Twins Club Dad of the Month - Mike Humphreys







Twins Names: Josh and Sam

Age: 5

Birthday: 2/10/12

Identical or fraternal: Fraternal

A bit about Dad: I run an IT company specialising in Apple Mac Consultancy and Support

Did you put anything in place so that you could be contacted quickly once Labour began? No but I only worked around the corner from home so could be back within 5 minutes anyway. In the end Jo went into labour at 2am so I was right there anyway. Wish she had packed her hospital bag as I had to run around gathering everything together whilst she phoned the hospital.

How did you support your partner during labour? Due to the position of the babies the birth was going to have to be a C-section. It was therefore just a matter of supporting Jo through the contractions whilst we waited for an operating theatre to become available. Unfortunately the hospital were extremely busy and we had to wait 6hrs as more urgent cases kept occurring. The longer we had to wait the more we were worried that we might become a full on emergency. I therefore kept pushing the staff with regards to when we might be taken down to the operating theatre to make sure we were not forgotten. Once in the operating theatre my role was to reassure Jo. I might have been a smidge inaccurate when I told her they hadn’t started yet and 10 seconds later the first baby started crying. She was somewhat surprised!

Did your partner and/or the babies need to stay in hospital over-night or longer? Due to the birth being a C-section and the boys being small – in particular Sam was only 3lb 15oz – they all stayed in for 3 days and 2 nights.

Were you able to stay with them and how did you cope during this time? Back in 2012 partners were not allowed to stay over-night even though on the 2nd night they had a single room. I could only be there from 8am to 8pm. They were born at 9am and I was there for most of the first day although as Sam was significantly smaller than we were expecting I did have to pop out to get some prem clothes. We didn’t realise that food is not delivered to the bedside and unfortunately I had popped out when lunch was served. As Jo couldn’t move on the first day one of the other Dads on the ward had to collect her food. Not being there for the first night wasn’t too bad as Jo had a lot of help from the staff and it was great to be able to go home, get a proper nights sleep and sort out the house in anticipation of them coming home. However the 2nd night Jo got very little help and pretty much zero sleep so when she called me at 7am the next morning in tears saying she hoped I was already on my way to the hospital I realized that hospitals really needed to look at Dads being able to stay over when it’s a multiple birth. Jo really didn’t want another night at the hospital and luckily both boys were feeding well so on day 3 they could all come home. I would thoroughly recommend that you practice clicking the car seats in and out of the isofix prior to the birth. When I went down to the car to fetch them I couldn’t work it out and I was so long Jo thought I’d done a runner!

How long Paternity Leave did you take? Technically I took 2 weeks but as I run my own business it was almost impossible to be away for such a long time. Luckily my office is 5 minutes from the house so I could pop in for a few hours each day whilst Jo and the boys were sleeping.

What support were you able to give during Paternity Leave? During this time I tried to do everything I could with regards to the house, shopping meals etc. Jo was also bizarrely nervous about changing nappies so I did all of these during the first 2 weeks. Sadly for Jo she didn’t realise that she used up all her “Dad does nappy tokens” in one go!! I was also able to share the broken nights as I didn’t have work the next morning.

What was the most difficult thing about returning to work? The lack of sleep. Even with Jo taking over all the middle of the night feeds unless you live in a mansion it’s almost impossible not to be woken up. Unfortunately I’m one of those people who desperately needs sleep and I never really learnt to cope with the broken nights. Equally I could see that Jo needed me to step in as soon as I got home and I found it difficult to coming home from work, cooking, then taking over looking after them while Jo went to sleep especially as around 7PM until 11PM seemed to be their mad witching hours !

Were you able to help with feeding? As Jo was exclusively bottle-feeding I was able to help quite a bit. Every day I would do the 8pm and 11pm feeds allowing Jo to go to bed as soon as possible after the 5pm feed to try and get a chunk of sleep before coping with the nights on her own. I would also make up all the bottles she would need during the night and leave them in the fridge for her. I was also able on Friday and Saturday nights when I didn’t have work the next day to cover all the feeds by myself and give Jo a much needed nights sleep.

How have you and your partner divide the tasks with the twins? Jo stayed at home during the first 5 years and has therefore done the majority of the care. However at weekends we would try and do things as a family or if the boys were not getting along we would use our “divide and conquer” technique where we would take one each and do different things with them. We are very lucky that I work so close to home which has meant that I’ve been able to be home in time to do the boys dinner. This has given Jo much-needed breathing space at the end of the day before she tackles bath and bed. The reason we’ve done it this way round is that I’m the chef of the house and to ensure that we are not eating too late in the evening I’ve cooked dinner whilst Jo has handled the bedtime routine. Particularly happy with this arrangement as I utterly hate the bath time splashing!!

How have you coped with the broken nights and how have you and your partner shared the night time demands? My main shift of the day with the boys was 7-11pm so that Jo could get a block of sleep straight after dinner. We renamed this shift the bewitching hours. The boys would cry constantly and it was draining. Eventually though I discovered Baby TV, which would play classical music alongside on-screen moving patterns and sometimes this helped soothe them. Jo would then do through the night on her own apart from Friday and Saturday nights when I could take over as I didn’t have work the next morning. For the 1st month we were all in the same room and after that we moved the boys into their own room. Luckily the nursery was big enough to fit in an adult bed. So until they were 6 months old whoever did the night shift could sleep with the babies and hopefully give the other person a chance of a good nights sleep.

What is your favourite activity to do with the twins? I love playing sport with them, as it’s great to see their enthusiasm and energy. I also enjoy playing computer games with them I just wish they would follow my strategies. If they did they would win more!!

What is the best thing about being a dad to Twins? I loved it once they could talk. Listening to them chatting away to each other about the strangest of topics is always hilarious.

What is the most challenging thing about being a dad to Twins? The fighting and the arguments – it’s fabulous when they play nicely together but it drives me crazy having to be piggy in the middle much of the time.

What advice would you give to your pre-parent self? Make the most of that social life and freedom. Go out together as much as you can. We have no family in the area and have found babysitters hard to find and can really add to the expense of an evening. Too often now we go out solo whilst the other stays at home.

Quick Tip to other Dads: The quicker you come to terms with the end of a peaceful and quiet home life the sooner you will be able to sit back and enjoy the chaos. Life is simply never going to be the same again but I wouldn’t change a thing.