2 Daddies, 4 Babies

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Posted by vera | Posted in Parenting, Twins or Multiple Birth Pregnancy | Posted on 06-01-2010

all-fourIf you are expecting twins, triplets or more, you may be wondering how you will manage multiple babies all by yourself during your maternity or parental leave.  With the advent of non-gender-specific parental leave in many countries, men are availing themselves of the opportunity to spend some or all of the time allotted with their children.

This is particularly true for multiple births families, where the added physical, emotional and financial strain often has parents-to-be considering the “best” option from a variety of angles.  For example, dad’s employer may “top up”, in which case it may be more financially lucrative for mom to continue working while dad stays home with the babies.

Although in some countries (Canada, for example), the government is currently considering the one parental leave per baby (as opposed to per pregnancy), which would allow parents of twins to both take the first year to be home with their newborn twins simultaneously, in most places, the norm still seems to be one leave per pregnancy.

Sometimes the “plan” changes once the babies are born.  For example, our plan was that I would stay home for the full year with our twins boys. Three months in I discovered that being a stay-at-home mother of two colicky multiples was more than I could handle.  I threw in the towel and went back to work, while my husband took his turn on the merry-go-round.  (You can read more about preparing for stay-at-home in our free trial mini-course.)

If you think being stuck at home with multiples is hard for a woman, imagine the plight of the under-represented stay-at-home dad!  Trevor’s first months were consumed by fighting off  comments like “oh, how sweet, giving your wife a break” when he arrived at the grocery store, stroller in tow, for his twice weekly grocery run.  And finding his place in a world of “Mommy and Baby” groups was another adventure.

A gift came to my husband about two months into his 8-month stint:  Brian, a fellow teacher who coincidentally was also staying at home with his twins! The fellow stay-at-home-dad became Trevor’s partner in crime.  He taught him handy tricks like using a heater pad in the stroller in winter, in order to be able to stay out on walks longer.  He picked him and the boys up in their mini-van and took the whole gang to the mall on rainy or snowy days. (Imagine the looks two men and four babies-all blond and the same age-must have gotten!  Some even asked them if the kids were quadruplets!)

Brian came to visit about once a week while they were at home with our multiples. when the babies were small, the two men set up various gates and fences in order to “contain” them while they played with one another, each twin discovering that babies other than their co-multiple existed in the world.  The two dads, meanwhile, ate lunch and chatted about sports, diapers, lack of sleep, their wives and a range of other topics. Despite differences in lifestyle and background, the fact that these two dads with twins were so rare united them.  Whereas the local mommy and baby groups offered collegial consultation on nursing bras, Trevor and Brian’s little relationship offered moral support of the male persuasion.

I am not sure if Trevor did much better during his stay-at-home adventures than I did during mine, but I do know that he still enjoys a very close relationship with his sons, and long-term parenting for us has become a joint venture.  When some women I know begin talking about how disengaged their husbands are from parenting duties, I for one cannot relate.

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