Twins of the Month: Josh and Jake

ttc2This month we meet Jennifer Singer twin’s Josh and Jake


Twins Names

Joshua and Jacob Exley – ‘Josh and Jake.’ Yes, we are a family of J names!

They’ve just turned 3

Identical or fraternal

Identical – a surprise outcome from IVF

Favourite activity

Playing with their ‘choo-choos’, cars – basically anything with wheels and reading (The Gruffalo, Stick Man, We’re Going On a Bearhunt and You Choose are all favourites).  Jake loves to draw, build ‘towers’, sing and he’s amazing with puzzles. Josh loves music, dancing, his alphabet magnets and he’s a whizz at technology.

A bit about mum and dad

Mother Jen is an architect and design advisor that specialises in school building projects. Father Jon is a digital project manager.


We had a VW Golf, but it died last year and we have decided to not replace it. We are reliant on our Baby Jogger City Select buggy – it’s our limosine!

Help or not?
We’re mostly on our own. My family live in the US, while Jon’s family are all in the north.

When the boys were born my parents came from the US for five weeks which was essential as I was completely exhausted (having been in the hospital for three weeks after the boys were born.)  When my parents returned to the States, we had a part time duala for about 4 months and a Homestart volunteer for 2 hours per week for the duration of the year.  When the boys were 9 months old, I returned to work part time and the boys went to a childminder. Now they are part time at the Montessori preschool near us.

Quick tip for other twin/triplet mums

It is possible to have twins in a flat!  We were living in a top floor flat when the boys were born and getting down the stairs seemed like a challenge. But I found that you develop a system for everything, (and at the early stage it was fairly efficient to have everything a short distance away as so much time was spent changing, feeding, and doing laundry!)

Also if you can, leave yourself a month before your twins are due to be born.  We knew ours would be early (34 weeks.) So I spent the month before preparing for the hospital, doing my tax return, re-organising everything…

Finally while you can systematise and organise all you can: be prepared to lose stuff constantly, and not be so precious about everything. Chaos is inherent in twin life.

What advice would you give to your pre-pregnant self?

Me: Sort out your photography storage before the twins are born.  The last thing you want is to be up ‪at midnight when the babies are young trying to figure out the icloud to make space for a million-ish photos which are mostly repeats of every little exciting moment and observation. I still haven’t conquered the photo filing. More importantly perhaps: I cannot tell the difference between Jake and Josh in the majority of the photos now, particularly the baby photos so some kind of ongoing labeling system would help.

Jon: Enjoy your own life and sleep!

What advice would you give about sleep training?

We were very relaxed about sleeping – never read a baby book – and ended up co-sleeping. It’s not for everyone but in the early days found I could sleep and nurse simultaneously, and avoid being a complete zombie (particularly when I went back to work).

What advice would you give about breast/bottle feeding?

I exclusively breastfed for the first six months and the breastfeeding surprisingly continued.  In the beginning I thought it would be great if I could breastfeed for a few months, so I am amazed it still continues after a few years albeit to a much lesser extent!

In the early days I had great support from our hospital Queen Charlottes, health visitor lactation consultants and my mother. By the time we left the hospital after 3 weeks we had cracked it (especially as the boys were 6 weeks premature so it wasn’t that straightforward at first – because they were tube-fed.).  I was aware of the benefits of breastfeeding and would be constantly on Kellymom’s website which has evidence based advice on breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding.

I am still surprised about the myths around breastfeeding, and that the UK has the lowest rate in the world. TAMBA has some good advice for prospective twin parents who are interested, but my advice would be: it does take time to get the hang of it and you might have to ask at least a few people to give you support before you find your own way.
Also don’t worry so much about expressing – it caused me great distress in the early days as I had very little milk then. I eventually abandoned it, as above all I hated the sound of the breast pump!

Do you have any advice on weaning?

This is where I think I might have failed!  I did not have any idea on the weaning stuff beyond basic purees, though I tried a few of Annabel Karmel’s recipes.  I found it quite overwhelming and time consuming (unfortunately I am not a natural cook), and have since ended up with two picky eaters (although they happily eat ants and other bugs outside – highly nutritious, right?).  I have since relaxed about ‘the eating,’ and perhaps that is why it is getting easier or maybe like all things you have to give it time.

Do you have any advice on potty training?

Haven’t got there yet. Our boys have no interest in it. Ask me in a year!

Best bargain?
We were kindly given so many things by friends and family – a slight advantage of having your kids later.  The Facebook Mums selling groups are useful though for bargains and we did recently get a lovely Thomas the Tank Engine bike for just £12.

Best thing about having twins?
Watching the amazing relationship develop between the boys.  Jake and Josh are yin and yang.  They have their own names for each other (Jake calls Josh ‘Bedu’ and Josh calls Jake ‘Budu’ – we have no idea why) and they really do look after each other.

Funniest thing the twins have done?
They do funny things every day.  The things they say to us and each other (and often mispronounce) make us laugh a lot. They often sing on the bus, which make (most people) laugh. We are even finding that they are political pundits: when asked who they were supporting in the US election – Clinton or Trump – they both squealed: ‘Peppa Pig!’ They’ve since referred to Donald Trump as Donald ‘Chump’, which is fine with us.

I love Twickenham Twins Club because…..
It’s an amazing resource of people and activities.  You can be involved as much or as little as you want, but it’s great to know there are people that are going through similar challenges and experiences.