Overcoming a serious personal injury while raising twins with Dave Cox – Podcast 305

Joe Rawlinson by Joe Rawlinson - February 22, 2024

Episode 305 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes

Today we continue our father of twins interview series with Dave Cox, father of non-identical boy twins. Listen as we explore his twin parenting journey, including:

  • From joking about possibility of having twins to actually having them
  • One twin was breech so had to go to hospital for cesarean
  • One twin had breathing issues and almost had to fly to Sydney for intensive care
  • 2 weeks in special care (one step down from NICU)
  • Managing time off (12 months for Mum, 6-8 weeks leave for Dad)
  • Size difference so big they wear different sized clothes
  • Toilet training wrapping up with their boys
  • Dad broke neck when twins were 7 months old causing immobility
  • Ongoing surgeries and complications made it impossible to lift and move with twins
  • Day care four days a week and nanny on 5th day of week
  • Losing last daytime nap – getting shorter and shorter
  • Adjusting your perspective makes all the difference
  • and more…

Connect with Dave on Instagram.

Podcast Transcript

This is transcript auto-generated so please forgive any mistakes.

Joe: Today we are continuing our father twins interview series with a father from Australia who shares his journey as a twin dad. Including what happened when he had an accident at work and that dramatically changed the trajectory of his career and his family life, and the things that he was able to do with his twins. We talk about how he overcame those challenges and some of the other ups and downs of raising twin boys today on the show. Welcome to the Dad’s 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 Dad’s Guide to Twins, Joe Rawlinson.

Joe: Hey everybody, welcome to the podcast. This is Joe Rawlinson. I’m glad that you’re here today with me. As always, you can find me on the web at dadsguidetotwins.com, where you’ll find all previous podcast episodes, as well as a ton of other resources to help you along your twin parenting journey. Today’s show is brought to you by my second book for dads of twins. It’s called Dad’s Guide to Raising Twins: How to Thrive as a Father of Twins. You can get a copy of this book for yourself at raisingtwinsbook.com. Once again, that’s raisingtwinsbook.com. Today I would like to welcome to the show, Father of Twins, Dave Cox. Welcome to the show, Dave.

Dave, how old are your twins right now and what’s something exciting about this age?

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Dave: They are three years and eight months at the moment, just getting towards the end of toilet training, and one of them is pretty much fully toilet trained. And we’re just going through that stage with Wesley of he’s at the, he’s fully toilet trained for weeks, but he is frightened of doing poos on the toilet. So we’re just at that stage where he’s just about to overcome that fear. So it’s very exciting to almost be out of nappies.

Joe: How long have you been trying with the toilet training?

Dave: Probably 18 months.

Joe: And have one of your twins been more eager and more successful than the other?

Dave: Yeah, it’s funny. Wesley was actually the first one to show interest and was very successful. And then all of a sudden he sort of regressed because we’ve only found out in the last sort of two weeks, he’s told us that the noise sounds like a storm and he’s scared of storms, not the noise in the toilet sounds like a storm. And that’s why he’s scared of it. I’d never consider that as a possibility, but kids are paying attention to what’s going on around. Yeah. And when he said that I was like oh he’s not just being a pain in the butt.

Joe: So do you have identical twins or are they non-identical?

Dave: No, they’re not identical so they’re very very different they’re, it’s an enormous size difference they’re in completely different size clothes and everything so they’re very easy to tell apart. We actually get accused of lying about them being twins as opposed to people asking if they’re twins. So they’ve from birth they’ve been a big size difference?

Dave: Yeah so there was about 800 grams difference at birth.

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Joe: That’s pretty good. Are they your only?

Dave: Yeah, my wife is starting to talk about more and I still haven’t just kept saying I still haven’t recovered from these ones yet. Just give me time. Right. I don’t know. During toilet training is the best time to have a conversation either.

Joe: Right. Yeah, no. So looking back to when you found out that you would be having twins, what was your reaction to that?

Dave: We always sort of joked about it because Sarah, my wife, her older brothers are both fraternal twins. So genetically it was always a probability. And all of our friends always used to joke that we’d be the ones to get twins. We were in the ultrasound and the lady said, see that little flicker there? That’s the heartbeat. And you see that little flicker there? That’s the other heartbeat. And Sarah just looked at her and said, why has it got two hearts? And obviously I knew exactly what it meant. And it took Sarah a little bit and we went, oh. And yeah, it was very exciting. We were excited from obviously nervous, but excited from day one, but because we’d always joked about it, people thought we were joking until we actually showed them the scans.

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Joe: And now they still don’t believe you. They still think you just have two?

Dave: Yes, it’s funny. Maybe that just says something about our characters that we’re constantly joking and that people just don’t actually take us very seriously.

Joe: How did the pregnancy go? Were there any complications?

Dave: Up until the last couple of weeks, it went pretty well. Ended up as Footling Breech, one of them was Footling Breech. So there was, we were basically told, if you’re going to labor, you need to get to the hospital because there’s no way you can birth naturally. So we, I was sleeping, getting ready for night shift and Sarah worked me up and said, I think we’re going. And so we live about just under an hour away from the hospital that we were going to birth at. So we got there very quickly and within about three hours we were in and out of an emergency cesarean and the cesarean went well there was a bit of a bleed and a bit of complication but after they were born white was all good and he was the one they thought was going to struggle because he was very small but Wesley had some breathing issues and so we live for context we We live in a regional area of Australia. So we live in Bathurst, which is about three hours, four hours, three to four hours west of Sydney. The hospital, it’s a big town, so there’s 50,000 people, but the hospital isn’t a well-resourced hospital in the grand scheme of things with regards to neonates stuff. So basically they draw the line at 34 weeks and we were, So they draw the line at 32 weeks and we were at 32 weeks in five days, I think it was. But they can’t do any sort of oxygenation or ventilation for a longer than a six-hour period. So if it had to be longer than six hours, then Wesley would have had to have been flown to Sydney and we would have all had to be separated. So just as they were talking about organizing a retrieval aircraft to fly him to Sydney, he came good. So that was a relief.

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Yeah, just in time, because I’m a paramedic and I’ve been on the end of having to transport people and splitting families apart during those sort of times. And it’s traumatic for everyone, and particularly right after birth and separating twins is never ideal, but separating twins and parents and the logistics of that when you’re four hours apart. It’s very challenging.

Joe: Oh, so that was probably quite the roller coaster. I mean, you have the boys arriving and then you’re already talking about some major, maybe medical needs, but then it turns out that was not the case. Were your boys healthy enough to come home shortly thereafter, or did they have to stay in the hospital?

Dave: No, so they spent just over two weeks in special care. So special care in Australia is sort of one step down from a NICU. So it’s not an intensive care unit, but it’s sort of, it is one on one, or it’s a one to two ratio of nurse to baby with very close observation. And so they spent nearly two weeks ’cause they were on supplemental oxygen and or high flow oxygen for the first couple of days and assisted feeding because they were too small to be able to feed.

Joe: How was the adjustment to bringing them home? What do you remember about those early days?

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Dave: As with most people, I don’t remember a lot of it. Tiring is busy. BA was good. We had lots of support. We sort of tried to get in, stay in the same routine that they got in for the in the special care. So, that’s one thing that they do say about going from special care is that they get them into a good routine ’cause they’re very regimented. And obviously with shift nurses being on shift work, they’re not sleeping and waking, it’s leaving and waking. So the nurses can keep them in a good set three hours, three hourly feeds and that sort of stuff. So we, and yeah, we just took things as they came and took turns and shared the workload and yeah, it was pretty good.

Joe: Was it just you and your wife, or did you have maybe grandparents or someone else to help with?

Dave: It was me and my wife. Uh, we have Sarah’s mum lives nearby, which is good. So she helps out a bit. Um, we got lots of friends in town and my parents live, uh, four or five hours away, but they came down for the first sort of week and stayed around nearby and helped out where they could, which was nice. And got to give them a bit of time to bond with the boys. And this was all during sort of the height of COVID in 2020, when, so the two weeks of special care, nobody could visit but us. So it was only us allowed in there. So it was quite isolating at that time, having very little contact with anybody in the outside world, apart from just us in the hospital. So it was nice to have my parents and stuff down when they came home.

Joe: Yeah, that is nice to be able to have some family be able to help. Yeah, ’cause that was a crazy time all around. How were you and your wife able to manage work as far as time off and taking care of the twins when they were really young?

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Dave: Australia or New South Wales. So we both worked for the government. My wife’s a police officer and I was a paramedic at that stage. And obviously working for the government has some perks. So Sarah had 12 months off, so 12 months leave, which started about a month before, so she started that about a month, about two weeks before they were born. It was nice that she knew that she was gonna have a long period of time off, and I had booked in some, I think I booked in six or eight weeks annual leave, and then when they came a little bit earlier, I just moved that leave block forward, so I had, I think it was just on two months off when they were first born, which was nice.

Joe: Yeah, you were working as a paramedic at the time. You told me before the podcast that you had an accident that kind of put a wrench in the works as far as your ability to help with the twins and help with the family. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Dave: Yeah, so when the boys were seven months old, I attended a incident at work and ended up suffering a significant injury to my neck and shoulder and fractured part of my neck, which resulted in some significant amount of pain and immobility to the point I’ve had one, two, three, four, five surgeries on my neck now. And then I’ve ended up with some massive complications with wounds, infections and stuff like that. So it’s sort of been a three year ongoing ordeal, but for a good few months after I I did it, I could lift the boys, but I couldn’t really help with changing them and stuff like that because it was that moving around that was the painful part, which was hard. So it was sort of adjusting to the teamwork and obviously Sarah was, she’s a absolute legend. And she really picked up the extra workload and really helped get me through that. It was obviously a very challenging time for me as well. And medically and mental health wise, it was quite a challenging time over the last couple of years with that and the sort of the effects of what happened to me. Um, after that getting help and having multiple surgeries and feeling rather useless as a dad and a husband. And my career has changed completely from what I had planned. I had planned to be an on-road paramedic and go up through that system. And I literally overnight that was taken away. my last shift as an on-road paramedic was on the 15th of February 2021. Since then, I’ve had to completely pivot directions and change my goals in life. Granted, everything happens for a reason and I’m in a much better place, both physical. I’m in a much better place, mental health-wise. Now, I’m not working shift work anymore which is an absolute godsend in a different job and in the same field so I’m still working in emergency management and for a different government agency now recently changed but it’s one of those blessings in disguise and they say when life gives you lemons make lemonade and I made lemonade and took some opportunities and used the opportunities that I was presented to sort of, I could have sat around feeling sad for myself, but Sarah really pushed me in to make me realize that it’s not just me anymore. It’s her and the boys that I’ve got to think about and got me out of my little slump. And yeah, so I’m going from strength to strength and I’m, you know, really good career footing now and in a different agency and looking whilst looking up now, which is really good. That things are looking better right now.

Joe: That’s quite the, what the surprise to have happened. And it sounds like you had a long road to recover from that. Every boys do they, they’re so young. Do they even notice anything over the last couple of years?

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Dave: They do. They know, they know daddy’s got a sore neck and that there are days that I still have, I still have significant pain. Um, and that’s just going to be with me for life, but it’s one of those, I’ve just got to get on with it sort of things. Um, and they know that some days are worse than others. And some days I’ll say, I can’t pick you up my next sort of day. And they’re pretty good with that. And often I’ll sit there with a heat pack. And the other day I was sitting there with a heat pack and white bought one of my spare heat packs and he said I have this too and I went and heated it up a little bit for him and he sat there like a little old man next to me with a heat pack and it was very cute but um yeah it’s like he quite often like white’s a very caring little soul and he’ll quite often come up and say how’s your neck today? So they know what’s going on like nobody can ever accuse a toddler of not knowing what’s going on because they pick up everything, so on and on around. Yeah, that’s great. Are the kids still at home? Are they any kind of preschool or daycare now? No, so they go to daycare four days a week. And they go to then their grandma’s house on the fifth day of the week. So just to our sis, Sarah, she changed roles within the police force. So she now works with the with youth in a youth club in sort of some, you know, prevention role. And so that’s a weekday also, no shift work, just works better for our family and family hours. So having them in daycare helps facilitate that. My new job is predominantly Monday to Friday. I do travel a bit on weekends, but yeah, so they do four days a week daycare and then they go to Nanny’s house on Friday and they absolutely love going to Nanny’s house. That’s brilliant. That’s great that they could spend weekly time with Nanny. How did that conversation go with Grandma to let the boys come over once a week? She offered. It was one of those sort of just happened naturally and she really likes spending time with them. It fulfills her as well as much as it fulfills them, which is nice. Oh yeah, absolutely. It’s great they have a good arrangement there. So now that they’re coming up on four years old, what’s kind of the typical daily schedule as far as you know when they’re waking up, when they’re sleeping, stuff like that? So where’s they’ll wake up at any time between 4.30 and 5.30am? He’ll come in and try and wake us up and we’ve got in a bit of a bad habit but I’m pretty sure or you can, everybody, as much as some people don’t admit it, will be guilty of the old go and watch Paw Patrol or go and watch Bluey or whatever they’re gonna watch, just to give us an extra hour or two sleep. Wyatt will come in at anything between five and 6.30 and he’ll just crawl in between us and go back to sleep. He loves his beauty sleep. And then we’ll get them up on a weekend, about 6.30. We’ll get up and have breakfast with them and hang out. And they’re still just hanging onto their day naps. And they’re just sort of in the process of dropping them. So they’ll have a nap at about 12 o’clock. And then by six o’clock, we have dinner, what they have dinner. And then they’re in bed by 7.30, 8 o’clock at night. They go to sleep at the same time, but one of them wakes up a couple of times before the other. Yeah, and we’ve tried to push him out. We’ve tried the grow clocks and we’ve tried changing times and a lot different color lights in his room and nothing fixes it. It’s just an early riser. And talking to my mama, I was always the early riser. I was always 5.30 every morning.

Joe: Are your boys in the same room or they have their own space?

Dave: No, they have their own rooms. So Wesley doesn’t just go barge in on Wyatt and say, “Let’s party. It’s time to go.” No, he knows that he gets in trouble if he goes and wakes his brother up. And it’s not from us that he gets in trouble. He gets in trouble off. He gets in trouble off. Why it doesn’t like being woken up.

Joe: The nap starting to fade. What have been some of those signs that that’s on the way out?

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Dave: They’re just getting shorter. Wes used to sleep for two hours a day, two hours in the middle of the day. He’s sort of down to an hour. Why some days won’t sleep at all. Some days he’ll just come and chill out and watch TV quietly and just sit there and watch it and have a bit of a quiet time. Other days he just goes 100 miles an hour and just powers on through, he doesn’t care. But yeah, so it’s one of those, I think it’s nearly four and I think most kids drop them by four, don’t they?

Joe: Have they kind of hit their milestones at the same time as each other? Have those varied?

Dave: Wyatt up until, but has it has been about two months behind, but I think he’s caught up now. So that was with being Premier, they had to have pediatrician checkups or more pediatrician checkups than normal. And they had their last one at two and a half. So yeah, the beginning of this year. And they were both at the same spot, both pretty much at the same stage. And he was happy that they’ve met all their milestones. He doesn’t want to see them again until they’re just about ready to go to school.

Joe: You think about how parenting is going right now. What’s something that is working really well with your boys?

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Dave: They just care for other people. So like, we’re trying to raise them to not be so self-centered. coming from the jobs that we come from. We see a lot of the worst in humanity and don’t want my kids to be contributing to that. So a good example of it is that one of my friends’ kids started at the same daycare as they go to this week and he messaged me and said, “Oh, it was really nice Wesley this morning, the 30, because Wesley doesn’t really know Riley, there’s Jerry’s son.” And he said, Wesley ran up to him and said, welcome and held his hand and took him off into the yard. Just knowing that he’s just being a good human generally, that works for me. If I can raise him to treat other people right then I’ve done, that’s all I can ask for. If you raise them the right way then they’ll spread that goodness out into the world and that will make a difference in other people’s lives. You’re seeing that already with their interactions even with their little friend right now.

Joe: So let’s imagine one of your best mates comes up and says, hey, we just found out that we’re having twins. What would be like a one piece of advice that you would give them to get through that?

Dave: Embrace it. You can’t change it, so enjoy it. A lot of people, and my standard answer for when people say, how do you do it is, well, if I don’t, nobody else will. I don’t know any different. I think if they dread it and they think it’s a horrible thing and it’s just gonna be a negative experience, they treat it as a positive thing from the start like we did. It’s gonna be a positive experience and there’s plenty of people out there that had cut off their left arm for one baby, maybe let alone two, then you’ve got a really, really, really good opportunity to just embrace it.

Joe: That’s a wonderful perspective.

Dave: There’s always something that you can find that’s good, that’s positive, even when you’re sleep deprived. And it’s hard in the beginning and it’s still hard now. And when people say it gets better, it doesn’t get better, it gets different. The challenges are still there, they’re just different challenges. But we’re all kids once and we all gave our parents the same challenges that our children are giving us. My parents had five kids and my parents had five kids within seven years. I don’t know, is five singles in seven years harder than twins? I reckon it might be.

Joe: Well, that’s wonderful perspective to have, David. That’s great advice for other dads that are listening. As we wrap up our conversation today, if listeners want to connect with you, what’s the best way to reach out?

Dave: Well I do have an Instagram page for the boys. See it’s just @boysdoingtwinthings on Instagram. So if anybody wants to like that one, send me any messages. I’m happy to answer any questions or anything. And I’ll even go on there today and put some updated photos on there. But yeah, thanks for the opportunity to have a chat. It’s really nice to be able to share my story. And if I can help make even one person’s journey just a little bit better when they find out that they’re having twins or during their, when they’re up sleep deprived and listening to a podcast because they’re up feeding their twins overnight. I know I spent a lot of hours listening to podcasts feeding babies. And yeah, I think it’s well worth giving out my time for you.

Joe: Well, thank you so much for sharing your story and your perspective with us today. We really, really appreciate it.

Dave: No worries. Thanks, heaps.

Joe: I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Dave about his adventures as a father of twins, how he overcame some crazy challenges and how he’s now making the most of it and having a positive perspective on raising his twins. If you want to connect with Dave, I’ll link up to his Instagram over in the show notes for this episode. You can go directly to the archive of all podcast episodes at TwinDadPodcast.com. If you would like to share your story like Dave did today, I would love to hear from you. You can reach out to me on Instagram or Twitter @TwinDadJoe or email me directly to [email protected] and I would love to hear from you.

Again, today’s show is brought to you by my second book for dads called Dad’s Guide to Raising Twins. This covers the first several years with twins from newborns through toddlers and beyond. You can get a copy of this book for yourself at raisingtwinsbook.com. I really appreciate you listening to the podcast today. If you enjoyed it and if you found it helpful, would you please recommend it to another twin dad that you know that may be expecting or raising his twins? I’d really appreciate it. Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you next time.

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