How to Survive a Multiple Pregnancy

A few weeks ago I did a google search on ‘How to Survive a Twin Pregnancy’ so you can imagine I was at a low point. I was beyond uncomfortable and had no idea how I could possibly survive this thing. Since then, I’ve learned some lessons which I wanted to share for every other woman who will, and I mean WILL, find themselves googling the same thing.

Full disclosure: I am a first time mom and have not yet given birth to these little guys but I have learned some lessons thus far. This past Saturday I turned 29 weeks. In normal ‘non-pregnant person’ terms, this means I am half way through my 7th month, or just starting my third trimester so I still have a ways to go. My goal is to stay pregnant until 37 weeks so I still have 8 weeks to go which translates to ‘I am going to be absolutely HUGE’. Apparently with twins, half of all deliveries occur before 35 weeks (which is astonishing) and the other half deliver after 35 weeks so I thought I’d shoot for 37. Hell, why not.

I never thought I’d feel compelled to document my pregnancy, but of course I am. After the babies come into this wonderful world I plan to share my neurotic ‘Pregnancy Chart’ which I’ve been keeping since day 1. Until then, I’ll just share some survival tips I’ve picked up along the way for anyone pregnant with twins.. or one day may be.

  1. Drink a LOT of water. Even if you think you are drinking enough, drink more. I drink at least 1.5 liters (a little less than a half gallon) every day. Just buy one of those huge water bottles and every day fill it up and drink it down.
  2. If you were working out before you got pregnant, try your best to keep on hitting the gym. I had to give up cardio around week 25 but I still manage to make it to the gym 2-3 times a week to lift weights. People WILL look at you funny, but f-em. Be round and proud. Every now and again you’ll get the encouragement you need. A couple of weeks ago one of the younger trainers came up to me and said she was inspired by seeing me work out because she thought that when she got pregnant she would have to stop working out, and this morning a fellow told me to stop eating so much. It struck me so funny I almost pee’ed during a squat.
  3. Remind yourself daily that one day, you will sleep on your stomach again.
  4. Eat small meals every 2-3 hours, religiously. I live on greek yogurt, cottage cheese, apples and cheese sticks, trail mix, hard boiled eggs, peanut butter sandwitches, etc. Every morning I throw four or five items into a brown bag and head to work. My Bible is Dr. Luke’s book: When Your Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads. If your having twins, get this book and live by it.
  5. Join a Twin group, get a Baby App or two, read as much as you can, but know when to stop.
  6. Get as many belly support jimmys as you can. My two favorites you can get at Babys R Us: I wore this one up until about a week ago.. I’ve now graduated to the ‘weightlifter’ style. I feel like I should be working at the UPS when I put this guy on but it really does help support your ever growing ‘belly grape’.
  7.  Trust your body. When you get winded (which you will), stop whatever you are doing and sit. I’ve actually read that you should elevate your feet at least three times a day for 30 minutes, but that’s kind of hard for me to do. Im more of a ‘go till you drop’ kind of girl but I’ve learned to listen to my body. For example, I was at the grocery store the other day after a morning that included a work out and some light cleaning (vacuum, dusting, general futzing) and half way through my list I started feeling light headed so I stopped everything, found a chair and just sat. Its kind of embarrassing, but much less embarrassing than falling out in the cereal isle.
  8. Don’t completely give up the things you love (sweets in my case) but keep in mind that some foods feed your ass while other foods feed your babies. I like the 80/20 rule. 80 percent of the time, eat well.
  9. Coco oil is your friend.
  10. Accept that there is a first time for everything and your doing the best you can.

And on that note, I’d like to leave you with a few points of view that can most accurately express what the bulk of your pregnancy will feel like. Peace.

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Belly Talk

It’s been about a year since my last post and what a year its been. As you can see from the lovely picture to my left, I’m just as pregnant as can be… with TWINS! A boy and a girl. I can’t even describe what a blessing this is. We were one of those lucky couples who got married later in life and as a result, dealt with all kinds of infertility issues. Who would have thought? Peter and I both feel (and quite frankly act) at least 10 years younger than we are but does that matter? Nope.  Biology is biology is biology.

I considered blogging about my ‘infertility journey’ and Peter even encouraged it, but I was so fearful that it would end in disappointment that I just couldn’t do it. Today, I am so proud of our path how we handled it I’ve decided to tell anyone and everyone. If anything, I really want to inspire other women who are struggling with the prospect of being childless, especially if being a mother is in their heart. Let me be clear, Im not talking to all women. ONLY those women who know, deep in their being, that being a mother is who they are and who they will always be. A long time ago my mom told me something that I’ve lived my life by. ‘Not even g-d can steer a parked car‘. Translation: If you want something in life, truly truly want something, don’t just sit on your ass and pray. Get up and DO something!

I had no idea how our journey would end. All I knew is that if I didn’t feel that I had tried everything in my power, and I mean EVERYTHING in my power to become a mom, I would have some major regrets. Regrets that would be hard to reconcile. Lets just say I wasn’t willing to take that risk.

After a year of marriage,  Peter and I decided to start ‘trying’. I put that in quotes because that means different things to different people. For us, that meant no birth control for a period of time. After about 6 months, we decided it was time to see what was up. We both got tested and started the process of infertility drugs, ovulation predictor kits, and finally a series of IUI’s (intrauterine inseminations), all of which failed. After about 2 and a half years of this, I hit rock bottom and really had to have a ‘come to jesus’ moment about what was really happening. In addition, none of this was easy for Peter. Peter was one of those guys who was happy with our life and felt that if it happened so be it, but if not it certainly wouldn’t be the end of the world.   I on the other hand did not feel this way at all. Having a child  was something we discussed early in our relationship, well before we got married, so he knew this was part of my ‘life plan’. Because of this, he supported me 100% and I will always be grateful for that. Quick piece of advise.. be willing to hear the truth when its being told to you and make your decisions based on that. I could go deeper, but I’ll just leave it at that. I am pretty sure that if either one of us was unwilling or unable to be honest about what we needed or how we were feeling, we would not be where we are today.

After much discussion, we decided we both needed to come to some agreement to how far we were willing to go, and at what point  I could honestly say ‘I gave it my all’. Although I was open to adoption, Peter was not and I respected that. We both decided that our ‘big gun’ was going to have to be IVF so we found an AMAZING doctor named  Dr. Joseph Gianfortoni  and started a process that ultimately resulted in a pregnancy.

Maybe some other time I’ll go into details but for now, I’ll just say this. It was all worth it. Every minute, every day. For a while I struggled with the idea that we were doing something so un-natural to achieve the most natural thing in the world and a dear friend reminded me of one of my favorite jokes. It goes something like this:

A farmer is in a flood and the river is overflowing. Water is everywhere, surrounding the farmer’s home up to his front porch. As he is standing there, a boat comes up, The man in the boat says “Jump in, I’ll take you to safety!!”
The farmer crosses his arms and says stubbornly, “Nope, I put my trust in God.”
The boat goes away. The water rises to the second floor. Another boat comes up, the man says to the farmer who is now in the second story window, “Jump in, I’ll save you!!”
The farmer again says, “Nope, I put my trust in God.”
The boat goes away. Now the water is up to the roof. As The farmer stands on the roof, a helicopter comes over, and drops a ladder. The pilot yells down to the farmer “I’ll save you, climb the ladder!!”
The farmer says “Nope, I put my trust in God.”
The helicopter goes away. The water comtinues to rise and sweeps the farmer off the roof. He drowns.
The farmer goes to heaven. God sees him and says “What are you doing here?”
Sad and disappointed, the farmer says “I put my trust in you, god, and you let me down..”
God says, “What do you mean, let you down? I sent you two boats and a helicopter!!!”

The way I see it Dr. Gianfortoni and his amazing staff , as well as everyone at the Virginia IVF  and Andrology Center were my boat and helicopter… sent straight from above. Thanks, guys.


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Little Pies in Little Jars

Mini PiesThis past Thanksgiving I out did myself. Aside from baking a ton of regular sized pies I also somehow managed to make a bunch of  little-pies-in-little-jars with my niece and nephew. It was too much fun.

The idea to make  little-pies-in-little-jars came from a friend of mine who forwarded me a blog called ‘Not Martha’. Little pies in jars..what a concept. I had to try it. I did mine a little different though. Since I was including a 4 year old, I opted for pre-made pie crust and canned pie filling. Not the best tasting little pies in the world, but that’s not really what your going for when making little pies with kids. Your really just looking to make memories. And fine memories at that.

So, here is all you need:

A handful of half pint jars used for preserving (I purchased 12 but only used 6), 1 or 2 boxes of refrigerated and rolled pie crust, a jar of pie filling (we used cherry), wax paper and an oven.

Step 1: preheat the oven to 375

Step 2: put a few sheets of wax paper on your kitchen table, this is your work space

Step 3: unroll the pie crusts, place the jar (open side down) gently on the pie crust and cut a circle of crust about an inch wider than the jar. The kids can do this with a butter knife. Be prepared for some strange looking circles. Do this twice for each jar.

Step 4: put one circle of the crust into the jar, pushing it down so it reaches all of the sides

Step 5: fill each jar about 3/4 with pie filling

Step 6: put another circle of crust on the top of the jar, either on the outside, crimped, or on the inside. Just be creative. The pies we made weren’t very pretty but again.. we were just going for a memory (this is really just an excuse, the next time I plan to try harder)

Step 7: put in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes.

Step 8: ENJOY!

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Natures Gift and A Crooked Road: by Darrell Scott

Shenandoah Rocks
Olympic TreesEveryone knows how much I love nature. The irony is that I’ve never been a big camper. I’ve always adored plants, flowers, gardening, digging in the dirt, but I haven’t had many opportunities to get out there and ‘explore the wilderness’. Well, this past Fall Peter and I decided to do something about it. In September we went backpacking in Shenandoah National Park and spent the night underneath a beautiful waterfall. The hike was literally vertical at times (translation: it was very strenuous), but it was also just incredible (Here is where we went: White Oak Canyon Loop). And just last week we returned from a trip to Washington State where we spent two amazing days backpacking in Olympic National Park around the Royal Basin. It was unreal. My only regret is that we didn’t do this sooner! We’re a bit bummed  that Winter is right around the corner but there is always Spring. Glorious, warm, inviting Spring.

Olympic BridgeIf I can put the experience into words, for me, its all about being still. Being still, even when you are doing some of the most demanding physical activity there is, everything around you is still. The trees, they are still. The mountain, it is still. Streams, creeks, and babbling brooks, even though in constant motion, they too are still (if that makes any sense). The sun goes up, the sun goes down.  The land does not change.  Those trees, those rocks, those plants, and that creek are all still out there, doing what exactly what they were designed to do. I just love it.Us in the woods

So where does Darrell Scott fit in, you ask? Well, during both hikes (Shenandoah and Olympic) this song was literally playing over and over in my head. It was the perfect ‘hiking’ song. I’m not quite sure why, maybe it was the tempo? The lyrics? Who knows. All I know is that I dig it and figured I would share. Here is a video of Darrell Scott singing ‘A Crooked Road’. Enjoy. YouTube Preview Image

Olympic Crooked RoadShenandoah Crooked RoadShenandoah Root Plant

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Incredible Carrot Cake Recipe

Not long ago a co-worker of mine brought into the office the best Carrot Cake I’ve ever had. And that is no exaggeration.  Her secret ingredient is that the recipe calls for strained carrots baby food. It sounds gross but it makes total sense. This cake is incredibly moist, which is really what your going for when you bake a Carrot Cake.

For full disclosure, I made this cake twice. The  first time was a total disaster (as you can see by the pic that I didn’t even let it cool before I put on the icing so it melted all over the place, and it was SO DRY!). First Carrot CakeInstead of using one 9″ x 13″ cake pan, I used three 8″ round cake pans and I totally dried it out. This recipe should really only use one  9″ x 13″ or two 8″ round cake pans (NOT THREE!).

Either way, I was determined to make this cake right so I tried it a second time (after recovering from the first disaster), using a 9″ x 13″ pan.  All I can say is that it was worth buying all of the ingredients twice!

Second Carrot CakeIt doesn’t look as pretty as the round cake but it tasted incredible. And I mean INCREDIBLE. (Cooks note: I plan to make it again using two round pans instead of the 9″ x 13″ because the icing is to die for). Many thanks to Lynn for this FABULOUS recipe!!

Carrot Cake Recipe

2 c. sugar (I used Splenda equivalent)

4 eggs

2 c. flour

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. vegetable oil

3 small jars strained carrots (baby food)

1 c. chopped nuts (I left these out)

1 c. white raisins

1 c. drained crushed pineapple (I used a little more than a cup)

Sift the dry ingredients together.

Beat the sugar and eggs together.

Add the sifted mixture to the sugar/egg mixture and mix well.

Add the vanilla and oil and mix until blended.

Stir in the remaining ingredients (carrots, nuts, raisins and pineapple).

Bake in 9×13” pan or 2, 8” round pans at 350˚ for about 35 minutes.

Cool cake completely before removing from pan(s).

Cream Cheese Icing

1 stick margarine

3 oz. cream cheese

½ box confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

Cream the margarine and cream cheese together.

Beat in the confectioner’s sugar.

Add the vanilla and mix.

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ROSES!! And a brief history of Jana..

I have always wanted a rose garden. I’m not sure why I didn’t  start a rose garden  in the front of our house from the beginning, but I didn’t. I guess I was just rose shy?  For years I’ve been struggling with what to put in ‘The Pit’ each year. Last Summer it was Sunflowers, the two summers before that it was a variety of perennials and annuals and of course, that ‘Summer of the Potato Vine’ (all I can say is that it was one crazy Summer).  Suffice to say, although the Sunflowers were my favorite, my urge for a rose garden has only grown stronger. I decided not to fight it any longer, and here she is. Now, for a brief history..

When I was at Antioch College I wanted to major in Botany. I loved plants and did landscaping all through high school so I thought it was a perfect fit. Well, after taking about 3 classes I realized 1) it was REALLY hard and 2) I could give two hoots about the molecular structure of a leaf. In the end I changed my major to ‘Community Organization in Multi-Cultural Societies’. Quite a jump, right? From plants to people.  Lucky for me Antioch College allowed for the ‘self designed’ major, so between my desire to save the world and understand who all lived in it, that’s what I came up with. So where do Roses fit in, you ask?

I’ve always loved the Rose but it didn’t really kick in until I wrote a paper on the medicinal qualities of the rose. Believe it or not, it  was a fascinating paper to write! Im amazed by how society has revered the Rose, the plant, the flower, over time.  Its beauty, its romance, its healing powers.. Anyway, long story short, I feel I have finally fulfilled my destiny (at least the one to have a rose garden).

So, this is her first year. She has a way to go, but I am seeing  a TON of buds already and I am very optimistic. Who’s in my garden you ask??  I am pleased to introduce you..but remember.. Rome wasn’t built in a day.


St. Patrick

Update St Patrick

Queen Elizabeth

Update Queen Elizabeth

Julia Child

Update Julia ChildBlue Girl

My Garden RoseMy Rose Garden.

My Rose Garden

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A Lazy Sunday With John Denver

It’s still really hot outside. So hot that Peter and I decided that we had no choice but to lock ourselves in the house and do nothing. It’s been fantastic. During this day of nothingness, we decided to wipe the dust off of our instruments and give ’em a whirl. It’s been months since we played and we thought we’d honor a fellow pilot by attempting to play one of his greatest songs (Take Me Home Country Road). It’s not the best rendition but it was a ton of fun and our boy, Simba, sure did like it (at least for the first 3 minutes). )–Update: for some reason the video isn’t working so Im going to have to upload it later!)

For those of you that didn’t know,  John Denver was a pilot. He died in 1997 when he crashed his Long EZ into the Pacific Ocean. It was a tragic accident and every bit of it could have been prevented.

200px-NOAA-Long-EZApparently, he purchased the plane just one day before he crashed. It’s so sad. He was a very experienced pilot but made some really bad decisions. He was unfamiliar with the plane and had less than an hour experience flying it (they say he only had a 30 minute check-out). What’s most sad is that the entire accident really could have been prevented if he only did a thorough check-out and had a little more experience with the aircraft. While in flight he realized that there was not enough fuel to get him where he needed to go so he needed to switch tanks. Sounds easy, right? Well, it would have been if he knew more about that particular plane!  The Long EZ is an experimental aircraft (aka: homebuilt) and it had a few configurations that he wasn’t familiar with, specifically that the fuel selector valve was behind his shoulder. This, compounded with having a sticky O-Ring (?) made it difficult to switch tanks so while he was trying to work it all out, he did a nose dive at 500 feet. For those of us with pilots in our lives,  its a horrifying thought. Thank g-d for pre flight check lists, and for all the pilots that use them.

Peter and I are dedicating this one to John Denver. Rest In Peace.

[Insert WORKING video here!] Sorry, folks..

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You Call THAT A Garden??

It’s too hot outside. So hot I’ve decided to sit indoors and reflect on my garden– instead of actually working in it.

I am a bit ashamed by the condition of my garden this year. I didn’t put half as much effort into it as I did last year and just2010 Garden looking at it you can tell. Now I will say this, even though she looks kinda disheveled and weak, I am pleased to say she is still producing the goods. So far I’ve had a TON of cherry tomatoes and a few very successful squash. Sungold TomatoesI didn’t plant much this year. One plot has yellow squash, zucchini and tomatoes and the other has Basil and Oregano. Here’s an interesting fact.. did you know oregano is a perennial?

I had no idea until my oregano Basil gone wildfrom last year came back. I have it in the same plot as my basil which has gone mad. Just crazy.

I still plan to plant more before the Summer is over but for now, that’s all I’ve got. I have a few sunflowers too, but I transplanted them during this ridiculous heat wave and half of them died. I guess it happens.

Squash!I also have a squash story I’d like to share. For some strange reason, when I first purchased my yellow squash and zucchini this year I didn’t think that one plant would be enough so like the ‘more is better’ kind of girl I am, I purchased 6 of each.. Well let me say right now, one plant IS enough. I of course didn’t realize this and proceeded to plant them at once, pretty close to each other. Suffice to say, it took about 2 months until they grew way out of control and started a mutiny in the garden.  In response, I dug up  half the squash and half the zucchini in some effort to save the bunch. It was so sad. Half of them didn’t make it and the other half just look pretty pathetic. One plant seems to be thriving though so I am proud to say I did produce at least one fabulous squash.

Cadilac birdfeeder

One thing that’s been going great is what I call my ‘backyard bird fest’. My cadillac bird feeder attracts so many birds its hard keeping the buggers full with seed! I recently added a hummingbird feeder to the mix too. They are just too cute. Like little bees with beaks.

My PetuniaStill love my petunias, which amazingly are still alive and lovely as ever.

And now I’d like to leave you with a little bit of inspiration. This whole gardening thing isn’t easy but it sure is rewarding. Im continuously blown away by nature. The bugs, the fruits, the flowers, the birds. It’s just effin’ beautiful.  You can get it if you really want.

YouTube Preview Image

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A Child’s Perspective

This past week my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew all came to town for a visit from Florida. It was such a great time. On Friday night we had a small party on the porch and my four year old nephew grabbed our camera and decided to snap a few shots. I just loved what he captured. Here are a few pics taken from a 4 year old…


Uncle Pete:
Uncle PeteThe Porch Table:Porch perspective

The Sky:
sky perspectiveSomeone’s Butt: Butt perspectivePorch view:

Deck PerspectiveUncle Alan: Uncle Alan Perspective

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My Tomato Lover (Update: Tomato Hornworm)

Check out this HUGE caterpillar on my tomato plant. I caught this guy yesterday going to TOWN on my cherry tomatoes. I didn’t have the heart to remove him and I went out today to look at him again and he was gone.  Im really hoping one of my birds got to him because he was full of tomato and my guess is that he could easily feed a family of four.  You can’t really tell from this picture, but he was shockingly large. I mean, this guy really was amazing. Just beautiful:

tomato lover

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