Episode 231 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes
Today we continue our father of twins interview series with Ben Fuentes, father of fraternal twin boys. Listen as we explore his twin parenting journey, including:
- Having twins after struggling to get pregnant
- A smooth pregnancy ending in a scheduled c-section
- Separating twins in school
- Balancing work and kids at home
- Developing talents in twins
- and more…
Connect with Ben on Facebook.
Welcome to the dads guide to twins podcast, the podcast that’ll help you survive and thrive as a father of twins Now, here’s your host, the author of the book, “The Dads Guide to Twins” Joe Rawlinson.
Hey everybody. Welcome to the 200 and 31st episode of the dads guide twins podcast. This is Joe Rawlinson. As always you can find me on the web at twindadpodcast.com. Today we are continuing our father of twins interview series with the father of fraternal twin boys. But before we jump into that story, I want to let you know that today’s show is brought to you by twintshirtcompany.com will find dozens of t-shirts designed specifically for us. Parents of twins, t-shirts for mom or dad for their grandparents and the twins themselves. You can discover all of them over at twintshirtcompany.com. Today, I would like to welcome to the show fellow father of twins Ben Fuentes. Welcome to the show, Ben.
So Ben, how old are your twins right now? And what is something exciting about this age?
Right now they are seven, they’re going to be eight in April. And they’re still innocent. And you know, they’re just, yeah, they’re, they’re still sponges at this point. And they ask questions, and they’ve got really creative, creative imaginations. And you know, they’re still at that age where, you know, Daddy knows everything. Yeah, and and right now with the with the remote learning. We’re spending a lot of time together because I’ve been working from home. So it’s just Yeah, but really, I’m watching them grow the last year, which has been great. Now, they have a lot on you. And they have a lot of energy. Sometimes too much. But uh, ya know, it’s been great.
Do you have boys or girls are one of each?
Two boys. Are they identical or fraternal?
Fraternal, we did IVF treatments.
Okay, well, let’s,let’s go back in time to that, what was your family situation like, and the situation when you found out that you’re having twins,
My wife and I, we got married in our late 30s. And so, you know, we had that clock against this, with all you know, but we, we tried on our own, for like, a year, nothing happened. Once a couple different doctors. You know, we tried a couple different treatments. It took like, four years, four years to get pregnant. And, you know, that was that was challenging. A lot of ups and downs. And just, yeah, just a lot of unknowns. And, you know, but luckily, we had a, we ended up with a really good doctor, and, you know, things just sort of lined up for us. And then we came out with these with these two monkeys, Zach and Alex, that’s our names.
So when you do IVF, there’s always a chance you’re gonna have multiples. So what was your expectations there, compared to when you found out you were actually having twins?
I mean, the doctor that we had was really good that we that the last doctor that we had, was just really good. And he wasn’t He was very realistic, but also optimistic. Yeah, and one thing that he The first thing that he said to us, I mean, I’ll never forget was he said, you know, your chances of success walk in with you, you know, and it’s, you know, we, you know, they told us the odds and all that stuff. It’s Yeah, and like I said, there were there were ups and downs, because, you know, we went through five cycles. Before we got before we’ve finally got pregnant. I get a little emotional talking about because it was a lot, you know, but, uh, when we finally find out found out, because our last our last treatment was like, we had frozen eggs, frozen embryos. And so this was our last This was our last shot. And we had three until we put them in knowing we could have gotten triplets. You know, a couple days later, well, you know, a couple days after, after the transfer, the doctor called and said, Yeah, tell my wife go take a pregnancy test, you know, so we found several so, She did it. Yeah. And then we went in for the ultrasound. And he was like, does one and there was two. So that was that was exciting.
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That’s fantastic. Yeah, especially for such a long journey to get to that point. But to have twins. What an amazing miracle. So did you were there any complications with the pregnancy? Or how did that progress?
No, luckily, we were lucky. We were fortunate. My wife didn’t have any complications. Yeah, no more. No, no morning sickness. No, it was it was pretty easy satellite. She, she went as far as she could, you know, and there was a scheduled c section, you know, and that went smoothly.
What do you remember most about the day when your boys were born?
Now we’re waking up early and then going to the hospital and like they put they had me in the waiting in the room that we were going to be there. They have me in the recovery room while they took My wife and brought her in. And, um, you know, so I have my gown on and stuff and they said, we’ll come back for like 10 minutes or something. And it was getting close, I looked at my watch and was getting close to the time when it was supposed to happen. I think they forgot about me. And like, I kind of like just open the door, and they were finally coming to get me and I got it. I walked in and, you know, just, um, yeah, I was behind the curtain and, like, you, you heard sounds and you smelled smells, and then they came, you know, then one came out, they put them on the scale and cleaned them up and stuff. And then the other one is, is very emotional.
Alright, just like you, I got dressed up in the robes and the gown, and they just kind of left me in the hallway by myself.
Yeah, that’s weird. I was pacing around. And then just like, you have like, hey, are they gonna? Are they gonna forget me or my baby’s gonna be born without me. They came out and got me. So, they said, Yeah, they’re gonna be born, they’re the so my wife and clean up the boys. And they brought me back into like the recovery room. And I just remember, I wasn’t, I don’t know how long I was there for like, it still didn’t feel real to me. It because it cuz the whole time that we were pregnant, I was always worrying, you know, because like, you’re never really sure until they’re actually you’re still not really sure until you’re like holding them. And so when they finally brought them in this big sigh of relief, like my mom, and my mother in law were there out. So that was really special.
Were your parents, or your parents in law able to help with the boys after you brought them home?
My parents have about 10 minutes away from us, they would come over my mother in law stayed with us for like, a month after they won that when they were born. And so we have so we had all that. So we had a lot of help. And you know, in the beginning, like everyone comes over, they want to see the babies and everyone says they’re gonna help. And then you know, they don’t. We had my parents and we had, like my sister and like, my mother in law would come up. And you know, so we still had plenty of help. Plus my wife took off. She’s a high school guidance counselor. So she was able to take off six months.
How about your job situation? What flexibility Did you have there?
I mean, they have like a week, they gave me they gave us a week for paternity leave. My job was very flexible. The HR manager had also gone through IVF, she totally understood and the company I work for is just very focused on the work life balance, which has been, which was which has been great. It’s like, especially now too, with the pandemic and working from home and stuff. So yeah, I’ve been and so yes, I’ve been able to work, and come kind of come home as I needed and stuff. And,
You know, it sounds like a good arrangement. flexibility with work makes a huge difference in how we as Dads can be involved with their kids. So that sort of flexibility is huge.
And especially for it’s also because I live in the suburbs outside Manhattan. So I have like an hour commute. You know, one way. And so yeah, so that and they’ve been very and so they were very good with, you know, let me kind of be a little flexible with my hours coming in a little earlier leaving a little, I mean, leaving a little later or, you know, just whatever I had going on, they were like, okay, you know, work around it.
Yes, that’s a good reminder to dads that are listening is that you should go talk to your boss, you should talk to your HR manager to see what flexibility you can get from your job. Don’t just assume you’re trapped in the normal hours that you were working before, because your employer is most interested in producing whatever it was you’re doing before. So if you can do that in a different schedule, that’d be a big help with newborn twins, how have you been able to balance working from home and helping the kids with school when they need? Oh, well,
Oh, well, I mean, we’ve so we’ve gotten to a bit of a groove or another, they’re fully remote Until next week, and then they go back to a hybrid schedule. But yeah, so like, like, on the days that they’re home, I know what their schedule is, and, and I, my computer is next to one of them. So we’re all working or sons, we’re all sitting at the dining table together with our computers. And so, you know, their work there, we’re all working, you know, we’ll have lunch together. And then when they’re, when their days over, they’ll they’ll play or they’ll, or they or they might watch some TV or something while I finished my work, you know, and then after that, you know, I make dinner, do laundry, whatever in the evening, and then we do it all over again in the morning.
That’s great, you have a good routine to be in predictability makes things a lot easier.
Like one thing with my with, with with the boys when they were when they were younger. We were you know, people told us you got to get them on a schedule for like sleeping and eating, you know, and, and that’s, that was one key to our sanity, I guess when they were when they were smaller. My wife and I in the book, you know, we’ve also gotten used to just having schedules, you know, that that just helps.
Talking about when the boys were younger, what were some of the milestones that they hit, that really made life a lot easier for you as a parent?
When they started talking. And then they could start asking you know, they could tell you that they could they could say what they wanted or they could say what hurt cuz then you can start talking to them a little and As they just got bigger than learning to explore and wanting to be a little more active, I’m also, I’m also a musician, and I have like a drum set. And I have, you know, I play several instruments and so I have them in the basement and so they have to come down and they like to mess around on the key on the keyboard are on the drums and it’s kind of hold. So it’s also kind of hoping that the might pick it up want to pick up an instrument, you know, trying to find things a bond with them, whether it’s like building Legos, now trying to show them things up. I like, like almost a Big Star Wars fan. And, you know, I had action figures and toys that I was kind of like saving from when I would have kids, you know, and they’ve watched all the movies and you know, and so they’re into it as well. And it’s a nice, you know, being able to just bond with them.
Yeah we are Big Star Wars fans in our house too. So it’s a good way to bond together as watch Star Wars or some Mandalorian works great. Have you noticed a difference in your boys as far as their interests or talents?
Right now they still have a lot of the same interest just because they do so much they do everything together. If I were to give if I were to give Zach like a 700 piece of Lego set or 1000 pieces Lego set. He’ll sit there and until it’s done. And he’s like losing he’s got like laser focus. The other the other boy like call start on it after like five minutes He’s often just doing something else but then he’ll come back to it. like one boys a lefty one boys righty, you know, one will fall asleep at the drop of a hat and the other one can stay up all night.
You know lefties or righties? How did you? How did you stumble on on the fact? Are you and your wife lefties righties? How did that work?
Oh yeah, oh, yeah, I’m a lefty. And my wife is a righty.
Yeah I notice we’ve got identical girls, and one of our girls actually had more left sided tendencies. And ultimately, she ended up writing with her with her right hand. So it was interesting to observe what they what you try to get your kid to do versus what they naturally gravitate towards. Not always, not always the same thing.
Because Zach when at one point, he, when he first saw him, right, he started with his left. But then he started doing he started writing with his right for a little while and then eventually moved back to his left. It’s kind of fun. It’s like, because it’s both of them, sort of do the same thing with me because I tried to introduce them to tennis and baseball, and they keep switching sides. Like, you know, they’ll hit a ball hit at once, lefty and time righty. Like, it’s a little maddening. You know, but like, I know, well, it’s like, either way, if there were a lefty on either sport, it’s an advantage.
I mean, there’s still there’s still an age where they’re growing to figure out what’s going to be the eventual permanent pattern for sports and such.
That’s that that that’s, that’s been hard. I think at this age, there are a lot of you know, a bunch of friends do karate, but friends do soccer. You know, it’s and they haven’t really like they they they have they’ve shown interest. But then it’s like, Hey, you want to lace up and go skating with you know, Matthew? Nah, but you’re but you look like you like it? Yeah. Or someone else takes karate, you know, you want to go take a lesson? Yeah, yeah. So I but they’re seven. Yeah, you also don’t want to put too much pressure on them. You know, they’ll find what they like.
We found that our girls that have different interests. So they went from what you’re describing, where they didn’t really care about anything to each one in very different activities that required us to, you know, divide and conquer, like, Mama, take a kid over here. And I would take a kid over there, and maybe just enjoy this season are there okay, they kind of like the same things.
And do you do a lot of separate things with yours?
Well, when they were younger, they like one of our girls are like soccer, and the other one like gymnastics, and we try to both, you know, both out in the same thing, and then one on kind of lost interest. But since that time, they’ve given those up our kids, I’ll do piano, my wife’s a piano teacher. So now our kids, they they’ve got activities where there’s overlapping interests, like when they were still doing school and person they were interested in doing the musicals and plays and drama and stuff like that. So that was kind of all the kids are at the same, same thing at the same time. But other times, they’ve had some different interests, which have required some logistical challenges, but he works out.
How will the years again?
My girls are 12. So they’re 12 going on 16. So we’re sure now have you boys been in the same class in school? Or did you have to separate them?
For first grade, they were separated. And then for that for second grade, because of COVID. And like they’re doing the, the hybrid days? It just made sense to keep them in one class in the same class for this year. So but it’s an exception, but otherwise we would have been otherwise they would have been separated.
Was that was that forced on you? Or was that what you guys wanted to do?
No, yeah, we definitely wanted them in different classes. If we if we had done that for during the pandemic, it just was, it was just easier for them for, for now, but hopefully when we’re hopefully when they’re back in school full time, for third grade, then they’ll be in separate classes.
Yeah, our girls have been in the same class and in separate classes. there’s pros and cons to both now that they’re It was a middle school age, they kind of pick their own schedules anyway. So it’s not really an issue anymore. But when they were younger, one of them was more dependent on the other in school in the school setting. So when they were together, one was able to lend emotional support, let’s say to her sister, when they were separate, but that also created some issues where one was more dependent than the other. So I think having a separate was a long term better play.
We kind of have that too. Like, we noticed that one boy likes to Yeah, let’s see was a little, little more a little dependent on the other for some things But,
So when you look back at your twin journey so far, what is one thing that you wish you had known about twins, before they arrived?
It’s trying to be patient, I guess. You know, it’s, yeah, because I just stuff stop things that things happen in their own time. And, you know, you can’t rush. Third, you can’t rush things and, and just and just to, like, remain present, here just through, like, enjoy everything, as it happens. You know, cuz it’s easy to think, Oh, just, you know, like, when they get older, then things will be easier or whatever. But it’s just, well, one thing that I remember, someone telling us was to take a lot of pictures, because the first year is a blur. And which is true, because I mean, I’ve looked back at pictures before I’m like, Oh, yeah, I don’t remember that happening. Yeah, I guess it’s just trying to remember how, how hard it can be, but at the same time, you just have to enjoy it.
So you mentioned to me in chat before the podcast that you and your wife each have different backgrounds. So how do you mesh those together and a family and introduce your sons to those options?
Yeah, I mean, I grew up Catholic. My wife is Jewish. Yeah, we’re neither of us are super terribly religious. You know, we did join a local temple, and they’ll go to Sunday school, and we’ll go to some services we do. So we celebrate at home, we celebrate Hanukkah, you know, we’ll go to my mom’s for Christmas. So that so they’re exposed to everything, you know, cuz they also know that, you know, because I’m Filipino. My wife is white also. So it’s like they so they have an understanding that you know, that they’re, that they have a lot of they have that they have different, that they’re very unique. And we’re just exposing them to like a bit of Filipino culture, a little bit of the Jewish traditions. Yeah. And they seem to like it, you know, they know, they know, both sides are different.
That’s great, what a beautiful mix of those cultures and beliefs. That’s awesome. what has been something you’ve been able to do to maintain your relationship with your partner throughout this whole journey.
Now we try and set aside time to let you know date night, every couple of weeks. My wife and I try to, you know, we will take a show to binge on wants to when the boys go to bed. Just doing things as a family just keeps us connected.
That’s great. Other good traditions, like logistically, how would you pull off a day night?
We have a regular babysitter. Or, you know, depending on you know, if it’s for a day or something we dropped off my mom’s. Yeah, guys, we haven’t done much of that lately. But yeah, that’s what we’ve done. And you hope to get back to doing.
Right, Yeah, you know, it’s possible. So you just have to look forward to that again. So Ben, as we wrap up today, if listeners would like to get a hold of you and reach out, what’s the best way to get in touch?
They can message me on Facebook, I think.
Excellent. Yep. And I’ll link up to that in the show notes so people can find that over at Twindadpodcast.com. Ben, Thank you so much for sharing your story with us today. We really appreciate it.
Thank you. It was Good. Good chatting with you.
I hope you enjoy that chat with Ben. His journey as a twin dad. So far with his fraternal twin boys. this show is brought to you by twintshirtcompany.com where you’ll find unique designs specifically for you fathers, mothers, grandparents, of twins and the twins themselves. Again, that’s twintshirtcompany.com. If you’d like to share your story on the podcast like Ben did today, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach out to me via email [email protected] or on Instagram or Twitter @twindadjoe. Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you next time.
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