medium rare

"A nose," she said when describing my cervix.  "It feels like a nose right now.  Eventually it will soften and feel like a cheek."  This made me think of "The Institute," a cooking class I had with Shirley King, a fish specialist, who taught me, through touch, to know how cooked food is.  Touching the area between your thumb and index finger is what raw meat feels like.  According to this finger pressure method of "doneness," I realized my cervix is medium to medium rare.  "You want it to be hard, tight, and long," she said as she snapped off her gloves.  You’d think she was speaking to a man.

This was my first of many appointments with my preventative pre-term labor specialist.  Because I’m carrying twins–they’re likely to come early–I will be visiting with her every single week until the guppies arrive.  Every single week she will finger me.  I’m sorry, but that’s what it is. And she’ll weigh me.  This kind of scares me.  I’m not afraid to see the number climbing.  I’m afraid now that I’m not gaining enough. 

"You need to stop drinking nonfat skim milk," she said, "and get more calories with 2%."  This is all new to me.  I wanted to go to Weight Watcher’s not all that long ago.  I weighed 142 lbs. then.  I now weigh 155 lbs.  "You haven’t gained enough," she said. 

Here’s the thing.  I read these articles, how you shouldn’t gain too much, how it will take you so long to get the extra weight off.  Exercise, the articles say.  Eat healthfully.  Now I’m getting, "2% milk and lots of rest.  Every time you have a carb, you must have a protein with it."  No, I don’t want to go running and I’ve been given the thumbs up on swimming, yoga, and walking, but mostly, REST has been emphasized.  Actual lying down rest, not just "take it easy."  "From 11-1 and again from 4-6, you need to be lying down every day."  All I hear about is women exercising while pregnant.  I thought I’d be eating salads.  Now there’s yelping about protein and nearly 3000 calories a day!  Given the fact that I get very full after eating very little, I am under the impression that I’m stuffing myself.  I’m wrong, clearly.  I try to convince her.
"Well, I eat a lot of vegetables and love fruit."
"That’s fine for vitamins, but you need calories.  You have bread?  Put peanut butter on it.  Have an apple?  Eat it with cheese."  When I left our appointment, I had a milkshake.  I certainly don’t want to diet, but I am scared about gaining too much. 
"Yeah, but, I started out wanting to go to Weight Watcher’s at 142 lbs.  So I was overweight, for me, so shouldn’t I just gain less during this pregnancy?"
"No.  You weren’t overweight.  You had a good BMI."  This conflicts with everything I’ve learned and thought of myself, well, forever.  "You’re still expected to gain at least 50 lbs. and you’ve only gained 13 lbs., and you’re at 23 weeks, which is nearly six months pregnant."  FUCK. That’s why I ran out and had the milkshake.  I’m now going to write down everything I eat each day, so I’m more aware… and so I can hand it to her next week.  I’ve done this mindful eating with a journal thing any time I’ve ever wanted to lose weight.  We’ll see how it goes.

In the parking lot, I phoned my mother.  "You know I’m going to weigh 190 lbs."  My mother responded, "Oh my God."  Then after a pause, she said, "Well it’s no time to diet.  Eat."  No shit, eat.  I’m not dieting!  I just ate croissant bread pudding from La Boulange in SF.  Holy shit, like bread pudding isn’t bad enough, and I’m sorry, but it’s not like just the belly is growing.  I have two chins.  I know I shouldn’t complain, that there are people hiring women to carry their baby because their uterus isn’t fertile ground.  I should be thankful for my double chins; I should, right?  But I’m sorry, there are women who maintain thin arms and look pregnant nowhere but in their cute belly.  I wanted to be one of these women.  It’s not going to happen.  I already look like a man when my hair is pulled back.  That’s how I feel.  Masculine and fat. Yes, my body feels feline and bovine, but when I look in the mirror, all I see is my father. 

I just can’t believe there’s someone in the medical field telling me to gain more, to eat more, even if they’re empty calories.  I hope I can gain healthfully with Boca Burgers and yogurt and beans with whole grains.  Not in one sitting, though, dear God.  I also never ever imagined I, of all people, would be the chick complaining that I needed to eat more.   I’m just leary.  It seems fishy.  I feel like someone is playing a sick joke on me.  Like, here, eat all you want, and when I become used to that, they’ll tug it all away and say, "just kidding."  Now is not the time to pull the psych! card. Update in a week on how it goes.  Here are tour photos >> (Which was so so much fun!  I adore SF–and have known for a very long time never to call it "San Fran.")



  1. I weighed in at 215 lbs. the day I delivered my daughter. I only know this because my spouse said, "HOLY SHIT, YOU WEIGH 215 POUNDS!!!" By the time she turned one, I was (for my height) a skinny 140, wearing a smaller size than I had ever worn my entire life. You don't know (because you can't until they come) how much you will move your body with these babies. I walked constantly to get her to sleep (in a Bjorn). And later, I could never sit because she would climb up the fire escape if I gave her enough time. You will have no problem losing the weight.

    I was one of those women who worked out two hours a day during pregnancy. The day my daughter was born, I hiked for 2 1/2 hours in Runyon Canyon in Los Angeles. I didn't even know I was going into labor because I was so active. And still, I weighed 215 lbs.

    Try not to worry about numbers. Focus on how you feel. If you feel good, then the babies are feeling good.

    After my daughter was born, I became incredibly forgiving (and proud) of my body and its flaws. For God's Sake! This body gave life! I no longer judge it by the skinny 20 somethings standards. It is so much more significant than that. It gave life.

  2. trust your instincts… eat what you want to eat when you want to eat… not to gain not to loose… you do know what is best for you and your babies… more than your docotr knows to be sure

  3. 3,000 calories? How does a woman consume that much? Especially since I've just read: "Do not fall into the 'eating for two' mentality when you're pregnant."

    I remember reading in Shape (or maybe it was Self) Magazine a few months ago that the average woman should gain 35 pounds. More if she is underweight pre-pregnancy….less if she is overweight pre-preg. And I've always thought less than 35 sounded a bit risky…

    Do make sure you get plenty of rest…I don't know how you've done it so far…with everything you have on your plate…and your book tour to boot. You put me to shame.

  4. I'm going to be a pain in the ass and say please DO listen to the doctor, and please do try to gain the weight. A twins pregnancy is very difficult and risky and the babies need every single iota of nourishment — it will help them so much in the long run. Has the doctor recommended the Dr. Luke multiples pregnancy book? It's the best twin pregnancy book out there — not at all alarmist and gives you great ways to feel like you are doing something tangible to help the babies arrive safe and healthy.

    I know. It's a HUGE transition to make to go from trying to eat to lose/maintain weight to go to eating with a goal of gaining 1-2 lbs. a week. But it is WORTH IT. It is hard as hell and there are going to be days (weeks) when you don't get close to your 3,000 cal. goal, but it really is best for the babies. the weight falls off after they arrive anyway, I promise.

    I gained 65+ lbs. carrying my twins, and they arrived at nearly 38 weeks and the "smaller" one was 6 lbs. 3 oz. (his brother was 7 lbs. 9 oz.). I lost all my pregnancy weight within 7 months, and that was with minimal breastfeeding, so just imagine how much faster the weight loss can go with BFing.

  5. you have the rest of your life to lose weight.

    It sounds corny, but the "what to eat when you're expecting" book is worth a read.

    journaling is key to losing or gaining.

  6. 3,000 calories? that does sound like a lot, but I'm no pre-term labor specialist. I'm sure you do need more calories than someone pg with one baby, but having a love of cooking, you know there are ways to get the extra nutrition without stuffing yourself.

    With both my pregnancies, I joke that my FACE and NECK got pregnant, not my stomach! I did gain weight, but unfortunately, it showed the most in my face. And it happened both times I got PG, so I came to realize that it was just how my body reacted to the weight. It sucked to see other women whose arms and face looked normal and unbloated, but the weight did eventually come off, and yours will too.

    In the end, you've got to do what your doctor recommends. I'm sure that the goal is to make sure that the babies weigh as much as possible when they're born, since they'll come early. And I understand that her advice probably really threw you for a loop, but you'll be fine – eat, and rest, and definitely get some easy exercise, and know that it will all be ok.

    And for what it's worth, I looked at your pictures and I don't see ANY second chin anywhere – you look great!

  7. Newsflash Stephanie: You ARE one of those women who look pregnant nowhere but in their cute belly. We saw you in SF and you looked GREAT!

  8. "But I'm sorry, there are women who maintain thin arms and look pregnant nowhere but in their cute belly. I wanted to be one of these women."

    Welcome to motherhood, where it's time to become selfless. There are millions of women out there who would LOVE to be in your situation, waiting for two beautiful babies to be born.

    Eat, and worry about the rest later. And lay on your ass because it'll be the last time you'll be able to for a long, long while.

    And stay healthy for your babies. Eating is what sustains them, those guppies who are your children.

  9. Stephanie, I am up late and just saw your pictures from the book tour.. What is this talk about double chins? I happen to think you look fabulous!! In fact, I think you've never looked better! I especially want to know what makeup you're wearing in picture # Dscn0417. Please share!!

  10. Thanks for sharing the pictures with those of us not fortunate enough to attend the book signing.
    AND, you do not have a double chin.
    You look beautiful!

  11. Eat! The babies are more important than your figure. I gained 65 pounds with each of my boys and was back to my normal weight in 6 months with both. The time to watch your weight and to exercise is after the babies are born. I am really surprised that you are so concerned about your weight when you are the lifesource for two growing babies.Please stop worrying about your looks Stephanie. You are glowing and beautiful. There is nothing manly about you at all.

  12. Buffy: "How does a woman consume that much?"

    Are you kidding? Maybe 3,000 seems like a lot by size zero/LA/NY standards but in the real world where people fall into a healthy BMI and get plenty of exercise in the day, that is nothing. Polar skiiers need 10,000 a day. Living the caveman life will set you back 5,000 a day. The Navy feeds you about 6,000. Those kids need to grow, especially twins, where sharing the womb will make them smaller than singles to begin with. "Empty calories" my ass. Don't put children on a diet before they're even born. Just eat some damn pasta already.

  13. i had the opposite problem – morning sickness that lasted the entire pregnancy
    i LOST weight during pregnancy and the whole time my ob said 'don't worry about it – the baby just takes from your reserves'
    and my baby was fine (in fact i had doctor friends who said 'don't worry at all about not eating – the baby will be fine')
    as for weight control i wouldn't worry about the pregnancy as much as i would the post-natal breastfeeding eating orgy
    you need to eat like an ANIMAL during breast feeding – and i can only imagine how that is twins and i actually didn't eat enough, then saw my milk dried up

  14. At the end of my pregnancy (and I gained fifty pounds with just one baby!) I weighed 200 pounds. My midwives suggested that we stop the weigh in because they knew I was healthy and felt that we didn't need to focus on how many pounds I was. This was a huge relief. And then, as soon as my son was born, I dropped 30 pounds. The other twenty came off over the year, and by the time he was 1 1/2, I was thinner than I have ever been in my life. No dieting. No exercise except for lugging my big baby around and nursing. Eat! Enjoy the fact that no calorie is empty because it's all going to the babies! And don't worry – you look beautiful!

  15. The chicks with skinny arms have skinny babies. Babies are supposed to be plump and full of squishy goodness. My doctor always told me to eat several small meals throughout the day (basically, you graze like a cow). He also recommended a weight gain of between 30-40 pounds….for a singleton pregnancy. Part of your weight gain will be extra fluid, blood, placenta, and 14 pounds of baby. Not all of it comes from peanut butter and pudding.

  16. Stephanie, if it's any solace to you I am in exactly the same boat and I think that she is being unrealistic in her demands. I am 23wks with twins also, boys (oy vey, look out!!!) and I have also only gained around 12LBS. I was worried that it is not enough and my OBGYN said it is FINE, as long as I am eating well and healthy I will pick it up in due time. She wants you to pick up 50lbs? Far be it for me to critique a medical professional, but my doc said that 35-45 is fine and from the research Ive done I've read much the same. You alone know your body and you know if you're eating enough, don't get yourself into a panic. Like my partner says: "Women in Africa do this all the time…" Do I want to kill him when he says this? Yes. But is he just a little bit right…??

  17. I just looked at your pictures and you look beautiful and not the slightest bit chubby. Big arms and double chin…whatever! I think you are just adjusting to being pregnant. I gained 38 pounds with just one baby and all but 10 came off within 6 weeks.

  18. Stephanie: You look amazing, and I don't know where you see a double chin, cause I sure don't. Anyway, please please rest. I've had two babies, one was born at 34 weeks and the other at 38. The 34 week baby spent 3 weeks in the NICU and has lung issues to this day, he is 3. If I had known better (like I did with my 38 week baby – with help from a preterm labor nurse) I would of rested more, no lifting and would of napped a lot. Don't worry about the weight gain. Its amazing how much you'll lose with the delivery itself, the rest will fall off.

  19. Sounds completely against everything I've ever learnt. Eat healthily, go with your instincts, is what I know. Never heard of *having* to put on so much weight.

  20. When you start breastfeeding, you are going to be AMAZED how quickly that weight comes off. And breastfeeding twins? Damn, woman, I envy you. Get yourself a pan au chocolat and go to town. I'm telling you, I could have metabolized a Volkswagon Beetle when I was breastfeeding.

    On a different note, WHERE did you get that fantastic necklack (it looks like a peacock feather?) that you're wearing in one of those photos?

  21. you look good. you and the little ones will be ok. don't eat peanut butter, though. i ate a ton of it during my preg and now my daughter has a severe nut allergy.

    you're doing great!

  22. Ok you look amazing so I hate this like prodding for compliments?
    I don't know… I mean, my dream is to have twins and I just found out some horrible (not-really)- friend is having them. they had BETTER be fraternal or else I'll kill myself. But I did tons of reading online and see that identical are completely random, no genetic basis for them, but fraternal runs strictly on your mother's side.

    Do you know if yours are going to be frat or identical?

    And I agree with the past poster who said, welcome to motherhood. That's why I sometimes don't understand the rush so many women have (women who are not in their very late 30's) to have children. Just remember, you have lost your life– as you have known it– for at least 18 years. I'm not saying it in a bad way; it's just there is such a baby boom right now, I hope people are just not looking for something they can't figure out. Not you- you are going to be a fantastic mom.
    Enjoy it and eat eat eat. I would intentionally gorge myself if I was you- just to be safe. Poor twins, they need calories!

  23. Honestly you don't even look pregnant in your new photos! I was a little shocked hearing that you only gained 12 lbs ( makes me think of all the crap I read about Victoria Beckham gaining like 10 lbs total during pregnancy)…. but maybe now that you are back home relaxing the weight will stick- I am sure you babies are just fine.

  24. Okay. You are so not allowed to complain about your chins, missy. You look fantastic. I'm not shocked you haven't gained enough! What helped me was getting off the scale all together- I eventually told my doctor to only tell me what I weighed if I was too big or too small, because I would hear a number and instantly freak out. And Krispy Kremes. They help, too.

  25. I realize all of this goes against your lifetime thoughts on food and weight gain but you are carrying TWINS!!! Two babies! They probably fight each other for nourishment.

  26. Did she tell you if you dont eat enough you're going to end up on 24/7 bedrest? Did they tell you that you would end up on bedrest more than likely towards the end of the pregnancy?

    My mom is a twin but I know nothing about twin pregnancy.

    Bedrest SUCKS.

    I cried all the time and ate ice cream all day.
    I dont even like ice cream.

    Gain the weight. ENJOY food. ENJOY tv and relaxing.

    People told me this and I didnt believe it.

    You'll see. Rest now and enjoy your eats! :)

  27. Sorry for the double.

    Stephanie, find River by Sarah McLachlen.
    It's a cover of Joni Mitchell's song.
    It's beauuuuutiful.

    Gives me the chills.

  28. I don't know about how much you should weigh but you look absolutely gorgeous in the SF pics. I was one of those women who had the tiny belly and actually LOST weight the first 2 months. Drs. told me to watch it (to try not to gain too much weight) because of my age and happily my baby was text book average at birth. I also couldn't eat big meals, but did eat constantly. Unfortunately for me, the weight gain came after the birth. Everyone kept telling me that I should eat more because I was breastfeeding and this time I had no but in the oven to make me feel full. Enjoy this time. When you see their healthy baby faces you will feel proud to know that good eating contributed.

  29. I must say, you don't even look pregnant!
    Please please tell us about that excellent necklace- the peackock-ish one… (the other one is gorgeous as well.) That color you have on with the peacock necklace looks fantastic with your skin tone and hair color.

    Do not fret about the weight but take your doctor's advice. Eat eat eat. Just do it. I don't think while having twins is the time to worry about calories for a later time. Especially if you plan to breastfeed, just don't worry and weight watchers or whomever– will help you lose some lbs. later! Remember running around with two babies will be plenty of exercise.

  30. You look great.

    Don't listen to the people on this site who are saying, "3000 Calories? That goes against everything I've heard. Go with your instinct." Umm, unless they're a board certified OB-GYNs, specializing in higher-risk pregnancies, I think I'd go with your specialist's advise. God, everyone has an opinion, even when they have no idea what they're talking about.

  31. I think you are a different case with 2 babies. Chances are they will be tinier when born – they are cramped for room. You need to eat to fatten THEM up. A friend just had a 4 pound baby. Not fun. With 2 little ones I bet all the weight will fall off quickly.

    Saw you in SF. It was a great night.

  32. Nothing like going in weekly and having someone tell you that your cervix is "high and hard".

    I'm another woman pregnant with twins (30 weeks) in Austin and I think we may be in the same preterm prevention program. Sounded just like Laura with the nose analogy. I found that paying attention (but not obsessing) to what and how often I eat was enough because there was no way I was going to be able to keep track of everything constantly. I've added Ensure shakes and Kashi trail mix bars as snacks to get extra protein because that's really the hardest one for me, protein. You can also add whey protein powder to milk and various liquids.

    I liked Luke's book which does a good job of helping you understand what is happening and such but even Laura thought it was overboard in the nutrition section and I tend to agree. Unless you want to carry around a notebook and keep track of everything you take in the way you would when trying to loose weight. I didn't gain a single pound during the first trimester and was told not to worry but have been adding 1-2 lbs a week since (which they say is healthy). The weight gain has started to slow down now that they are so tight in here but we are expecting 6-7 lbs each at birth. At the rate I'm going I look to be one of the lucky ones who only puts on the suggested 40 lbs for a twin pregnancy, all of my friends have had single babies and put on 50 lbs!

  33. I had twins and I only gained 19.5 lbs! They were slightly concerned at the end of my pregnancy when I would gain 1lb, lose 2lbs gain .5lbs etc.

    Don't worry so much about it or the babies coming early, that scared me crazy. I gave birth to a 7lb 1 oz boy and a 8lb 2 oz girl at 39 weeks healthy and happy despite my measily 19.5 lbs!

  34. "I hope I can gain healthfully with Boca Burgers and yogurt and beans with whole grains."

    I think you hit the nail on the head. Satisfying a craving for birthday cake every day does nothing for you or the babies but satisfying your craving. Just up your healthy calories. Take the non-fat items you usually get and sub in the light. If you eat a light version, allow yourself the full calorie version! You deserve it!! :)

    Just make small changes so post-pregnancy it won't be so hard to change your habits back.

    Bottom line – I am sure it has to be hard to worry about the weight and losing it after – but for now – babies come first. The first of many sacrifices of a mother! :) And if you do it healthfully – the babies gain the weight – your body only puts on enough weight to protect itself and support the added weight of the babies.

    PLUS! Breast feed.It burns those calories. Burn Burn Burn!

  35. Twins tend to be early and they tend to be small. Eat, girl. They need it. That doctor of yours has a bizillion years of experience behind her. There is a lot of advice here, but none of it compares to that of the very highly paid specialist that is taking care of you. Err on the side of safety.

  36. Did you say you have a double chin?? Cause I didn't see it in any of your pics & the other posts are right, you don't even look pregnant, the only thing thst I can say has changed are your boobs (not that I'm checking them out or anything) but this is one of the biggest changes are body will go through in such a short amount of time. Don't STRESS over not gaining enough. You just might be one of the blessed women who has a child (or children for that matter)who actually "take away" your weight. I didn't gain a pound with 2 of my children till I was 6 months. But they were both born at a healthy weight. Just make sure to not stress because we all know how stress alone can contribute to weight loss which we can't have, cause we want those guppies healthy.Eat & snack WHENEVER you want……& your in TEXAS now, so find a good Mexican restaurant & just start getting busy. Luv U!!!!!

  37. Just wait. It's the last trimester when you pack it all on – so don't worry about not gaining enough. The pounds are going to come.

  38. Most every woman I've ever known who failed to gain enough in the first six months VERY quickly picked it up. I don't think all of us follow the weight charts exactly–it can come in fits and starts. It happened to me in my 2nd pregnancy–lost two pounds the first six months, then suddenly on came 20 pounds in six weeks. My doctor went from "eat more" to "slow down!" I hadn't changed anything, just my body did. I ended up gaining 25–going from 141 to 166. It's happened to enough women I know and on my bulletin board to know it's a regular occurrence. Just eat what you feel is right. Your body tells you what you need and it will grow in due time!

  39. Dude, you are growing two freaking human beings. Now is not the time to worry about weight. I am sick & tired of reading magazines about pregnanat women excercising!!! In general I am sick of this exercise mania. Yoga and stretching can be good during pregnancy as you're bones and joints are moving around and loosening up. Also, don't worry about the double chin, everyone carries differently. Some people's faces and arms and ass blimp out, others don't. You're body is doing an amazing and miraculous thing. Just go with it. My suggestions for eating healthfully and for max calories: Fage Greek yogurt with honey, grilled cheese on whole grain bread, pasta; Eat up that great Tex-Mex you have in Austin. Tortilla and beans — a complete protein. Wear those chins proudly as it's just temporary!

  40. With my first baby, I was the model pregnant woman and went without refined sugar (and alcohol and caffeine of course). I still gained 40 lbs. When I was pregnant with my other babies, I still avoided the alcohol and caffeine, but I allowed myself to eat refined sugar.

    Now – there's probably no scientific fact here, but it is amazing how my son has no sweet tooth whatsoever, but my daughters would fight to the death for a crispy creme.

  41. I understand what you are trying to say. It is tough knowing that you are gaining weight and that you need to gain more. It is not necessarily selfish – it is just a concept that has been ingrained in our heads that thinner is better.

    I am now 20 weeks pregnant and I have the opposite problem from you – I have already packed on 17 lbs and I only have one bun in the oven!! With my son, I gained 52 lbs with him and didn't even go full term. I eat healthy and wisely but my high risk OB said that all women have different body types and that our bodies react differently to pregnancy.

    As for avoiding preterm labor – I suggest following the doctor's order. My son came 7 weeks early but thankfully all was well with him. I am being monitored every two weeks now with those oh so comfortable fingers as well as ultrasounds to avoid preterm labor. Personally for me – if the doctor is ordering me to sit on my arse, then I am going to do so despite how truly difficult it is. I just came off a 2 week bedrest stint and let me tell you: TV bores me, I read 14 books and counted 32 black marks on my walls from my son hitting them with his hockey stick.

  42. You looked absolutely amazing on your tour of "The City" — and yes, I know it sounds weird to a New Yorker to call SF, "The City", but that is how it's done.

    I'm absolutely dying to know where you got the leather/gold chain cuff bracelet that you are wearing in one of the signing pics. Will you please divulge?

    Thanks – love the blog.

  43. Two posters said they gained 65 lbs. during their pregnancies…. geez, Louise! Why?????? Please don't go over doctor's prescribed weight gain…. it DOES NOT come off easily after you give birth. Don't believe the hype, poundage beyond what is recommended is just extra fat. And if your MD says at some point to cut back on calories, listen and heed the advice.

    Some of us are still stuck with leftover pregnancy belly fat and our children are in high school. Reader of posts beware, take advice only from your MD, Stephanie… just my 2 cents.

  44. I hate to be harsh here, but GET OVER IT. Pregnancy is the first of many times in your mthering life where you should be selfless. A bunch of pounds is no comparison to birthing underweight babies. Twins are high risk, and I am sure you can find some way to make more calories happen. Everything you eat gives them a better chance of thriving outside your body in the early weeks.

  45. I don't know if this would appeal to you at all or even if it would work but, my 15 year old son has 86 lbs. for about 2 years. He's had all kinds of tests and blood work and everything is fine he just doesn't eat enough. He is about 5'5" or 5'6" so he gets taller and thinner. The doctor suggested adding (along with his regular healthy breakfast that he's been eating his entire life) Carnation Breakfast Anytime. I add his to homogenized milk and, I am SO happy to say that at his doctor's appt. last week he was 100 lbs.! It's a pretty easy way to add 300 calories to your day. Good luck!

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