Episode 225 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes
Today we continue our father of twins interview series with Joe Khoury, father of boy/girl twins and author of the “Mia & Anthony and the Hidden Treasures” Children Book Series. Listen as we explore his twin parenting journey, including:
- Finding out you’re having twins when you already have four stepchildren
- Mixed emotions about having twins
- Making it feel like one family
- How older kids can help with twins (teenager siblings)
- Postpartum preeclampsia surprise
- Why it is easier having twins than just one baby
- boy/girl twins advantages
- Why dads have to become more involved with twins
- Building a bond with twins
- Keeping twins in the same class at school
Connect with Joe Khoury:
The transcript is auto-generated so please forgive typos and the occasional nonsensical sentences.
Joe Rawlinson 0:03
Today like to welcome to the show Phil the father of twins. Joe Cory, welcome to the show. Joe. Thank you so much for having me, Joe. I’m excited to jump into your story as a father of twins. Let’s rewind the clock a little bit to when you found out you were having twins, what was your family situation like at that time?
Joe Khoury 0:20
So that was 20 2014. We had four stepkids. I had four stepkids back then they were, you know, 910 12, and 13 year old. And then we realize we’re having twins. It was interesting. It was an interesting feeling, here.
Joe Rawlinson 0:38
So tell us a little bit about some of those emotions or the decision around having kids, obviously, if you’ve got a blended family with the stepchildren already, and then finding out that it was going to be twins and not just a singleton.
Joe Khoury 0:50
Yeah, so I feel blessed. Actually, when we start, you know, when we talked about having kids, and when we started trying, we wanted twins, because we have a big family. And we’re a little bit on the older side. And we don’t want to have one kid, we want to have two kids. So we thought, I really hope we get twins and just let everyone try it again. And it happened. And you know, we went to the to the first appointment with the doctor, and he didn’t even prepare me. He was like, oh, here’s baby a. And here’s baby B.What are you saying? Are you saying we’re having twins? Yes. Yeah, do babies in there. So a boy and a girl Mia and Anthony. So we’re very blessed and very happy.
Joe Rawlinson 1:34
That’s awesome. So your your step kids are older at the time that you found out that you’re having twins, what was what was their reaction and out of they welcome the twins into the family?
Joe Khoury 1:44
Um, so that was one of the main challenges. It is not the twins, we really wanted to make sure it’s a it’s a one family and the stepkids don’t feel like there’s any separation or any division between them. It’s just an addition, we’re adding children to our family, we’re not creating a separate one. So we we have to prepare them. And we made it feel like they’re, it’s their choice. So before we even told them, we’re pregnant, we’re like, what do you how do you feel about, you know, growing the family and having more kids, and they were all excited about it. So they felt like they were involved with the decision. And then we called them. And they were very happy. And there’s they’re still happy.
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Joe Rawlinson 2:30
That’s great. I know, when we had our twins are two older boys were still very young. They were toddlers. And so how they could help was really kind of limited. As you had some older children at the time when your twins were born. What were some of the more practical ways that they were able to help with the logistics of twins was the twins around?
Joe Khoury 2:48
Yeah, so we involve them. So they were always we’re, we’re a close family from the beginning. So we’re trying to involve them with everything like but that time and we’re feeding and we’re, you know, putting up the sleep and dressing room. And, you know, we didn’t over protect the twins in front of the teenagers. Instead, we tried to involve them. And that relationship grew, it grew again, that’s how we started. Maybe because we had kids. And we didn’t feel like you know, when you have your first name, you’re a little bit more cautious and more scared and stuff like that. So the fact that my wife had four other kids before the twins, she was really experienced. So we were too scared to involve other people. And we try to involve the teenagers as much as possible. so great that they’re so welcome in and willing to help with their new little siblings.
Joe Rawlinson 3:39
Are there any complications with twin pregnancy?
Joe Khoury 3:43
And there were complications before the twins were born. We we had one of those episodes where we thought we lost them for some I don’t want to go to a lot of scared downs. But we ran to the hospital and you know, my wife was freaking out and I tried to like stay calm and down. We don’t know what’s happening. Let’s wait and see. And then when we realized that everything was okay, and that was normal. I started freaking out and crying. So we had one major scare and since then I was like, okay, no more working out. No more doing anything until we have what was that trigger that sent you to the hospital? We there was some bleeding that happened? I think month four, if I remember correctly, and doctor explained that that was normal. It’s just the look, the look of it felt like it was just like a blob of blood that’s stuck together. Because we don’t know. Right? So I felt like Okay, that was a it might be a miscarriage. So that was you know, it was really scary.
Joe Rawlinson 4:46
Yeah, that is really scary in the process. We’ve had, we’ve had a couple of miscarriages before our children were born and you don’t really know what’s happening. And so you expect the worst rush off to the hospital and then they can confirm or notThe other so I’m glad that turned out well for you.
Joe Khoury 5:02
Yeah, thank God, I feel like it wasn’t even real and it was extremely scary. So I can I can I cannot imagine how long you know, it is to have a real miscarriage but
Joe Rawlinson 5:13
So the twins were born healthy. And do they have to spend any time at the hospital or clinic? You are the Okay, at birth.
Joe Khoury 5:21
Yeah, we spent the whole week actually, my wife had some other complications post, having the babies and we had to stay there for, I think seven days. It was good and bad. And I mean, my wife was in pain and all that. But it was it was a good practice to having twins and like feeding two babies at the same time. And it was it wasn’t okay. And then we came home Thanksgiving. So we came home a rich family is sure within surprises. And you know all that, but it was a quick week in the hospital.
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Joe Rawlinson 5:53
And what were the complications your wife had after birth?
Joe Khoury 5:57
I’m trying to remember that the name of it.
Joe Rawlinson 6:01
I think she shared on my blog A while ago, some of your story. I think it was postpartum preeclampsia?
Joe Khoury 6:07
Yes. And they put it on magnesium. Drugs. And she would Yeah, that was the.
Joe Rawlinson 6:13
So it’s one of those things that you don’t even expect to have happen. Expect the complications to be during the pregnancy or at the time of birth immediately after birth. And then you expect to just recover. And so that was kind of a surprise of all just surprised mom is still having issues after birth.
Joe Khoury 6:28
Yeah, yeah. Because your babies Okay, few more minutes, I want to take them home, I have the bedroom ready, and the cribs are ready, and you just want to go and start. Yeah, it was challenging. And then my wife Brandi was, was on the magnesium. So it just tires you out and relax with you. But at the same time, she was trying to practice speeding them at the same time. And breastfeeding for, you know, it was a very, very interesting week, and you just get thrown into it, right? Like the babies were born. And I was just sitting there picking them up. And they gave them to me with a couple of bottles. I have two babies laying on. So you just have to start right away. to think too much or plan I guess?
Joe Rawlinson 7:12
That’s right. And you mentioned having a few extra days in the hospital was helpful. Kind of training for you as a parent, like Is this how you take care of the babies, I hold the baby feed the baby. I know that I watched I watched our nurses meticulously to see what they were doing. So then when I brought our girls home, I could continue some of that successfully. So when you look back at these last five years with twins, what were some of the most things that kind of surprised you the most about having having twins?
Joe Khoury 7:39
I don’t know if every you know, you might have the same experience, it seems like it’s easier having twins than having one baby, which people don’t believe us. But it’s it’s a lot easier. Um, I guess most of the things are easier
(RELATED: Don't reinvent the twin parenting wheel. Get my 7 Things Every Dad of Twins Needs to Know.)
Joe Rawlinson 7:54
Why do you say that? Why was it easier?
Joe Khoury 7:57
So they mostly they have each other all the time. And you notice the parenting, especially parenting little babies, there’s a lot of, you know, downtime, where you’re not doing anything just hanging out, and the baby wants attention, and they want to play and they want all that stuff. And if you’re busy and you have good jobs or stuff like that, it’s tough having to keep each other company, they learn from each other, they have polar opposite personalities. But then the longer they spent together, it becomes they start sharing those personality traits with each other. And they grow faster. It’s unbelievable to watch. It’s pretty unique.
Joe Rawlinson 8:44
Yeah, that you make a good point about them. growing faster. I’ve noticed that too, with my girls, as soon as one of the girls figure something out, you know, the early days it was how to crawl or to walk or the other twin would mimic that behavior. And immediately, you’ll start to catch up developmentally to that. And so that’s the kind of continued as I continue to get older, they continue to learn from each other.
Joe Khoury 9:05
Yes, exactly. That was exactly the way you put it. Yeah, it’s very good. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it is there’s a little bit more, you know, physical work, right, where you have to give, you know, feed both of them and dress and all that regular stuff and having, you know, a giant stroller to lug around. So, you know, but but it’s mostly better. I shouldn’t say it’s mostly easier, I guess.
Joe Rawlinson 9:31
Yeah, I agree that I think the hardest part physically for parents is when they’re newborns and you’re, you’re having to take care of them all the time. But then as they start to become more self sufficient. And now now, like your twins are coming on five, or they can entertain themselves and, and do a lot of things about themselves that they couldn’t do before. It’s just a fun age to watch.
Joe Khoury 9:54
Yeah, I mean, I’d love to hear your experience as well, but I noticed that Fathers become become more involved when there’s wins, like, right away, maybe out of necessity, because there’s two of them, and you wake up at one in the morning and you have, you know, they’re both crying at the same time, and you have to do both. So I feel like I was blessed in different ways as well. I’ve always wanted to be a hands on father anyway. But I feel like having twins kind of drive you into, you know, becoming more involved. You know, even if you don’t want this,
Joe Rawlinson 10:33
that’s, that’s a great observation. That was mine was my experience as well, we had two boys before twin girls were born. And my wife had breastfed them. I mean, I could not feed them myself, like you had to be my wife. And so oftentimes, I’d be the one sleeping through the night when she would wake up to take care of the singleton boy. And as you mentioned, when there’s twins, there’s no getting around both parents, you know, all hands on deck to take care of the twins, out of necessity. And so it gave me a great appreciation for, you know, moms all over the place, particularly my wife, like, the things that she had done with our first two songs that maybe I had taken for granted or hadn’t realized how much effort had been put into that. Absolutely. But then the flip side is, you get you get that opportunity to spend more time with your newborns with your infants, because you’re there helping to feed them and change them out of necessity. But that gives you even more time to help bond and build that relationship with them, which is a beautiful thing.
Joe Khoury 11:32
Yeah, 100%. Like I have friends who are having, you know, they were having children almost at the same time and ask me for advice. Because you know, I was with the with the stepkids since 2015, I kind of raised kids, but not really. And then that’s my main advice is get involved with your newborn from day one, because you don’t get that extreme biological connection that arises from my experience that the mother get right away. But if you’re involved from day one, you kind of you get really close. And it becomes really easier to spend down around children and babies and all that. So it’s a win win for everybody. So become involved from the minute one. That’s my advice. If I can give advice.
Joe Rawlinson 12:18
Oh, absolutely. That’s wonderful advice. Yeah. And I and I echo that. I believe dads, they should be involved from the get go. That’s such an important relationship to have with the children and in supporting your partner along this whole journey. There’s no, there’s no just sitting back and watching everything happen. You have to be an active participant in fatherhood.
Joe Khoury 12:39
Yeah, because it gets harder, right? Like, if you do that, if it’s hard from the beginning, and you don’t get involved, every year, it’s gonna get harder and harder, and then the gap will grow and expand everybody in the family.
Joe Rawlinson 12:54
That’s right. I mean, relatively, I mean, looking back in the early months, it’s pretty straightforward. Where you have to do as a dad, it’s just survival techniques, you know, change the diaper, change clothes, feed the babies, baby babies. It’s physically exhausting, but it’s, it’s doable within your reach. It’s when the kids start to get older and start to have opinions and make decisions. And you have to actually be, you know, a parent that helps them make these decisions, which may impact their behavior in the future. That’s where it gets a little more complicated. And what’s the plan that you’ll have for your twins as far as getting into school?
Joe Khoury 13:34
So the the twins go to private school, so the school is open, and they go full time, like five times a week, which is good. It’s a smaller school, less, you know, dangerous, I guess, from COVID perspective. But yeah, they are they in the same class? They are actually I was gonna ask you that question to see what you think because I think your kids are older, but we thought we would start them off. In the same class, I researched every piece of, you know, information about that topic. And it’s, it just, you know, it’s not clear which which option is better. Should we separate them or not? I thought, okay, we don’t know exactly what to do. So maybe they should stay together. And then we’ll watch it and see how it goes.
Joe Rawlinson 14:24
We’ve done both with our girls. It’s kind of depending on on the individual needs at the time, as well as what the school options are. We had homeschooled our kids for several years before they went in our girls went into public school, though third grade. And at that time, we had them in separate classes, but they kind of rotated through the same teachers. So they all have the same clock and basically the same instruction in homework and they all have the same teachers. Yeah, they were able to see each other at recess and lunchtime. When was helpful at that at that point, we discovered that one of our girls really was more dependent on her sister than vice versa. One of them wanted to be more independent, and one of them wanted to be dependent on her sister. We kept them separate for a couple grades there, and then they switch schools and we were realizing that was kind of a stressful transition for them. And so we got them in the same class for fifth grade, and that worked out okay. But then we saw we saw the flip side were having them together, it kind of made them more codependent, or the sister who was a little more dependent needed her sister for help with with stuff instead of maybe turning to the teacher for help or her classmates for help or trying to figure things out on our own. So and then now they’re about they’re in middle school, and it’s their back to separate classes and separate schedules and things like that. So we’ve gone both ways. There are pros and cons, I think, as you observe your twins and how they interact with each other, or how maybe they depend on each other that will guide your decision whether you keep them together, or you separate them.
Joe Khoury 15:02
Yeah, this is great information. Thank you. Yeah, we went out. So our son is a little bit more dependent on our daughters, it depends more on me than the other way around. She’s the little leader of the group. And so we want to watch that really close them feel that goes.
Joe Rawlinson 16:25
yeah, that was something I struggled with was we want our kids to be comfortable where they’re at school, or not have a lot of anxiety or stress. And that was the problem with the one twin was kind of dependent on her sister. But we also knew that unless she gets opportunities to grow, to be challenged by herself, that she’s not going to develop those skills that she needs, you know, for the future. So it’s, we had to do a lot of individual coaching with her and helping her and even meeting with her teachers to help her through some of her anxiety because of that, but I think she’s come out a little bit stronger, being able to stand on her own. Having her in separate classes, we knew that it would be an eventuality, as they get into middle school and high school where they start to have different interests and can pick kind of elective classes and things like that. I know your twins are still pretty far away from that. But eventually they’re going to diverge in their own interests. Anyway, so it’s good practice for them. In elementary school, as we talk about your twins and school, you’re in the same class have a shared a bedroom at home as well?
Joe Khoury 17:31
They do. So we separated them in the beginning. And we have enough rooms for them to not share a room. But they did it one night, though. Like we didn’t have a sleep over. What are you talking about? So Mia, was like, You must have a sleepover with me. So they brought their pillows and all that and they snuck in one room one night. And then they wanted to do it every night. And okay, they decided,
Joe Rawlinson 18:00
yeah, girls, they’ve been in the same room since birth. And they’ve been at a point where they were, I don’t know, when they were two or three, they shared a bed together. And they enjoyed being together that much. Now they’re in the same room that separate beds, and now they’re going to the point where they’re very distinct opinions about the decorations in the room and the paint colors. And, but they’re going on they’re 12 right now. So they have pretty strong opinions on things. So that’s great that they have such a great bond. So spending time together. What’s the most frequent question that people ask you about your twins?
Joe Khoury 18:36
It’s mostly like, it’s that first question that you asked me or, you know, if it’s harder to have twins or not. That’s one of them. Like, how do you feel about having twins and not having one child? I get asked that question all the time. And then they asked me and the second question right away is who’s like, Who’s the leader? Who’s the leader of the gang? I don’t know why people really want to know that answer. But they asked me and if it’s my daughter, like the way their personalities are today, she’s the leader. She’s She’s the tough one as well. And she loves to take care of him. For some reason, I ran away from the, you know, couple years ago. And here’s like the sweet boy, but he’s brave and like boyish a little bit, but he is more on the sweet side. And she’s one of the tough side. So these are the two questions I get asked all the time.
Joe Rawlinson 19:29
What a fun relationship they have. I’ve noticed that in our girls, too. One of them is more of a nurturer, helping take care of her sibling. And it’s kind of a fun dynamic.
Joe Khoury 19:40
Yeah, yeah, it’s good. It’s nice to watch. with girls, I guess. It would be on Anthony. I feel like eventually they’re going to want to have their own you know, freedom a little bit sooner than then the same gender maybe because it’s a boy and a girl. They’re gonna have separate interests me. So I you know, I feel like that the day will come through and I want my own room and I want my own, though comes in,
Joe Rawlinson 20:07
yeah, when the time comes, we’ll definitely express their opinion with what they want. And if it doesn’t, then they come and they come next week, or may come, you know, three years from now, but we’ve let our kids you know, make choices about about their room and arrangements within the confines of our house of what’s actually possible. So there’s, there’s a lot of things that we’re like, now this little mom and dad say is gonna happen. And there’s some things we can let the kids decide. And there’s. So it’s fun to give and take care of. So if you could give one piece of advice to dads who are listening in about keeping your marriage and relationship with your partner strong through this twin journey and parenting journey, what what advice would you give to other dads?
Joe Khoury 20:44
if I had to choose one, I guess the two advices connected together, I would say, it’s it’s the, you know, it’s the lifestyle, it’s like when you want to work out when you want to go to the gym, and you go to the gym once a month, versus making it your thing where you work out every day, even if it’s five minutes, right? It has to become part of the lifestyle that you are involved and giving everybody in the family the attention they deserve, at all times, like that’s my mind place you when I discovered because you know, having stuff because then having kids and having different ages and different genders. Giving the attention from you know, you getting the attention to the gift and putting the effort into giving attention, instead of waiting for the get to ask for attention makes a huge difference as a game changer. Like if you’re not giving your kids the attention they need and you Wait for them to ask for the attention. They already frustrated, they are already confused and acting out and trying to get your you know, and what I mean by attention, I don’t mean just like sitting on the floor with them and playing like overall, like in general making that be your top priority, I guess, before work and money and you know, and all that stuff. Like you’re a partner, you’re not like let’s say if you’re a father, and nothing, you’re the one who who provides financially, this should be second. And number one is, you know, the attention that your family needs from you. And then it gets so much easier. It sounds so much harder. When I say it this way. It’s like how much time do I have to give my kids and wife and blah, blah, blah. But it kind of work in reverse, the more attention you give, the easier everything else become.
Joe Rawlinson 22:36
We only have so much time with with our kids before they grow up and start to leave. And also, as you’ve seen with with your older kids, and if you haven’t built that relationship with them, and they’re gonna leave the nest. And that’s who knows what’s going to happen. I think we were talking about earlier about how you’re kind of forced to be involved with the twins when we’re so young. And it’s it’s kind of physically taking care of them. But you can start to build that relationship with them even very young spending time with them. And as they start to their needs start to change and evolve and mature and they just want somebody to talk to you or spend time with as they get older and they get into crazy teenage years, which you’ve gone through with your older kids. And they still want to be around you and they’re still turned to you for advice and for attention.
Joe Khoury 23:23
Absolutely you just said something at the end Joe, the more involved you are and the more I guess, the more available you are, they will come to you for for questions and when they have problems, when you’re not as involved, they won’t come to you. And this is why I’m saying that we made some mistakes with our dolls, because then we had to like learn from our own mistakes as you go. The good news is you get to fix mistakes with your own children, or even if you make multiple mistakes. But if the more available you are, the more they know that you’re the you’re you’re the backup, you’re the support system. They’re not as they’re not afraid of trying new things are coming to you with problems and sharing the, you know, issues with this, you can help them instead of going through somewhere else going to their friends are going to you know, someone else who might not have their best, the best advice for them because they’re not the parent plays out in so many ways being involved in being available.
Joe Rawlinson 24:25
You are working on a series of books that has to do with twins. So tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind that and what those books are about.
Joe Khoury 24:34
Yeah, so I started this year actually. So this has been my dream since the twins were born. I wanted to put together a series of books about the core values that I believe that these are the venue that I want to teach my kids and the inspiration or the reason that so I lost my parents. I was I was young. I was like eight years old when I lost my mom and ten when I lost my Dad. And I’ve always been into those motivational stuff and core values and core, you know, the good thing that makes me strong individual, what are those stuff I’ve always been into this thing is, I don’t know what my parents feel about that, like, I barely remember them. Because now I’m like, 39. So that’s been, you know, a blast. It’s been a long time. And I don’t know what they think about these topics, or how they feel about it, or how would they approach some some issues in one way? And I was like, What if something did happen to me? And then my kids have the same wondering, what does my dad, What was he like? What does he think about those topics? Sound like, Okay, I’m gonna put them in a website that’s broken, but I put all my thoughts on the blog. And then I thought, maybe it should be a book, this way, it will survive, you’ll always be out in the market. So that’s the main reason I’m reading these books.
Joe Rawlinson 25:57
That’s great, I know that we have those moments with our, with our kids, and then they’re gonna grow up or, you know, something happens to us. And we hope that they retain some of those things that we’ve taught them and the values that we add. I think bring that down in a book was a fabulous way to do that. Now, my understand is that you’re using your twins in the story, as part of the story. Is that correct?
Joe Khoury 26:21
Yes, yes, I know, they’re very confused before, because the first book came out. And they looked at the illustration thing, this is me, like, how am I gonna book? I am writing the books for them. And they are the characters. It’s beautiful to see, to see how they react to it. Now they want to read it every night for bedtime.
Joe Rawlinson 26:43
That’s awesome. Yeah, it’s their book. Yeah. So what’s what’s the title of the first book you’ve released?
Joe Khoury 26:49
So the title of the series is Mia and Anthony and the Hidden Treasures. And the first book is Treasure Book One: Big Brave Heart. which is, it talks about courage.
Joe Rawlinson 27:00
That’s great. And if listeners want to pick up a copy of the books, where should they go?
Joe Khoury 27:04
The website is lessonsformykidsbooks.com. And then if there is a link to the Amazon listing, and there’s a, you know, a link to the other books that are in progress, that are being illustrated, and a little bit about me, and about our family and stuff like that. So lessonsformykidsbooks.com.
Joe Rawlinson 27:25
Excellent. And I’ll link to that in the show notes for listeners to check that out, too. So Joe, as we wrap up today, if listeners do want to connect with you, what’s the best way to reach out?
Joe Khoury 27:33
So that website has a link to our Instagram, which is a public Instagram account where you can finish it direct message or, you know, follow our journey, basically, lessonsformy kidsbooks.com and there’s links for everything in there.
Joe Rawlinson 27:47
Well Joe, thank you so much for spending time with us today and sharing your twin journey. We really appreciate it.
Joe Khoury 27:53
We’ve been following you since my twins were born. So it’s it’s crazy that I’m with you on this podcast. So I really appreciate it.
Joe Rawlinson 28:00
You’re most welcome. I always love to hear from dads that have been along for the ride. For example, you know, found out they were having twins or starting to raise twins. So it’s been fun to go full circle to see how things have gone with him and their families. So thanks again for coming on the show.
Joe Khoury 28:13
Thank you, Joe.
Joe Rawlinson 28:14
Okay, hope you enjoy that chat with fellow twin dad Joe Khoury. Again, if you wanna learn more about his books or things he’s working on, I’ll link up to that in the show notes at twindadpodcast.com. If you’d like to share your story on the podcast, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach out to me on instagram or twitter @twindadjoe or drop me an email [email protected]
Today’s show is brought to you by TwinTShirtCompany.com where you’ll find dozens of T shirts designed specifically for you. That will make you laugh and make others around you laugh as well. Get those shirts you need ahead of the holiday season at TwinTShirtCompany.com Thank you so much for listening, and I’ll see you next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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