Episode 236 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes
Today we continue our father of twins interview series with Simon Gellibrand, father of 2.5 year old identical twin girls. Listen as we explore his twin parenting journey, including:
- Seeing twins as individuals
- Twins starting to show independence
- Mom had blood pressure complications at six months of the pregnancy
- They had to go to the hospital for 2-3 weeks before delivery for monitoring Mom and the twins
- When the twins arrived two weeks premature
- Mom had to go to ICU for bleeding after birth
- Finding daycare for twins
- Tag teaming feeding during the twins during the night
- Fighting the urge to compare each twin to the other
- Finding a third space where parents can spend time together
- and more…
Connect with Simon on Facebook.
Resisting the urge to compare one of your twins to the other. That and much more on the podcast today.
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, “Dad’s Guide to Twins”, Joe Rawlinson.
Hello there, everybody and welcome to the 236th episode of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast. This is Joe Rawlinson. As always you can find me on the web at twindadpodcast.com. Where you’ll find the complete transcript for this episode. And you can listen to all previous podcast episodes. Today we are continuing our father of twins interview series with a fellow of identical twin girls. But before we jump into that, I want to let you know that today’s show is brought to you by twintshirtcompany.com. Where you’ll find lots of awesome t shirts designed specifically for families of twins. We’ve got shirts for dads, moms, grandparents, and the twins themselves. See all of the creative designs over at twintshirtcompany.com. Now let’s jump right into that chat today. I’d like to welcome to the show fellow father of twins, Simon Gellibrand, welcome to the show, Simon.
Thanks for having me, Joe.
Simon, how old are your twins right now. And what’s the most exciting thing about this age?
So the girls are just over two and a half. The most exciting thing I think right now is just starting to see them as individuals and individual personalities are starting to come through I think up to now it’s been very much kind of they’re bouncing off each other and almost as one person if you like, but I think now they’re kind of getting over two and a half’s starting to start to see that independence come through, which is really exciting.
And what are some ways that they’re showing the independence?
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starting to ask for different things, not always wanting what their sister has, they both get frustrated in different ways, if that makes sense starting to see different things that frustrate them and different things that they want.
Are your girls identical?
What’s a telltale sign of how they’re physically different?
They both were born with hemangiomas, which I’ve heard is relatively common with Prem twins. And they were two weeks Prem, both of them have probably four or five hemangiomas, which are basically like, like just sort of reddish kind of Burgundy. birthmarks, and Ivy has one on her cheek. And that’s a big sort of distinguisher. It’s about size of a small coin. But they both have them. So they both understand they have them. Willow’s got a big on on the back of her thigh. They’re going to disappear eventually. Hopefully, next couple years, but I do I do often get them mixed up from behind. Or if I can’t see Ivy’s cheek, then yeah, I saw. I’ve got into the past and recently of asking them, what’s your name? And or they if you say, hey, Willow, and it’s Ivy, Ivy, and she’ll correct me straightaway. So it’s, yeah, it’s interesting. I always thought if I ever had identical twins, I’d know the difference. I’d know them instinctively. And I think mum does instinctively know them. But then for me, I kind of blind a glance, I don’t think and then I call them the wrong thing. And correct me which is quite interesting dynamic of late.
I think that’s natural. I do that as well with my girls. And have, for years, I look across the room at a glance. I think I know who it is. And then I’m wrong. So it’s it’s uh, yeah, they’ve learned very early like your girls to just correct you and, and to roll with it.
Yeah, the missus is kind of how can you How can you get your girl’s wrong? And she kind of I don’t know, I think it’s almost maternally she knows who it is just by the way they sit or the way they hold their hand. I don’t know why they’re looking for me. I kind of I don’t know, I think I’m as a dad, you don’t have come on to this. I’m sure like that. I guess that maternal, physical and emotional connection for me at the outset? Wasn’t I suppose it automatically there.
You mentioned that your girls are in daycare right now? How long have they been in daycare? And how did you find one that works for your family?
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They’ve been in daycare from about seven months up. So prior to then, Sharm’s mum lived with us for six months. And my mum moved over from UK after about eight months as well. So we’ve had good support. But also we had a family friend actually that runs a daycare center. And that was kind of the go to and luckily they had space for two girls. Heard great things. So it’s local, it’s 10 minutes away, it’s right near the train station. So you know, it’s near the station for me to get to Melbourne. When we used to get on trains and travel places, we’ve been really, really happy with the daycare facilities. The guys there are fantastic. And actually, we’re moving them to they’ve actually done so well, we’ve actually moved them to a new daycare center, which is part of their network is going to be their second one, which is literally just down our roads, it’s gonna be a five minute walk, which is going to be awesome. Love, the experience, obviously had reservations, you know, giving them away in inverted commas after being so young, but we both work and we couldn’t rely on grandparents every day of the week. So we actually have daycare three days a week. And then we have the girls have grandparents to grandma’s Thursday, Friday,
it’s a good setup, it’ll be nice when they’re much closer to home as well.
Yeah, it’s gonna be wonderful. Just above it’s especially in the summer, just walk up the road, drop them off, walk home, especially obviously, within you know, within COVID times not having you know, that commute anymore. I kind of missed that commute in a weird way. And that’s kind of been the my new commute is dropping the girls off, which is gonna be it’s gonna be nice.
So since we’ve been stuck at home, how have you been able to balance work and very active toddlers at the same time?
We’ve been lucky, compared to the rest of the worlds down here, you know, we’re in regional Victoria. And we’ve not had the restrictions that Melbourne, or indeed, you know, the US or the UK have had so still had daycare open throughout. We’ve had work from home guidelines from work, which means we could both obviously work from home and still work. And we’ve had grandparents support twice a week. And daycare has literally dropped them off at 830 and pick them up at 430. So, you know, touch wood, we’ve been very much unaffected. The bit that I remember that was the hardest, probably in the first lockdown middle of last. Last year. 2020 was when there were cafes were pretty much shut down playgrounds was shut down. And it was the middle of winter in Australia. This was kind of June, probably May, June 2020. And all we could really do is just go for drives. And that got pretty boring for them. And pretty boring for us. But now it’s really just a case of good hygiene. Masks. And then, funnily enough, most of their life has actually been within in the pandemic. So they actually used to masks. And they asked us why we don’t have masks on and stuff like that. So that’s been interesting.
It’ll be interesting to see. These kids who grew up in the pandemic, you know how when we can finally move around without masks move around freely. I wonder how long it’ll take them to adapt to that what we consider normal will be their new normal. After we’re done with this, Simon, let’s rewind the clock back to when you found out that you were having twins. What was your family situation like? And how did you receive that news?
So we were in Sydney and you know young couple you know enjoying Sydney life live near the beach. Sharma just come back from working in India for a year. And we’re like cool, let’s have it let’s give it a go. And we’re both not getting any younger. And we gave it a go and we were blessed the second time round. And obviously there were assumptions that it was a singleton so week nine I think it was week nine week 10 we went in for kind of the overall to scan, ultrasound scan and you know confirmed everything’s good baby’s fine. And then Sharman Sham said something about I’m pretty sure I’m pretty sure I’ve got twins I just I just something about the feeling of just I think I’ve got twins. So I know they’ve had the scan and you know, it’s it’s it’s one other I don’t know why, why do you think it’s two like there’s nothing to say it’s two. So we went back in week, I think it was 12 or 13 and had an internal scan and always remember the look. The midwife gave me. Yeah, there’s another one. Just hiding underneath the first one. And I turn around guys. There goes the Ferrari. It was it was joy. It was you know, it was a bit of shock. It was excitement. It was this change. It was a feeling of this. This is just suddenly just changed up again. We’re all getting ready for having bringing a baby into the world and bringing or getting stuff ready. Getting mentally ready. You know, as first time parents do buying everything they can they read up about a good they’re googling stuff. They’re buying it. They’re asking everyone I’m just kind of in a semi-panic. And then suddenly the game changes. Okay, now it’s twins, okay, now we’ve really got to get really gonna double down, it’s gonna be a bit of an interesting ride. It’s super exciting. But you also go into a different category of, Okay, now we’re going to be twin parents. So this is going to be different. And there’s less of us. So we’ve got to sort of, we just got to find the right information, ask the right questions, and asked for help. Because this is not common. This is relatively uncommon. So we need to kind of, we need to dig deep and work as at work as a team on this one.
That’s amazing that mom had an impression that she was going to have twins even though this scan had told otherwise. How did the pregnancy go? Are there any surprises or complications?
(RELATED: Don't reinvent the twin parenting wheel. Get my 7 Things Every Dad of Twins Needs to Know.)
After sort of week 13, week 14, you know, we had a very clear schedule, that 35 weeks would probably be the, the finish line. So we’re always preparing for effectively premature twins, really, because you don’t want to go full way. Really, we always were prepared for a C section. Just to mitigate any complications, all of that was explained literally almost immediately. This is probably why it’s going to schedule, this is probably the way that this is probably how we recommend this happens. So that was good to know that straightaway. It was interesting that you kind of already know that birth dates kind of starts and guess the birth date versus I suppose, unnatural in inverted commas birth, where you’ve always got kind of unknown uncertainty of when they’re going to be born. Which is kind of takes a bit of the kind of, I suppose guesswork and kind of romance out of it. But also, it’s nice. I’m a planner. So I like to know when things are gonna happen. So for me, it was good. And the actual, the actual pregnancy was, was really smooth up to about six months. And then unfortunately, Sharm had a couple of complications, just regarding her blood pressure, a little bit of preeclampsia, platelets dropped, and it was almost a bit of a balancing act between mum and babies. Up to you know, when we had them, so we’re around. So we had the end of June 2018, we actually got a call saying, okay, how’d you blood test, and, you know, we read this little bit of protein going on in there, and we need to just take need to just pack your bag and just need to go need to go in and get things checked out. And when we arrived, this was early June, we arrived and the lady said, You’re not going to leave without the girls. And we were like, Oh my god, like it’s it started. And yeah, it was pretty much a, like I say a balancing act between is Sharma OK, are the girls, okay. And if any one of the three of them starts to deteriorate, then we got a move. So that was basically all four of us in a room for probably two, three weeks prior to this the C section, where it was the sort of balancing act between up to Okay, platelets, there wasn’t there was a balancing act between how high her platelets were in the blood counts, whether we could actually go forward with the C section because she wasn’t clotting. So we had to get the platelets up to a reasonable level to actually go ahead with the C section. So that was kind of this balancing act of going through. And then you know, and we are booked in and always remember that we are working we booked in for her birthday, which is the 26th of June. But we actually Okay, we’re booking into the 28th because she didn’t want to share her birthday. like okay, that’s that’s one of the benefits of, of having it of having a C section. The 28th everything when is scheduled. Nine o’clock in the morning we were in. Always remember big room, lots of equipments to read to resus machines just in case. Two of everything probably about five or six people in the room. Little bit like a dentist surgery, dads asked to kind of stay behind the curtain and the curtain kind of is you know mums head and then curtain and then you’re not really don’t really they don’t really want you to see anything below. And Sharm members being quite spaced out. She doesn’t really remember me being there. And it’s really super fast, like you’re in and you and it’s done. And you know, Willow came out, and then one minute Ivy comes out, and it’s just it’s, I cannot, I can’t I almost can’t explain the rush of adrenaline as a dad that you have when you see them, because you, you feel you, you’re ready, but you’re not ready. And you’re excited. And it’s all those emotions. Willow came out, and she looks quite relatively, she looked good. They were a little bit worried about her breathing. So
I basically went with Willow, straight up to special care. Because she, I think she was something, they grade them out of five. And she was maybe a three out of five, breathing, but she did a bit of help. And then Ivy came out and Ivy was actually kind of a little bit smaller. And they were more worried about her when she was born. But she I think she scored a four, four or five out of five when they actually got down into the table. And so Ivy spent a little bit of time with Mom, I think, but I actually went off with Willow back up to special care. And they got into a little incubator and warmed her up a bit and helped her with a breathing. And then she was she was fine within an hour upstairs in special care.
So how long did you stay in the hospital before everybody came home?
I think it was about a week, week and a half c sections, big surgery, there was a stage where, you know, the girls were in special care. And I think it was level two, and Sharm that to go into intensive care on the ground floor. Because there were you know, she was bleeding, she was bleeding. And because she wasn’t because the preeclampsia she was she wasn’t clotting. And so there was you know, it was touch and go moment with her. And I was with her. So I was taking photos of the girls upstairs, and then bring them downstairs, I was kind of playing between two floors. See if the girls were okay, seeing if Sharm was okay, she was she was in a wheelchair and saw the girls a bit. I think it was a few I think it might be three or four hours later, then back into sort of back into intensive care. But it’s interesting, although it’s such a big invasive surgery, that the body does recover really quickly. So one minute, she was intensive care, she was struggling. And then the next day she was much better than the next day she was actually up on on actually stands it’s really fast recovery. But you got to kind of you know, you’ve got to take care of her because she can’t fully shower properly and she can’t bend she can’t lift. And she just had twins. So you’ve almost got this elevated responsibility of looking after all these people. while managing all of these emotions.
It is a lot of responsibility all at once. And as you’re describing, sometimes dads are called upon to run in between, you know, run between the newborns back to mom back to twins back to mom, to make sure everything is going okay. And that physical separation and running back and forth is often kind of how your brain is going too you’re pulled in a lot of different directions. So you bring the you bring mom and the babies home from the hospital. And what were some of the big surprises when it came time to actually taking care of twins at home?
Got them home, you know, almost scared to touch them. The benefit, just a step back benefit, I would say of special obviously special care isn’t really a benefit because they need special care. But we’re in special care for I think I said a week earlier, we were in there for two weeks. And in that two weeks, we actually learnt to take care of them if that makes sense. So, you know, bottle feed, change nappy, put them down to sleep. So that was a great kind of intensive learning exercise for all of us to get into the rhythm of taking care of them. However, then you get home and you’re like, Oh, I don’t have the comfort of the nurse. I don’t I can’t ask the nurse. I don’t have the comfort of everything being around me and I don’t I don’t really like it’s not that we don’t have the same setup as often, obviously. So then you go for this moment of Okay, what do we need and then as a planner, I’m like, Okay, this is what we need XYZ set up, set up the change table station so that we’ll set up the feeding station. We set up a little sort of sort of expressing area in a spare room so Sharm could watch Netflix and express. But the surprising I think the surprising thing in hindsight was because they were Prem, we’re talking sort of three, four pounds, they were both kind of roughly two kilos. They needed three hourly feats. So then we go into this tag team, because we’re you know, well, I would say like six weeks off on paternal leave, but we have to then Tag Team feeding. So we did three early feeds, I think it was, I did 11pm feed, sleep, wake up at five, and then Shawn does the 3am, or the 2am, and then sleeps. And then we go into this routines, we’re doing this three out of three are feeding, and that’s pretty, it’s pretty, it’s pretty zombie, like you get into this routine of being a zombie that’s feeding, trying to feed two girls, one of them goes down, the other one you’re feeding, the other one wakes up, you’re trying to rock them with your foot while you’re feeding the other one with your hands, it’s harder for the Mum, because they’ve also got to express and they’ve got to feed. So she was pretty much one in running on empty. For, for for for probably for a couple of months before until they started to get a bit bigger and could take on more take on more milk, I suppose the other thing was that there’s there’s this kind of old wives tales of you know, one twin wakes up the other, you know, does one of them sort of disrupt the other and I learned pretty quickly that they’re really comfortable around each other and sort of they get getting he get them into routine and they’re comfortable, you know, with assess being around. And that was that element, which you know, I thought there might be issues with one of them screams, one of them wakes up one of them screams and the other one wakes up and the other one screams this whole kind of ripple effect. And that never really happens, which was which was caused, which is a little bit surprising too.
We saw the same thing where they’d be comfortable with each other’s noises during the nighttime. It wasn’t until they got a little bit older. And instead of maybe the cries we can each other. They wanted to play with each other and talk to each other. And that became more of a distraction for sleep than when they were infants.
Yeah, we started to see now actually, though, Willow needs a little bit less sleep than Ivy. So then Willow tries to wake up Ivy to play with her sort of let’s say 630. And Ivy wants to sleep till 730. I mean, we’re only talking we’re not talking three 3am we’re just talking in the margins. But it is more an entertainment thing now rather than a, a worry.
So they’ve shared a bedroom since they came home?
Shared a bedroom. Yeah, we’ve, we briefly chatted about it last night, actually, do we start to think because one of them is waking up earlier than the other? Do we start thinking about the second room? Potentially, we might ask, we might see what like table they think like last night, Willow said want to go to bed. And Ivy was still playing. So like in that scenario, be great to have two bedrooms. So I think down the track, maybe we will look at it. But at the moment, they’re still shared room in two cots.
So they’re still in cots and haven’t moved to big kid bed yets
No, we have not made the jump yet been told that they will kind of tell us when they’re ready to get out of the cot. or physically, we will get out of the cot, but they’re still in there. So we’re just kind of waiting to see what they want to do. Really,
That’s great. I know our girls started climbing out when they were about two. So enjoy, enjoy every night where they’re kind of contained in their cot, because that won’t last forever.
Yeah, we’re kind of trying to keep them in the cot long as possible without kind of restricting how much space and independence they have in, you know, a small toddler bed knowing that they’ll be jumping out and running around and playing with each other. And yeah, it’s kind of trying to prolong that as much as we can.
We found with our first children, our boys before the twins were born that they were so used to staying in the cot that when we move them to a big bed, they would still stay on the bed until we came to get them. So that may be the case with your girls. But it was not the case with our twins they, as soon as they figured out they can get out they were all over the place. So I think it really depends on the child how they behave.
I think that’s a great point there, which is, you know, how, how are the twins? How is your twin? What are the twins doing today? It’s almost this kind of it’s one person. And they’re two different people that look, you know, the same. And I think the thing now for us as twin parents is how do we how do we encourage and distinguish them as individuals, you know, Ivy might love the bed, love the toddler, but Willow might just be running around and causing. Like it’s it’s, it’s easy to paint them with the same brush. And it’s very, very, it’s very, very hard not to compare them. You will often catch ourselves saying, Willow did this. Willow’s done that, Ivy hasn’t done that. Ivy’s doing that, Ivy’s saying that. But Willow hasn’t done that. We catch ourselves quite often comparing them. And you wouldn’t really necessarily compare to like your first, your first. You know your first children, as you mentioned, as much as you do with twins. It’s an interesting dynamic. So we’re we’re trying to catch ourselves when we compare them.
Yeah, that’s hard because they are the same age. And in your case, in our case, they look the same. It’s, it’s really hard to not compare them to each other. And I think I think part of that, so it’s okay to compare them, because you’re kind of seeing how they develop the, their developmental milestones to make sure they’re kind of on track with where they should be. But at the same time, making sure you give them opportunities to express themselves individually to develop their own talents and interests, have you been able to set aside one on one time with each of your girls?
You know, what we haven’t, up to now. And it’s think we’re going to start doing it, which is probably just maybe taking I go to, I go and get groceries and one of them. Or, you know, mom goes and takes one to see our grandparents. And we want to start to do that, actually, up to now we haven’t up to now it’s been very much. They both come. Well, we both do that. So I think we’ll start doing it.
So doesn’t have to be something huge. It can be very small, like you’re saying, if you just run to the store, with one of the twins, they have their own experience, where they’re seeing things and doing things without their sibling. I know our children have benefited from that as well.
Yeah, I mean, that the feedback from daycare is that they do everything together. Which part of me feels comforts, that they are doing things together. And part of me feels like, what about the experience you could have of someone else. So I want to start to encourage them that they can have experiences individually. Because there’s a beautiful comfort of being a twin, which no one really understands apart from if you are a twin. So that’s unique, beautiful, and comfortable. But at the same time, you’re also limiting, I suppose a relationship, you’re relying on a relationship so much so then it’s the only real relationship you really have in that group that forum. So I suppose that’s the next milestone is okay. Girls, like, twin 2’s. Okay, I’m going to go off with Dad now. And I’ll be back in a minute versus crying the place down because you’ve been separated with your sister for five minutes.
Yes. And there will be there will be crying in the beginning as they get used to that. But then they’ll start to have so much fun with, you know, being with you, or being with mom, that they’ll be like, hey, let’s do this again, because they realize they get all the attention. So Simon, how have you been able to keep your relationship with your partner strong through the ups and downs of twins?
It’s not easy. It’s, like I said, we went from, you know, both working in Sydney, live near the beach, and this fantastic lifestyle, into, you know, almost a military style, parenting journey. And it’s really easy to forget about each other. You know, there’s a couple of things we’ve tried to do, which is a thing called the third space, there’s a comment with the author, there’s a great book called The third space, which is where can we go or talk where we can just talk to one another? And so we have a third space, which is the office but also starting to try and you did we did it, that was great, what you did just that that was great. We did that with Ivy and just give that give that feedback. And it’s really hard sometimes to find that the thing that this this headspace to give that feedback early, early on pretty early on, we were doing date night. So we might, you know, leave the girls with just overnight with grandparents take a night off which which was invaluable, especially early when you’re not getting much sleep at all, clearly explaining I mean, there’s a great example yesterday where I think both girls are pretty upset and just wanted mum. And I just said, I’m just going to unless you need me, I’m just going to be in the other room and I’ll come back I’ll come back in 10 minutes. And everyone was clear what I was doing. I said it calmly I didn’t get, you know, frustrated. They didn’t want me they want both one and then I come back so that’s kind of for the girls. It’s good for the mom, it’s good. And for me it was good. So I think comms, comms number one, number two is having a system and properly and properly. The third one is getting into getting into routine. This is how we do this. But then the other side of having a almost a military style routine. And Sharm will listen to this and say it’s life isn’t routine life isn’t just a set of dots and dashes. Life is messy. I’m learning that, and I’m getting to grips with that. And part of the way that we’ve started to strengthen the relationship is mixing it up now, because we’ve had two and a half years of military precision, we’re now going into this period of okay, it’s okay that girls can maybe they’re dropping up, maybe they won’t. Maybe we’ll do this many times. And that’s, that’s new for me. And that’s, that’s strengthening, I suppose, mom’s side of what the relationship now means as mom and dad, and also the relationship as a family, and how that matures and develops because it doesn’t need to be so military anymore.
Yeah, that’s great. Those are some great things that dads who are listening can try in their own to keep things moving along. So Simon, as we wrap up today, if listeners want to connect with you, what’s the best way to reach out?
Yeah, this on Facebook is great. If you want to leave the link.
Perfect. Yeah, we’ll do that in the show notes for the episode. Simon, thank you so much for sharing your story with us today. We really appreciate it.
Thanks, Joe. And good luck and all the best and any twin dads out there, please reach out. And we’ll talk soon.
I hope you enjoyed the conversation with Simon about his journey as a twin dad. If you missed anything in the show or want to check out other stories, you can head over to twindadpodcast.com.
If you would like to share your story like Simon did today, please reach out to me. You can email me [email protected] or you can reach me on instagram or twitter @twindadjoe and I would love to hear from you. Again today’s show is brought to you by twintshirtcompany.com. Where you’ll find lots of amazing creative and funny t shirts designed specifically for you. Twin dads, twin moms, there’s some for the grandparents and the twins themselves. You can see all of those at twintshirtcompany.com Thank you so much for listening, and I’ll see you next time.
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