Q&A With Swimming Coach Mickey Wender

Sept. 10, 2004

Head swimming coach Mickey Wender and his wife, Kate, welcomed twin sons Jack and Luke into the world on Aug. 5. Five weeks later, Wender shares with gohuskies.com the joys and challenges of being the father of a three-year old daughter and twin newborns.

GoHuskies.com: What is it like being the father of twin boys?
Mickey Wender:'I just feel so fortunate and blessed, it is really exciting. I think that it is going to be an adventure. Being a parent, to me, is the greatest gift that I have ever had. When we had our first child, it brought a sense of meaning, purpose, and depth to my life. And now that we have two of these precious little guys, we realize that this is an incredible gift of responsibility and challenge. Right now, all they do is sleep, eat and poop. It is a challenge to keep the schedule manageable for my wife and I, especially since she feeds them every three hours. The sleep depravation is a challenge, but I have done enough adventure races and week long events that I have developed some strategies to deal with that. The late night feedings are the toughest.'

GoHuskies.com: How have the boys changed over the last five weeks?
Mickey Wender: 'They are growing. They were both premature and Jack was the bigger of the two. He was born first and he is growing like a weed and at twice the normal weight. He gained two pounds in the last two weeks-- one pound in two weeks is average-- and Luke gained a pound. When they were born we initially had to bring them to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and they got through that. They both had to go through a special care unit in the hospital for a little while because they both had to get up to the regular birth weight because they both had jaundice. Getting them out of the hospital was a big milestone and getting them on a schedule was a big milestone.'

GoHuskies.com: Are they identical twins?
Mickey Wender: 'No, they are fraternal. They were in two separate placentas and it is easy to tell them apart.'

GoHuskies.com: Have they started to develop personalities yet?
Mickey Wender: 'I think so. In the womb, Jack took up the majority of the space because he was bigger and Luke was kind of squished up in the corner. When Jack came out he was calm and relaxed like his Californian mom. Luke came out swinging and fighting like his dad the New Yorker-- he was very aggressive.'

GoHuskies.com: How has big sister Samantha adjusted to her little brothers?
Mickey Wender: 'She has been like a little mother and she is amazing with them. She just wants to hold them, hug them and feed them. There has been no jealousy or anything as far as we can see and she is great with them. She is really into helping out with changing their diapers. It helps that she has her own interests, like gymnastics.'

GoHuskies.com: What are some of the main challenges of having twins?
Mickey Wender: 'Keeping them on the same schedule is the toughest task so far, but I am sure that there will be more and more as they grow and we figure out what they are like. We have a history of twins in our family so we have been able to receive a lot of good advice.'

GoHuskies.com: What is the one baby item that you and Kate could not live without?
Mickey Wender: 'For Kate it would be her boppy, which is a big pillow that goes around her and the children rest on while she is nursing them. Without that, it would be very difficult for her. For me I would have to say the swing because it is a good pacifier. It calms them down.'

GoHuskies.com: How soon will you get the kids in the pool?
Mickey Wender: 'With Samantha we waited three months and she is a real swimmer now at the age of three. I think that we are just going to wait until they are strong enough. Right now they are kind of fragile, but as soon as they can get in and get their heads wet then we will give it a chance. Babies instinctively hold their breath so you just need to get them used to being in the water.'

GoHuskies.com: How did you come up with their names?
Mickey Wender: 'They are family names. Both are named after their grandparents.'

GoHuskies.com: Did you know they were going to be boys before they were born?
Mickey Wender: 'We had no what their sex was, we want to be surprised. There are so few surprises in life that we wanted to wait. We thought that Samantha was going to be a boy when we had her and we were wrong and this time we thought that they were going to be girls.'

GoHuskies.com: Has the team had a chance to meet the boys?
Mickey Wender: 'It is amazing to see how connected the team feels with my family. Most of them have already been over to the house to see them and help out or be a part of it. Even Sammy knows all of the swimmers by name now and I think that it has really helped her to become more comfortable around people. That is part of the way that we run our program with a family atmosphere and all of the people at UW are supportive and caring. Even Todd Turner helped out by letting me be with my family, there was no question and I really appreciate being in a work environment that values that. It's great to be around people that are so caring and family oriented.'

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