When the NICU is Far from Home with Steve Idlett- Podcast 306

Joe Rawlinson by Joe Rawlinson - April 3, 2024

Episode 306 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes

Today we continue our father of twins interview series with Steve Idlett, father of twin boys. Listen as we explore his twin parenting journey, including:

  • being a stay at home dad with their first child
  • when the hospital is far from home
  • the twins were 6 weeks early
  • dealing with 3 weeks in the NICU
  • using a camper to stay close to hospital
  • daily routine for 8 month old twins
  • putting kids in day care
  • creating a family that loves music
  • raising a toddler and infant twins
  • what is working with feeding the twins
  • when one twin wakes up before the other
  • and more…

Connect with Steve on Instagram, steveidlett.com, at the Teague Farmers Market, or Buffalo Trade Days.

Podcast Transcript

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

Today we are continuing our Father of Twins interview series with a fellow dad from Texas as he shares his journey of raising three children ages three and younger, including eight-month-old twin boys. We talk about everything from the shock of discovery of learning they be having twins to how he keeps a positive perspective and attitude in parenting to help him through the ups and downs of every day. We talk about that much more 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.

Hey everybody, welcome to the podcast. This is Joe Rawlinson. I’m glad that you’re here today. As always, you can find me on the web at dadsguidetotwins.com, where you’ll find all previous podcast episodes and tons of other resources to help you along your twin parenting journey. And to help you along that journey, I’ve put together a ginormous list of baby gear that you will need for your twins. So rather than search all over the place, trying to find what you need, you can find this big list to add to your twin baby registry or to ask for as gifts from your friends and family or maybe just double check your preparations as you prepare for and raise your twins. You can find this entire list by just going to my website, dadsguidetowins.com and from the main menu click gear and it’ll give you all those things that I recommend from strollers to cribs, to baby gear and feeding equipment, to you name it, to help you along your journey. So once again, just go straight to the website, dadsguidetowins.com and click on the gear item in the menu and it’ll take you right there.

Today I would like to welcome to the show, Father of Twins, Steve Islet. Welcome to the show, Steve.

(RELATED: Still looking for the right twin gear? See my Twin Baby Gear Essentials.)

[Steve Idlett]
Hey man, how’s it going?

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
It’s going great. Thanks for coming on the show today. Tell me a little bit about your family.

[Steve Idlett]
We have a little girl who’s two and a half and we just had twin boys. And so it’s me and my wife and three kids right now, three kids under the three, as they say.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
How old are your boys right now?

[Steve Idlett]
They are eight months.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
And are they identical? Are they fraternal?

(RELATED: Check out the Dad's Guide to Twins Youtube channel for additional helpful twin tips and tricks videos.)

[Steve Idlett]
No, they’re fraternal. They look identical. I always tell everybody that they’re fraternal. And, uh, and one of them, he looks, me and him are identical twins, but his brother, but him and his brother, they’re fraternal twins, but a lot of people act as they can’t tell him apart, but, but you know, as the parent, you can really tell them apart pretty quick.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
Was that ever a challenge for you, even in the beginning?

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[Steve Idlett]
Um, no, uh, not really. They were, they had a little bit of different weight, weights on them. So one of them kind of seemed chubbier cheeks and stuff in the other. So it’s it’s kind of easier to tell them apart, but, uh, you know, now sometimes now they’re both kind of filling out. If I’m looking at them kind of from the side or from a top down position every now and then I’ll be like, wait a minute. Oh, you kind of look like your brother today, you know, but, but some of our family can’t tell them apart, which is, again, it’s just kind of, I don’t know, maybe it’s a parent thing or something. You just know which one’s which, but they look pretty close.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
That is fun. Yeah. We have identical girls and they like, like your boys, there was like a weight difference at birth. So that made it a little easier, but even now, uh, I mean, they’re teenagers now. Sometimes I’ll look across the room and still mix them up. Um, like you say, like from the profile or from behind or something. Anyway, so. Did I ever try to, you know, do that on purpose?

(RELATED: Still looking for the right twin gear? See my Twin Baby Gear Essentials.)

[Steve Idlett]
Um, they, they, they have tried to do that on purpose, but usually they’re so, if they’re intentionally trying to trick us, they’re so full of like the giggles that it’s immediately apparent to.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
Yeah. But they’ll try to, um, they were working together and they would switch name tags to see if anybody would notice they thought that was hilarious too. So.

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[Steve Idlett]
That’s cool.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
So at eight months old now, what’s, uh, what’s kind of the daily routine as far as like naps and sleep time and feeding time and stuff like that?

[Steve Idlett]
They’re still eating every few hours, like, you know, three hours or so, whenever they’re awake and they sleep most of the night and they nap pretty good too. So they just kind of have their little rotation of change them, feed them, nap them, play with them, keep it going. They’re in daycare right now, which is good because my wife is a teacher and whenever we had our little girl, I stayed at home and it was during the pandemic. I stayed at home and raised her for the last two years when I worked from home. And now they, they’ve got a little daycare set up up there and right at the same time that the boys came, they, they decided to open a daycare up there and it’s been a lifesaver and they all love it. The two year old really loves it. And the boys have like a good little structure with some good teachers in there and stuff. And it’s pretty cool.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
So they’re there during the school day. Is this at the same place your wife is teaching?

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[Host: Joe Rawlinson]

Oh, that’s convenient.

[Steve Idlett]
Yeah. Yeah. They’re like, you know, not even, you can throw a rock probably for her place or they’re so pretty cool. So tell us a little bit about your decision to, to stay home with your daughter when she was born.

It’s not really a decision. It’s like how it happened. You know, it’s the fate, you know, or whatever I’ve been trying to like, I I was working in the oil field for a long time, maybe like 10 years, you know, and was getting ready to leave the oil field and work for myself. I was also, I’m also a musician and I played, you know, few nights a week, traditionally, somewhere at some bar, restaurant patio, somewhere here in Texas. And so I was trying to build that up to where, you know, I could support that.

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[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
You’ve got three really young kids. And when you found out that you’d be having twins, I mean your daughter was probably so young, she didn’t even know what was about to happen. So tell us a little bit about that. Finding out you’re having twins.

[Steve Idlett]
Pure shock. You know, I, we had no, we’ve had no people in our family who are twins. Some people go, “Oh yeah, let’s run in your family.” I’m like, “Well, it does now.” Because nobody else before us had twins that I know of on my side of the family. When my wife’s side, she had some, but maybe like a distant cousin far off, but it’s not like, “Oh, you’re next in line for the twins,” kind of deal. But yeah, when they said that, she’s like, “Okay, and we had just did this. it just at our daughter and, you know, a year or so later, whatever the deal was. And, you know, we felt like, Oh, this is a familiar thing going back to the hospital and getting the checkup and doing the thing. And they, she’s in there. She’s like, okay. Um, so here’s baby A and I’m like, okay, baby, A, why did she say it like that? You know, sure enough, there’s a baby B on there. And yeah, that was pretty mind-blowing because I never would have thought I’d have twins. That’s not a, I don’t think, I don’t know if people everything, oh, I have twins. That’s just something like, no, whenever I was a kid, I knew one set of twins. Like we had a really small school. I went to a school with, I think I graduated with 80 people or something, you know, the grades below us, nobody had twins in my grade. And maybe I knew one set of twins, like two grades below us, you know, so the idea that we’re gonna have twins is just never went across my mind.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
Yeah, the surprise is pretty common. I mean, I was, I was shocked too. And then you just kind of kind of figure it out from there, right? You’d already had experience being a dad with your daughter. How did the pregnancy go with the twins and maybe how did that differ from what you saw with your, it’s your first child?

[Steve Idlett]
A lot of checkups, a lot more checkups. And we live about an hour or so from any major hospital. So we’d had to go in about an hour, hour and 20 minutes or so to the hospital. And we were going pretty often, you know, once a week for a while, I’m just doing measurement checkups and doing all that stuff. But other than that, it was, it was pretty similar. We went to the same exact place we went to before the same doctors and all that kind of stuff.

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[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
So were there any complications during the pregnancy or it was smooth sailing?

[Steve Idlett]
No, I mean, we went into, she went into labor six weeks early. So that would be, that would probably be what I would consider the complication out there. So we didn’t, we thought we had six more weeks to go, you know, and then she just went into labor one day. And it was just, it was just like, uh, you know, every 1980s, like Steve Martin, Kind of moving you towards like Chevy chase energy, just like running through the house at nighttime, grabbing bags, you know, and loading the car in a panic. It was that our first kid, we had an appointment. We just, we knew, you know, it wasn’t a panic. This was more of a drop the kid off run, you know, to the hospital emergency C-section. Both babies were out in 20 minutes. Our kid, our first kid, I’m sorry, our daughter, she was, it It was like a 21 hour thing where she was in there pushing and giving her Pitocin or, you know, and then when the boys get here, it was, it was a 20 minute deal and they got them both out, you know.

It took me longer to put that white zip up thing on. Then I did it for them to get the kids out.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
So, but you were there for the birth, right? You didn’t miss anything.

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[Steve Idlett]
No, I didn’t miss anything. It was, I was there. I stayed on my side of the curtain for this one. Um, cause it was, there was a lot going on. It was panicky in there. They were, there’s like an emergency situation obviously. So they were, they were going hard at it. So I just kind of stayed down there with her until they came out.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
Was everybody healthy after and able to come home soon or were there some leftover?

[Steve Idlett]
Yeah, both boys spent about, um, almost three weeks, like 18 or 19 days or something like that in the NICU. And so that was pretty rough for a while. Cause our, our daughter, we didn’t, we didn’t have to do that. We stayed a couple of days and then left, but, uh, yeah, the NICU think we were there for a while. And that was interesting. You know, uh, it was a big perspective shift when you’re set in that room. Um, a lot of, a lot of little babies in there that are pretty sick, you know, is interesting. I’ve never experienced that either. And then, uh, but you know, three weeks later we got to take him home and. Yeah, all was good there. And we did a couple of checkups with them and everything’s been just kind of normal now.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
So the boys just needed extra time.

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[Steve Idlett]
Yeah, they needed, um, all the stuff, you know, the regulating their temperatures on their own and blood sugars and stuff that they would have like slightly developed a little bit more over the coming six weeks, you know, getting ready to breathe and all that kind of stuff and eat. And so they kind of just spent that other time in the NICU and the nurses are very incredible. I don’t know if you had to do the NICU stuff or not, but man, they are, they would take a certain type of person. And I’m not just saying like a good person, you know, like you have to be like a person who like loves babies and wants to be in this like extreme baby ward where there’s just like babies everywhere, you know, like to be that person. And those people find their way to that NICU room. I felt like cause they were meant for that job.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
Our girls did not have to spend time in the NICU, but talking with tons of dads, just like yourself, the staff and Nick user almost always just amazing people, which is a blessing because you’re going through some major struggles when their kids are in the NICU

[Steve Idlett]
Oh yeah, it’s like the most stressful time when you’re locked in there and just everything’s like, doom and gloom in your eyes, and these ladies are in there just killing it, just two and everything, it’s pretty impressive. I’ll give them that for sure.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
So how did you juggle your daughter and like the hour, hour and a half drive back and forth every day? Where you, sounds like a crazy couple of weeks there.

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[Steve Idlett]
We had a camper and I took my camper over there and we parked it maybe three miles or so from the hospital. Me and my wife would take shifts going up to the NICU and doing the feedings and going back and hanging out with the two-year-old and walking around and doing normalized things a lot harder in the day and then tag out and go double feed.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
That’s great that you didn’t have to drive so far.

[Steve Idlett]
Feeding every two or three hours or whatever it is because they’re overlapping and then you have you know an hour, hour and a half drive it where it just would have been impossible. So we just kind of bit the bullet, drug our camper over here, found the Army Corps of Engineers part, but not an RV park that you would think of. You know RV parks get kind of expensive sometimes like you know $70, $80 a night or something. I think this place was like $20 a night or $15 a night or something to park your camper there. You know pretty cheap. A lot cheaper option. And again, it was three miles from the hospital on the same feeder road. And so you just popped out and, you know, was at the NICU in five or six minutes, which was awesome.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
So how was the reception when you brought the boys home? What did your dollar think of that big change?

[Steve Idlett]
He loves them, you know, and she knew she was getting brothers and stuff beforehand. We had talked to her. She came to some of the ultrasounds and all that stuff, you know, she’s really, I’ve never spent a lot of time around other kids, but she’s really advanced. I’d say a lot of people say as far as talking and vocabulary, she can have full conversations. I think it’s because she was just with me for a couple of years and I’m just talking to her like normal or something like, “Hey, let’s go do this thing.” I don’t know. She just has a pretty good understanding of stuff. So she is second, we got home with them. It was my brothers. She loves them too much. We actually don’t, don’t smother them, you know, back up, give them a little space. But yes, he loves them.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
So how do you have a like sleeping arrangements and stuff in the house right now, are the boys together? Are they separate?

[Steve Idlett]
No, they weren’t together in like this, uh, double bassinet, uh, play pan looking thing, you know, and they had gone inside of our bed. But one of our kids, whenever he wakes up, he screams. And the other kid, when he wakes up, he kicks like really hard. Like he’ll pick his legs up in the air and slam them down on his bed. And so our, you know, one son, he’s like sleeping through the night, but rather was kicking and it’s making that thing like move, like, you know, like a swaying boat almost, you know, it’s like, every time he kicks, it moves the whole bed. So we ended up having to separate them. Cause they were just, if one of them was crying and he’d wake the other one up, if one of them was moving, he can make the other one up. So now we have two bassinets in our room and everybody’s and everybody sleeps in their own little bitty pod. They got their little bass in the head and he’s got his little bass in the head. And our two and a half year old, she just abandoned us for a while. She was sleeping in our bed the last like eight months or something and then she just now she’s a big girl and finds her own bed. So everybody’s got their own crib.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
Were they breastfeeding? Do you have to formula feed or bottle feed?

[Steve Idlett]
We’re still on formula and we’re still doing formula right now, you know, it’s expensive and tedious. It depends. You know, they’re not so locked in. And they make you, they were locked in like, Hey, he eats first 30 minutes later. he eats, you know, now it’s just kind of about every three hours, whoever’s awake or crying, you know, if, if I’m working or something, she’ll grab them. Or if she’s busy, I’ll grab them. And it’s just kind of a, it’s a real mutual, just whoever’s hands are free.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
When you’ve got really young kids, it’s all hands on deck. Whoever’s available, go take care of the most pressing need at the time for sure.

[Steve Idlett]
Yeah. And then, okay, I’m sorry. The two year olds melting down here. You got to hear, can you hold him? Yeah, I can hold him too, or whatever for a second. You know? So we’ll just, just do what we gotta do. You know? I can’t imagine for, you know, and, and, uh, I always joke with her, you want to try for triplets next time or you want to, you know, like this, but then some of these people who have a lot of kids, like if you think about it, man, I couldn’t, can’t imagine adding another couple of kids. I’m sure you’d figure out how to do it, but it is tough enough with three. Cause you’re out, you’re outnumbered. So a four, you know, they got, they’re doubled up on y’all.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
It was nuts. They’re all teenagers now. They’re all in high school now. and they’re all great friends and they get along fairly well. So it’s been fun dynamic.

[Steve Idlett]
Do the twins have any interesting rivalries, but competitiveness or something like that?

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
Actually, they’re not competitive as far as trying to one up each other. They’ll get in little spats, little fights once in a while, but most of the time they’re great together.

[Steve Idlett]
I’m still dealing with just toddler type things. Like we haven’t had, you know what I mean? It’s just mainly just maintenance on toddlers and babies right now. I haven’t had to deal with the idea of competition or fighting over who’s.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
When you look back at your journey so far, what’s maybe something that you wish you had known about twins that you just had to learn the hard way?

[Steve Idlett]
So a lot more work than having one kid, especially if you want to get out the door, I guess time management or something like that, because anything you need to do, you have to do it twice. And that might mean… And then again, you run into the little hiccups, you get one foot, it’s all of its clothes on, and you put it in the car seat and do all your things. And then he gets sick or something, you have to do it over. All these, having twins is, it’s double the heart as having a single baby. But it’s awesome. There’s no, there’s this part up. Obviously, it’s gonna be more worth, There’s two of them, you know one interesting thing was was Their fraternal so I can tell them part. I can’t tell their other stuff apart though like they’re Whose pacifiers that you know, and so we’ve color-coded those things, you know that way I can You know understand who to give this pacifier to or something like that, you know So one of our boys gets everything blue when I’m gets ready It’s pretty pretty pretty that’s a good little helpful thing for us doing things like that Yeah, we color-coded our girls just like you’re describing So there was no confusion about who’s getting their diaper change who’s getting fed It even helped like our friends and family be able to tell them apart like oh, okay. We know the daughter that’s wearing The warmer colors oranges yellows reds and who was wearing the cooler colors like the blues purple screen stuff like that It’s been awesome though. I I’m 35 and I never thought I’d have kids. I just didn’t think I wanted kids. I was always like, “Oh no, we’re going to just live this bachelor lifestyle or just me and my wife are going to be married, but we’re not going to have kids. We’re just going to go and travel and do us energy.” I guess. Then eventually that gets old or whatever it is. and we had a little pandemic baby or whatever they call them, because you just keep trapped in and you start thinking about things. So I never thought I’d be a parent. I was always anti-parent stuff, but it’s really been the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. It literally is, I love it. Yeah, it gets hard or whatever, but it’s awesome. but, you know, perspective, it’s pretty great, you know, and my, and in our situation is, you know, the way we have it set up right now, it’s been pretty awesome. And I have no complaints over here with our end.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
That’s great perspective to share, especially for listeners, ’cause when you find out you’re having twins, as you know, like you start thinking about all the crazy possibilities, what that means. And so now here you are months later and in a good spot, and you’re seeing the journey, which is fantastic.

[Steve Idlett]
Yeah, even when you do some things, like you’re going to NICU, or all that kind of stuff, it feels like, oh, this is horrible. This is just like the worst, you know? But that’s one of them things that, you know, now looking back on, feels like a blip. You know, like those three weeks, going to that felt like it lasted months when we were in there, you know? But now I’m like, yeah, that barely feels like I can barely almost remember that. Now we’re doing this, now we’re doing that, you know? They’re starting to kind of talk a little bit and roll around and they haven’t really started crawling or anything like that yet. But we go to check up or something and they’re like, does he do this? Does he stand up on his own yet or whatever? Does he have a job yet? They’re asking me all the things. Does he eat food? Then they write it down like yes or no is a bad answer or something, almost like they’re grading it. But I’m like, I don’t know anybody who hasn’t stood up. You know what I mean? Or whatever. So if there are six weeks early, to me, I always think of it like, well, these other kids got a six-month jump on, you know, doing these steps or whatever. So I don’t ever get bogged down on, uh, you know, where they’re supposed to be or, you have to focus on what you can control and look for the positive because there’s always going to be some challenges, but there’s also a lot of joy and happiness and being a father of. Yeah. It’s the same in everything in life. If that’s, you know, like that’s perspective on life. That’s not just a twin thing.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
Well, I appreciate your, your positive, your positive spin on life. That’s very uplifting for us and the listeners. Steve, as we wrap up our conversation today, if listener do want to connect with you, what’s the best way to reach out?

[Steve Idlett]
Facebook. I’m on this Facebook. Whoops. You can message me there. No. Uh, you know, whatever social media, all that stuff is at Steve, I’d lit, IDLE TT. It’s all one word. And, um, for music stuff, which steveidlett.com or the briars like on Spotify. Um, like I said, me and my wife, we run farmer’s market now. Uh, we run two of them actually, they’re twice a month and in these little towns around here. So TIG farmer’s market and Buffalo trade days, if y’all ever want to come out and you know, buy some handmade soaps or something like that, they, we’d love to see out there, you know, or message me on Facebook or something. If you put that’s great.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
I’ll link up to all this in the show notes for listeners so they can check it out. Thank you so much for coming on the show today. We really appreciate it.

[Steve Idlett]
Okay, man. Thanks.

[Host: Joe Rawlinson]
If you want to connect to Steve, learn more about his music, his farmer’s market, what he’s got going on, I’ll link up to all the information he shared in the show notes for this episode. You can go straight to the archive of all Dads Guide to Twins podcasts by going to twindadpodcast.com. If you would like to share your story like Steve did today, I would love to have you on the show. Just reach out to me. My email is [email protected] or you can reach out to me on Instagram or Twitter @twindadjoe or also on Facebook.com/dadsguidetotwins. And if you’re still expecting twins, still looking for the right baby gear that you need to get ready for your twins, I invite you to check out my Twin Baby Registry Checklist. You can find that over at dadsguidetotwins.com. Just click on the main menu, look for gear and you’ll find everything you need to help with your twins. Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you next time.

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Further Reading

Dad's Guide to Raising Twins book
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