Episode 245 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes
Today we continue our father of twins interview series with Chris Mason and Kyle Strickland, fathers of boy/girl twins. Listen as we explore their twin parenting journey, including:
- Their surrogacy journey including finding an egg donor
- 20-week ultrasound only doctor visit able to attend
- Relocated to Wisconsin right before the twins’ birth
- C-section because the daughter was breech
- Flying with one week old twins
- Living for 3 months in an AirBnB before their house was ready
- Getting twins on the same schedule
- Relief of getting over formula
- Joys of when twins could hold their own bottles
- Road tripping with toddlers
- and more…
Connect with Chris and Kyle on Instagram.
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Surviving a road trip across the country with nearly two year old twin toddlers. Today on the show.
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.
Hey everybody. Welcome to the 245 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 twins interview series with twin dads Chris and Kyle as they share their journey raising boy girl twins. Want to let you know that today’s show is brought to you by my second book for dads. It’s called “Dad’s Guide to Raising Twins: How to thrive as a father of twins”. You can learn more about this book at raisingtwinsbook.com. Now let’s jump straight into the interview. Today, I would like to welcome to the show fathers of twins, Kyle Strickland and Chris Mason. Welcome to the show, guys.
Thank you for having us.
How old are your twins right now? And what’s something really exciting about this age?
They are they will be two next month, something that’s exciting about this age. You know, they’re getting into the toddler phase, I think what’s really interesting now is they’re really getting into that independent nature where they can play by themselves and seeing them interact with each other and play with them. But they aren’t as needy on to us to play with them. So we can leave them alone for a little while. And it’s just kind of cool to see them really grow into those personalities and just really kind of start to interact with each other in a lot of different ways.
(RELATED: Check out the Dad's Guide to Twins Youtube channel for additional helpful twin tips and tricks videos.)
Yeah. And I think with that they become good friends. And as Kyle was saying. They can take care of each other and play together. And for us. It’s limited. It’s not limited, but we don’t have to 24 seven, watch them. They can keep each other company.
Let’s go back to when you found out that you would be having twins. What was that experience? Like? And how did you know you’d be having twins come in and come into your family?
What’s interesting with us is it wasn’t really a surprise, we actually went into the whole process expecting twins and hoping for twins, which I don’t think most people say. So we came we came about with having twins through our surrogate. So we went through our surrogacy journey. So when we transferred in two embryos on our transfer day, we did that with a conscious decision of best case scenario, we’d end up with twins worst case scenario, and that was one or nine had to go through the process again. And then really worst case scenario, one of them split. So we end up with triplets, which we were hoping against. But we actually went into the whole process of saying, Hey, we’re only going to do this journey once. So let’s try to get two kids out of it as much as possible. So we were we were very excited and elated. When we did find out and see the sonogram that two little heartbeats were there.
That’s great. Can you share a little bit about how you found a surrogate for this journey to begin,
we went through a bunch of different agencies to go through the process. So there are a bunch of companies and groups that actually will facilitate the entire process for you, especially helping not only like LGBT couples and families, but also heterosexual couples, who would need that help as well. So we weren’t, we weren’t the agency basically here in LA. And they actually went through the process of vetting out and finding surrogates matching us up with a surrogate, who was fantastic and amazing, and really guided us through that entire process.
But as part of that, they also had to help us find egg donors, which I think was actually much longer experience than we thought it would be, is kind of just going into we didn’t actually have much experience just thinking, you know, trying to find egg donor. It’s kinda like a dating process, and that you kind of like, get all these just profiles of people and you kind of have to just pick which ones you like. And there’s just a very weird experience. And I think it took us a while to figure find, just wait our way through that.
How much interaction Did you have with the surrogate as far as the doctor visits or ultrasounds, things like that?
At the time, we were based in New York, and we lived in Manhattan. Our surrogate was actually in Wisconsin, outside Green Bay. And so we talked fairly frequently. We texted all the time. We made it to Green Bay for the 20 week, ultrasound I believe. So that was the only like real doctor visit we were able to make it to through the process. And then as it got closer to when the twins were coming, we actually relocated to Green Bay for the last month. And so as you start to go into those like weekly doctor’s visits, we were able to make it there for the last couple of weeks.
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Oh, that’s, that’s great. You’re able to relocate to be so close. So how far along did the babies make it when it was time for them to be born?
They went 38 weeks And change. I mean, at that point they were removed via scissoring section, I think we were hoping to have them be a vaginal birth. However, our daughter was breech. So we they had to go in and take her out with a C section. And I think we’re, you know, we could have kept going,
they showed no sign of wanting to come early whatsoever. So we kind of, we kind of forced that decision upon them.
I’m sure the surrogate wanted them to come out earlier. But
yes, yeah, 38 weeks is pretty long. For twins. Yeah, they usually come before then,
we were very fortunate that we had no issues with the pregnancy, at all, it went fairly swimmingly all the way up, up until up to delivery. And so we were because they were full, almost full term, at least at that point, like, we were able to take them home, they had no no visits to NICU, you know, medical issues, etc. Everything was actually pretty, pretty good with them.
And once they were delivered, they put them out, put them in a little cart, and we were able to bring them back to our room,
great that they were healthy and birth and ready to go. They’re born in Wisconsin, but that’s not where you were gonna end up long term. So how long were you there before you decided to go back to New York or head to California.
(RELATED: Don't reinvent the twin parenting wheel. Get my 7 Things Every Dad of Twins Needs to Know.)
So we lived in New York at the time, we knew we were going to relocate to LA when the kids were born. So we ended up leaving, we had movers come pick up all of our stuff, we packed up everything we were going to need for like the next three months in New York. And then we left New York and moved to Green Bay for about a month. So we stayed there until the kids were born. And then we put them on a flight about a week after they were born, which was the the long short is not a timeframe that we could actually put them on a plane per airline restrictions. And now we brought them straight to LA. So not only were we going through the process of having twins, we were also in the process of relocating coast, as well as building a house at the same time and which our house was not ready when we actually moved to LA. So we had to spend three months in Airbnb, before we actually got into the house. So it was definitely a very chaotic time.
It’s like, Can you make any other big life changes at once it’s in like moving across the country. New Kids. new house. Wow. So okay, let’s talk about flying with one week old babies. How was that?
it was very stressful and nerve nerve racking. But looking back on it, it was probably the easiest flight we’ve ever had with them. We had my mother come Chris’s sister come. And so we kind of just, we’ve got six seats, two rows behind each other, we put them in the middle of each row. So we had them, you know, at least protected on both sides. But it was it was fairly fine. They slept I think the entire plane ride the here. They we did bottle feedings on the plane and takeoff and landing. I think the flight was about three hours,
yes, three hours or so
about three hours. They were perfectly content did not do anything. I think we changed diapers in the bathrooms maybe two or three times during the flight. And then of course then when we landed, and for anyone who is in LA, you know, you had traffic, because I think we landed around 5pm in the afternoon. So we had traffic trying to get to Studio City. And of course, then they chose that time to scream the entire way home for an hour and a half in traffic. But our thought was rather better have them screaming here then on the plane for three hours.
Yeah, we found that when our kids were really little, they were easier to travel with. Yeah, cause they would just asleep, like you say, and when they get older than they they’re harder to contain on things like an airplane for sure you’re in temporary housing for a couple months. What surprised you the most about having two little ones at the same time?
how easily we were able to get them on the same schedule. I think that was going to be our biggest concern, having two of them when they sleep on the same schedule that they’d nap the same time. Would they feed at the same time, etc. And as everyone tells you, we’re expecting twins, you know, it’s important to get them on schedule. And and they were fairly good. Would they actually have them like sleeping 12 hours, by for five months,
probably even earlier. And that probably went from three months onwards, they were sleeping. This they’ve been sleeping 12 hours a day. So we put him down an evening they’d sleep generally through the night. I mean, the only time they woke up in the middle of the night was when we were still feeding them every two hours. But once that stopped,
a lot of people have talked about how difficult it was like to transition. The babies from like the parents room into like their nursery, especially with single times. And for us it was seamless, like they had no problems with it because they had each other. If they woke up early, they would just sit there and talk to each other and giggle and they were probably concerned so we came in and pick them up.
That’s great. So they shared a room the whole time. Even til now?
yeah they still they still share us and we’re in their cribs are facing each other so they they can sometimes we have to go in and break them up because they’ll start poking each other and trying to wake the other one up. But Yeah, we’re gonna plan on keeping on a room for for a while.
I think our plan is to have them stay together in the same room until they asked to be put into separate rooms.
So they’re still in cribs, they have not escaped yet from the crib.
They have not escaped from the cribs yet no, surprisingly
Our kids all had figured out how to get out of the crib by about two ish so hopefully you can get them keep them in there a little bit longer because once they get out there’s no there’s no stopping the insanity.
Yeah, I think that’s that’s our fear. We want to keep them in those cribs and locked in there as long as possible.
We found with our first our first two boys, which were Singleton’s like they, when we move from cribs to beds, they would still stay on their bed as if it were a crib as if they were trapped, right. But then they weren’t. But our twins are not like that all as soon as they were out of the crib it was forget about it, they were all over the place. It’ll be interesting to see how how your kiddos do with that.
Yeah, I expect to wake up in the middle of the night just have one staring at me from the side of the bed.
So what have been some of the other milestones that they’ve hit over the last almost two years now that made life a little bit easier for you guys.
At least for me, one of the biggest milestones that I enjoyed was when they stopped using formula. Just because that was a pain every single day, making the formula and mixing it all together, we wound up having a machine that did it for us like it was a little baby brezza. But just from buying the formula and making it and just putting it all together every day that was a big milestone. And that ended
probably to that sticks out on my head is when they can hold their own bottle. That was always a major one because I remember, I took the night shifts when they were born. And so having wake up like every two, three hours and have to hold the bottles for both of them. When they’re there. Like it just dripped out very slowly. So it took like an hour to feed both them holding those bottles, so that the minute they could hold their own bottles was it was life changing. So I was a big one.
I think, as you said, one of the other ones that comes to mind, for me is probably the point in which as I was talking to them, they would comprehend what I was saying and follow my my request. So if I asked them to go give me their plate or something. Once they started doing that, that made somewhat life easier for us as well,
for sure, once they’re able to start communicating and following simple instructions. It opens up a whole new world, you mentioned taking turns for feedings at night was that the kind of the routine the whole time when they were still on the bottle.
I think I mostly took the night shift. Because luckily Chris had Chris was off for six months, I think when they were born four months when they were born. And I was working. So like I would take the night shifts. And so he looks he could sleep and then take care of them during the day. So I think for the first like two or three months, we were waking up waking them up every two to three hours to feed them once they got up to their their birth weight. And then after that it didn’t take us long to get down to only about one feeding a night. So we just wake up probably whenever they would wake up, we would just grab a bottle and feed them. But by six months, probably not even that long. We had them sleeping through the entire night,
when they were really little. They slept in our room every single night. But then one night a week, the one parent would sleep in a separate room just so they could somewhat get a full night’s sleep and not have to hear them. He kind of just you know, I guess you’d say is that was one day a week to recharge recharge.
That’s smart. Yeah, every little bit helps in those early days when you just just need a little bit more sleep for sure. So have you seen one of your twins maybe hit milestones before the other one or they’ve been kind of on par with each other?
No, they actually trade back and forth. Like our son Cavin, he army crawled first. Willow never army crawled, she went straight to crawling and she started actual crawling before he did. She started walking before it happened did he started about a month after she that they’ve been close. But they sometimes kind of switch back and forth to whoever reaches that first milestone.
And I think Cavin got his teeth first. But then she got eight of them all at once. They kind of go back and forth as you know, Cavin’s taller right now but Willow’s been taller.
That’s fun to see. That’s kind of a guessing game of who’s gonna do what next? You mentioned teething. Tell us about how teething may have snuck up on you and how you’re able to keep things sane.
It snuck up on us because we actually didn’t know they were teething at some point. I think we kind of surprises we were looking you know, checking for teeth and they were automatically there. Willow had no problem with teething it did not bother her at all. She would just chew on things but it shouldn’t wake up crying or screaming or having rough nights. Cavin he couldn’t handle it as well. So there are a couple like rough nights where he would wake up in the middle of night and you know, kind of give give him some like little Tylenol to help ease the pain. The worst night for teething for us. Chris was away on a work trip I was by myself here. And normally with them, they don’t wake each other up if one like wakes up in the middle of night, doesn’t wake up the other one. except for that one incident where I was by myself and they both woke up screaming, because of teething and I had tried to get them both down and about to lose my mind. I think I called a called Chris at like 330 in the morning on the east coast and said, I need help. I don’t know what I’m doing here. I said, I just need someone to talk to. And I had been like, breathe in someone to call me down. So I could get them down and get them back to sleep. I think that was the worst night that we ever had to watch on the baby. Can I see someone else’s suffer through that pain of screaming babies at 330 in the morning? By myself? I need I need to share that pain with someone.
That’s right. That’s part of the joys of fatherhood is dealing with crazy middle of the night shenanigans. Now y’all just completed a big road trip with toddlers, which is in itself a road trip is hard enough, but then to take toddlers on a road trip is another level of skill. So let’s talk about how that trip went. And what are some things you were able to do to make it go as smoothly as possible with what I assume are two very active toddlers.
I think I’ll start off the reason why we did the road trip to begin with. Obviously, with the pandemic, our daycare has been closed or like they’ve been out of daycare for a year. And we’re both working. And so we’re both at home with them while working and maintaining at the same time. In our grandparents are one sense in Texas, the other set is in in Pennsylvania. So they weren’t able to travel and kind of come help with us. And I think we This was our third attempt at driving to Texas to one of the grandparents house were helped. I think we tried it twice, last summer and chickened out both times of it. And now looking back at this trip, I’m actually glad we didn’t do it because we actually really kind of needed them to be at this phase where unfortunately, like, put a screen in front of them and let them watch a movie and keep them kind of quiet for a while which would not have worked last summer. And thankfully, they’re at this age now. So that’s what was really the blame. He said, Well, we’ll suffer through three days to get to Texas, just to get help for about two or three weeks and get our sanity back. The key to the success of it, it actually went fairly well. I think we spread it out over three days. So I think we maxed out at maybe 910 hours a day. In the car, we’ve stopped at the hotel, we push a little harder on the way there. And what we came to learn is that when you get the kids out of the car, especially toddlers and get them in the hotel room, they go crazy. They need to run around, they need to exert energy, which then delayed bedtime. So they want to go into bed until very late that night. And so on the way back we we cut the days a little bit shorter, so we could give them time to exert all that energy run around and get them out of bed at a normal time. The other key things that we did was we actually have an electric car. So we actually had to stop every like two to three hours to charge the car, which really actually worked out with toddlers because then that gave us opportunity for them to get out of the car. So we stretch the legs, we did bottle feedings out of the car, we let them run around with the likes to go find rocks, so she would go pick up rocks for a good 20-30 minutes. And it allowed them to just kind of stretch their legs a bit before we got them in the car for the next you know stop that we needed to get through.
One of the big things for us is without you know if we didn’t have children, it would have been a much faster trip. We probably wouldn’t have taken three days we probably could have done it in two. Certainly I think for us what we found is the secret to working for us was that we would stop every you know every 90 minutes every two every two hours just to let them get out and run around and not go entirely stroke crazy of sitting in their car seats.
The other thing is you know we bought a couple of new toys that they had never seen before so introduce them along the ride so they got new coloring books and markers on the way there on the way back they got some talking books that they could interact with that they really enjoyed. And then you know the other thing is what they always say keep them fed so feeding them snacks as much as possible. They probably did not eat the eat the most healthy on notice three days. But you know I kept them saying and apparently there is no limit to the amount of cocoa melon episode you can watch on repeat and the car apparently. So as long as you have coco melon, they will be quiet and calm in the back of the car.
That’s great. You guys have obviously found out a good pattern method to keep keeping kids calm. We figured out some of those things when our kids were younger but some of the other ones we wish we had known as well. The making sure they get their energy out. Way too many times we make a big road trip and we get to the hotel, it’d be time for bed. And the kids would just be in the hotel room going crazy. And more than once we get a call from the front desk saying, sir, we’re getting complaints about noise in your bedroom. Great. So
One of the other good things about the pandemic? For us not for the hotels, of course, is that they aren’t there. They are there for so they’re at their smaller capacity than normal. But we, we did often say is like, I hope there’s nobody below us because these kids are just gonna be run around like crazy. And then what that’s exactly what they would do is they would sit there and just run effectively from wall to wall just repeatedly screaming. But so usually when we would check in, we would at least ask them tell them hey, if there’s any if there’s anybody coming in, don’t put them below us.
Yeah, we definitely look look at the floor map and say, hey, go pick a room that’s on the first floor, or maybe on the second floor over a public space and not someone else’s room, just in case. So we didn’t bother anyone. We did that as much as possible. But yeah, we learned that lesson. I think after the first night,
the smart, the wise hotel manager will recognize who’s in your party and be like, okay, yeah, we’re gonna put you on the ground floor. Let’s talk about a typical day in the life of your nearly two year olds, what’s what’s the typical schedule, like as far as waking up and eating and naptimes.
Funny enough, like when they’re in daycare, we don’t really care as much about routine during the weekend. Because you know, if we messed up, the routine daycare would take care of it Monday through Friday. We’re a little selfish that way. And then once they kind of came home, then we realized how critical a routine was. And we had to maintain that for their sanity and ours. So I think like, during the week, it’s important that we get them out of the house as much as possible. So I think what they get up around seven, seven o’clock in the morning, give them bottles in the rooms, we bring them down, let them run around for a little bit before our day starts work wise, give them breakfast, after breakfast, then we try to go and take them a walk and their strollers. So at least one of us can stay at the house and start doing work. And the other one can kind of get out of the house. I usually take them in the morning. So I take meetings on on the walk, we have learned that one of us cannot walk like let them walk by themselves. Without both of us being there, they just impossible. So we had to make sure they’re in the stroller and they know they’re going into the stroller. So we do that morning, they come back, then we have that snack and mid morning within probably another bottle. That’ll get us through, you know some more playtime, they’ll have lunch, and then we put them down for a nap a little bit after lunch about around one ish.
And then one of the children will actually tends to sleep 90 minutes or two hours, but rather mostly up to three hours in the day. Which is probably 15 of which for us is the best part of the day, because that’s the only time of the day that I can get you know, a lot of work done. I also schedule all of mine more important meetings, or at least the lender and have to do more talking and we’re paying attention during that nap time. And then once they wake up from their naps, we have a little little basket a little bit of more, a little bit more milk, and then kind of as our workday starts to drop down, we will then try to take them on a walk where they physically walk. So they can get a little bit more energy out. Then we come back we’ll have dinner, usually at this point because we don’t get to see our grandparents anymore. They call their grandparents on a video chat device pretty much every night. And then we’ll you know, depending on the day, we then take a bath or we just don’t go to bed. So at this point, they go to bed around seven and then they wake up around 630. We let them play in the room. And then 7am we repeat.
That’s a good schedule. So the one that wakes up more quickly from a nap. Do they disturb the other twin? Or is do you just go get that one who’s awake?
It depends. It depends. We will usually if they during nap time she, she wakes up earlier, she will make a lot more noise usually than she does in the morning when she wakes up beforehand. As we tried to go get her as quickly as possible and get her out of that room. Because if if Cavin does not get his three hours of sleep, he is grumpy and definitely a pain for the rest of the day.
And once it being one of those things, like sometimes she’ll wake up after 45 minutes or an hour and then you’re like, what do I do here? You kind of have to figure it out among yourself was like, Oh, I tried to let her sit up. Stay up there for a couple more minutes and hopefully they fall back asleep Of course. problem with that is when she doesn’t do that she then starts to get a little bit more wild. And sometimes we’ll wake up her brother. And then yeah, then he’s cranky the rest of the day.
We were joking the other day about the worst day is going to be that day where they stopped taking afternoon naps. I don’t know what we were going to do when they stopped taking those naps.
Yeah, that’s a tough transition, because you get used to having that time. And you like what you described, just to maybe do the most important things you have to do that day in that little window. And eventually, the window closes, and you have to figure out something new. Hopefully, by that time, we’ll have some more normalcy and daycare may be an option again, for your little ones.
Yeah, we, we hope. I think we often I often at least say that call details, daycares back open, because that’ll we often think it will be the greatest day of our lives.
So over the last couple years, twins can be quite taxing on you physically, emotionally, mentally. So have you been able to maintain your relationship between each other, while still being dads still being parents?
pre pandemic, I think we had a good, nice routine. We had both of our sisters live very close to us, who loved to come over and watch the kids, which gave us a lot of opportunity to have like date nights, we, we also would like do like daytime dates, as well, like we dropped the kids off daycare and we would have the day off work for various reasons. And we could go and have lunch and sit down and go out to a movie and really just kind of enjoy our time together. I think post pandemic has not been that great, mainly because there’s also nowhere to go for us. Here we are. But while we were in Texas, we were at the grandparents house, they were able to stay there and watch the kids. So at least we got a little bit of sense of day night. It wasn’t a lot but uh, you know, stick going in the car and pick up some ice cream and sitting in a parking lot and watching Netflix for a little while just to have some kind of downtime at night.
It does require creativity. And you just got to make it work with what you have for sure. Well, gentlemen, it’s been a pleasure to get to know your story today. If listeners want to connect with you, what’s the best way to reach out?
We have an Instagram account that’s been kind of tracking our journey. And then it is called @twodadsjourney. So that’s the best way to kind of track you know, how the kids are doing and how we’re doing. We try to travel. We used to try to travel a lot with the kids and hopefully we’ll do it again in the future.
Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. We really appreciate it.
Thank you. Thanks for having us.
Hope you enjoyed that chat with Chris and Kyle about their adventures as twin dads. If you want to connect with them I’ve linked up their contact information in the show notes of this episode over at twindadpodcast.com if you would like to share your story, like Chris and Kyle did today on the show, I would love to hear from you. You can email me [email protected] or reach out to me on social media. On Instagram and Twitter. I am @twindadjoe, and also on facebook.com/dadsguidetotwins. Again, today’s show is brought to you by my second book for dads it’s called “Dad’s Guide to Raising Twins: how to thrive as a father of twins”. This will help guide you through the first several years with your twins and overcoming the challenges thereof. You can learn more about this book at raisingtwinsbook.com thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you next time.
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