Episode 242 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes
Today we continue our father of twins interview series with Barnaby Haszard Morris, father of non-identical girl twins from New Zealand. Listen as we explore his twin parenting journey, including:
- Starting kindergarten with twins
- Telling similar twins apart
- Mom’s terrible nausea until the morning twins were born
- Waiting 3 days for availability at the hospital to deliver the twins
- When the NICU was full so couldn’t deliver twins
- Mom’s complications after birth
- Recruiting family to come and help with the twins
- When the time comes to go back to work
- Having Mom stay home with the kids
- Finding out that Dad could manage on less sleep and thus take night feeds
- Moving twins to two separate rooms
- and more…
Connect with Barnaby on Twitter
Joe Rawlinson 0:00
Imagine having to wait three days to let the hospital admit you to deliver your babies and being turned back each day when you thought you’d be having your twins. Today we discussed that and much more with a fellow father of twins.
Welcome to the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast the podcast that will help you survive and thrive as a father of twins Now, here’s your host, the author of the book, the “Dad’s Guide to Twins“, Joe Rawlinson.
Joe Rawlinson 0:32
Hey everybody, and welcome to the Dad’s Guide to Twins podcast. This is Episode 242 and I am Joe Rawlinson. Today we are continuing our father of twins interview series with with a kiwi twin dad from New Zealand. But before we jump into that conversation, I want to let you know that today’s show is brought to you by my book “Dad’s Guide to Raising Twins: How to thrive as a father of twins“. This book will guide you through the first couple years of twins and help you overcome the challenges we all face during those crazy first years. You can learn more about this book at raisingtwinsbook.com now let’s jump straight into that interview. Today I would like to welcome to the show fellow father of twins. Barnaby Haszard Morris, welcome to the show, Barnaby.
Thanks so much for having me, Joe.
Joe Rawlinson 1:14
Barnaby, how old are your twins right now. And what’s something exciting about this age?
Right now they’re three, they turned three in November 2020. And something that’s really exciting about them. I mean, every day is exciting in a different way. But just this week, they started going to kindergarten, one day a week by themselves. Whereas last year, they were only going together. So that’s quite exciting and a little nerve wracking. But Nora got through it really well yesterday, and had a great day by herself at kindy. And hopefully, June has a similar story today. That increased independence, I guess. What’s really nice about this age.
Joe Rawlinson 1:56
So you’ve got two girls, are they identical?
(RELATED: Don't reinvent the twin parenting wheel. Get my 7 Things Every Dad of Twins Needs to Know.)
Yeah, two girls, they’re not identical. They do look quite alike. Blonde hair, very blue eyes. So strangers find it hard to tell them apart, and sometimes family members.
Joe Rawlinson 2:09
So there’s a secret marks or identification that you can use?
Yeah, there is actually June has a birthmark on her forehead that’s quite pronounced. And it’s sort of darkened over time to make it a bit more prominent. Whereas when they are born, you know, there’s marks everywhere, it’s kind of hard to tell,
Joe Rawlinson 2:30
you mentioned that they just started going to kindergarten by themselves. So how has that transition been from what they’re doing before?
Tara my wife and I do our best especially Tara cause she’s home with the kids, we do our best to prepare them for these sorts of transitions and talk in a in a relaxed way as possible about what’s coming up. So that when that happens, they sort of expect it. So they started kindergarten towards the end of last year when they were about shortly before they turned to three. And they talked to her pretty well. But I actually expected that with twins, they’d be really comfortable going into social settings like that. Because they’ve always had someone around. So they’d be more they’d have a lot more experience relating with someone else their own age, what actually happened. And I don’t know what it’s like for other twins. But Nora and June kind of leaned on each other and they would stick together to the point where they wouldn’t necessarily interact with other kids so much. So the thing where we’re getting them to go to kindy by themselves for one day a week each, instead of give them that chance to express themselves in their own way, and not to be so bound to each other. But generally, the transition to kindergarten has gone really well. And they do cope quite well with transitions with notice, which is very fortunate for us.
Joe Rawlinson 4:00
That is good that they are flexible in changing times. We’ve noticed similar patterns with our twins being maybe a little dependent on each other when they’re together. So it’s good that they have had chances to do things on their own and become more independent. Like you’re describing. Let’s rewind the clock back to when you found out that you would be having twins. What was your family situation like at that time?
They are our first and only children so far. So my wife and I had just gotten married and she got pregnant pretty soon after we got married. And then yeah, a few weeks then had the scan and the sonographer had the twins in the family. And we sort of looked at each other ahh. Didn’t get a response out but he said there are now and it was a pretty incredible moment. I was quite shocked and are really happy way. I’d actually been joking for a while that because she gotten so pregnant, pregnant so easily that I thought it was going to be twins. But I talked myself out of that. Whereas my wife had gone and thinking maybe Barnaby’s, right? Maybe it is twins. And lo and behold, it was twins. So she cried a little bit, which was really lovely. But she also said, How am I going to handle twins? And I thought the same thing. But we drove home afterwards in a sort of cloud of joy and uncertainty and just wondering what our lives were going to be like now and knowing that they were going to change. Absolutely. Even more so than having one child.
Joe Rawlinson 5:44
how did the pregnancy go? Were there any complications during that?
(RELATED: Check out the Dad's Guide to Twins Youtube channel for additional helpful twin tips and tricks videos.)
Not really. So the kids did great. They stayed in all the way to term all the way through due dates. And there are only minimal dramas where maybe Tara didn’t feel one move for a few days, got them checked out, everything was fine. No other complications beyond that, except Tara had terrible nausea all the way through, did not stop from four weeks, right until the morning they were born. So that was obviously a struggle for her, but she soldiered on as best she could. And towards the end, when she was just resting up at home. Basically, when I’d leave for work in the morning, I would make a tea, a thermos of tea and a sandwich and leave it by the bed for her so she could kind of drink some tea and eat her sandwich horizontally. And then wait a little while for that to settle. And then she could sit up and start thinking about getting out of bed.
Joe Rawlinson 6:48
I’m glad you found at least something that would help give her a little bit of comfort there with the nausea.
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, I really don’t envy her going through that. It seems it just seems like pregnancies are really, really hard and twin, twin pregnancy, especially. So
Joe Rawlinson 7:05
yes, absolutely. I’ve we have four kids. And the first two came one at a time. And the twins, of course came together. And it was quite a striking difference. On the on the burden on my wife carrying the twins to term.
Sure did you have quite a different reaction, when you heard that you were going to have twins having already had two kids was it was as much of a dramatic reaction as I think it is for most twin parents, when they find out having twins?
Joe Rawlinson 7:31
I was fully expecting just to have a child number three. And I was so confident that that was the case that I send my wife to the doctor by herself for that first appointment after she took the pregnancy test. Because I said okay, I’ll just watch our, our two boys, we had toddlers at the time. So I was like, okay, honey, you just go to the doctor. And and I know what the results gonna be, they’re gonna tell you that you’re pregnant. So turned out that that she got an ultrasound and found out that we’re having twins. And that just completely blew me away. I was I knew how much work it was just have one at a time. And so the thought of having two was a little bit overwhelming.
I think that’s the blessing of twins being your first kids, because we don’t know any different. If you have one at a time, and you are going to have to deal with double that. That must be quite an adjustment to have to make from what you expect.
Joe Rawlinson 8:25
Right. Jut I mean, just like you, you figure things out, and you just adjust and you just make it work. It does seem a little bit overwhelming, at first and is frankly overwhelming. But you just do day by day, and you get through it. And all of a sudden, your kids are older, like yours already going off to kindergarten. And so time does seem to fly once you get out of this first crazy couple months anyway.
(RELATED: Expecting twins? Avoid these 4 critical mistakes expectant twin parents make.)
It sure does.
Joe Rawlinson 8:50
Let’s talk about the birth experience. What do you remember about that and with your twins?
So our birth story is quite unusual. So just getting to term with twins, I think is quite unusual. So we’re really excited about that. One was breech, I think that the correct terminology the head was facing down and know that the feet were facing down anyway. So Tara was booked in for a C section on a Friday. So we went to hospital on the Friday sort of wildly emotional, listening to emotional music on the way down turning it off, because it was making us want to cry too much. And then when we got to hospital, we waited and we waited and we waited. And I went to the nurse’s station and said, yeah so what’s what’s happening? Where are we at? Are we going to have our babies today? And they said, Not sure what the story is getting to your room and wait and we’ll get someone to come and talk to you. And we soon learned that they’d had what they call the walk in. So someone had arrived in some state of labor and needed a c-section and and then someone else arrived. I needed a c-section, an emergency c section. So we were getting bumped further and further down the list. And ultimately, about three hours after we got there, the attending obstetrician said, you’re going to have to go away and come back tomorrow, basically.
Joe Rawlinson 10:19
That was a very strange experience. And yeah, really confusing. Because we’d had such expectations of that day and that date, like we’ve been looking forward to the third of November, for so long, because we’d had it booked in, you know, so unusual for for a birth story as well to know exactly when you’re going to have your kids or to have a date in mind that you’re looking forward to. And then for that to actually be the days that we go in. And then it wasn’t so yeah. So we went home and had some terrible takeaways, which we couldn’t finish, because they tasted bad. And there was kind of a bad taste in their mouths anyway, and we didn’t know what was going to happen tomorrow, we went back and try to do best to get through another night of nausea. We went off to hospital in the morning again, waited a few hours, She managed to get to the point where she was in a gown, and in a room next to the theater, the operating theatre before they told us I’m afraid with the same things happen, you’ll have to go home again. Try coming back tomorrow. And at that point, we were sort of asking questions like so what happens if this keeps happening? Because it seems like it might keep happening. And I said, Look, we’ll just have to hope for the best, which wasn’t particularly reassuring. So we went back to our home in a daze and joked that when we got canceled again, the following day, we’d go to the movies, and we’re planning out what movie the scene I think Thor Ragnarok was on at the time. So we’re like, well, we’ll just go and see that. We went in on the Sunday, and went into a room again, I room on the ward, and waited and waited. And they came along. And they said, Yeah, the problem that we’ve got here is that NICU is full, the neonatal intensive care. And with a twin delivery, they need to have that room and NICU to be sure that they can care for them, depending on their needs after birth. There as you all know, there’s a higher risk of complications with twins that’s inherently more risky for children and mother. Ultimately, what they did is get the head of NICU to come in on her day off and move some people around and discharge some children who were doing okay. So that we could have our kids born on that day. So the third time of asking, finally, someone came into the room and said, Okay, we’ve got to go, we’ve got to go now, get into your scrubs, let’s go 15 minutes, you’re gonna have your babies. So after all this lead up while we’d waited and waited and waited for so long, and looked forward to having our babies for so long, and then had to wait again. And not know how long it was going to be. It was all happening sort of quickly on that. on that Sunday. As for the birth itself, the C section went off without a hitch. And the kids were born super healthy, did not need need NICU at all, which was great. But Tara had a bit of a scare because I think she’d been given too much epidural, and her oxygen saturations were going down which thinking about Coronavirus at the moment and how we’ve all come a lot more familiar with oxygen saturations. And how what a good level is. Now I look back on what your level of oxygen sats were then which was something like 91%. And I’m thinking that was actually kind of a close call. But they returned to normal levels and she recovered over time from her c section as that major surgery as you do.
Joe Rawlinson 14:07
Were you with her during that time where she was having some trouble or were you with the babies?
Yeah, yeah, so that’s probably an important part of the story. I was somewhat blissfully unaware because I don’t know what I don’t know whether you get you like literally get dad hormones. But if you do, I had them. I was holding both of my children I was looking down their little scrunched up faces was a photo of me absolutely beaming with joy with the you know, the hair cap and the scrubs on. And meanwhile, I think at the very moment that photo was being taken. Doctors were rushing in and out of where my little rushing from to and from my wife’s bedside, trying to get her oxygen sats back to normal and actually stopped some bleeding that was coming out of her scar out of her wound. I’ve kind of pieced it together from what I remember of the doctors rushing around at that time, and from what my wife can remember from that time. And meanwhile, her parents and my mum were in a waiting room nearby, and my dad had been going to attend. But he’d only booked his flight to be there to be to be around for the first and second days of when we were supposed to have our kids. So he missed it in the end, which is really unfortunate. But we went to see him a few weeks later.
Joe Rawlinson 15:32
So there were some complications right after delivery. But your wife was able to get through that Okay. It sounds like the babies were born healthy. And so was everybody able to come home after just a few days?
Yeah, we sort of discharged ourselves. After four days. We weren’t sure if we were ready. But we knew that being at home was going to be better than being in the hospital where there’s bells ringing every 15 minutes. And, yeah, just getting home and trying to manage things ourselves. We wanted to get into that. It was challenging, but better. Definitely.
Joe Rawlinson 16:06
Were you and your wife just by yourself with the babies? Or did your parents or her parents stick around to help?
Yeah. So we were mostly by ourselves. But we’re fortunate that we have her parents and my mum, and my brother, and a bunch of other family quite close by. And they’ve all been especially helpful. Knowing that we were going to need it. And basically, we didn’t refuse anyone’s help. Particularly the kids grandmothers, Kathy and Gwyneth. They were visiting once a week, until quite recently, actually. And Kathy’s stayed. she didn’t stay with us see, traveled up on the train every day for a week, about two weeks. And after I went back to work, sorry, yeah, we were really lucky to have all that help.
Joe Rawlinson 17:00
That’s wonderful that you had some people that can come assist with taking care of the babies. How long did you have off of work before you had to go back?
Yeah, so two weeks. And it felt very, very strange to walk out of the house and leave my wife and my two baby infants. When I went back to work. Yeah, I would like to have had a lot more. And sometimes I wish that parental leave policies were a bit more generous to dads. Although I know in other countries parental leave policies aren’t necessarily there at all. So I guess I have to take that. Have gratitude for that. But yeah, two weeks wasn’t as much as I would like. But it turned out to be probably pretty good, because then we had one parent who was actually getting some, quote, unquote, downtime. Where I didn’t have to be completely on with the kids all the time and could come home and switch into that mindset.
Joe Rawlinson 18:00
Has your wife gone back to work or was she home with the twins the whole time?
Yes. So she hasn’t returned to paid work. Since giving birth, she’s, I like to say she works at raising our kids. And that’s been really good for us. I think, I figure, I figure if you both go to work, then you still have to pay someone to kind of help raise your kids. And that’s really important for a lot of people. And I totally get that. But for us, it worked out better to have my wife stay home with them.
Joe Rawlinson 18:34
We had my wife stay home with the kids as well, from for several years. And that was a great arrangement for us as well. It was wonderful to have her be able to be with the kids and helping raise them. Did you have any kind of trading off with your wife? So you would take times with the twins so that she can get a break? When you get home from work? How did how did those things work out?
We’ve tried a bunch of things over the years, the main thing was about a month, or a month and a half, or a couple of months. And we realized that I could function a lot better on less sleep than she could. And because she was going to be home with them all day. Whereas I was going to an office job where I sort of looked at a computer all day. I wasn’t operating heavy machinery or anything. I could kind of manage the sleep deprivation better. So more than taking over over the chores or the work of raising kids. When I got home from work. I would take the night feeds. Yeah, so that was the main division of labor. She still has done vastly more of the work of child rearing, and just all of the little jobs around that than I have.
Joe Rawlinson 19:46
Yeah, I felt the same way. I felt like I had the easy job, just go to work, go to the office, and then she’d be juggling all four kids here at home. She always worked harder than I was working at any given time, for sure. So when you look back at the first year, what are some of the milestones you remember? made a difference in maybe your quality of life or they were exciting to see with your twins?
I’ve generally found that it’s become challenging in different ways, as they’ve hit new milestones challenging and rewarding in different ways. And I would always be quite fearful of the change. For example, when we introduced solid foods, I was really stressed out about having to learn a new way to feed my children, when I’ve gotten so good at bottle feeding them when they start moving around, crawling, when they start vocalizing, our kids, first word probably happen towards the end of the first year. It was that, and they would use that for pretty much anything that wanted to express that was quite funny. Yeah, but I guess in terms of quality of life, I have to admit that when they started sleeping a little better, which never lasted for long, but whenever they were sleeping well, it has been very, very good. For my mental health, and my general quality of life.
Joe Rawlinson 21:03
Yes, sleep is an amazing thing. And it’s, it’s hard to realize that until you don’t get enough of it. And then you realize something is truly missing. Do you find that one twin hits a milestone first? Or is it always the same twin that hits that?
Yeah, yeah. So they kind of alternate with that, quite often what we’ll find is either Nora, or Joan will do something first, like rolling over or starting to crawl. And then the other twin will shoot past them. So they’ll do it a couple of weeks later. And then they’ll advance their ability to do that, like crawling or walking faster than the first one head. And then they’ll eventually gradually catch up to each other.
Joe Rawlinson 21:48
Yeah, that was interesting for me to observe as well, with our twins, as soon as one of them figured something out, her sister would watch and then start to mimic that behavior as well. And I think in that way, they’re able to kind of alternate back and forth, sometimes like you’re describing and maybe figure things out a little bit faster, than just if they’re by themselves. What’s the most frequent question that people ask you about your twins?
Um, that’s probably what’s it like having twins? And my answer is usually, it’s great. And I don’t know any different. So if they have one kid at a time, I asked, What’s it like having one kid because I have no idea. And I literally can’t imagine. The other thing that people always ask on the street is are they identical. And the usual twin questions.
Joe Rawlinson 22:39
is there a particular piece of baby gear or equipment you found very helpful along your twin journey so far?
Ah, yeah, a few things. So finding the right bottles, if you’re bottle feeding is really important. We use bottles made by the brand, mam, mam. I don’t know if you have them in America. And when we discovered those, it was like, a whole new lease on life, we didn’t have to worry so much about little vomiting after feeds or so much gas. I don’t know what it is about those bottles, but they just really agreed with our kids. Another one is a twin tri pillow, which is kind of a three pronged, a big three pronged pillow, that you can set your twins and adjacent to each other and feed with two bottles like a bottle on each hand. I mean, there have been a bunch of things over the years that we wish we’d realized earlier, but mixing up formula and a jug and putting them in the fridge and just pouring it out into bottles over the course of a day and heating it up. Rather than making new rounds of formula and bottle each time you needed to feed. We discovered that several months. And I was like, we’ve just saved us so much time. And yeah, highly recommend doing that. If you’re bottle feeding.
Joe Rawlinson 24:07
Have you girls shared a bedroom? Are they in separate spaces?
Yeah, they shared a bedroom up until about two and a half or two and three quarters. That worked pretty well until they started throwing books or other hard things into each other’s cots and hurting each other. So that wasn’t cool. And we made the difficult decision, as it always is to completely change their lives and give them separate bedrooms. And it took a little while for one of them to adjust to that. She was used to having a sister in a room but now it’s just just how it is. They sleep much better. They started sleeping much better generally when they moved into separate bedrooms So yeah, it’s one of those things we you end up trying something different because you feel like you have to, and then that’s what you stick with because it seems to be working.
Were they still in their individual cots when you moved them to their different rooms? Or did you move them to larger beds?
Yeah, they were still in their cots and they still are, although the side goes up and down, so we just leave the side down now and there’s a chair next to the bed next to the cot that they can use to climb out, if they need to come out. They roll around a lot. So we’re not quite ready to move them to big beds yet, although it’s probably just about getting on for time.
Joe Rawlinson 25:36
How have you been able to find time to spend any one on one time with each of your twins?
hardly at all, Joe. And this is something that my my wife Tara in particular, has wanted to do more of over the years, but through the haze of you know, making more food changing nappies, getting outside, all of the stuff that you have to do, we just haven’t really gotten around to it plus, they’ve been so kind of codependent. If one goes somewhere the other one wants to go to. If one stays home, the other one wants to stay home too. So this thing where they’re going to kindy one day a week by themselves, I think will be really big for that. And the flip side of that is the one who doesn’t go to kindy gets a full day with Mum, just the two of them. So that’s quite exciting as well. Although it’s gotta be tiring for my wife.
Joe Rawlinson 26:37
What are some things that you’ve done to be able to strengthen your relationship with your wife over the last three years?
That’s really, really important. I think you focus so much on your kids, especially when you have twins just getting through the day and meeting all their needs. So that’s easy to forget that you’re you’re doing it with someone and they’re just as important. Tara and I try and go on dates about once a month. That’s huge. It was really huge. When we first had our we had our first night away from the kids doing something just for us. And the other thing that we’ve done is call for 10 to 15 minutes every day when I’m at work, usually around 930 in the morning when I’ve been at work a couple of hours and she’s gotten through breakfast, and other bits of the morning routine that calls often just a debrief of what happened at the night feeds or how the morning routines gone so far. But I think it’s really valuable for us to share that with each other. And to be aware of what the other person is going through on this crazy awesome, tiring, exhausting, challenging journey that we’re on that keeps us connected to each other’s needs as well.
Joe Rawlinson 27:54
That’s great. Those are some great habits and routines to be in to keep things working together as a partnership on the on the parenting journey. Barnaby as we wrap up today, if listeners want to connect with you, what’s the best way to get in touch?
So I’m on Twitter @barnabyhm. You can also email me [email protected].
Joe Rawlinson 28:15
Excellent. Well, thank you so much for sharing your story with us today. We really appreciate it.
Thanks so much for having me on Joe. I’ve listened to this podcast for coming up to four years now before my kids are born. So it’s really awesome to be part of it. Thank you.
Joe Rawlinson 28:29
You’re welcome. Hope you enjoyed that chat with Barnaby about his adventures as a twin dad. As always you can find the transcript for this episode and you can listen to all previous podcast episodes at twindadpodcast.com. If you’d like to share your story like Barnaby did today, I would love to hear from you he can reach out to me via email [email protected] or I’m on Instagram or Twitter @twindadjoe and of course on facebook at facebook.com/dadsguidetotwins. Today’s show is brought to you by my second book for dads, Dad’s Guide to Raising Twins: How to Thrive as a Father of Twins. You can learn more about this book and pick up a copy for yourself at raisingtwinsbook.com thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you next time.
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