Dad of the Month - Graham Kemble







Twins Names: Charlotte & Jonathan

Age: Nearly 3 now! (35 months), this pic was at 5 months

Birthday: 29/01/15

Identical or fraternal: Brother & Sister! 😉 Fraternal

A bit about Dad: I’m a project director for a building services company – electrical & mechanical design for buildings, which I enjoy.

Did you put anything in place so that you could be contacted quickly once Labour began? Not as such, just a personalised “duck” ringtone on my phone for my wife’s number 😉 That and I left my phone on vibrate in meetings and didn’t go too far afield in the weeks approaching the likely birth date.

How did you support your partner during labour? Vicky crossed her legs exceedingly well so we got to 38+1, making it to our planned induction date. There is a limit to what we men can do at this stage, just be there, talk to, support her and make her as comfortable as possible. Oh yes and hold the tray for the horizontal projectile vomit when the drugs kick in. Perfect way to christen the lovely changing bag across the room! Still with us that one: leather Storksac, good bag & not too embarrassing! Seriously though, when the epidural didn’t seem to be doing anything, I made myself useful by being polite but firm with the very good staff at West Mid until they rechecked and found the needle had actually gone in too deep & wasn’t doing what it should. Once that was fixed induction unfortunately slowed down & so we had to go for caesarean in the end. I did my best to keep things calm & hold Victoria’s hand. It was amazing to be there in theatre together, (as we’d role-played at NCT) watching as they came ‘out the sunroof’! Well done Vics!

Did your partner and/or the babies need to stay in hospital over-night or longer? Yes, 5 days in the end, despite “good baking” & both being around 6lbs. The hospital like you to stay until the feeding is all grooved, they also had a bit of tongue tie which was snipped there. Little Jonathan also had a touch of jaundice, so we had to feed him up for an extra day or so in order to get out. In reality, the days in there were really useful & the staff were so helpful. They helped with lots of tips & support on how to feed & care for the babies.

Were you able to stay with them and how did you cope during this time? Yes, we were lucky & the midwife managed to get us a side room with it being both twins and a C-section. I was able to put my travel mattress down on the floor by the window and we all stayed together so I could help. They quite rightly only feed the mums though so after a day or so of bonus toast, I ventured out in search of Greedies and a breath of fresh air, if not a shower!

How long Paternity Leave did you take? I took the 2 weeks, an essential I think with twins, although quite a loss of income for the month. To maximise the 2 weeks, I took the induction appointment as our regular weekly consultancy visit. I went on to work for the day, nearly missed “the start of the action” by the time I got there at the end of the afternoon though as things were progressing quickly by that stage!

What support were you able to give during Paternity Leave? Dishing up food for Vicky, sterilising bottles, changing nappies etc. Keeping an eye on things and watching over / helping whenever you can, to give a bit of a break.

What was the most difficult thing about returning to work? Getting a bit tired, but I seemed to manage OK. Vicky was finding it difficult to get enough food into them breast feeding, so was expressing to supplement. This meant she got really tired and understandably emotional. I was always rushing home at the end of each day and it was a bit all consuming. We worked out a rota planning night time slots and feeds and so on. We also got into a routine thanks to Brenda the nanny which really helped us in early days.

Were you able to help with feeding? Yes, a little, sterilising the pump, etc in the evening for the next day and setting up pillows for the twins when they were breast feeding. I helped them with bottles too when we introduced a top up formula feed. I did an 11pm daddy feed, whilst Vicky got a block of kip in the first half of the night from 9pm. After this feed I would changeover with Vicky.

How have you and your partner divided the tasks with the twins? Vicky, a Financial Director, was excited and lucky enough to be able to give up work for a few years to bring up the twins. I would always help get them set up before I left for work, then when I got home at the end of the day I would be in time for the bedtime routine. We had a 3 month moratorium on my sporting activities, then gradually more flexibility and after the first year or so, matches became OK when planned & when all is set up for a “solo” evening routine! Now we also have the children in the local nursery 2 mornings a week to give Vicks a bit of a break and to introduce structured learning, C&J do very well from it 🙂 Having one-to-one time with the children sometimes is also good and healthy for them. We also have one each at the end of the bedtime routine for stories and songs, the final calm down before bed.

How have you coped with the broken nights and how have you and your partner shared the night time demands? We shared night time, no one person can do it all and you can’t do it all together, otherwise you’ll both be completely knackered rather than helping each other. At the end of the week I’d stay on and do the rest of the nightwatch too to help Vics recharge her batteries a bit more from the week, maybe allow for a bit of a lie in if that is possible too. Sunday night, is always back to daddy sleeping 2nd part of the night though as work tomorrow…I very soon downloaded Audiable audiobooks onto my phone headphones for my night time slot. It could take up to an hour to feed, wind & change 2 little babies.

What is your favourite activity to do with the twins? I generally have the children to myself Saturday mornings so Vicky can get a time out / gym. I like taking them in the buggy with the dog for a walk to Osterley NT. We have fun mucking about around the Café, doing silly little videos and putting them on FB for family & friends. Little C&J are hilarious at times and I love playing with them. They love to “help” at home and copy me in the garden. Baby swim is also fun and trampolining in the garden is like one big playpen to run around together including jumping on daddy and giggling 😉

What is the best thing about being a dad to Twins? Seeing how they interact and play together, learn and develop their different characters, as well as looking out for and after each other. You always feel a bit special being the dad of twins and proud of how they wave and say hello and thank you to people, most of the time!

What is the most challenging thing about being a dad to Twins? You can’t run in two directions at once! Certain things like playground activities and the like are best done with an extra pair of hands until they can safely climb, etc. Now that they know their own minds and wants but can’t always reason why they can’t do it now and need to come to bathtime, etc is difficult. You have to keep calm and reason with them until they understand and accept….

What advice would you give to your pre-parent self? It is the hardest, but also most rewarding thing you will ever do. You will (both) lose the time and freedom you once had, you will need to evolve and in particular keep going as a couple which can easily be lost. Work together and as a family, keep going out as a couple where you can, weekly date nights in when you can 😊
You still need time to yourselves though and make sure you give your partner m the same, she needs a break even more after a long week! Watch out, she gets tired and you will also get irritable too, with too much baby stuff 24/7, you will both need to be understanding and forgiving – work together and try and get lots of sleep!

Quick Tip to other Dads: Find a new life balance that works for you as soon as you can, don’t put it off! I made use of the gym near work at lunchtimes straightaway to burn off any frustrations and keep base levels of fitness for sport and my personal wellbeing. Then as time allowed, finding a new balance of a few badminton matches in evenings and a couple of sets of tennis on the weekend, golf taking a back seat until later and the odd summer evening next year… She will need something to keep mind and body together too! Work together to find your new balance as a family together, it can be wonderful and special being parents together of twins 😊