New Dad: The Twin Edition

Never in a million years did I think I would be a new dad of twins -- especially twin girls!  However, seven months ago, Harper and Delani were born, and now I can’t imagine my life without them. 

One of my favorite things as a dad-to-be was telling people we were expecting twins.  Jaws dropped, people screamed and some were even speechless. My wife and I decided we weren’t interested in finding out the sex of the babies -- finding out we were having babies seemed to satisfy any immediate need for surprise.

To prepare for our two bundles, we painted the nursery a gender neutral yellow, purchased some baby clothes -- two of everything -- and attended a class for expectant parents of multiples at a local hospital. However, I have to be honest; I don’t remember anything they talked about that night. You can try to do everything in your power to prepare for fatherhood, but really most of it comes down to practice.

The day the girls were born was completely surreal.  I was at school teaching when I got a call that my wife had gone into labor and would be having a c-section later that night.  Once the girls were born, I got to cut two umbilical cords!  My wife stayed in the OR while I went back with the girls and nurses to get them cleaned up. Three days later when we got home it all became real -- very real. The nurses were gone, the 24 hour coffee machine was gone; it was just us -- our new family. 

Finding out you are going to have two -- or more -- babies is exciting news, but also a welcomed challenge. Here are some tips to keep in mind once you become a new dad of multiples.

  • You may not remember the first month after they’re born -- it is okay.

  • You will get a lot of strange looks and questions. Some people act like they have never seen twins before, have fun with it.

  • If bottle feeding, stock your bedroom with formula and bottles each night.

  • Take time off work (if possible) after they are born. I was lucky enough to spend every day with them for the first two weeks.

  • Don’t only take pictures of your babies, include yourself and mom.

  • Recruit help, even if it is so you and your wife can take a nap to recharge your batteries.

  • Establish a date night once a week or run errands with your significant other, just the two of you. All of your attention is focused on two babies, so make time for each other every now and then. 

People tell us all the time, “I can’t imagine having two at once.” We always say, “They’re our first; we don’t know any better.” What’s the bonus to twice the feedings, baths and baby supplies? We have twice the kisses, hugs, and laughter, too.

Nine Pregnancy Tips for Moms of Multiples

If you’re expecting multiples, t there are also some extra steps you’ll need to take while you’re pregnant to ensure that your little ones are healthy. Whether you’re having twins, triplets, or more, keep these nine pregnancy tips in mind.  

Pregnancy tip #1: Find out if you’re having fraternal or identical twins. If it’s the latter, your doctor will want to keep a closer eye on their development.

Pregnancy tip #2: Eat wisely. A healthy diet is a must to ensure a healthy birth weight, especially when you’re having multiples. Load up on fruits and veggies, since your growing babies need micronutrients like folic acid, iron, and vitamins, as well as lean proteins.

Pregnancy tip #3: Watch your weight. You may gain more weight when carrying twins as opposed to if you had a single pregnancy, but you’ll still need to monitor your weight and aim for a healthy mark. Talk to your doctor about what's appropriate for your situation.  

Pregnancy  tip #4: Drink up! For moms carrying multiples, dehydration can lead to preterm labor. Aim to drink a minimum of eight glasses of water a day.

Pregnancy tip #5: Don’t skip the supplements. If your health care provider recommends or prescribes prenatal vitamins and/or supplements, be sure to take them. Many women may need extra folic acid to help prevent birth defects.

Pregnancy tip #6: Spend time with the doctor. You’ll need a good amount of monitoring throughout your pregnancy if you’re carrying multiples, so be sure to stay on track with your doctor appointments.

Pregnancy tip #7: Know your risks. The chance of conditions such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia are higher if you’re carrying multiples. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to minimize your risk.

Pregnancy tip #8: Be ready for an early labor. Women carrying twins tend to go into labor earlier (usually around the 35th to 37th week) than those carrying a single baby. Have your overnight bag packed and ready in case you need to head to the hospital earlier than expected.

Pregnancy tip #9: Talk to your doctor about your delivery plan. The chance of a cesarean is higher with multiples. Discuss your preferred birthing plan with your doctor, but be ready in case you need a cesarean for safety reasons.

While a multiples pregnancy may be a little trickier to navigate, just remember that more new babies means even more love and attention. All that care during pregnancy will help ensure a healthy and happy family.

Second Pregnancy: Having Twins this Time Around

Twins run in the family, but I never really thought about it. My oldest, Rowan, had bad reflux and was up a lot crying, and we thought, ‘We’ll just have the next baby close to this one. That way we’re not doing this for 10 years!’ We didn’t think it would happen so quickly.

When we had the ultrasound, I think my husband, Michael, was probably more shocked to find out we were having twins than I was. He said, ‘I have to sit down, I don’t think I ate breakfast.’ I’m a planner, so I immediately thought, ‘Okay, how are we going to do this? What are the steps?’ There are only 16 months between Rowan and the twins!

During my second pregnancy, I wondered how I could share my love with another child so soon after the first, let alone three children. That was one thing I had to realize would all work out. I didn’t know what to expect from Rowan, and everyone said to me, ‘Oh, she might be jealous.’ But honestly, she was too young to know. As a 16-month-old she was very self-absorbed and she just did things the way she wanted to.

Physically, it’s hard; there you are with two car carriers. I think my arms were in the best shape they had ever been!  And Rowan was young, so doing everything was a lot more time consuming. You don’t always want to go around with a stroller for three -- it’s physical juggling.

One of my good friends had twins, and her main advice to me was to schedule. You need to be as scheduled as possible, and don’t let those two babies deviate from each other and Rowan. That’s not as true at the beginning, but as soon as we could get them situated on an eating and sleeping schedule, we stuck to it. It really did work and that was probably the best advice I’ve received.

The best advice I can give: Leave extra time for everything. That way you have a few extra minutes to catch up if things don’t go perfectly. Oh, and always take a change of clothes for yourself, because now you have two kids who might throw up on you instead of one.

Consider yourself lucky to have twins the second pregnancy. You learn so much from the first baby. The transitions through stages for the twins were so much easier because I’d already done it with Rowan. You think to yourself, ‘I’ve seen this before.’ I really thought I was remembering it all. As I got older, I thought, ‘What was their first this again?’ There are days when you just feel like you have no idea. Just go on with the next thing. Try to enjoy it and realize that it is different and it is special.

It’s really been great. The kids always have someone to play with, and my first three have always had each other pretty much from the start. They have their own unique relationships with each other, and for Rowan, it’s an experience that others don’t necessarily have, having twins as siblings. I think that’s been a pretty neat thing. We can’t imagine it being any different.

The Best Gifts I Received as a New Dad

Being a new dad to twin girls, I have been fortunate enough to receive some great gifts.  I celebrated my first Father’s Day in June, as well as taking part in four baby showers before and after the girls were born. 

The following are the best gifts I have received in my time as a new dad:

A Diaper Bag Backpack
Wearing a backpack takes me back to my school days.  It’s fun, and it’s much easier to carry my twin daughters when I have a backpack that doubles as a diaper bag.  The backpack also has multiple compartments to store all the items that any new dad would need while away from home.  You can also get one in a solid color, like black, which is a little more “manly” than some of the other diaper bag designs out there.

A Stroller Cooler
From time to time, it’s nice to enjoy a cold beverage while I’m out walking with the girls. There are some coolers that strap onto the stroller and can hold up to six cans or four bottles. The lining in the cooler prevents the need for ice, and the beverages stay cold for well over an hour. This is definitely a must-have new dad gift.

Sports Team Onesies
As a new dad, there is nothing better than watching my favorite college and professional sports teams play, while my daughters are dressed in outfits ready to support my favorite teams.  One quick suggestion: When registering for gifts, take into account what size clothing your baby should be in during the different sports seasons.

Baby Life Jackets
If your family enjoys spending time out on the water in the summer, as mine does, lifejackets for the kids make a great new dad gift. After we had them, whenever we went boating for the day or the weekend, we didn’t have to worry about renting them -- which can be expensive -- and we always knew the girls were safe.

Burp Cloths
You’ll need plenty of burp cloths, and you can improvise using any cloth at home.  They are much more cost effective, absorbent, and more practical than the frilly designer (and sometimes expensive) burp cloths.  Any new dad could use these -- in bulk!

Anticipating my Babies’ Premature Birth

Learning you are carrying a twin pregnancy can bring on such a wave of emotions, including the worry that you’ll deliver early. I learned that the average twin pregnancy lasts about 35 weeks, with 38 weeks considered full term. Still, my doctor told me early on she had every reason to believe I could carry to 38 weeks.

Around 27 weeks, I started getting contractions and was already a little dilated. I was placed on bed rest with a home monitoring system to track my contractions twice a day. My doctor told me I might make it to 34 weeks and to expect that my babies would most likely be preemies. My partner and I toured the NICU before I got put on bed rest, so we were prepared in case I delivered early. With the incubators, tiny premature babies, and lots of beeping, the NICU can be overwhelming.

Around 30 weeks, I spent a night in the hospital where I was given steroids to help the babies’ lungs develop and a variety of medications to stop my contractions -- thankfully labor was held off until 34 weeks and beautiful babies were born. My girls weighed around five pounds each. The weeks leading up to their birth were emotional, and I was thrilled that now they were healthy and here with me.

One of the hardest things about an early delivery for me was not being able to hold my daughters right away. I delivered the girls just before 7:00 p.m. but didn’t get to see them in the NICU until almost midnight—except for one quick glance as they were wheeled past me in their incubators). I didn’t get to hold Brooklyn until the second day, and we had to wait until the third day to hold Bailey.

Both girls had breathing masks, feeding tubes, and IVs at first, but they were strong babies and did so well. Each day they made improvements by learning to eat, maintaining their body temperature, and putting on weight. As a new mom, I was so proud and excited when they achieved each milestone; it meant they were closer to coming home. When seeing your little one in the NICU, remember: It is the best place for your child, because they are receiving the medical care they need. Take advantage of the time to learn how to care for your premature baby and ask the nurses all of your questions – the time will fly by! After 11 days, we were able to welcome our girls home!