Having twins is by no means is an easy feat. But fear not fellow multiple dads, here are my top six dad hacks that may make things a little easier for you, your partner and your little ones.
1. Educate yourself
Becoming a pending dad of twins exposes you to a plethora of terminology you will not have heard before. Unfortunately, your high school female reproductive tutorials or the general chat you have with your mates who’ve had singleton babies simply won’t cut the mustard.
Terms such as ‘zygosity’, ‘mono-chorionic, mono-amniotic’, ‘di-chorionic, di-amniotic’, ‘fraternal’ and ‘identical’ were thrown at me in scans and appointments, none of which made sense to me at the start. I felt like a fly on the wall, so I commenced getting my head around the terms I needed to know by listening to the Australian Birth Stories podcast. I specifically listened to episodes about twins, whereby I’d pick up on terms I hadn’t heard before. If they weren’t explained during the episode, I would do my own research to make sure I understood what the term meant and if they were relevant to my wife and I’s situation. It made the whole thing so much easier to process and understand, I enjoyed learning about it all and found it absolutely fascinating how the whole twin arrangement comes to be. Educating myself actually made me feel like I was well and truly part of the ride and allowed me to be a support for my wife – she didn’t have the time or energy to explain to me what was going on after each appointment.
So ask questions, be a part of the learning process with your partner, knowledge is power, my friends.
2. Prepare your body
I invented yet unheard of yoga positions when picking up my new babies simultaneously on my own. Picking up one newborn baby when they can’t yet support their own head is a delicate procedure for the inexperienced– now imagine doing that one-handed whilst you try to keep another newborn level and safe in your other arm! My back and body soon became as tight and as stiff as Tinman’s. My back was in so much pain from constantly picking up my boys one-handed, particularly in the early hours of the morning when both were screaming (meaning I didn’t think to bend down to lift them properly). I sought the advice of a physio, who showed me some exercises I could do in the gym to supplement my own weight training. This helped my body gain strength in those awkward positions I got myself into trying to wrangle two babies at once – lifts such as bent back, light deadlifts and odd object holds and carries worked a treat.
Being pain-free helped me sleep better and made the whole experience more enjoyable.
In short, look after yourself so you can look after them!
3. Set your house and your wallet up early
Given my wife’s pregnancy was classified as ‘high-risk’ (because we were having twins), it was advised that we prepare our home with time to spare in case of an early arrival.
We took that advice and ran with it, which was lucky as my boys were delivered at 30 weeks by ’emergency’ C-section. Having everything prepared at home took the stress off having to purchase everything and sort the house at the eleventh hour. It meant we were able to focus solely on caring for our boys whilst they were in the NICU for 6 weeks until we brought them home.
Now two babies mean you have to buy two of everything; cots, bassinets, highchairs, a double pram etc, so prepare your finances early, cause twins are expensive! My wife and I were fortunate to have well-paying jobs so we could afford the arsenal of gear we needed. We did tap into communities on Facebook for some second-hand items which helped save a buck here and there (there’s plenty of multiple groups out there if you have a good look).
My advice, fork out the dollars on a good pram that is sturdy and is easily assembled. Trust me, when they’re both screaming, they can wake each other up, or prevent each other from going to sleep, and in my case walking the boys to sleep in the pram became a regular part of my life, so a good pram is worth its weight in gold!
FYI – even though you have two babies, you don’t receive any additional monetary support from the Government compared to if you were having one baby (ridiculous, I know), as the Australian Government classifies a ‘multiple’ birth as 3 or more.
4. Prepare to be a rockstar (whether you like it or not!)
It is overwhelming the amount of attention I get from strangers now I have twins. I’m quite private, so the constant pointing and commenting when I walk drives me crazy. I live in a particularly dense area of Sydney and visiting nearby café’s and generally being out and about is one of my wife and I’s favourite things to do together (before and after having kids). But, every time I leave the house with my boys, I get at least several comments from strangers, both positive and negative – the latter of which is most definitely unwanted and can be at times infuriating!
The ‘positive’ comments are generally people stopping me or coming up to me whilst I have a coffee, telling me that their second cousins brothers fathers sister had twins, which is great for them but gets old fast when it’s happened already 3 times in a 30-minutes. Other comments are typically people asking me how much sleep I am getting, which is none of their business – the majority of people tend to think it’s ok to stick their head in the pram, or sometimes even touch my boys on the face as if to say “how cute!” (yes, even during these pandemic times!) which I find so rude. I am constantly telling people to please step back from the pram, or not touch my boys.
An example of a ‘negative’ comment is when a parent walks past the pram and scoffs, as if to say, “stuff that, I have one and it’s hard”. Without a doubt, the most frustrating comment, and the one most often thrown at me is “double trouble!”, which can be delivered in a somewhat friendly fashion but again, when I hear it so many times a day, but when I haven’t slept, I’m frustrated with things at home, and I have gone through so much to even get my boys home to have them called “trouble” by someone I don’t know pisses me off. Again, this probably doesn’t seem like a big deal to some, but when it happens, all the time it gets old, really fast.
My tip, have a chat with your partner to see how they feel and come up with a few one-liners to halt people’s comments (it will save your sanity in the long run).
5. Get your hands dirty, early
You will not dodge night feeds, and you will have to get your hands dirty, so teamwork is key.
I would say that for 50% of my mates who have had kids (singleton babies), their role at night was almost non-existent. With twins, in those early stages, I was there every feed to help get them into position on the breast, to burp, to cuddle and to swaddle and settle. It was simply too hard for my wife to do it all on her own.
Preparation is everything, especially with twins. I became a bit of a grey-man. My life was washing bottles, sterilizing bottles, preparing bottles, washing clothes, hanging out clothes, folding clothes, changing nappies, cooking dinner, you get the drift. But I needed to step up and be the one who got sh*t done around the house to make it easier for my wife to focus solely on feeding the boys.
A piece of advice – just put your head down and get it done – if there’s a bottle needed to be washed, wash it. If there’s bins that need to be changed, change them. If there’s a nappy that needs to be changed, change it. If there’s something that needs to be done, do it.
6. Find healthy pre-packed meals
Prior to babies coming, my wife and I tried out a few different pre-packaged meals and found a few that we liked. Those meals were a godsend those first 6 months when it was a blur and meant we could still eat healthy when we simply didn’t have the time or energy to cook. There are plenty of healthy meal services out there, and when time is at an absolute minimum, it is comforting to know you have dinner in the freezer and all you have to do is throw it in the oven.
However, tempting a greasy late-night delivery may be, the secret is to opt for the healthy premade option trust me, you want the good fuel in your tank to get you through.
Look twins are hard, but they’re not ‘double-trouble’ – they’re ‘double-love’ and trust me, it does get easier.