what you could cut back on, and what you need to save on to make the lifestyle you want, happen. That’s great that you were able to be creative with that.
Jake: Yeah, absolutely. That’s exactly it. We make that lifestyle happen. She wants it and I want it for her, and I love that my girls are home with her all day. It’s awesome.
Joe: Now, your girls are two. What have been some of the milestones you’ve hit over these couple of years that kind of made things a little bit easier for you, as a parent?
Jake: For the longest time, our girls weren’t mobile. We lived in a small, like 700 square foot, one-bedroom apartment with the girls for the first year and a half that they were born, so I don’t really think they had the motivation or the room to kind of crawl around, so when they were able to sit up, hold their head up, and start being a little bit more mobile, it really helped us out not having to have to hold them all the time to feed them, not having to always go to them, or when the toy goes a little bit farther from them, to like kind of bring it back for them. For them to be able to go and get it really helped.
Joe: Yeah, mobility is a two-edged sword. In once case, they can be a little more self-sufficient, but other times, once they get going, there’s no stopping them. The benefit, I guess, of having a smaller apartment, like you had, was there’s only so far they can go, there’s only so much trouble they can get into because they’re more contained.
Jake: That’s so true. It is so true. Now that we live in a house, and they’re two, they’re walking and running now, it’s definitely the other edge of that sword has really shown, and they’re getting into everything they can touch. When I see them get into something that they can’t, I have to often remind myself, “Did I put that somewhere that was secure, or is it kind of my fault that they got into that?”
Joe: How old were the girls when you found out you were expecting number three?
Jake: I want to say about sixteen months when we found out that we were having number three. It’s been fun. It’s been fun, even being pregnant, with having the twins, it’s been a different experience, having a singleton, and going through managing, or playing with and raising twins with a pregnant wife.
Joe: What are some things that work for you, for taking care of the girls while mom was pregnant with a new one?
Jake: My wife, she needed sleep. That was one of the things that in the morning, she needed some sleep, and so being able to take the girls in the morning, and do breakfast with them, and take care of them to let her kind of sleep in, and get a couple more hours while she was pregnant, that really worked for us.
Jake: Luckily, with my work schedule, I’m able to be home during the day a lot, so being home to be able to do the groceries with the girls, to kind of let her do some other things that aren’t quite as physical, or running around and doing errands really helped out.
Joe: Yeah, that’s true. We found that too, with our kids whenever my wife was pregnant. If I took the other kids out of the house, or did some of those errands like you were describing, I was able to give her a little bit of a break, so I’m glad that worked for you. You mentioned moving from an apartment to a house. Was the impetus for that the third pregnancy, or were the twins just busting at the seams in the apartment?
Jake: Well, it was a little of both. The twins were getting a little cramped in the one-bedroom apartment. The living room was our nursery, but also our bedroom was the nursery. We had the girls dressers, with all their clothes and everything, out in the living room, and then their crib was in our bedroom with us. It was definitely very cramped in that one-bedroom, but seeing that we had one more on the way, we looked at each other, we’re like, “We can’t do this. We have to move. We have to get a house.”
Jake: We looked for quite a while, and up until the point to where it was two months before, three months maybe, before our third one arrived, we found a house, and we jumped on it. It’s been so much better since then, so much easier.
Joe: What’s a typical day in the life of right now with your twins, now that they’re about 2 years old? What’s their sleep schedule, and eating schedule, like?
Jake: They usually wake up around 8:00 in the morning. Get them out of bed, and right now, them being two, we’re just starting to try to potty train them, which has been a huge change for us in finding out that it’s also training us while we’re trying to train them. We’ve got to train ourselves to work with them.
Jake: One of your older podcasts, I know it’s like number 150, potty training one, has really helped me out, and us out, trying to do that. Once they wake up, we go do our potty routine, brush their teeth. I make breakfast, usually, in the mornings, and then I usually spend quite a while cleaning it up off the floor while they play. Then, it’s usually time to go out somewhere because they have so much energy they can’t be in the house much longer.
Jake: Then, we come back, have a snack, they go down for a nap. They wake up. We have lunch, and then it’s usually more cleaning, and then time for dinner by that point. They’re usually down, after dinner, somewhere around 7:30 to 8:30 at night. They’ve been pretty good sleeping through the night unless they’re sick or something weird is going on with them.
Joe: Sickness always throws a wrench in the works. It breaks up schedules, breaks up sleep habits.
Jake: Yeah, their sleep schedule and everything, we’ve worked really hard with them to try to be able to put them in the cribs, and train them to kind of calm themselves down, and go to sleep at night. That’s been amazing. Hard journey, but amazing to see the rewards.
Joe: They’re both still in cribs?
Jake: Yeah, they are. We kind of told ourselves, “If they’re not climbing out, is there really a reason to get them out of the cribs, and into their own beds?” We weren’t sure how to juggle training them to sleep in their own bed, and trying to potty train them at the same time. They weren’t climbing out. They sleep in the same room together, so they love being with each other. It’s not horrible if we’re not in there right away keeping them in as long as we can.
Joe: That’s smart. That’s smart. As long as they stay in their cribs, that’s great because then you know they’re not escaping and running around the house, or creating havoc while you’re on the other side of the house. I think you’re wise to do those two independently of each other, potty training and then a transition to big beds.
Joe: Our girls did both around the same time, but it was not exactly the same time, so we were able to kind of stagger that. It made life a little bit easier in transitioning. Jake, you have a business of helping parents with car seat safety. Maybe you could share the big mistakes maybe parents make when getting those car seats ready for the kids.
Jake: It’s kind of gotten more common with people getting their own car seats since there are so many different car seats out there, and they all have some similar ways of being installed, but they’re so different that a lot of people make some very simple mistakes on them, which in the general use of using them, kid just goes in, and you’re going to the store, and nothing happens. You don’t even notice it, but when you need the car seat, in the moment that you need it, if you get in an accident, that’s when the mistakes kind of make the difference.
Jake: One of the most common ones that I see are people using the latch system, which is the little clips, they’ll use that system along with using the safety belt. They think it’s like an extra secure method, and in reality, it doesn’t quite work like that. One system is supposed to operate independently of the other. It doesn’t work out well for the car seat if it gets into an accident. That’s a common one.
Jake: Then, a lot of parents tend to turn their kid around to make life a little bit easier on them. I totally get that. No older kid wants to be rear-facing for so long. They want to turn around and forward-face to see what’s going on, and the parent wants that too, so they can see their kid. A lot of parents do that a little early.
Jake: It used to be once you met this height requirement, this weight requirement, this age requirement, flip them around from rear-facing to forward-facing, and a lot of science and studies have shown wait until your kid’s a least two years old, or really wait as long as you can. That really helps protect your kid from an accident. The seat will absorb impact a little bit more, a lot more, than just the belts on the kid. That’s a common thing that I see.
Joe: Most accidents are from the front of the vehicle, right, that’s why rear-facing is better?
Jake: Absolutely, yeah. Most are from the front or the side, and that’s when the kid’s most protected, that they’re rear-facing when you get in an accident from the front or the side.
Jake: The third one that I see is when the belt clip is a little too low on the kid. A lot of parents, they have their straps a little bit loose so the belt clip often slides, or it’s so loose that the kid can move the belt clip lower, or really high on the kid.
Joe: That’s the clip that goes across the chest? Is that the one you’re talking about?
Jake: That would be correct. That would be correct. It’s supposed to be at the kid’s armpit level, and that’s because that’s the area of the body that can absorb most impacts, and it’s strongest on the child. If the kid was in an accident, and if the belt clip is too low, it’s really the stomach that absorbs the impact. Then you can get into some other injuries.
Jake: If the belt clip is too high, then it’s kind of around the kid’s neck or collarbone, and both bones break a lot easier than right there at that armpit line, that chest line. Those are the three things that I see the most.
Joe: Yeah, those are great things to look for. The first one was you either use the latch, or use the seat belt, but not both at the same time.
Joe: The second one was keep them rear-facing as long as possible.
Joe: The third one is make sure that the harness and the chest buckle is properly positioned for maximum safety, right?
Jake: That would be correct.
Joe: You’re serving parents in your local area if they need help with their car seat. Are you helping people all over the place?
Jake: I live in the Tampa Bay area, and people can call me, they can message me on Facebook at flcarseatguy on Facebook, and I’m happy to help with them. I helped a couple families in Ohio and New York. They just messaged me and videoed me, and I’m happy to help them too. Obviously, I can’t do like a class, or an actual physical meeting as I do with people in my area.
Jake: They give me a call. We set up a time, and I meet them, and I’ll give them a whole kind of safety class with their car seat, with their car, what works for them, and their family, and their children.
Joe: Anybody who’s listening today could reach out to Jake. Again, that’s Facebook.com/flcarseatguy. I’ll link up to that in the show notes as well. If you’re having challenges with your car seats, or just want to make sure your twins are safe in the car, it’s a great opportunity to talk with Jake to help you out there.
Jake: Yeah, absolutely. Love to.
Joe: Jake, thank you so much for sharing your twin story with us today. We really appreciate it.
Jake: Thank you for having me. It’s quite an honor to be on the show.
Joe: I hope you enjoy that chat with Jake Morris, father of twins. If you’d like to connect with Jake, or read the transcript for this episode, or reach out to him, all those links we mentioned are in the show notes at twindadpodcast.com. If you’d like to be featured on an upcoming episode of the podcast, and share your twin story with your fellow father of twins, please reach out to me.
Joe: You can email me [email protected] or reach out on Twitter or Instagram @twindadjoe. I’d love to connect with you there as well. Again, today’s show is brought to you by my book, Dad’s Guide to Twins. You can get a free audio book version of that book at freetwinbook.com. Thank you so much for listening, and I will see you next time.
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