Having Twins as an Expat Far from Home with Naveed Ahamed – Podcast 205

Joe Rawlinson by Joe Rawlinson - January 8, 2021

Having Twins as an Expat Far from Home with Naveed Ahamed

Episode 205 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes

Today we continue our father of twins interview series with Naveed Ahamed, father of twin boys. Listen as we explore his twin parenting journey, including:

  • Dealing with Mom’s low blood pressure during the pregnancy
  • When Mom went on bed rest
  • Helping Mom through the pregnancy while living as an ex-pat far from home
  • Balancing both parents’ work and twin preparations
  • Getting support from friends instead of family
  • Dad’s experience in the delivery room
  • Adjusting to life with twins
  • When mom was depressed post partum
  • Traveling on long-haul international flights with infant twins
  • Surviving the first year with twins
  • Celebrating a huge first birthday party with the twins


Joe: Hi there, and welcome to the 205th episode of the Dad’s Guide to Twins podcast. This is Joe Rawlinson. Today, we are continuing our father of twins interview series with fellow father of twins, Naveed Ahamed, father of twin boys who just turned one. So, happy birthday to your boys, Naveed.

Today’s show is brought to you by my first book for dads of twins, it’s called Dad’s Guide to Twins: How to Survive the Twin Pregnancy and Prepare for Your Twins. You can learn more about that book at twindadbook.com. Today I’d like to welcome to the show, fellow father of twins, Naveed Ahamed. Welcome to the show, Naveed.

Naveed: Yeah, thank you so much, Joe. It’s good to be part of this podcast.

Joe: Tell me about your twins, right now. How old are they?

Naveed: Yeah, they just turned one year yesterday, and it was great to see them growing up, and having fun. We had a great birthday party yesterday, and well, we have lots of fun. So, it was good to see the journey through what we went through, and then now they’re playing around. So, it was fun.

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Joe: Yeah, you have twin boys, correct?

Naveed: Yeah, that’s right.

Joe: So, what did you do yesterday, for the birthday party?

Naveed: Oh yeah, so, the whole day we wanted to do something special for them. So, morning, when we woke up, we just told them that it’s their birthday, and then we just dressed them based on their names, and the one year. And, when the day progressed, we just show them, what are the gifts we wanted to give them. Then, by end of day, we called around 25 people. So, right now, we are staying with their grandparents right now, just for the birthday, we came to meet their grandparents.

Naveed: So, they are 25 people very close to us, and then it was a gala party, where we had a dinner, and the kids came, we had games, where the kids were also part of it. Though they don’t know what’s going on, but this was a thing, what we wanted to show them. So, that they get used to people.

Joe: That sounds like a big party. Sounds awesome. So, let’s rewind the clock a little bit, back to when you first found out you were having twins. What was your family situation like, at that time?

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Naveed: I’m basically from India, and I was working in Malaysia, and we were married for four years, and we were having a lot of fun traveling around. We were looking at our careers, we were high in our careers. And yeah, it was 1st of April that we just found that, hey, we got to go to a doctor, because my wife, she felt that, you know, there might be something great to come of in the family. So, we never thought of having a family, as such, and all came the grace of God, I think. It went on well, after that.

Joe: So, you went to the doctor, and you got the news that you were going to be having twins. What was your reaction?

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Naveed: That day was the best day of my life, I feel. We went to the doctor. That was the first time we went to the doctor, to just a gynecologist. So, we went to the hospital, and then we just told him that we wanted to do a test, actually. And, we did a pen tip test, where they collected samples of my wife, and the color changed! I hope you know, that the color changes to blue. So, it changed, and then that’s how… This is shocking for us, and it was really good. And then, when doctors started testing it, he said that, they are some samples of dots in the sack. So, that’s how we initially started the whole journey.

Naveed: And then we went next week, and then he just tested it out again. And then he said that… That was actually a month later, I guess. So, he decided there was a heartbeat, and then they said that there was one more heartbeat, and it was just as shocking for us, and we were all laughing, the whole room, about what’s going on in the room, and they never expected, and even we never expected, actually.

Naveed: So, it was a different feeling, and it was shocking. The lot of things coming up in my mind at that time. Like, how are we going to manage these twins, it was just the first-time kids for us, as well. And, being more like a couple for four years, just enjoying life, and looking at other parents. I think the whole feeling changed, I guess. You know, “Hey, I’m going to be a father,” which was an amazing feeling, and I think I became matured that day, I feel. There was something, a different feeling, what I had.

Joe: That’s right. News of being a new dad definitely makes you put everything into perspective. Were there any challenges that you had during the pregnancy, with the twins?

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Naveed: Yeah, there were a lot of challenges, actually. The doctor said that my wife had a low BP. He said she needs to have a bed rest for at least three months. What we did was, her company was really great, so she was taking a bed rest for first three months, and we used to have, every week we need to go to doctor, and keep on having the test, or a blood test, and looking at how is the progress of her BP, and also the different parts of what’s going on in the twin babies’ health.

Joe: So, BP was blood pressure?

Naveed: Yeah.

Joe: So, she was in the hospital in bed rest, or at home on bed rest?

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Naveed: Oh, she was at home. As we were an expats in Malaysia, so it was up to me to take care of her, and she was in the house, and I was taking care of her.

Joe: How did you balance taking care of your wife, and your job responsibilities?

Naveed: It was quite challenging, actually, as we were happy progressing in our career, as well. I had to make sure that I take care of her, as well. So, I think my mind was more focused at home, rather than work. So, I reduced the number of tasks in my office, and I was to focus what’s happening, so I was constantly having a CCTV camera, what my wife is doing, is she good enough? Is she having a good sleep? Is taking good food, as well? So, I used to make sure that she gets the food right on time, she’s having a good sleep. I spoke to my manager about, like, “Hey, I’m having twins, I better need to take care of it. It’s not like a singleton, and it’s something new to me.”

Naveed: And, I think, being a friend to them, to the people around, to our neighbors, saying that, “Hey, I might need to help anytime of the day.” So, I made sure that I communicated well around the people, just [inaudible 00:06:54] them that, hey, I, is something a challenge, they would be a challenge for us. So, I think that was something which I did pretty well, I guess. And, that’s how I made sure that things went smooth between us.

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Joe: Oh, that’s great. Yeah, it sounded like you were able to communicate well with your work, and with your neighbors, to get to help you needed, and to help your wife, which was the priority. Did she have to stay on bed rest all the way until the twins were delivered, or was she able to go back to work before then?

Naveed: Well, she was good after three months, because the doctor said that, if she’s able to manage for three months, in a proper way, able to manage her BP, her sugar level, and everything, so she could go back to her work. But, what happened was, her company was good enough for her to manage, and they said that, “Hey, you can take rest till the babies…” So, that was something, a great advantage for us, as well. So, what she did was, she just started working from home, itself, till the delivery. And also, by actually the fifth month, I think she got bored sitting at home. So, she started going to office, which, we shifted our house near to our office, itself.

Joe: Okay, so you moved? You moved right before the babies were born?

Naveed: Yeah, that’s right, because her colleagues were good enough, they were taking care, more than me, I feel, during the working hours. So, that helped me a lot, actually. And, they have a lot of girls around, in her workplace, actually. And, we were already constantly in WhatsApp, telling them, “Hey, what’s happening with her?” Like, if she’s not able to message us, to ask her colleagues, is she good enough? And everything. So, she started going to her office, which, in sense, kept her occupied. I think that’s very important for the whole journey, actually, with the people around. If she’s not too much bothered of, hey there’s a twins, and if she’s able to take care of it, I think that makes the journey whole easier for any dad, I feel.

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Joe: Oh yeah, it’s wonderful when you have extra support around you, especially since you were far from home, right? I assume you didn’t have any family near you, you just had friends and colleagues, right?

Naveed: Yeah. No family. It’s only friends around. I think that’s only expectation, like because friends of your age can understand you better. If there’s a family, I mean, things would’ve been really different, because it was something… the most of my whole family, there’s only singleton, there was none twins in our whole family. So, I think the friends were a great help for us.

Joe: How far through the pregnancy did the twins make it, until they were born?

Naveed: The doctor said that, “Hey, you got to be a bit careful from 34 to 36.” So, during 34th week, we went to the doctor, and he said that the sack of one of the baby is bigger than other, so we got to be a bit careful. And, when it went from 34 weeks to two days, he said that “No, that time has come for the surgery.” So, during 34 week and four days, we were getting pretty close, and yeah, that’s D-day, we got it.

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Joe: So, you had a C-section, I take it? You mentioned surgery. And, what was your experience like during that? Were you able to be there with mom, and with the babies?

Naveed: Yeah, I was there during the surgery. What they did was, they had this half body, where they give an injection, and I was there with her during the whole surgery time, and the whole set up of the operation theater was, it keeps come to my mind all the time, where, it was more like a express way of taking out the baby one, everyone shot in, that, “Hey, baby one is out.” And, suddenly, after two minutes, they said that, “Hey, baby two is out.” And, it was so quick that, when the baby one was out, they just started cleaning the baby, and they kept in the insulator. The whole scenario was something different, and it keeps come to mind all the time.

Joe: How was recovery, for mom and babies? Did you need to spend extra time in the hospital?

Naveed: Yeah, they were in a NICU for a week, because my babies were not… because, the hospital wanted them to be at least minimum 2 kilos. Baby one was 1.9 kilos, and baby two was 1.7. And, as usual, they had jaundice, and also, the hospital felt that they were a bit weak. And, by end of one week, they were getting better, and able to go back home.

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Joe: Are your boys identical twins, or fraternal twins?

Naveed: They’re fraternal. In [inaudible 00:11:31] first three months, we felt they were identical. I mean, though we knew it was fraternal, but everyone used to say that, “Hey, they are identical.” Now, as they progress, we’re able to see the changes, and my family, they still feel that they’re still identical.

Joe: That’s awesome. Even if they were identical, parents of twins, we have this ability to tell our twins apart, when, to the rest of the world, they look the same, right? That’s interesting, that at the beginning, they looked a lot more identical than they do now. When you brought the boys home, what were some things that surprised you about having twins?

Naveed: I think the most important part of the sleep. Everyone said that, the sleep is the most important part of life, which we never felt it. I think, once they’re back home, we made sure that… we never felt that the sleep was an important part of our life. So, once they were there at home, we made sure that… They used to wake up at every two hours, and we never got a time to sleep, actually. You know, one baby used to get up, and other used to sleep, and there was a those totally a chaos at home, I feel.

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Naveed: And me, there’s no family support. I mean, during the friends was already done, and now it was up to me and her to take care. So, it was totally different, and I feel, at least minimum, for two, three days, we hardly sleep for three, four hours, I feel. And, we’re quite sleep deprived. And, that was a bit tough, I feel.

Joe: Yes, you make a wonderful point there about sleep. Everybody tells you, you’re going to be tired, everybody tells you, you’re going to be sleep deprived, but until you’re actually there, not getting sleep, and you’re taking care of the babies all night, that’s when you realize, “Wow, this is tough. This is really hard.” How long were you and your wife off of work, after the babies were born?

Naveed: I was back to my work after 10 days. My wife had a break for three months. The feeling what I had before pregnancy carried on, till almost like a six months after that, looking at, “Hey, what’s happening at home? What are they doing right now? What’s my wife feeling? Is she able to take care of it?” And, having a fatherhood, it had a different feeling that, “Hey, the twins are more important right now, rather than work,” or that that was a priority for me, right now. That’s what I felt.

Joe: Well, that’s great. I had the same feeling. I was between being sleep deprived and still going back to work, and my desire to make sure that my wife’s okay, and my kids are okay back at home. It was really hard to mentally focus on work, because your mind is still at home, thinking about how everybody’s doing, and just trying to make it through the day, because you’re tired, because you were up last night, at multiple times, helping feed the babies.

Naveed: Because we are quite young, actually, my wife is just 25, and we just got married during a young age, so we didn’t know how, literally, to cook. So, by the time they turned three months, I had a bit pro in cooking, at that time. So, the food part was taken care by me, and the house part, and taking care of it, I made sure that the wife’s… she just takes care of the babies. So, all the house cleanup, and everything was taken care by me, and she just focused on them.

Joe: That’s great. My wife and I did something similar, where we divided up responsibilities. It was really important that we were clear in our communications with each other, say, “Okay, this is what I’m going to be doing, this is what you can do.” That we were able to balance each other’s needs, and get everything done that we needed to.

Naveed: And, the end of the day, we made sure that, when the boys are sleeping, I should make a minimum half an hour every day, to watch a Netflix show, or something, to be with my wife, and just to share, like, “How was the day?” And, just to keep ourselves, like keep having a talking to her, telling her that, “Hey, this is what we did today. The boys are growing, and this is what we could do it better,” or something like that. You know, we should keep discussing, and we were just happy looking at them sleeping, and enjoying that time was very important for us.

Joe: Yeah, that’s a great reminder, that unless you make time for your partner, for your wife, it’s not going to happen, in that first year with twins, because you’re going to be so busy taking care of the kids, that you may forget your partner. So, that’s wonderful that you set aside time, to spend time together, to nurture that relationship.

Naveed: After a month to three months, where she been through postpartum depression, as well. There was something different to me, as well. Because, I think most other people, they don’t speak about it, and we don’t understand the feeling, but there was some feelings within my wife, which was quite different for our whole relation. Like, she was getting annoyed, and she felt [inaudible 00:16:05] a different time, I feel, which I didn’t know about it.

Joe: So, when did you realize that it was postpartum depression?

Naveed: I think, after one month, when I had to go to my work, she felt that she was lonely at home, and there was no one to take care of her. And, when I used to come back home, she was a bit annoyed, she used to get angry, and some feeling, which I felt that she was bit different, the time I was there, to live with her for 10 days, it was all great because I was with her, I was taking care of everything. There was someone around her. When she was alone at home, I felt that something was bothering her, at that time. I felt like there is something happening within her body, or something like that, which was really different. It took me a week to really understand that things were pretty normal for me, but it was quite different for her.

Joe: So, what did you do about that?

Naveed: The same, the communication helped me a lot, actually. Sitting with her, understanding what’s really happening, telling her that, it’s important for me to get back to work, and telling her that, that it’s a journey, right now. We need to understand that, as we need to work out as a family, and make her understand that, this is most challenging part for her in life, as well. Carrying out four twins for the whole eight months, and now it’s a different, that you can see kids in front of her, and there were so many changes in the body, she went through a surgery. There’s so many things went [inaudible 00:17:26]. It’s something a new to her, as well. So, we kept talking about it, went through the whole blogs, and understood that this is postpartum, and how can we come out of it. We spoke to other friends who also had a singleton, and we told them all about the problem of what she’s going through. And, I think, I started spending more time with her during that phase, and that helped a lot.

Joe: What have been some of the milestones during this first year that have made things a little bit easier for you and your wife?

Naveed: I think the weight was more important for us. That was a big milestone for us, getting to 2.5, and 3. Every month they were gaining one kilos. And, the way they were behaving, their smile, and the talk, and everything, that was actually the milestone we have looked. And, now looking at one year, now they’re April. They’re almost in the same level right now, because the baby one was just to see what’s happening, what the baby two was doing. So now, they both are trying to walk, but they still need the support.

Joe: So, you’ve also traveled with your infants, because you said, they were born in Malaysia, but you’re from India, and how have you been able to travel with them? What have been some things that have made that easier for your family?

Naveed: Yeah, I think we travel a lot, actually. This one year, we were just calculating that, how many distance they actually traveled. They almost traveled around 20,000 kilometers with us, in this whole year. My wife is basically from Saudi Arabia. So, we made sure that… we had to go meet the grandparents in Saudi Arabia, and plus my parents, back in India.

Naveed: So, we had a trip to Saudi Arabia first, by flight. And, that was when they were three months old, we took them in the flight, and it was quite nervous to us, but they were quite happy to sit in bassinet, and they didn’t cry a lot. So, that was okay. And, they were quite good with Air Australia, they took care of them well. And, I think we were quite prepared for it, as well, made sure that the handy things, like Pampers, and different things, whatever they require, and the milk and everything, we keep ready next to us. So, if someone gets up, we make sure that we keep on… we make sure that the other passengers, they don’t get annoyed with the noise from the crying with.

Naveed: So, we traveled to Saudi Arabia. We made sure that we went to different parts within Dubai, or something like that. So, it didn’t stop our travel plans at all. Having babies, we made sure that they shouldn’t stop us traveling around the world, as well.

Joe: So, as far as logistics go, on flights, did you get a ticket, like a seat for each of them, or did they sit on your lap? How did that work?

Naveed: Yeah, a few of… when we should go in the low budget airlines, yeah, we made sure that they should sit on our lap, and with few of airlines, we had a bassinet, and then we should sit next to them. And, I think the people around us also understood. And, my kids, they’re quite comfortable. My elder one is quite comfortable being with strangers. So, when the other one was crying, we made sure that we give to some other people, and it was something like a there as well, like people are having fun looking at twins walking around, looking at us, they looked at us in a very different way. And so, it was easy for me to communicate to other people, like, “Can you please help me out, because I’m looking at some other baby. So, it was easier for us to move around the flight, as well.

Joe: Yeah, we noticed that too, when we flew with our very young children, is that people were always very courteous and helpful. Now that your boys are a year old, what is the typical schedule like on a daily basis, as far as nap times, and wake up, and feeding times?

Naveed: Yeah, I think they’re getting better now. The elder one gets a whole night’s sleep, and he gets around eight hours of sleep at nighttime. The younger one, he still wakes up after four hours. And, what we did was, we started giving the food, what we eat, actually. That becomes more easier for us to… for them to fill their tummy, as well. And so, what happens is, by 6:00 AM, they usually wake up, and they start playing for two, three hours, then 9:00 AM, and they sleep of by 9:00 AM. Then again, it’s more like a three, four hours they play together, or we sit with them, make sure that they have a good time.

Naveed: And, they are having a nap time for almost like four hours. And, within this four hours, they sit with us during the lunchtime, and also during the breaks, and we keep feeding them every two hours, or something, a short meal. We make sure that they keep having that, because of… my elder baby, he’s more of a milk baby. He likes to have a milk products, and sugar type. The other one is more of having any kind of food. So, he’s okay with that. So, we made sure that having this two hour scheduling of food, as it helped them, and also at nighttime, they can have a longer sleep. We make sure that we sleep late at night, so that they can have a longer sleep at nighttime.

Joe: Naveed, as we wrap up today, if listeners would like to get in touch with you, what’s the best way to connect?

Naveed: My email ID is [email protected]. I would love to share with you, my experience.

Joe: Well, thank you so much for taking your time today, and sharing your story with us. We really appreciate it.

Naveed: Yeah, thank you so much.

Joe: I hope you enjoyed that chat with Naveed about his twin journey, how he’s been able to manage the ups and downs of preparing for twins, there’s the health challenges they had, and traveling internationally with infant twins, and how they made that possible. As always, you’ll find the complete transcript and show notes for this episode over at twindadpodcast.com.

Joe: Today’s show was brought to you by my first book for dads of twins, it’s called Dad’s Guide to Twins: How to Survive the Twin Pregnancy and Prepare for Your Twins. You can learn more about that book at twindadbook.com. If you’d like to share your twin story on the podcast, please feel free to reach out to me. You can email, [email protected], or reach out to me on Instagram or Twitter, @twindadjoe. I would love to hear from you. Thank you so much for listening, and I’ll see you next time.

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Further Reading

Dad's Guide to Raising Twins book
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