Episode 211 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes
Today we continue our father of twins interview series with Randy Cleveland, father of twin girls! Listen as we explore his twin parenting journey, including:
- When the twin pregnancy goes smoothly (yes, it is possible)
- Lining up family members to help with newborns to maximize helpers
- Balancing sleep deprivation, work, and family
- Twin stroller recommendation for getting out with the twins
- Must have twin gear to make life easier at home
- The “it is just a phase” mindset for twin parenting
Connect with Randy on Instagram.
Hey everybody. Welcome to the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast. This is Joe Rawlinson. This is Episode 211. Thank you for joining me today we are continuing our chat with a fellow father of twins Randy Cleveland. He’s got six month old, fraternal twin girls, so stay tuned for his story from how they discovered they’re having twins to now how they got their twins into a great sleep and eating routine.
Today’s show is brought to you by my first book for fathers of twins. It’s called Dad’s Guide to Twins: How to Survive the Twin Pregnancy and Prepare for Your Twins. You can get a free audiobook version of this book over at freetwinbook.com once again that’s freetwinbook.com. Now let’s jump right into the interview with Randy.
Today I’d like to welcome to the show Fellow father twins, Randy Cleveland. Welcome to the show, Randy.
Hey, thanks for having me, Joe.
Randy, tell me how old your twins are right now. And what’s the best thing about this age?
They are currently six and a half weeks old. And I definitely think the best thing at this point is the smiles, the genuine happiness when they see me.
So six and a half months or weeks,
Oh, sorry, what did I say weeks?
(RELATED: The Twin Stroller Advisor helps you find the perfect double stroller for your family.)
Time flies six and a half months?
Well, if you’re in the first six months of twins, we forgive any and all errors have slipped to the brain, you know? So it works.
It’s all just a big fog.
So smiles. Yeah, that’s awesome. When they start to interact with you, it helps you it makes you feel like it’s all worth it because they’re actually paying attention to you know, which is good.
You see their little faces light up when I get home from work and just when they hear my voice, very heartwarming.
That’s awesome. You have twin girls, is that right?
Are they identical, fraternal,
(RELATED: The Twin Stroller Advisor helps you find the perfect double stroller for your family.)
They are fraternal.
And did you know that during the pregnancy?
We did. Yes. We found out I think at the four week mark and that was a total shock but we did see two sacks from the beginning. I mean, I guess there’s a slight chance that they could have been identical. But as soon as we saw them, we knew they weren’t.
Well tell us a little bit about your family situation when you’ve discovered that you’d be having twins.
Um, well, so it’s just my wife and I, we have moved to California in the last two years from Canada. And so it was a bit of a shock that we were having twins, we did decide that we were going to try and have a baby. My wife can’t work while we’re here in America, due to visa restrictions. So it seemed like a good time we kind of got some adventures under our belt while we’re out here. And maybe that’s the next step. And lo and behold, we end up having twins.
That’s awesome. We have twin girls as well. Our girls are identical. And they were a surprise to us as well. How did your family react to the news of twins?
It was hilarious. We did FaceTime and my parents for some reason always had a bit of a feeling that I was going to have twins. I don’t really know why but when we call them to show them the ultrasound, my mom was basically holding up the number two the whole time she was basically ready for us to tell her we were having twins, but we managed to get the reactions of both parents on recording. And my parents were hysterically laughing and my wife’s parents, jaws dropped. But everybody was just so happy for us.
That’s great. We were just watching the recordings we did when we told my parents and my wife’s parents about the twins. It seems like they had a very similar reaction to yours. Like when one side of the family was just kind of shell shocked and the other one was laughing hysterically. So it’s a good mix. Are these the first grandchildren for your parents?
(RELATED: Don't reinvent the twin parenting wheel. Get my 7 Things Every Dad of Twins Needs to Know.)
They are not. They are the first girls on both sides of the family. My parents have three grandsons and my wife’s parents have two grandsons.
Well, the first granddaughters that’s that’s a distinct place of honor. For sure.
Absolutely. They’re going to be spoiled.
What were some of the challenges that y’all had during the twin pregnancy with the girls?
Honestly, there was really nothing. We were very lucky. My wife had no morning sickness. She did get sick one time, but it wasn’t related to the pregnancy, she just got a little cold, which led to her being a little dehydrated. So we took her to the hospital, got some fluids, and that was that but other than that there was no bed rest. There was no curveballs at all throughout the entire pregnancy.
That’s fantastic. I know a lot of people that are expecting twins, they fear the worst is going to happen. There’s lots of things that could go wrong with twins. So I’m glad that you’re able to share that example of “You know, pregnancy can go pretty well with twins.” It is possible so that’s great.
I mean, I was a little tense. I would have been nervous even if we were having one child just you know, for my wife health and the baby’s health and everything and then it kind of compounded once we found out we were having two for me personally, my wife was an absolute saint through the whole thing. She kept her nerves in check the whole time and she was definitely the rock through the pregnancy.
That’s wonderful. It’s great when you kind of balance off of your partner, you know, one of us freaking out the other ones calm or vice versa. It makes for a good relationship. How far through the pregnancy did the girls make it until they were born?
I believe it was 37 weeks and a couple days. It was a scheduled c section that went right on time.
That’s fantastic. Yeah. 37 Plus is great for twins. What was your experience like as the dad in operating room when the girls were delivered?
I think that was definitely when I was the most nervous again, my wife was just as cool as could be. Getting to the hospital. Everything was okay. It was routine. We were signing our paperwork. And then I think it was scheduled for 12:30. So I couldn’t help but stare at the clock once I’m you know, 12 o’clock hit. And those 30 minutes seemed like an eternity to me. My wife, couldn’t see the clock, and I was looking directly at it behind her head. And every minute that passed, I was just getting more and more nervous. And eventually 12:30 came and 12:30 went and nobody came to get us. I think it ended up extending another 15 minutes before they finally came together. But they got her they took her away, began the prep, and that’s when the nerves really kicked in for me Once they separated the two of us, I knew she was in good hands.
Obviously, there was an amazing team of doctors that helped out with everything. But they took me out of the room and they put me in this chair in the hallway. And it was in a little yellow tape box. Remember this vividly, and they said, sit here until we come and get you. And so I’m sitting there, just, you know, trying to figure out what was about to happen like to try and understand that I was about to become a father, let alone a father to two children was a lot to process at that moment. And I felt a lot better once the doctors had started scrubbing up across the hall. And I heard them talking about recent vacations and time off and time spent with their family. And they kind of set into me that this is just a routine procedure for them. Like this is just another day at work. And if they’re not nervous, then I shouldn’t be nervous. So that definitely helped check myself. I mean, maybe 10 minutes. It felt like an hour, but maybe 10 minutes went by and they came and got me. Yeah, they sat me down next to my wife and the anesthesiologist and my wife was doing good. She was in high spirits and excited. I’m sure you, if you were in the room, you remember, there’s just so many people in for a twin pregnancy, I think I counted 13 people in the room. So that was a little overwhelming, but everybody had their job. And I think it was just all of 15 minutes went by and they said the first baby’s coming. And by time I saw the first baby and got a photo, they said, baby number two’s here and they turned on some nice music for us. And then all the nerves just kind of washed away as I got to look at my daughters for the first time.
That’s great. Yeah, like the perspective of realizing that these doctors do this every day, multiple times a day and that makes it more calming for us as a parents because you’re like, “Okay, we could do this. It’s just another delivery and they’re going to do a great job just like they did you know, six times before we got there today, so that’s gonna be awesome.”
We’re able to see the actual girls coming out, or were you kind of seated the behind the little curtain that they put up.
I was seated behind. They told me to keep my phone off and then they kind of gave me a little warning saying “Your daughter is about to be born,” And I poked my head out. And that was right as they pulled out my first daughter, baby-A Kennedy. And so they kind of gave me a little warning and then they showed me her quick. Then they whisked her away. And then the next baby came out and I went over to the table and got to take a picture of both of them and then the nurses brought them over so my wife and I can have a quick photo for the continued the procedure with my wife.
So what did you then leave with the girls while your wife got stitched back up?
I did. Yeah, I went to the next room with them as they took their temperatures and just clean them up and everything and I got to do some tummy time with I think only one of my daughters. I think just Kennedy. Spencer was a little small, not alarmingly small, but they were waiting for her temperature to get to a certain point underneath the warmer whatever the little warming station is for them. So they didn’t let me do tummy time with her. But I got to sit there with Kennedy for about 15 minutes on my chest and just take it all in.
That’s fantastic. Yeah, I didn’t get to hold my girls for a little bit longer than that. So it’s pretty awesome. You got to hold at least one of them right away. When did you get to see your wife again, after the procedure?
It was only, I think it was about a half an hour, they got her all stitched up, and they got her back into the recovery room. And then when I walked in there, she was looking pretty good. She had her color, she was snacking on some ice chips and asking me as many questions that she could about our daughters. And I showed her as many pictures as I had taken. And we just kind of breathe a sigh of relief, the hard part or what we thought, you know, the hard part of the procedure was over and the recovery could begin and our new life could begin.
Excellent. So how was your stay in the hospital? How long were you there?
I think we were there total of four days. The birth was on Monday afternoon and actually we were gone by Friday morning. But we were only there for a couple full days. Again, everything just went off without a hitch. They had passed their car seat tests, they started gaining weight. My wife started producing milk quite quickly. That was very nice. We had an absolute dynamite nurse who definitely made our lives a lot easier. She was wonderful. Her name was Brittany. I’ll never forget her. She was a traveling, nurse, actually she was from Texas, way easier for my wife. She was very personal, although all the staff there was great. It was quite effortless again, the recovery, my wife was up and moving within, I’d say about 24 hours. Once she was up and moving, she started healing quite quickly, and we were just dying to get home and spend some time with our girls.
That’s fabulous. I know one thing that my wife told me after she had c section with each of our children was that the sooner mom can get up and start walking around, the better it is for her to start that recovery. So it sounds like your wife did the same thing where she was able to start moving around and that assisted in her recovery, which was awesome.
Yeah, absolutely. We read so much to prepare ourselves for just being parents in general as well as going through C section and becoming parents of twins. Actually, I did read your book.
Thank you. It was the first thing my wife put on my nightstand when we found out we were going to be twin parents, and I hammered through that book and it just gives you a nice little insight because it was hard to imagine when you’re reading material for one baby, whether it be sleep training, or feeding or any other subject, it’s just really hard to imagine what it would be like for two, so to have dedicated material to twins was extremely helpful.
Awesome. Well, thank you. I mean, I wrote the book for twin dads like us. There wasn’t anything like that when we found out we were having our girls. So it’s been fun to put down what I’ve learned talking with dads like yourself, our own experience as well, and turn around and help other twin dads that are coming along the journey as well.
Definitely was a huge help.
So when you got home, what was something that you’re really glad that you got ready before the girls were born that you had waiting for you at home?
Pretty much the whole house. My wife and I-mainly my wife-were very big planners. So we had the bassinets ready. We had the diapers ready. We had bottles ready. We had the pump ready. It was a huge help. We had actually cleaned our entire house. Like, just top to bottom. It was a nice clean slate. We had paper plates. We had my mother come down a couple weeks earlier, and she cooked us all types of frozen meals. So we really didn’t have to worry about feeding ourselves. We could just pop something in the oven. But we had pretty much set the stage in the entire house just got the whole place ready. And that made those first, I’d say the first few nights a lot easier. And really the first month, which was just an absolute blur, it definitely made that a lot easier as well. Yeah, we kind of went over the top and had everything prepared.
Hey, that’s fantastic. If you prepared you shall not fear right, which is exactly what turned out for you. You had everything in place. Was your mom with you the whole first month?
No, actually, it was just my wife and I. I took the entire first month off work. We didn’t have any visitors until actually right when I went back to work. My sister in law came down. She flew in for a week that helped my wife with the transition as I went back to work, and then we had a time out pretty well. There was only a few days in between her sister and her mother and then shortly after her mother left, my mother came down. And I think we ended up in total with about eight weeks coverage with family after my initial four weeks. So that took us almost to the three month mark that my wife didn’t have to be alone all the time, just a few days here and there and kind of gave her time to establish a routine with the girls and just her own routine and the routine with me coming and going from work. We did pretty good with our coverage, seeing as we live so far away from home.
Yeah, that’s great. I like how you were able to extend that time out when the time you were off of work, plus when you had family members come through. That’s huge to help put those newborns that require so much out of us. So let’s talk about your role as a dad and helping mom and the twins. Let’s talk about like the first month when you’re home. And then what happened when you went back to work. How did your role change there?
Yeah, so the first month home I mean, I put all my effort into just every minute with the girls and my wife making sure my wife was as comfortable as she could be. She was well fed. She was taking her vitamins as well as drinking lots of water moving a lot, we really split the role right down the middle. As far as taking care of the girls. If one of us needed a break, the other one would tough it out and take care of both. We split the feeds. She made sure to pump I made sure to divvy up the milk. So we split our role really well, my wife and I work very well as a team. That’s what makes us so good together. So it’s definitely made having twins a lot easier on the two of us as well as our relationship, it’s definitely grown a lot stronger as a result.
I’m very lucky, because my work-life balance is extremely good. I work straight days home by 2:30 every day, and I have no pressure to work overtime or anything. So I mean, that leaves my wife alone for about with commute, I’d say about 10 hours every day. So there’s a bit of a shock at first, especially when the girls were not holding their own heads up and not able to hold their own bottles just required a lot more hands on. So it’s definitely become a lot easier now that they can feed themselves. You can kind of sit them down in their pillows with a bottle and you can just kind of say back and keep an eye on Yeah, that first month though, I’m sure most parents can attest to this, and I’m sure twin parents especially it was exhausting. And we went four weeks without sleeping more than two and a half hours in a row. So we were lucky that our girls have been very good sleepers. And they’ve been on the same schedule, since we got them home. So I hear some stories and I’ve read some stuff off Instagram and other stories that like people who just cannot get their kids on the same schedule or their opposites. And I just I feel for those people because it was hard. And our girls really haven’t been that difficult. So we got quite lucky with good sleepers.
Yeah, that’s huge. Yeah, sleep is so, so important. And you don’t know how bad you need it until you just don’t get it. And those first couple weeks and months with infants is really quite tough.
Yeah, sleep deprivation is a real thing. And I mean, we got through it together. I don’t think we saw much of the light of day we were inside. I’d say that first month.
That’s true. I mean, just kind of hunker down and you’re in survival mode, taking care of the babies, taking care of yourself taking care of your partner, there’s not much time for anything else in those first couple of weeks.
Survival Mode is a perfect way to put it.
So you went back to work, you probably still sleep deprived at that time, how were you able to balance that sleep deprivation responsibilities at work and family and still get the things done that you needed to?
It was definitely tough the first few days back. I’m lucky I run off very little sleep to begin with. So if I can get five hours of solid sleep, I’m doing pretty good. I would love more, but I’ll take five Yeah, getting back to work. My boss and everybody I work with was very lenient, and they knew where I was coming from. And most of the people I work with are from somewhere else. So they all understand that we don’t have family near. You know, the guys bought me gift cards to Target to help by with diapers and everybody at work was just very, very helpful in the transition back. They would tell me, you know, we don’t really expect much out of you, you just need to fly under the radar for a couple days and just get your head on right and get back into the groove from there. So it was a perfect, easy transition back to work. And then even still, I mean, if I have a bad day at work, they’re very thoughtful, and they will take all my needs into consideration. So I think I’m just very lucky. That’s the best way I can put it really
That sounds like a wonderful, wonderful work environment. That’s fantastic. That does make all the difference. I know when our girls were born, I had a great team I worked with, too, and a great boss and that really made one less thing to worry about, which is fantastic. So you mentioned that you girls are around six months old, now. What’s the typical day-in-the-life-of-schedule for your girls right now? Like what time do they wake up, take naps, eat and stuff like that.
It varies, but I’d say between 6:30 and 7:30. They wake up, they get their bottles right away. And then it’s usually about a two to two and a half hour window for that first week period, just some tummy time on the mat and just a lot of interaction with blocks and everything and then they go down for their first nap. That usually lasts for about an hour to two hours again and they just wake up.
My wife, usually takes them, after feeding them, she’ll take them for a walk. That’s the one great thing about living in California is the weather. So it’s not a luxury we would have living back up in Canada especially in the winter months of getting to get the girls outside so easily. So they get to go for their daily walk around the park with my wife and meet up with some other mothers and children and just hang out and socialize. Normally they get home, they have a nap. I usually come home from work as they’re waking up from that nap. And we just kind of continue the cycle. I like to go for a walk with the girls every day and my wife so we try to squeeze in a walk and actually today was the first time they only nap twice. So normally they were having a third little half hour power nap but today they were doing great. They had two long naps and they didn’t really need the third nap. So we kind of are going to try and phase that one out. And we just recently introduced some solid foods so every night we make sure to feed them a little bit of food with us as we have some dinner that we can kind of eat together as a family and they can explore. We gave them a bath tonight. Read them a story we fed them their bottle we hung out for a little bit and bedtime around 6:37. Like I said before our girls are fantastic sleepers, so they might make a couple peeps throughout the night, but generally they will sleep solid till 6:30.
That’s great. It sounds like a good day. Yeah, good routine. It’s always interesting when they start to transition out of naps. I’m glad you’re recognizing that you may be on the cusp of that change right now, because that too often caught us off guard. We’re like, “How come they are not taking a nap anymore?” Then we’re like, “Oh, well, maybe they don’t need it anymore. Okay.” As soon as you figure out the schedule, then they grow a little bit more they start teething or something happens and it’s got to be really flexible.
So you mentioned going for a walk, what’s your stroller of choice?
We have the City Select. It’s one in front of the other. It’s not the wide stroller. It’s the longer stroller. It was a gift for the girls and for ourselves. From my mother-in-law I believe. Yeah, it’s a fantastic stroller. I didn’t want to go with the wide stroller. I believe that’s those tandem strollers.
Yeah, tandum, side-by-side, yeah.
Yeah. The side by side strollers. Just for doorways and walls and stuff, it seemed like just kind of big. This one seems very long but it’s very easy to fold. Our carseats click directly into it and once we upgrade to a different carseat, then we can just switch the girls, and it comes with like toddler seat attachments that kind of fold up with it. So it’s nice, it’s very compact. It’s got great turning, it’s very smooth. Between the stroller and the car seats. It was two things we put a lot of research in before we actually made a decision.
That’s great. Yeah, those Select and the ones that can kind of grow with you as your twins get older. Those are fantastic. Are there any other pieces of baby gear that you cannot live without?
At the beginning, we had a Twin Z Pillow. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of those kind of like a double bopping style pillow. Those are very useful for kind of keeping the girls in place while you know you got to put them down. We did feed them in those when we had two babies. It was nice to have them in there. And you can kind of just hold the bottle up to them and feed them that way. It was the bobby pillows just the individual Bobby pillows. Those helped us a lot because with twins, it’s so hard as you know, like, sometimes you just have to put one down to do something, you can’t always be holding a baby, or you can’t pass the baby off to your wife because there’s always the second baby. So it was nice to have a very padded nice cushion that they loved that we could simply put them down in and give them a toy or soother there and they’d be quite content. So I think those helped my wife and I a lot at the beginning, especially the first two months.
I think that’s really it. We don’t use much gear. We had a very nice wide play mat for them. That definitely accommodated two babies. We’ve have one since when we traveled home for Christmas, we borrowed one and it was a for a Singleton and it was very hard to get two babies under it as well as get down there to play with them. So a twin sized baby play Matt was definitely key as well.
It was payments are great for tummy time. And of course play time as I get older, which is great. What’s the best piece of advice that you have received about raising twins?
Maybe not necessarily twins, but just in general as a parent, if somebody offers you help, take it. Don’t be bashful. Don’t be shy. If somebody offers you help, say, to come over and cook clean to watch the baby. So you and your wife can go for a date. Take them up on the offer. They mean, what they say, if somebody offers up their time to help ease your transition, normally, it comes from people who have been there done that, and know exactly what kind of struggles you’re going through. So I would say, just take the help, if anybody offers it to you, even if it’s a neighbor, that you don’t really know that well. It’s all in good faith. They just want to help and it helps you out so much.
That’s a wonderful point. Too often, we think we have to do it all ourselves. But yeah, lots of people offer help, and you just kind of put them on the list. Say “Yes.”
Absolutely. Pencil them in to come over and do some dishes once in a while so they can see the babies or something.
Yeah, you really know who loves you if they’ll come over and watch the kids overnight, you know, so they’ll take a feeding shift when the babies are younger. So Randy, as we talked a little bit about maintaining that relationship with your wife through the twin journey, so far. What are some things that you’ve been very conscious about doing to keep that relationship strong, even when you try to juggle that with work and taking care of the twins?
Just taking time to connect every day. It’s great, now with smartphones and everything, my wife and I are in constant contact every day. She’ll just message me to just vent or to send me pictures of something cute, and just be there to listen to one another. Like, there’s times when I get frustrated too. I try to wake up as much as possible with the girls, because I can fall back asleep so easily. But there are nights that it does wear you down. When you’re getting up every 15 minutes to calm them back to sleep. And when frustrations run high. You just got to know that you’re in it together. So every night my wife and I take time to you know, have a glass of wine, sit down, connect, talk to each other about each other’s days and just be there for one another. I think that was a big part. We’re in this together. We’re a family and through the highs and the lows. I mean, my wife and I, we just laugh it off. Try and stay positive every day and we know that everything is is just a phase. So if they’re not sleeping through the night, it’s just a phase. If they’re having troubles eating, it’s just a phase. So we just gotta put our best foot forward and keep our arms around each other and keep it together as a family.
That is a great mantra to repeat over and over again. It’s just a phase. You know, whatever the trial you endure is with the twins, it’s going to pass they’re going to grow out of it. It’s just a matter of time. Well, Randy, thank you so much for sharing your twin journey with us today. If listeners want to connect with you, what’s the best way to reach out?
The best place would be my Instagram @twindadchronicles. That’s why I started the page is to connect with other people, whether they be Singleton parents, or twin parents. I’ve met so many great people on there and shared so many great stories already. So I’m looking forward to connecting to more people.
Excellent. I’ll link up to the in the show notes for this episode over at twindadpodcast.com. Randy, thanks again for sharing your story with us today. We really appreciate it.
Fantastic. Thank you Joe.
Hope you enjoyed the chat with Randy about his ups and downs with his twin girls and how they’ve got things going pretty well right now. Sleep routine, eating routine. You want to connect with Randy I linked up to his profile in the show notes for this episode over at twindadpodcast.com.
Again, today’s show is brought to you by my first book for fathers of twins. It’s called Dad’s Guide to Twins: How to Survive the Twin Pregnancy and Prepare for Your Twins. You can get a free audiobook version of this book over at freetwinbook.com.
If you would like to share your twin story here on the podcast, I would love to hear from you. You can reach out to me via email [email protected] or I’m also on Instagram and Twitter @twindadjoe and I would love to hear from you. Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you next time.
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