Episode 207 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes
Today we continue our father of twins interview series with Simon Burden, father of boy/girl twins. Listen as we explore his twin parenting journey, including:
- The early morning pregnancy scare that sent them to the hospital via ambulance
- Dealing with extreme morning sickness (and the flu) when pregnant with twins
- How Mom and Dad can share twin feeding duties
- Weaning twins
- Traveling for 4 months when the twins are infants
What would it be like if you took your infant twins, your wife and you hit the road and travel to the other side of the world for several months? Well, that’s exactly what today’s guests did. We’re going to deep dive into conversation with a fellow father of twins in our father twins interview series, Simon Burden.
Intro Guy 0:19
Welcome, to the Dad’s Guide to Twins podcast, the podcast that will help you survive and thrive as a father of twins Now, here’s your host, the author of the book, The Dad’s Guide to Twins, Joe Rawlinson.
Hey everybody. This is Joe Rawlinson. Welcome to the podcast. Today we are continuing our father twins interview series with fellow father of twins Simon burden. He’s from London, he married a Texan girl, and they’ve got amazing little infant twins. But, what’s really exciting is the adventure that they’re taking as a family to the other side of the world. We’re going to dive into how international travel and staying far from home even works and some of the challenges they had from pregnancy and infant twins coming right up. But before we jump into that, I want to let you know that today’s show is brought to you by TwinTShirtCompany.com real find dozens of T-shirts designed specifically for you; fathers are twins, moms are twins, for grandparents of twins, and the twins themselves. You can get shirts over at between TwinTShirtCompany.com. Now let’s jump right into the interview with Simon.
Today, I’d like to welcome to the show fellow father of twins Simon burden. Welcome to the show, Simon.
Thanks, Joe. Very excited to be here today.
So Simon, how old are your twins right now?
So they are six, nearly seven months old now. So they were born on the 21st of June in London in the UK.
And you have are the identical twins, fraternal twins?
So, it’s a boy and a girl: Alvin and Lucy. They were born 34 weeks, so, earlier than we’re expecting. And yeah, they’re keeping us very busy as I’m sure you’d expect.
(NOTE: Still expecting? Get weekly updates on your twin pregnancy here.)
Yes, at six months that is a very active age. Hopefully, you’re coming out of some sleep deprivation and get a little more sleep at night.
I think I have probably managed to sleep deprivation side of things quite well. I think my wife literally in the last couple of days we’ve had a bit of an epiphany with Alvin, our son. So, on the sleep deprivation side of things, I think partly from listening to your podcast beforehand, I was quite obsessed about getting enough sleep when they were born. And one of the things I think I did was just try to go to bed as early as possible in the evening. So I’d be going to bed at 7:30/8pm save you on the kind of rationale if you give yourself 12 hours in bed, you might be able to piece together six hours of sleep and that kind of just about worked and we kind of did a divide and conquer type thing where our general model is we take a baby each, so I probably get easier baby cuz we’re doing mixed feeding, my wife is breastfeeding, and we’re bottle feeding as well. So I’ll take the baby who’s more comfortable taking the bottle and I’ll probably get up once or twice in the night and bottle feed the baby and put them back to sleep. And for the last few months, that’s been my daughter, my wife takes Alvin our son and he’s more of a breastfed baby and until very recently he’s been waking up every two hours during the night.
My wife has been still very tired and literally about three nights ago, we – So now we’re in Chile, we’ll talk about that in a bit – We’re in Chile. And we went to the Chilean version of Walmart here and we got ourselves a second pack and play for him. We already had to pack and play for our daughter. We moved him from the travel cot we started with to the pack and play. And now he’s suddenly just decided he absolutely loves his pack and play, and he’s just sleeping seven hours straight every night for the last three or four nights and we just kind of can’t believe it’s just so strange how these things just suddenly happen like the click of your fingers. So yeah, we’re very happy at the moment.
I bet that’s great going from two hour interruptions to full seven hours. That’s wonderful. And were they always a concern – You mentioned one of them preferred breastfeeding, one bottle feeding, have they always been that way?
They have alternated; they tend to sort of go take it in turns. So, I think to begin with, our daughter preferred the breast and Alvin preferred the bottle and so I was with Alvin at night and my wife was with Lucy.
And then when Alvin was about two or three months old, he started developing some sort of feeding issues and he was really struggling to feed, and he was in a lot of discomfort. And we had to go into the hospital for a couple of days, and they ran those tests and they concluded that through sort of process of eliminating everything else, that all sounded quite scary that he probably just had a cow milk allergy. So then they gave him this pretty disgusting formula that is just amino acid based and he didn’t really like that either. So my wife ended up breastfeeding him a lot, and we’ve just kind of been struggling through with that. And I don’t think we’re ever going to know whether he did have a cow milk allergy or not. The one thing we did try was sort of early weaning with him and he took two solid food really, really well. He just eats. Well, he eats like his father to be honest, which is he’s a lot very quickly, and he’ll the anything you put in front of him, which is another kind of big relief. So yeah, we’ve had our fair share of challenges I guess, but we feel like we’re we’re working our way through them.
So you’re in the process of weaning your son, how ’bout your daughter.
Yes, he’s just not quite so interested in food she just kind of you put it in front of her and she may be opened her mouth a couple of times and she just not super interested. I think to begin with, we thought maybe she doesn’t like the taste because we’re trying to do more bitter vegetables first, I think there’s sort of plenty of schools of thought on weaning, but the one my wife’s keen for us to follow is that we try to feed them a wide range of more bitter vegetables to begin with in the hopes that that will then make them like bit of vegetables as they’re growing up, and we thought, well, maybe she doesn’t like that type of food. I just think she’s not ready yet to be sort of chewing and swallowing. So it’s really interesting being first time parents like we are having two babies and watching them both react very differently to doing the same thing. It kind of gives you a certain level of comfort that you have one as a benchmark to compare the other one to at this early age, and you think, Okay, well, we must be doing something, right, because it’s going right with at least one of them. So, you can see that what’s down to nature and what’s down to nurture when you’ve got two of them.
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Yeah, I’ve always found that interesting as well, I mean, we have identical girls, whereas you have fraternal, but even with identical, they don’t develop at the same rate, they have different interests, you know, foodwise, and they start to develop weaning, or moving or food preferences, all that stuff is a little bit different with each of them. So it’s very fun to watch.
Yeah, I find it very interesting that that’s true, even with identical twins as well.
So let’s rewind the clock a little bit back to when you found out that you were having twins. What was your family situation like and what was your reaction to that?
We went down the IVF route. And so we put two embryos back, so we knew that there was a chance that it could be twins, but the chance still was very low. And I remember the day that we went in for the scan, well actually, I can just rewind a bit from that. So, my wife, not particularly patient with these things, and so she started doing the pregnancy tests about four or five days after the embryos were put back. I think you’re supposed to wait two weeks. And I’m generally not one for romantic gestures, but I had decided to do a surprise road trip around the UK countryside for a long weekend.
And that Saturday morning, she did her first pregnancy test because she was feeling a bit strange, and she had a very, very faint pink line so we kind of had a feeling she might be pregnant, and I just remember her in the car, suddenly starting to hiccup non stop for a very long time and starting to feel quite sick. And I’m driving around these very narrow British country lanes as she’s starting to feel very sick, and then we went for a meal in the evening and I think that’s probably the first and only time she will walk out of a restaurant on me because the hormones are getting so crazy. And I don’t think I was sort of fully up to speed with where she was at that point in time, so I think that was kind of quite funny. And she was still doing the test every day after that and that line was getting gradually thicker and thicker, and so we were very confident that great, gonna have at least one baby. And we were kind of thinking it’s very likely as one baby, there still can’t pay for the shock when you see that there are two heartbeats on the scan. And my wife’s reaction was very immediate. It’s kind of mixture of fear and joy coming out.
And I think that day, I had a really busy day full of phone calls all morning with work. And my mind was kind of quite focused on work before we went for the scan, and then immediately afterwards, and so I had this kind of strange, delayed reaction that we had the scan at eight in the morning, and it wasn’t until lunchtime and I took the phone down that two hours and I just suddenly looked out the window and just a stream of expletives left my mouth. And it just suddenly sunk in and I think my immediate kind of guttural reaction was, oh my god, how am I going to be able to devote all of my attention to two babies? Yeah, I kind of was thinking that if I have one baby, I’m going to be able to give them all of my love and time and attention and literally two at once, how am I going to cope with this? So it was a really big shock for sure. But over time, I think we started to actually enjoy that. Certainly pretty scary to begin with.
So it is a big shock to receive the news of twins. And I think your reaction is very common. I had one very similar, completely overwhelmed by the news. And as you said, you get through that shock you figure it out, and now it’s just you know, quite the adventure to have twins. How did the rest of the pregnancy go for your wife? Were there any complications?
Yeah, she had a pretty terrible time with it. She had really bad I mean, it’s called morning sickness, but it’s really all day sickness. So we both live and work in central London and my wife is sort of vomited in many streets of Central London. Yeah, it was quite impressive amount of sickness and she had multiple different types of medication that helped a little bit but it just didn’t didn’t stop her actually being sick. She sort of tells story worries about how she’d be in a very important work meeting. And she’d be thinking, you know, why does it smell vomiting here, and then she realized she still had it on our toes of her shoes and things like that.
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And I just have these fond memories of having to get up in the middle of the night to make a refined bean and cheese burritos because she just needed needed the salt kind of instantly. And then down she had the flu really badly felt about three days in hospital with that, and then and then she developed this condition called cholestasis, which is a it’s a sort of a liver, strange liver function condition that some women get when they’re pregnant. I think it’s hereditary and her mom had it.
Although in mom’s day, they didn’t really know what it was and that the outward symptoms are just extreme itchiness of the palms of her hands and the bottom of the feet. So she just spent the last 10 weeks or so of a pregnancy just constantly itching. What it actually is, is its release too much bile acid into your blood. We like to try to understand stuff as much as we can, we were doing loads of research on the internet to try and find out, you know what, what it was about and what their issues were. And they were reading these research papers about how it increases the chances of stillbirth as your baby babies and increases risks of early labor. And so the recommendation is for singles and babies that there should be a plan c-section around 37 weeks, and there was very limited research on twins.
But there were indications that with twins, the risk factors would stack up even earlier on in the pregnancy. And so we were kind of having quite serious discussions with the consultant at our hospital that we were using to sort of say we thought that we should maybe have a C section at 35 weeks and he was kind of saying, No, I think you should wait until 36 weeks because you need your babies to develop and it’s about balancing the risks of them coming out too early and needing to spend lots of time in special care against the obvious risk of stillbirth.
So you know, we were having those debates right up until 34 weeks when six o’clock on a Friday morning. I’m in the spare bedroom. My wife has many pillows and her bed and it’s never me. I get a phone call from her saying get in here and I go in and it was there was a fairly traumatic morning because she had her waters are definitely broken. But there was a lot of blood in her waters as well. And I think especially because we knew about this, we were particularly scared. So we, we called up the hospital and they said, you should just get an ambulance and go to your very nearest hospital.
So we got an ambulance and went to the hospital. And I think that ambulance ride was probably only about five or 10 minutes long. But it was one of the longest journeys in my life because we just both sat there thinking oh my god, you know, I hope the babies are okay once the nurses are there and my wife’s kind of all hooked up to everything and we can see two heartbeats. That was just like the biggest relief I think I’ve ever had, you know, and I just thought, right, okay, now we’re in hospital, there’s two heartbeats, everything’s going to be fine. And I think from that point on, I was okay. But I think that period between her waters breaking and getting to the hospital and hearing the heartbeats was a very it was a very long time for fear of the unknown and fear what’s going to happen.
I’m glad y’all made it. Did she go right into delivery at that point?
Yeah. So they, the nurses, and the doctors kind of said, Well, you know, because it’s 34 weeks, we want to give you a steroid injection to try to speed up the baby’s lung development. So they’re going to say we increase the chances that they’re going to be able to breathe on a date when we get them out. So they kind of wanted to just hold us off as much as they could. And so they gave my wife the first steroid injection, but she actually started going into labor quite quickly, and we ended up with but we still ended up waiting about six hours. So she did six hours of labor.
And then we had the kind of emergency c section at the end of it, she had the C section and babies came out and I think Lucy was breathing unaided, but Alvin had to be, I’m not quite sure whether you say resuscitated or what the correct term is, but he was on oxygen as soon as he came out, and when they came out, I ended up with so all on the same floor of the hospital.
They had Alvin in the very high kind of intensive care unit, then Lucy was in another room down the corridor, because the intensive care unit was very full. Even though it’s got about 40 beds in it, it was still very full. So they couldn’t fit them in the same room. But I think he was in a more high dependency unit as well. So he was in one room, Lucy was in another and my wife was in another back in the delivery room where she’d started.
And so I was kind of having to do this circuits around the hospital going from one baby to take a video of that baby, the other baby, take a video of that baby and go back to my wife, who is obviously unable to walk at this point and in bed and she’s focused immediately on trying to get her milk to come in for breastfeeding because it’s something that she was super keen on doing. So she’s trying to sort of extract the colostrum from her breasts and apparently seeing videos of your babies encourages this. So I was doing this strange relay for about five or six hours, the whole of Friday afternoon into the evening and then I think, a bit later on that night, the nurses managed to wheel her in to Lucy’s room. And then we got Alvin in as well, because he stabilized enough to come into the lower dependency NICU. We sort of had a family reunion about midnight that night. So as a really nice way to sort of finish off probably the most dramatic day of my life. I expect it kind of finished on real high.
Absolutely. I’m glad that you were able to be all together there as a family. Oftentimes, the twins are there in the Nikki are so dependent on that, that they’re not able to be with mom or dad or a little bit. So yeah, how long did your kids have to stay in the hospital before they are able to come home
we were in there for about two weeks central they were around 36 weeks and this is kind of the NHS in the UK. So they’re very focused on making sure that parents are going to be able to look after their kids before they send you home with them and you feel like you as the parents ought to some extent being assessed as as whether or not you’re going to be capable of looking after your babies and we kind of kind of sense that and we were really keen to get them home as quickly as possible because my wife is discharged from hospital after four or five days and she’s having to go in and out of the hospital and I kind of decided to go back to work because I wanted to save up my paternity leave.
So I was doing half days at work and half days in the hospital so that that kind of relay back and forth even though it’s only about a 25 minute walk for us was really getting on on earth for the babies were both still on the feeding tubes. And so we said, Look, you know, we’ve been administering their, their formula to them down the tubes the whole time. And Jamie, my wife is working really hard on the breastfeeding. So you know, we think that we be able to manage this at home and we had to do kind of two nights in a windowless room in the hospital with both of us in a double bed and the babies next to us with us just feeding them on our own to demonstrate to the hospital staff that we were capable of looking after them.
And so we kind of managed to get them out of there probably fairly early on and then for the next week or so we had them at home and we were feeding them and down the tubes at home and had lots of fun Health visitors from hospital and from other local authority as well kind of just checking up on us and giving us advice that we kind of hear we manage that I felt we managed it pretty well. And there are definitely silver linings to your kids being in the NICU is I think I’ve kind of heard heard some dads on your podcast talk about having your twins in the NICU is the 24 seven free childcare, very expert free childcare. And you get lessons in how to change diapers and how to feed your babies and what cues to look out for and when they should be sleeping. So you kind of get home and you feel like you’re already fairly pro at these basic elements of changing diapers and feeding babies. I think in it was quite a helpful process in a lot of ways.
How about your twins, did they spend time in the NICU?
We did not fortunately, they were born at 36 weeks and they were healthy enough to come home when mom came home from the hospital and my wife had a C section as well for them. So we didn’t have quite as much in hospital training but our girls, our twin girls, were number three and number four for us.
We already had to figure out the diapers and the feeding and stuff before but with twins, as you’ve talked about, it’s all hands on deck. Both mom and dad actively engaged in their care and feeding around the clock. So did your wife have time off of work?
Yeah. So I think one of the reasons why because my wife’s from Texas from Austin, one of the reasons I think she likes work in London, in Europe is for the healthcare is all free, but I think probably most importantly, you get so much more holidays and the parental leave is very good. So she gets 12 months of maternity leave. And that’s the kind of legal requirement that you have to offer 12 months you don’t have to pay as the employer but employers tend to compete with each other on how much they do offer and so she’s got six months paid leave and then she can take up to six months on paid after that. I get two weeks of sort of immediate paid paternity leave and then I have an option of taking quite a few extra weeks offers unpaid parental leave with So taking advantage of that, now.
Let’s talk about that. So your twins were not too old, you know, maybe a couple months old and you decide to go on a great adventure as a family. So what led to that decision?
I suppose the person we have to thank for the trigger to this was my wife’s best friend deciding to get married right at the start of November when the twins, when the babies are going to be about four months old, when she told us this, just before my wife gave birth, we thought, okay, we can probably do that. But it does feel like he’s cutting things a bit fine for it to be four months. So that kind of data of needing to travel to Texas for a wedding was already firmly embedded in our minds. And so we thought, Well, you know, let’s take maybe three weeks in Texas, spend time with my wife’s family. And then, you know, we’ll just go back to the UK.
I think the thing that then triggered the thought in my mind was my wife was offered a job in Rio. She works in the technology sector, and so she can work anywhere in the world, really. And this company in Rio was chasing after her to go work for them. And she was kind of just saying to them, I’m just on a sabbatical from work at the moment. She didn’t actually tell them that she just given birth to babies. And I think I just sort of said, Yeah, no, you should interview for that job. And let’s really give it some thought, because I thought it could be quite fun to go and live and do it six months time or something.
And then it just sort of occurred to me, well hang on a minute, I can take this parental leave, and we’ve got two babies and at that point, so my wife’s mom came over from Texas for six weeks, shortly after we got the babies home. And you know, that was an absolute godsend having help and she just got back and we decided that we would need a nanny even with my life at home. We just felt if it’s just my wife looking after the babies during the day, and then I get home in the evening. Yeah, sure. It’s doable, but it’s going to be extremely stressful. And so we wanted some extra help. So we were already paying for a nanny who incidentally happened to be from Chile herself. And so I just thought, you know, why are we paying for childcare when you’re on maternity so why don’t I just take the time off as well. And then we can both look after the babies together. And if we’re both gonna look after babies together we’re going to do it somewhere in the southern hemisphere where it’s going to be warm and sunny, rather than do it in in London, where it’s going to be cold or in Texas where it’s sometimes cold in the winter. So I think that kind of just idea germinated in our minds. And before we knew it, we were making plans to extend our trip from three weeks to four months.
So I went into work and said, You know, I want to take all this parental leave. And again, they agreed to that, I think, yeah, again, I’m kind of legally entitled to it very lucky and actually positively encouraged in the company I work for and so they were very happy to do that. And they said, well, we’ll just treat it the same way as we treat maternity leave we’ll get some somebody to cover for you. So we were away really.
And we just thought, Well, you know, where are we going to get our criteria? Basically, we want to be in a reasonable size city. We like being in a city so we can go out in a stroller and walk around with a baby is to get them to sleep or when they’re crying a lot and also, you know, all the amenities that you need to be in a city and is to be warm and sunny, but not too hot, be nice if we were near the sea near a beach, not that we actually live on the beach, but just being near the sea is very nice, and we need to be near good healthcare. And so we just were assessing places in South America on those criteria and we thought about Colombia for a while, but we thought she was gonna be too hot. So we ended up settling on Uruguay, as our first destinations in South America is Uruguay. It’s a very stable country is quite wealthy with main cities on the seas quite large. And we both had been there before in former lives a long time ago. So we had a sort of a sense of what it was like, and then we just left open the last two months of that period and thought we will just decide as we go along. And so we spent a month in Texas and I month in Uruguay, and now we find ourselves in a very nice town called Vina Del Mar in Chile, which is kind of large seaside town and so I’m now on the seventeenth floor overlooking the beach in the Pacific Ocean while my wife is going to try to get both our babies to go to sleep. So this works out pretty well.
Well, that’s amazing. So many parents when they have twins, they’re like they think they can’t do anything. They think they can’t go anywhere. They think they’re trapped in their house. Right. So here, you’ve clearly shown that, yes, you can escape your house. You know, you don’t have to go across the world. But you can get out and do things with your twins. They are mobile at that age. I know you mentioned earlier in the show about getting a pack and play for the twins. What are some of the other travel accommodations you’ve had to do to manage taking care of the twins while traveling?
It’s a bit like trying to plan a mission to the moon I suppose. You do need to think about it a lot in advance or ahead of time, you kind of have to think how many bags can we get away with taking because for the babies you are essentially it’s like moving house for them because you’ve got to take all their clothes or their sleeping equipment, all their feeding equipment, and so they take up a lot of space. I kind of have this theory, the smaller the child Larger the amount of equipment they seem to need. That’s very true. Like sort of going to the moon, you go there, you fire off and you’ve got all of your equipment and then you start kind of jettisoning certain things as the babies get a bit older.
When we first left home, we packed up our entire home is a three bed apartment and we packed everything up into the third bedroom, and we’re renting out our home as a two bedroom apartment while you’re away. So we had to do all of that. And then we kind of managed to just about squeeze everything into a large taxi to get to the airport. And we basically had one week’s worth of clothing for me one week’s worth of clothing for my wife, and then another suitcase, babies clothes and then we started off with the stroller and the to travel carts that go on the stroller. So the sort of the carts that you get with your stroller, we just started off with those kind of, I think, where they must be like two feet long or something. So the baby started off in the travel carts, and then as they’ve been growing, they’ve been growing out of the travel carts and we’ve been buying pack and plays, we sort of bought a pack-n-play for our daughter who was already showing signs of needing to stretch out, we bought one for her. And I should say my mother in law bought one for us in Austin. And we started using that in Austin. And we had to pack that up. And so we jettisoned the first travel cot.
And then we just got to Chile. And we literally just bought the second pack and play here in Chile. And now we’re going to be jettisoning the other travel cot. Weaning has been done entirely kind of on the move as it were. And that is, yeah, that’s a challenge because our babies can’t actually sit up yet. So we even I think if we could get a high chair, it would be a bit impractical to travel around with it. So the piece of equipment I think has been really key is the good old bouncer. The bouncer has been very helpful for all sorts of things. And I think when you’re traveling with your babies, you want multifunctional devices that can kind of double offers all sorts of things. And so we’ve been feeding our son in his bouncer, which can be complicated by the fact that he gets very excited and bounces up and down was to try to shove stuff into his mouth. So you sort of have two stuffed pillows underneath it, but it works. It works very well. And I think everywhere we go, we just move the coffee table to one side from in front of the sofa and find the oldest looking blanket we can in the apartment and lay that out on the floor. And so that’s the kind of their floor space for them to roll around on. Fortunately, they can’t quite crawl yet.
The other really key thing actually has been a yoga mat, which we originally bought, because I like to do a lot of yoga and I kind of work out on a yoga mat. And we’ve been we’ve since discovered that yoga mat doubles up very nicely as a map to put your babies on when you’re out and about. And so quite often when we’re in restaurants, if we think we can get away with it, we just roll out yoga mats on the side of the table and just put the babies on the floor on the yoga mat because they kind of just need as much time on their backs as possible. So it is possible to do all these things.
Now of course in early October, we just felt like we were looking down the barrel of a gun. We just thought how on earth are we going to be able to get on the plane we had no idea how we were going to do it, but I think because partly because we were forced into it by this wedding, the We had to go to. So we just got to do this and one way or another, we’re going to make it work. And so we gave ourselves a good five days to focus entirely on preparing for the trip. And we just thought, you know, people must have done this before. So it must be possible to know how we’re going to do it. But it must be possible. Let’s just get on with it.
Yeah, that first flight from London to Dallas, I think it was, we were terrified. And we were checking in for that flight. They were just very nervous about stuff and that as soon as we got on the plane, everything just seemed to sort of fall into place. And it was actually getting on planes at babies, even two babies with two people is nowhere near as areas I thought it was going to be person and actually being on the plane with babies is fine. Most of the time, it’s kind of better than being in a car with them. Because on the plane, you can move them around, if they start crying, you can pick them up, you can walk up and down the aisle, the ratio of people who seem to really like the babies to the people who are really annoyed with them seems very weighted towards the former or at least that’s how it feels to you. When you’re there and changing babies in the toilets of aircraft is perfectly doable. The hard stressful part is getting to the airport. First off, once you’re checked in, and you know you’re not going to miss your flight, and you can kind of relax.
Yeah, I remember our first trip the flight was sort of midday or something I remember kind of relatively early on that morning, I looked around and said, Okay, I think we basically got everything under control here. And I didn’t really get much sleep last night. So I might just have a nap. And my wife just gave me this kind of crazy, look like, What do you mean? We’ve got everything under control. We’re all done. And so she said, No, you need to do this, this and this. And we were then late for the taxi. And here we were, we were stressing out to get to the airport and you think you only need an hour and a half to get ready in the morning. Even though you’ve got everything packed.
Maybe you need to think about two and a half hours or three hours to get ready before you leave for the airport. And then maybe you should be aiming to get to the airport three hours before the flight instead of two hours before the flight. And I think if you just give yourself loads of time in the run up everything after that should just kind of roll out fairly soon. And of course, it’s going to take you absolutely forever to get off the plane to get all your stuff together and to find your rental car. That’s all going to take a really long time, but you’ve got nothing but time. So you just relax into it. And it was all fine. jetlag though it was hard. I will admit to having two babies in a hotel room in Dallas and everybody in the family being jet lagged and having to participate in a wedding. That was a challenge that you kind of you just do it. And you always get out the other side.
As an adult it takes a while to adjust to jet lag. How long did it take for your babies to adjust to the new time zones?
In some respects, I feel like they’re more adaptable, then, certainly than I am. I’m really bad going backwards in time with jetlag because I’m a morning person, so I fall asleep very hard, but I wake up really easily after a certain point in the morning. So I was having real difficulty sleeping past the sort of 1am feed. Yeah, that really destroyed my sleep. The babies because it’s all dark. I felt like that. That did faster than I did. I was still struggling A week later. Yeah, they seem to be having no problem staying asleep until six or seven in the morning. But after till three in the morning, I was the one struggling to get back to sleep.
Have there been any challenges with passports or visas or that kind of logistics with your babies in these foreign countries?
No, it’s all been fine. And it does rather make me laugh actually. So we’ve got them UK and US passports. And we so far traveled on the US passports and it’s very funny having passport photos of two people that are two months old, having the passport mug shots and then these passports and valid for five years and I think already when we travel now, the guy immigration sort of looks at the passport looks at the baby. Honestly, you know, they’ve basically doubled in age since they took the photo, but it is still them. So yeah, it is a little bit amusing. But I think people are very accepting of these things.
Have there been any different cultural reactions to twins, like from back home in London, to here in Texas to Uruguay or Chile?
Yeah, that’s a good question. She does. It does vary a lot between countries. I think he the sort of the stereotype of London is that you could have any sort thing happening in the carriage and all the commuters would ignore it. And it is a bit like that in London, but you don’t get so much attention for having twins, and probably on balance, prefer that. And then I remember like, just as we’re getting on the flight to Austin, and there’s a lot of people from Texas getting on this flight. And just as we’re packing up the stroller at the door of the aircraft, this guy from Texas comes up to us and he’s like, hey, anything I can do to help you I can help you know I’ve got five daughters. I can help you. I know you’re going through we’re just like, Oh wow. Yay. See? We got it. Texas it was the secret family and and yeah, suddenly you go to in Texas everyone wants to sort of go “oh my god, you got twins so amazing.” It’s lovely. And you just sort of have to bear it with a good heart the good hearty smile a lot smaller not a lot and you know no one’s ever said that before. Thank you so much.
I found in South America it’s weird like in in Texas it’s sort of Yeah, I suppose most of the time. It is kind of women over a certain age if I’m honest, but it’s even more so in South America. They literally come up and they love to squeeze the baby’s cheeks which I find a bit intrusive. So we have it on a couple of occasions we have actually had to sort of cut things are sometimes we’ve put the baby looks like they’re in the worst mood on the top bunk and the baby who’s more engaging on the bottom bunk so that if somebody comes along to try to play with the baby, they hopefully get a stone face the expression back when we put the more engaging baby on the top bunk.
That’s when the problems really start it Alvin starts smiling and giggling when they start pinching his cheek then it’s quite scary. Especially if you’re sort of sat in a restaurant on the sidewalk and they’re eating your lunch, you can’t sort of just keep moving and get them to go away. So we sort of developed some strategies for limiting that. So saying, Okay, well, they need to eat now. So thank you very much for your kind words and things like that. Yeah, it’s interesting the cultural differences.
How’s your Spanish? My Spanish is close to non existent but my wife is almost fluent in Spanish because she’s lived in various South American countries at points in her life. So if I’m out walking the babies on my own, I do feel a little bit exposed when I get the attention from the Uruguayan grannies kind of asking me all these questions in Spanish and I can just kind of go “Nino y nina dos meses” and I kind of stopped there. But I’m okay with that. I don’t mind not being able to communicate too much. In some respects it helps because it limits the amount of intrusion I think when they get my wife talking, that’s when it can then last or a little bit longer than you’re comfortable with.
I love how in Spanish, there’s different words for twins. One is for identical twins and ones for fraternal twins.
Yes. Yeah, you’re right. I forgot the word that you’re exactly right. Yeah, my wife noticed that as well.
That’s one of the fun things about the nuances of twin parenting in different languages. Also has its different quirks depending on where you are and what language you speak. Just one. So after you’re done with Chile is it back home to London or do you have another stop on the way?
We’re going Santiago to Miami, because we had to through Miami any way. So we thought, well, let’s do a stop there. So we’re doing just a long weekend there with my family. And then we’re all flying back to Austin. And I think we’re planning a trip into the desert somewhere in West Texas with some of my wife’s friends. You’ve got to know how to describe it sort of shipping containers converted into holiday homes in the desert in West Texas. So we’ll be taking a trip out there and then back to rainy dark, cold London at the start of March and back to work.
Through this whole adventure and now traveling internationally, how have you been able to keep your relationship with your wife solid through all these ups and downs along the way?
It’s hard for sure you have to make a conscious effort because we’re both just totally sort of focused on the babies most of the time. And most of the time as well, we well, we both probably prefer sleeping in separate bedrooms. So you have to find time for physical intimacy and for just being able to actually make sure that you compliment each other as much as you can and kind of just say positive things about each other. Because a lot of the time it’s very command and control; is do this, do that. Do this do that. Yep, I need you to do that. I need to do that. He passed me this he passed me that and so he’s getting out of that taking time to get out of that every now and then is really key and I think with baby sleeping a bit better. It does make that a lot easier.
My first priority is that my wife gets enough sleep. So whenever she says I’m really tired, I just say “go to bed”. I will look after them. So you know I can kind of handle them for two or three hours on my just go to bed. I’m most interested in how getting enough sleep because I think it’s when you don’t have enough sleep. is when your relationship kind of suffers the most. And if we’re both reasonably well rested, we’re just much nicer to each other. I think we are more able to focus on maintaining that relationship and just dropping down into that kind of level one of kind of get stuff done, then you’re each kind of automated mode of telling each other what to do what you need down into kind of, isn’t this wonderful, amazing that we’re managing to be in such a wonderful pace with our babies and our babies wonderful. And having time to sort of stop and smell the roses is really important. And I think, you know, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world. The fact is, you’re still spending all your time dealing with two little people who are changing so quickly and so many sort of needs that you need to meet.
I think you are a wise man to let your wife rest when she’s tired. That’s a simple act of love that has big benefits. As we wrap up today. If listeners want to get a hold of you or reach out to you what’s the best way to get in touch
Probably just to email me. I’d love to help people if anyone’s thinking of traveling with their babies. Really love to share with them the lessons that we’ve learned and the mistakes that we’ve learned from doing it ourselves. So my email address is [email protected]
Excellent. And I’ll link up to that in the show notes. Simon, thank you so much for taking time today to share your amazing journey so far with your twins. We really appreciate it.
Thanks, Joe. And as I said, I think before we hit record here, thank you very much for all you do with this. As I said, my wife puts an awful lot of content my way on child rearing and looking after babies and this one that she pushed my way your podcast and all your YouTube videos. That’s the thing that really sticks with me and it’s the thing I always look out for in my inbox, but I think it’s really unique thing so much so relatable that lots of dads talking about their situations and so many different kinds of contexts and walks of life. It’s always really fascinating hearing other people’s stories.
Well, thank you. It means a lot to me. I hope you enjoyed the chat with Simon about his adventures as a twin father and how they have successfully been able to travel internationally over the last several months with their infant twins.
If you want to check out the transcript or full information about this podcast head on over to twindadpodcast.com where you’ll find the complete show notes and transcript for this episode along with all other previous podcast episodes. If you’d like to share your twin story on the podcast, please reach out to me. You can email me or reach me on Instagram or Twitter @Twindadjoe. I would sure love to hear from you.
Again today’s show is brought to you by TwinTShirtCompany.com where you’ll find dozens of T shirts designed specifically for parents of twins like yourself. Head on over to TwinTShirtCompany.com. Thank you so much for listening and I will see you next time.
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