Thirteen years ago, I was awakened by a feeling of dread.
Dread because the bed was damp.
Dread that something I ate at the house party the night before was attempting to crawl out of my body.
My guts were in a tumult, cramping pains coming along with a crescendo/decrescendo rhythmic wave.
It was four in the morning after all, just took a bit of time to process.
My emotions changed to elation when I realized that the rhythm meant labor, not food poisoning.
But then whipsawed back, Dread- I was five weeks early for my due date.
Elation-I was on break from school, had just handed in my last final, had 4 weeks before classes resumed.
Dread, we hadn’t found a MD to deliver the babies yet.
Elation, that I hadn’t woken my husband with all my squirming and gushing. He had just finished his finals too, hadn’t had a good nights sleep in a week.
So I got quietly out of bed, grabbed the phone and called my Naturopath.
Dr. Katherine Zieman answered my call on the first ring. I always wondered if she ever had a full nights sleep herself.
We timed my next contraction, and she told me to wait for her next call.
It all seemed so fast, we had just been talking the day before about finalizing the birth plan, now that she wasn’t permitted to deliver our babies.
Naturopathic physicians and midwives aren’t allowed to deliver high risk pregnancies in Oregon. And a twin birth to an Elder mom (Who me? I’m only 38) is considered high risk.
Our imagined home birth plan had morphed into confusion with the wonderful news that we were to be the parents of TWINS!
But that meant Dr. Zeiman would be a birth attendant, not catching the baby as we had hoped.
And although I was at 35 weeks, we hadn’t had much time to absorb the information.
My first ultrasound had been at 32 weeks.
I had learned far to much about the possible complications from ultrasound in medical school to want to have one willy-nilly. When I came up big for dates at my 31st week appointment, we had medical need to see why.
Our reaction to the news was the happiest unexpected cheer that Dr. Edwin Hofmann-Smith, ND had ever heard in response to the news of twins.
Dr. Katherine was just as happy as we were, everything was looking good for a safe delivery.
But we had to find a MD/OB to do the actual delivery, and to coax one of the twins to a correct birthing position.
So when I called Dr. Katherine, she called the doctor we had arranged to visit for a manual version. (external rotation of the baby) and we were told to go to St. Vincent’s.
Now I woke Ed, it was time to go to the hospital.
Packed an overnight bag, just hadn’t had the time before.
The sliver of a moon was still hanging in the cold starry night sky. So cold, so clear.
Ed was nervous about driving, took it very slow.
Dr. Katherine managed to make it to the hospital before us, even though she was coming from 1/2 hour further than us.
And a few hours later, we became parents of twin girls.
Born just two minutes apart, by cesarean section.
Fiona and Katherine.
We were so happy, excited, thrilled.
Then Fiona stopped breathing, and as I was whisked away to the recovery room, I heard the call go out for more help.
She eventually had to be intubated to be able to breathe, but otherwise was fine.
We all took a breath, and waited and watched our tiny daughters learn to be in the world a bit too soon.
A week in the NICU for them, to get their lung function adequate, to make sure they were growing.
After all at under ten pounds together they weighed less than some full term babies.
The whipsaw of emotions continues to this day.
Yesterday was our girls 13th Birthday.
There, I’ve said it.
We have twin teens in the house
and so far all is well.
Ok, so they want to eat everything that they can find, but with their athletic builds, that isn’t a problem.
And when they ask for German Chocolate Cake for their birthday, No problem is the answer.
I was happy to oblige with this Gluten-Free German Chocolate Cake Recipe adapted from some of my favorite bakers.
- For the Cake:
- 4 oz 74% dark chocolate
- 6 tablespoons water
- 8 oz butter
- 4 large eggs, separated
- ¼ cup sugar- to beat with egg yolks
- 1 ¼ cup sugar
- 106 grams white flour mix
- 165 grams whole grain flour mix
- 20 grams Pixie Dust
- 5 grams 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 5 grams 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk or yogurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the filling:
- 1½ cup heavy cream
- 1½ cup sugar
- 3 jumbo egg yolks
- 4½ ounces butter, cut into small pieces
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
- 1¾ cups unsweetened coconut, toasted
- For the chocolate icing:
- 8 ounces 74% dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 ½ ounces unsalted butter
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Butter two 9 inch pans, then line them with a circle of parchment or waxed paper.
- Melt chocolate and water in a small pan. Allow to cool.
- Beat egg whites till soft peaks form, add ¼ cup sugar and continue to beat till glossy and stiff. Set aside.
- Beat butter till light and fluffy. Add sugar gradually, continuing to beat till all is incorporated.
- Add the reserved chocolate mixture, stir to combine.
- Combine 1¼ cup sugar, flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.Stir till the mixture is one even color.
- Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk, stirring in each addition.
- Stir in the vanilla extract.
- Stir in ¼ of the egg whites to lighten the batter, then fold in the rest.
- Place in prepared pans, smoothing the tops.
- Bake for 30 minutes, rotate the pans and bake for 10 minutes more.
- Allow to cool in the pans for 3-5 minutes then turn out to cool completely.
- To make the filling:
- Place the pecans on a cookie sheet.
- Bake at 350 for 5-8 minutes till they are fragrant and lightly browned. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and allow the pecans to cool on it. Then chop to small pieces.
- Place the coconut on a cookie sheet.
- Bake at 350 for 3-5 minutes. Stir well, turn off oven and return the cookie sheet to the oven for 3 more minutes. The coconut should be an even light brown.
- Remove the coconut from the cookie sheet.
- Combine the butter, salt, toasted coconut, and pecan pieces in a large bowl.
- Beat together the cream, sugar, and egg yolks in a medium saucepan.
- Heat the cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the spoon (an instant-read thermometer will read 170°.)
- Pour the hot custard immediately into the pecan-coconut mixture and stir until the butter is melted. Cool completely to room temperature. (It will thicken.)
- To make the icing:
- Place the 8 ounces of finely chopped chocolate in a bowl with the corn syrup and 1 ½ ounces of butter.
- Heat the cream until it just begins to boil.
- Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate.
- Let stand one minute, then stir until smooth.
- Let sit until room temperature.
- Fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip with ½ the mixture.
- To create the finished cake.
- Place squares of waxed paper overlapping on your cake plate. These will be removed once you frost the sides of the cake to leave a clean plate.
- Place one cake round on the center of the cake plate.
- Pipe a circle of frosting on the edge of the layer
- Fill the circle with ½ of the pecan/coconut filling.
- Place second cake round on top, gently push and settle the round onto the chocolate frosting and filling.
- Place second half of the pecan/coconut mixture on top spreading to within ¼ inch of sides but not sliding over the edge.
- Using the chocolate frosting and a flat edged frosting spatula, smooth a thin layer of the frosting onto the sides of the cake.
- Using the piping bag, pipe a decorative edge on the top of the cake.
- Remove the waxed paper from under the cake by pulling out opposite squares.
- Pipe the lower border of the cake.
- Let the cake rest in a cool place for ½ hour till you cut it.