Five and a half years ago, Dr. Hampton B. Richards and his wife, Rachel, were blessed with twin boys. Dr. Richards is a second-generation partner of Walnut Hill OBGYN, specializing in high-risk pregnancy, infertility, operative laparoscopy, resolution of heavy periods, operative hysteroscopy, and minimally invasive surgery. Rachel was a Nurse Supervisor in the Neonatal ICU.
Between their two careers, both were aware of the complications that occasionally arise from delivering twins. After several years of trying to get pregnant, the last thing they expected was to have twin boys. Dr. Hampton Richards shares how this surprise became a huge blessing in their lives.
Meet James and Miller
James and Miller are two happy, healthy, fraternal twins who are best friends but with different personalities. Dr. Richards tells us, “When people spend time with them, it’s very obvious that they are different people. The nature [versus nurture] aspect of personality is unbelievable.” He explains that his sons have had the exact same nurturing experience, shared every meal together and had the same adult interactions. Despite this, they each developed unique personalities early on that they maintained throughout the past five and a half years.
A Daredevil and a People Pleaser
“James is my daredevil,” Dr. Richards says. “He does everything first and he never really cares about doing it again. He likes the challenge and the exploration and he wants to conquer everything. He’s not a daredevil in the sense that he’s trying to be crazy. He just doesn’t care about continuing [the activity] to show his worth.”
On the other hand, he says, “Miller is huge people pleaser. He will see his brother do something and he does it 100 times a day until he does it perfectly. Then, he does it so you see he is doing it perfectly.”
Dr. Richards says both are smart and talented but have different outlooks on challenges and successes. “It will be interesting to see how that develops into different personalities as adults. They laugh all day long together. I’m so thankful that they have each other.”
Mama’s Boys Through and Through
“My boys love their mom,” Dr. Richards tells us. “There’s something about mama’s boys that’s so cliché.” He shares that when he and Rachel come home, James and Miller will run around him (one on each side) to get to their mom.
He shares a story of a family Christmas picture gone awry. “I was holding the boys in my lap and they are shrieking and reaching for their mom who is standing off-camera.” Rachel placed the picture in a Tiffany’s frame and it sits on his desk at the Walnut Hill office, always ready to bring a smile to his face. “They love me very much but they love mom more,” he says.
Dr. Richards tells us the boys’ adoration for their mom is a blessing. “Rachel came from a family of three girls and I’ve only recently found out that she already had three girl names picked out for the girls she was planning to have one day,” he shares. Early in the pregnancy, he told her he had a dream that they were having girls. “I guess she thought I’d be right because I’m an obstetrician. So, I guess I fooled her.” She cried for days when they learned they were having two boys – which was very different from her typical calm demeanor. “She’d never change it now. They’ve been a real blessing in her life. They love her in an idolizing way, which is very beautiful.”
The Other Side of the Delivery Table
Dr. Richards opted out of delivering James and Miller. He reminds us of the importance of objectivity as a doctor. “I thought I would be the calm, cool, super objective doctor who could take care of my wife,” he says, “I was freaking out when she was delivering. If I was the only person taking care of her, it would have been a disaster.”
He shares that he enjoys being in deliveries daily saying, “It’s always an incredible time. Being with [the parents] on the best day of their lives is an infectious experience.” When asked how it felt to be in the room as a husband instead of a doctor, he replied, “It was really just special to be the dad, to be at the head of the bed and be with her.”
“I think for anybody, the day your child is born is the coolest day of your life,” Dr. Richards says. “I see that with my patients all the time. It opens up a new chapter in your life that you can’t get to in any other way.”
Dr. Richards shares the humbling experience of being with his wife for delivery. “As men, we tend to be the ones who are on the side of ‘fix it.’ We want to do something, or change, or fix something. We are hands on. There’s really nothing for us to do in the process [of delivery] and your wife is there doing one of the most amazing, most physical, hardest, most incredible things that any human ever does. And as her spouse, you are just there to support her – which is often an uncomfortable position but that is your role. Be present and in awe of what she is doing and be supportive.”
Being a Father
“Every stage in my life is neat and unique,” Dr. Hampton Richards says, “but I’d never go back to any of them. I think with a child it’s very similar. The baby years are only the baby years for a short period of time and then they are the toddler years, etc.”
He reminds us that each phase is unique and special but only happens once. “While there are many challenges and it can be tempting to want to jump ahead to the next phase, we try to enjoy each stage for what it is, the good and the bad, and keep the perception that it won’t last forever. And there will be things about it that we will miss.”
A Life Changing Experience
When asked how James and Miller changed his life, Dr. Richards gives a beautiful response.
“Life’s a funny thing. I’m 41 now and I’m a person who, I think more than most people, felt like I really knew myself at a very early age. I grew up in a doctor’s family to a dad who grew up in a doctor’s family and knew very early that I wanted to be an OBGYN – which is hard to explain to your friends in high school. I think we all, when we are young, have this idealized view of what life is supposed to be like and we think that’s what’s normal. The more I do this job and talk to people about the challenges in life, the more I see how much this isn’t true. We all have our tragedies and challenges and we all change over time. I’m not the same person I was when I was 15 years old.”
“I think part of the way the twins changed my life, is that I used to think I wanted certain things,” he says. “I wanted a busy job, was happy working long shifts, and liked the idea of sacrificing for my job and the people around me. While that is still true, a big part of me has matured that wants to be home for dinner. I think maybe there’s this desire for connection and continuity with my family. That pull gets stronger and stronger as I get older. When you realize that there are only so many of these moments and that a stage in your child’s life had passed and there is a new stage, you realize you really want to be there for those moments. James and Miller brought focus and appreciation for my family that is deeper than I would have predicted.”
Needless to say, Dr. Hampton Richards loves his family.
“You know you are going to love your kids. You will sacrifice anything for your kids (of course, it’s just obvious) but once you have children, you really appreciate the intensity of that impulse and that love; and while you know it’s going to be true before you get there, once you get there that raw power of that love you have for your child is really overwhelming at times.”
Our staff, just like Dr. Richards and Rachel, know firsthand how special this time of your life will be. If you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or simply looking for an OBGYN, our staff is happy to meet with you. Contact us for an appointment.