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Truthful Twin Testimonials: The Second Trimester

January 13, 2023

Let’s get into it! How do you get through pregnancy (with two babies) right when your career is starting to kick off, right when your marriage is really hitting its growth and stride, and right as you start to venture into the comfort that is your 30’s? I’m writing this a few year’s out now (thank you, pandemic), so most of this is just distant memory now, but I hope it helps you.

I rolled into my second trimester with very little fanfare. The morning sickness stopped. The tiredness quieted down. The things I couldn’t eat before suddenly didn’t bother me as much, and (perhaps the best moment) I was able to drink coffee again. Even my sex drive came back. Although I had to go to the doctor nearly every other week, which got to be a little overwhelming, my babies were growing, I was feeling good, I was hitting a stride again at work, and everything was feeling as “normal” as it possibly could.

One of the things that is fun about the second trimester is being able to tell your big news to your family and friends and maybe (if you’ve chosen to) find out gender! I had always had a feeling I was having at least one girl. I never connected to having a ‘boy’ and never picked out a name, so it caught me as almost no surprise that two little ladies were cooking in my ever-growing stomach.

I continued to work through my second trimester, balancing my busy lab work and being on my feet all day in steel toed shoes with my near constant need to use the bathroom. While I stopped ‘slipping’ as much as I felt I had in my first trimester, I felt as if I needed to compensate in the second and really pushed myself. The benefit of staying so busy was gaining very little weight. Nearly all of ‘me’ was baby, and it all came straight out in front of me. My husband still jokes you could barely tell I was pregnant from behind.

I got asked constantly what my plans were when I had the babies. “Will you leave your work behind?” “Become a stay at home mom?” “What about your PhD?” As someone who highly values her career, it was beyond infuriating. I had worked really hard to get where I was in my career, and I wasn’t about to give that up for a baby, let alone two. I took on extra projects to prove my devotion, dove head first into extra assignments, and stretched my limitations during a day. Don’t be me. I repeat…don’t be me.

At home second trimester is like a golden window, and maybe one of the last you get for quite some time. It’s when you’re picking names, paint colors, setting up a registry: all the fun ‘to-do’ list items that fit so well into my hyper Type A personality. I really enjoyed being able to cocoon myself in little projects.

It absolutely flew by…and then it was on to trimester 3…


Making Milestones: Feeding Your Baby

July 6, 2020

The pressure to feed your child for the first time, “correctly”, is completely overwhelming. What foods do you use? Should you baby-led wean? What mixtures can you use? When do you introduce allergens? What brand is the best? Should we use organic? How many times per day and how much does your baby need to be “healthy”? Four thousand questions, and of course, no clear answers. 

As a working mom, I knew that baby-led weaning was going to be completely out of the question for my family. My husband, frank to say, is not the best eater. He is relatively picky, and I have a select set of meals I can make at home that he will eat readily. Those meals are definitely not baby-led weaning friendly, nutritionally or functionally. I send both my girls to daycare every day, and I need foods that are easily sealed, quick to recognize, and minimally choke-hazardous. I was looking for alternatives to the traditional grocery store brands that could support my busy family, nourish my children, and leave me worry-free when someone else is feeding them. As a chemist in the agriculture industry, I also am always looking for nutritionally dense, whole-food options with minimal additives, that support the industry I make my living defending. Finally, there’s cost. Hello? I’m a twin mama. Everything in my life is double, so the ratio between cost and ease is a vital part of my decision making.

Enter Yumi.

Yumi is a subscription service for baby foods that focuses on fresh, nutritionist supported foods tailored to your baby’s needs at various life milestones. Their menus include fruits, greens, grains, spices, fats, and legumes. Each item has at least 5 micronutrients and a balance between sugar and fiber. The menu changes weekly to make sure you are receiving all organic, non-synthetic food, ranging from smooth single ingredient purees (for the tiniest, newly eating babies, like mine!) up to finger food and multi-ingredient chunky foods. The pricing breaks down based upon how many jars you’d like in a day, and savings are applied as you order more or change to a monthly charge plan. I signed up for their email newsletter and there are offers for savings nearly every day, so you should never need to shop without a coupon code!

While Yumi sent me my first box in exchange for my review, please note that the opinions I’m sharing are entirely my own. 

I received my shipment on a Wednesday (their typical delivery day). The bottles come shipped on ice packs, with documentation detailing all of the flavors available through Yumi so you can keep track of your baby’s favorites and the nutritional information for all the recipes. Each bottle is well-labeled with the name of the recipe, an ingredient list with highlighted allergens (which for a parent of a baby with a milk allergy is huge!), and a place on the cap to mark the date it was opened. This is imperative for maintaining freshness and great for busy moms, like me, who don’t have time to constantly keep track of expiration dates. I marked up all my bottles right away, sorted the ones I thought they’d like, and stored the others for another day. One other great thing about Yumi: it can be frozen! Since my babies are still slowly going through learning new foods, this is a great way to not create waste, and provide them nutrition beyond just the week you get your box! Plus, in the middle of a global pandemic, I am constantly thinking of how to stock up for my family.

Now the flavors. From the single ingredient puree list, I received zucchini, white beans, beets, and chard. My daughters LOVED the beets and white beans. You could tell from the texture they were made from real ingredients; the beets were almost stringy and had a bit of chew to them, and the white beans had the grittiness that is typically associated with mashed beans. There are no strange colors here: this is exactly what I would expect if I had made the food myself. The zucchini looks just like blended up zoodles! I tasted all of them (I can’t possibly give my girls something and NOT try it myself) and thoroughly enjoyed them; although the zucchini was a bit bland. The jars truly tasted like the actual fruit or vegetable on the package. I could tell from the baby taste testing that my daughters’ prefer the heavily sweetened, extra sugar grocery-store bottles (a habit we definitely need to break), but it made me feel so much better to have them eating whole ingredients, and by the end of the week they were adapting and enjoying them! It may take some time to get them off the old stuff, but they didn’t spit them out or have any side effects.

From the smooth multi-ingredient puree list, I received coconut cream pie, strawberry basil pie, apple pie, and triple berry pie. My girls really enjoyed the apple pie the most, although all were quite good. It contains apple, coconut milk, Japanese sweet potato, white beans, dates, cinnamon, and nutmeg. For reference, my daughters’ have already had exposure to white beans, cinnamon, nutmeg, sweet potato, and apple, so this was the easiest transition,as you shouldn’t introduce too many new ingredients at once. Since Baby K has a milk allergy, the coconut milk was a game changer for us. She loved the flavor (Baby C, not so much) and I knew it was safe for her. So many times, the presence of milk is hidden somewhere non-descript on the bottle, forcing me to spend extra time scanning (and scanning and rescanning) amongst the other additives. Who actually has the time for that?! On the Yumi bottles, the coconut milk is clearly labeled, and the coconut is then marked with an asterisk. It is incredibly detailed.

While we haven’t used all of our jars yet (Chard and Strawberry Basil Pie are saved for another day), I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience with Yumi. This may not be the subscription for you if you are budget conscious (it is significantly more expensive than the clearance-level baby food jars you may find at your local grocery store) or if you have incredibly picky eaters. The mixed packages do have a lot of ingredients in one jar, so systematically introducing the individual ingredients before a mixture for allergens might not be incredibly convenient. But for me, Yumi is the perfect blend of wholesome nutrition and product-on-demand subscription that melds perfectly into my lifestyle. I’m willing to pay the price for the convenience of not going to the grocery store or making my own food from scratch. Looking over the list, I’m definitely looking forward to the next set of flavors and hope to see some more fruits in my next subscription. I’ll absolutely be buying another box and am looking forward to having my girls try the chunky and finger food options!


Truthful Twin Testimonials: The First Trimester

July 6, 2020

This is the first entry in what I want to be a series on “truths”. I want to be honest about what it is like to be pregnant with twins, right when your career is starting to kick off, right when your marriage is really hitting its growth and stride, and right as you are starting to venture into the comfort that is your 30’s. I think its important that this space becomes a place for mom’s to come and see what its REALLY like. I have no intention to hold back, and I hope you’re ready for the ride!

In my introduction, I mentioned how I first felt real, true morning sickness boarding a plane to Chicago to go see my beloved Philadelphia Flyers, a trip I had spent months planning for and the first real “vacation” my husband and I were taking together since our honeymoon. Around the same time, I was at a very important work conference in Philadelphia. I was an invited speaker for the first time since leaving graduate school for my professional career and, while I got the terrible 8:45 am timeslot, I was SO excited to get up to the podium and share my work. I won’t toot my own horn too much, but I genuinely love public speaking. I enjoy sharing knowledge with people and it brings me back to my roots of teaching chemistry to unsuspecting undergraduate students. I take a lot of pride in my presentations and how I convey information.

So I stepped up that Tuesday morning, started my talk, felt the room start to actively engage…and my stomach dropped out from under me.

I must have looked a wreck as the reality washed over me in waves, as the babies were growing inside of me and turning my body against me. I managed to pull through the entire presentation, answer the questions I had to the best of my ability, and run to the restroom.

I didn’t get sick.

In fact, I rarely got sick throughout my first trimester. I had that lovely mix of symptoms where I felt like I was on a spinning tea cup (I do NOT do circular motions) just about 24/7, but no actual relief in sight from the act of physically getting sick. Sometimes, I think it was almost worse that way. It would come at all hours of the day…don’t let anyone tell you morning sickness is restricted to the morning. Some additional fun, although obnoxious, side effects:

  • I could not handle the smell of my beloved coffee, which I had gotten special permission to continue having. I made my husband buy me tons ofSstarbucks pink drinks to try to help the caffeine and started a heavy love affair with Chai Tea Lattes.
  • I had NO other aversions to food, but the feeling would come on like a vengeance if I DIDN’T eat. So I snacked 24/7 and still tried to watch my weight, which was nearly impossible
  • I have a bad hip naturally (I’ve dislocated it three times in my life), and within a few weeks of finding out I was pregnant it was as if the twins were playing baseball against my hip bone. NOTHING was comfortable: not driving, not laying down, not walking. It was painful 24/7
  • I was unnecessarily, unfathomably tired. ALL the time. My whole body felt like it was running on empty. I slept at least one two-hour block every day of our Chicago vacation. I thank God everyday we scheduled it over March Madness and it was freezing, so my husband at least didn’t feel TOO much like he was missing out
  • I lived on Preggie Pops and Seabands. These were the ONLY things that helped keep the morning sickness waves at bay. I would recommend them to anyone.
  • My sex drive dropped out from the sickness and I felt like a subpar wife (and woman in general). I’ll get into this more soon, but I promise it’s natural!

I had to straddle that fine line in your first trimester, particularly with a high-risk pregnancy, where you aren’t able to tell people just yet what is going on and yet you are running to the bathroom constantly, not eating like normally, and just generally not yourself. This was abundantly true at work, where I could feel my performance slipping. I don’t think it was obvious to many people beside myself, but I couldn’t handle being in the lab as much as I was used to, had trouble not getting up in the middle of meetings, and kept having to duck out for all my maternal fetal medicine appointments. I never EVER took time off of work (more on that later), so it was pretty obvious something was off. I made the decision to tell my boss early. That decision is NOT for everyone, so don’t feel the pressure. But I needed my career “slips” to be acknowledged for what they were and I needed some support. Which, in my case, I got in waves. I’ll never be more grateful for the way I was treated in those first couple of months, thank goodness.

I continued to luck out. As my first trimester morphed into my second, most of my symptoms vanished. The morning sickness took an extra week or two, which is pretty common in twins, but by the time my belly really started popping I was feeling more and more on the verge of “normal”! Hopefully you are too!


Busy with Twins: My Pregnancy Story

September 27, 2019

My pregnancy story is a bit different than most. While there is a bunch I want to go into, I’m going to save some of it for later. I’m so excited to share some of the best details: trimester woes, surviving a twin pregnancy, what to buy (and what to skip), and how it changes your marriage. But for now, I just want to tell you about our pregnancy plan, what we did, when I found out I was pregnant, and that first life-altering appointment.

My husband and I got married in October 2018. We took our honeymoon the very next week to Turks and Caicos, a GORGEOUS island that you should visit if you ever have the chance. For a week we did nothing but drink, go to the pool, go to the beach, snorkel (I am an awful snorkeler, but that is neither here nor there), eat, and get our groove on, if you catch my drift. It was absolute newlywed bliss. During that time, we started discussing children more frequently than we had in the past. I was 30, my husband was 31, and we knew we wanted to start a family sooner rather than later.

I consulted with my GYN when we got back home to plan this new transition. I had been on birth control for nearly 16 years and was astoundingly nervous about the transition. Ladies, I know people complain about their periods. It’s inevitable. But mine…I can’t stress this enough…were awful. I went on birth control at 14 because when Aunt Flow came to down she’d last for 11 days, bringing with her crippling migraines, nausea, and non-stop life-altering cramping. She’d then pack her bags, only to return like clockwork 11 days later. It was excruciating, and birth control pills had been my only solace. They weren’t perfect: I still had severe breakthrough bleeding whenever I got angry or stressed (imagine that, writing for my PhD and trying to NOT be stressed), and my skin would break out feverishly the second I took the placebo pills. But I was happy on them, and the thought of coming off them even for a baby terrified me. But my GYN assured me I would be fine, that I would most likely ovulate quickly since my body didn’t seem all-too-happy to be on the pill in the first place, and I could go back on them as soon as breastfeeding subsided.

My GYN put me on a prenatal and told me I could start trying as soon as I was ready. Was I ready? That’s a question for an entirely different blog post. I won’t sugar coat it: the answer was no. But my husband and I made the decision to stop taking them in December and actively take no precautions against becoming pregnant. If we did: great! If we didn’t: that was okay too.

I know some women can’t tell when they start ovulating for the first-time off birth control (which can take awhile as your body is regulating its hormone level and trying to get itself back into “reproduction” mode) but for me it was not only astoundingly obvious, it also happened in my very first month, just like my GYN suggested. I will spare you all the details, because it does vary so much woman to woman, but I promise you, you will KNOW. Your lady bits will let you know they are ready for a baby. Your breasts will let you know they are ready for a baby. You will feel like a completely different human being in a completely different shell. I wouldn’t call it bad, just noticeably different. We took care to get our groove on a bit more that week. We already (humble brag here) had an active sex life, so it honestly wasn’t that big of a departure from our norm.

So fast forward to February. It’s important to note: I have never been late with my period in my life. Not. A. Day. Not when I was on birth control, not when Aunt Flow was vengeful. It was always, always, on time. Maybe a day or even a week early due to that breakthrough bleeding, but if the placebo pills started on Sunday, Aunt Flow came to town before midnight Sunday evening. February 2019 she was due on a Monday and, like clockwork, I experienced a tiny bit of early spotting on Friday. It tapered off quickly and didn’t come back by Monday at 3 pm when I was standing next to the isle for “family planning” in my local Acme, staring off into space.

Don’t ask me, even in hindsight, why I decided to buy a pregnancy test that Monday evening while picking up flounder filets for dinner. Aunt Flow wasn’t late just yet. But I had this overwhelming, inexplicable, NEED to buy a test. The cheapest one my grocery store offered. What can I say; I’m a penny pincher at heart. Suffice it to say you know how this story ends. 3 minutes after testing, the words “pregnant” flashed across the screen, and my life forever changed.

The next morning, a little anxiety-ridden and convinced I bought an expired pregnancy test or didn’t do it right (I know I know, you aim and pee. Not that hard!), I took another test. This time, with the magic that is first-morning urine, the words flashed across the screen in about 20 seconds. I was officially pregnant. I called my doctor, who had pre-warned me they wouldn’t see me until I was approximately 8 weeks pregnant and scheduled an appointment for 4 weeks later. Then the waiting begins. The excruciating, mind numbing, “is this actually real” waiting where you don’t touch a single glass of wine despite NEEDING one, question every single weird feeling you get or pain in your side, and snap your husband’s head off every time he brings up the sac of cells in your body that you are so desperately tying to not get attached to, just in case they aren’t viable. You talk in abstract to your partner and stare at yourself in the mirror. You run your hands across your belly in the hope of seeing a lump that you know in your heart isn’t there, and meticulously check your underpants to see if your period started. You grapple with emotions and read FAR too many miscarriage/chemical pregnancy stories. To date, I think those 4 weeks were almost the worst of my entire pregnancy. Almost.

My first trimester rolled forward through March, and while I’ll save the specifics (I’ll give you a hint, it was ROUGH) I didn’t experience my first symptoms of morning sickness until the day I went to board a plane for Chicago, exactly one week before my first appointment. It was the first inkling I was actually carrying a baby. Our vacation was good, but not remotely what I had planned: we did a lot less sight seeing and I slept at least twice a day.

A week later, I laid down on a bed in an ultra sound tech’s office (by myself, my husband couldn’t get off of work that day). She gloved up and slipped in an internal probe (first thing about pregnancy I absolutely didn’t know before going in) to show me the little blob on screen. I didn’t want to have that Rachel Green moment on Friends where she can’t see the baby, so I squinted real hard to make out the white blobs from the black specs and the two tiny flickers on either side of the picture.

Tech: “Oh look there’s the sac. And the heartbeat. 170. Sounds great. Viable pregnancy”

Tears started to form in my eyes. As I mentioned, I hadn’t QUITE started to attach to being pregnant, so this was the first time it felt truly REAL.

Tech: “Ok…and…here’s baby number 2. And the heartbeat…”

Me: “…You’ve got to be f****** kidding me.”

Yup. I dropped the F bomb in the middle of my appointment to an older, could have been my mother woman, who had done nothing but try to show me the cute BABIES growing in my belly. She laughed it off with great finesse, but you could tell she was perplexed. Queue the questions I would hear for the next seven months…

“Was this natural?” Yup. I just followed the doctor’s orders. Didn’t even try that hard.

“Did you know you have twins in your family?” Well I do now…but no, it didn’t dawn on me to think of that

“Are these your first babies?” First and second. Yup. Two

“How will you ever manage?” Tell you when I figure that out.

My husband and I hit some sort of genetic miracle. Our very first try.

We were fast tracked on a road to twin babies. I guess that’s where our story starts…