Back to Dirt

~Aly

As a child, I played outside every single day in my Miami suburbia neighborhood. I ran barefoot through mud while sprinklers sprayed the lawn. I played basketball in the street with the neighbors. I created chalk art up and down our sidewalks. I played softball in backyards where we used our shoes as our bases and felt the grass between our toes.

As a teenager, I turned mostly into a city girl. My days were spent on the phone, shopping, drinking Starbucks, and hanging out with my friends. I was an athlete and got outside time during our games and practices, but my free time, outside of time spent playing softball, was certainly spent indoors.

As an adult, my outside time was spent at Disney or the beach. I lost the part of myself that was connected to the earth and I never missed it. Until my life changed. Until the world changed. And I suddenly found myself pregnant with twins in a pandemic. High risk twin pregnancy, even without the pandemic, was made more high risk with a virus running rampant. My wife, the breadwinner in our house, was furloughed. Our beloved cat of 11 years died suddenly and tragically in our arms. My family living with us temporarily, was spending more time than anticipated attending open houses as a result of a closed, newly masked world.

I found myself, a person with diagnosed anxiety, feeling the stress of my circumstances. Sometimes when the stress would hit new heights, I would waddle my round pregnant body to what was normally a deserted backyard. Being out there, sometimes with my wife or my family, and other times alone, I could breathe again. My mind would stop racing and my heart would feel a little lighter, as I would rub my belly and feel the babies move while feeling the breeze blow my hair with the sun shining on my face.

Now, with the babies here, I find a similar phenomena occurring. The world is still in a pandemic and my pandemic babies have spent the majority of their lives inside our house. We take daily walks to try to get some outside time, breathe in some fresh air, and get a change of scenery. During this time, I noticed that my wild children inside the house- the ones that had us rushing to baby proof everything since they are climbing and in perpetual motion- are still. They don’t cry. They don’t whine. They stop wiggling. They spend our walks quietly looking around, taking in a world they haven’t been allowed to explore.

So one day, in what has now become our little Saturday mid-day ritual, I grabbed our outdoor play pen tent, popped it open on the front lawn, laid out some blankets, spread out a few toys, and brought them outside to lay in the shade and just be. Once again, they were in awe of just the every day in our little neighborhood: cars driving by, neighbors walking their dogs, airplane flying overhead, the wind blowing the branches. Our front lawn became an entirely new frontier.

My wife and I sit there and explain things to them. Grounding ourselves to the present, rather than feeling worry about the future, and introducing them to the little moments that probably seem rather insignificant to anyone who didn’t have to worry about bringing their babies to target or to run errands with them in a pre-covid life. We narrate the happenings to them. “Oh do you see that? Look at that red truck.” “Do you hear that airplane? It’s flying in the sky above you.” In a time, when the indoors of many places are not safe to my unvaccinated for covid babies, the outdoors gives them a peek into the fact that there is more to life than their play room.

And it’s here that this city girl has gone back to dirt too. Outside, I’m not spraying the house or wiping every surface with Lysol after any masked vaccinated visitor enters. Outside, I’m encouraging my kids to feel the dirt, pick the grass, grab a leaf. There is so much that we have lost in this covid landscape and very few things we have gained. While there are not many things I would want to keep from our quarantined existence, I think that I’ll hang on to earth now for myself and my kids, even if it’s just in my little lawn.

Guilt, Shame, and Mother’s Day

~Tiffany

Can we talk about shame for a minute? 

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, especially as we rounded the corner on Mother’s day. That may seem odd, but hear me out. In the last 9 months since becoming a parent, we’ve read countless articles, bought an inordinate amount of organic baby food, followed a bunch of pediatric psychologists, physical therapists, and food and sleep experts. We’ve poured over their social media feeds, and followed advice from one resource and then the next on sleep schedules, and how to best start solid foods, and how to get your x-month old to reach x-milestone, in the hopes that we were doing the best we possibly could by our kids. Then, on the days when we didn’t, on the days when we napped too long in the evening because the afternoon was a bear, so the dreamfeed was too late and it took too long to put them back down because they awoke too much, those days, we were filled with guilt and anxiety about whether we were doing a good enough job. Guilt and shame go hand-in-hand with mothering, I find. You get way more of the good stuff, the love, the cuddles, the euphoria of holding your little ones, but the shame and the guilt…they’re there also.

You know, we use the term “pandemic parent” a lot in our house because it explains our behaviours so accurately. Here in the Albrecht Household, we still live a relatively quarantined existence, much in contrast to that just outside our door. Right around the time that vaccinations started to ramp up and the people who previously weren’t comfortable going out, and had the opportunity to stay in, were starting to go out again, we started asking ourselves questions about whether we were keeping the kids’ world too small. We’d see friends with kids out and about again, or family members having gatherings and wonder, are we doing the right thing? 

We’d ask these questions, talk it out, and ultimately come to the same conclusion everytime. We are pandemic parents. They are pandemic children. And until officially stated otherwise, as far as we are concerned, we are still in a pandemic. I’ve had conversations with people who had the opportunity to parent prior to COVID, many of whom are much more comfortable, at this point, putting their kids in team sports, and having people around them. Please understand, this isn’t a judgement against them. On the contrary, I’ve watched them in wonder at how they could exist in this moment with such freedom, where we feel so confined. I’ve watched them take their own forms of calculated risks and asked how can they possibly? And then it occurred to me: We are not only pandemic parents, but we are first-time parents, who became first-time parents to premature twins in the middle of a global pandemic. So, then my mind reframed the question: how could we possibly not behave as we have been. How could we, knowing what we know, having experienced what we experienced, have made different choices? The conclusion: We couldn’t. And so, I stopped judging us for it, stopped feeling guilt about it, and realized that the decisions we were making for ourselves and our latkes were born, not of fear, but of experience. Perhaps, if we had parented prior to being quarantined for half a year during Aly’s pregnancy, our perspective would be a bit different. Perhaps, if our kids weren’t born premature and we didn’t spend two weeks in the hospital with Aly’s preeclampsia like a ticking time bomb, masked, and scared, and overwhelmed. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. But we were, and they were, and we did.

Shame/guilt is a funny thing as a parent. You can feel like you’re doing the best you possibly can, listen to all the experts, of which there are many, for all the things, do all of the things they tell you to do, and still, you will never feel like you’ve done enough. What is that about? What kind of cruel trick is that to play on people dedicating their entire existences to raising good humans? 

I’m not blind to our privilege. We’re blessed to be able to do the things we do for our kiddos and feel guilty for not being able to do more. It just leaves me to wonder if anything will ever feel like enough, or will the guilt of inadequacy always rear its head on hard days and the days you feel like other parents have something figured out that you don’t.

So here’s to all the moms and mom-figures out there that are doing the work and still feel like they do a crappy job some days. You’re doing the hardest thing in the world. In the face of unimaginable odds, you’re raising a person to take on this incredibly difficult world that happens to be an incubator for a virus right now. Here’s to you, because honestly, hard things are our everyday.

This Motherhood Thing

~Tiffany

Sometimes a 6 month old can be so difficult to put to sleep, but then they start to do it for themselves. And a part of you breaks when you realize a part of them no longer needs you and then you begin to settle when it dawns on you that this is as it should be, always.

I don’t think I’ve ever analyzed anyone as much as I do my children. Every movement, every breath, every sound, can either bring joy, concern, or a general sense of confusion, when I have no clue what they want. I feel like I could spend all day watching them and still not know them entirely, especially because we have two. It’s double the watching! It’s been six months and we’re still getting to know each other, but they’re getting to know themselves as well and it’s a wonder to behold. There’s a sense of accomplishment evident in their eyes when they figure something out or frustration when their bodies aren’t quite caught up with their minds yet. I’m riveted with every expression.

People are inherently complicated. We have likes, dislikes, thoughts, emotions… Here’s what I’ve come to know in my limited time as a parent: babies are just small people with the same complexities. It’s intimidating as hell when all of that is going on and they have limited ways through which they can communicate it to you. I have trouble sometimes, and I have words at my disposal. Had I only noises, faces, and body language, I’d surely fail, though I must have done it once upon a time. I worked harder then, I suppose. Words made me lazy.

I’ve been a parent for almost 6 months and almost immediately any preconceived notions I had about it were thrown out the window because real humans are completely different from the theoretical ones I’d planned raising in my head and dreams. For example, did you know that you don’t know everything as a new parent, even if you know that you won’t repeat the mistakes your parents made? Or, that even if you do learn things along the way, which you hopefully do, those learnings are only transiently useful because babies constantly change the rules on you? Or, did you know that there’s no room for judgement and tons of margin for error in this thing we’re doing and we have to hope and pray that the daily trial and error we pursue in raising kids will be ever in their favor but when it’s not, that they’ll be more forgiving of us than we are of our parents? And, did you know that babies literally grow before your eyes and from one day to the next will change a feature or habit and you won’t know you missed it until it’s gone, but more than that, you’ll regret not having captured it enough in a picture or a video or just in your memory? 

I jokingly said to Aly the other day that I wished I had a camera in my eyes, so that I could capture every moment and I facepalmed when I recognized what I was describing as memory, then sorrow settled over me because memories can be fleeting and I don’t have confidence in my memory’s capacity to retain every moment of this time.

Did you know that days are too short and too long sometimes and it’s never the one you want when you need it because these moments can’t all be frozen, nor would you want them to be because part of this crazy magic is seeing them change and grow? We joked the other day that we’re going to be a little sad when Arabella gets teeth because her toothless smile is so damn precious it lights up every room. But I have a feeling her smile full of teeth will be just as luminous as her Mommy’s.

I’m overwhelmed daily. Yes, because raising twins is hard, but more so because I couldn’t/wouldn’t imagine doing anything else. In the mornings, when I’m just stirring awake to the sounds of the baby monitor letting me know that Benny or Bella is ready to face the day and so we must all be, I take stock of my aching body. I feel the sting in my hips and lower back from the constant up and down of floor-time and transporting babies from one room to the next, feeding and burping two growing babies, and a general lack of sleep that my muscles and bones need to recover from all of that. I hear the crack in my knees and ankles from the countless trips up and down the stairs everyday, and I feel the ache in the shoulder I had surgery on just before the babies were born that isn’t quite fully healed because I didn’t finish physical therapy prior to their early arrival. Then, I plan my next 15 minutes. It’s usually the same. I make their bottles, set the coffee to brew and throw some water on my face before I check the clock to ensure we’re on time for the day to start as their schedule dictates. My legs carry me up the stairs but I’m beckoned by the sound of Aly lightly playing with the babies and little squeals of delight. I feel my soul light up when I think about the smiles I know I’ll get in just a moment’s time. This is my happy place. It’s aching and exhausting and hyper-scheduled, which is counter to everything I was before I was a mother but it’s phenomenal and it fills me in ways I didn’t know anything could. 

This motherhood thing is painful and a panacea, it’s stressful and blissful, it’s challenging and rewarding. I went into it as someone I knew, in skin and a body that felt familiar and comfortable to me, and am seeing and feeling myself transform into something I didn’t know I could be, but feels like a better version of who I was.

On hard days, we look at each other and joke, “have kids they said, it would be fun, they said.” You know what, they were right… even on the hard days, at the end of the night, we find ourselves scrolling through the many pictures of them in the in-between moments when the day wasn’t so difficult.

Momming is weird because it demands so much of all of you, but you would give it willingly, even if it wasn’t necessary, if it meant that your child’s life would be better for it. It’s about self sacrificing but not sacrificing self because our kids benefit the most from the best of us, we’ve found, at least. It’s about an abounding and transcendent love for your children, your spouse and yourself because attention must be paid to all in order for life to reach equilibrium. 

Six months has been transformative, to say the least. I’m daunted and excited for what lies ahead.

Waiting for Normal

~Aly

You spend your pregnancy, and possibly even before your pregnancy if you’re like us, envisioning your life with your children. You picture beach days with picnics and sand covered baby toes. You picture family gatherings spent passing the baby around from person to person because no one can get enough. You picture days spend at Disney, where your child will have an ice cream bar dripping down the front of their specially ordered family vacation themed shirt. You picture taking them to see Santa for the first time, where they will inevitably cry at this stranger old man who is suddenly holding them. You yearn for a bunch of little moments and adventures in the life you want to give them.


Despite being pregnant in a pandemic, I still spent my pregnant days dreaming of these moments. Moments where we will create special memories that will last our kids forever. Memories that turn into photo albums that we will one day enjoy while we laugh and reminisce.

Of course, reality so far has been quite different from this.

First and foremost, before I continue, let me mention that I do not say any of this looking for sympathy. There is none to be had. I am fully aware that these are first world middle class problems. My children are fed, have healthcare, two educated and employed parents, bunches of love, clothes, a house, and so on. Instead, I decided to share this because I am shocked at how small our babies’ world is due to this pandemic and I wonder…when they are finally able to widen their world view, what will it be like? What will the world look like? How will it feel for them to see that the world is so much bigger than these simple days?

I think we all know that people have approached this pandemic in a variety of ways- some have totally quarantined and have done little since this all began, while some have galavanted about maskless in all sorts of social situations, and of course there are countless versions between these two ends of the spectrum.

As far as our family, Tiffany and I both fall in the high risk category for Covid, due to certain medical conditions we have. I was even more high risk due to the pregnancy- and of course a high risk multiple pregnancy at that. And now our premie babies, with very little immune system developed, are also a concern. This means that Tiffany and I probably fall into a category of people who quarantined to the extreme. We have stayed home since March except for doctor visits and the occasional visit to my mom’s house( she also is quarantining as heavily as we are and when she does have to go out into the world, we quarantine from her too). Groceries are delivered to our house rather than shopping in store and they are wiped down upon receipt. We haven’t stepped foot into a store and the amount of times we’ve even gotten take out can fit on one hand. Basically, our twins lives have been on short walks around our neighborhood, our backyard, various rooms in our house, the pediatrician, and my mom’s house.

There have been times where I wondered how this will impact them. When the world returns to a new normal, and we finally venture out with them, will they be overwhelmed? Will we have to slowly expose them, waiting for a culture shock to hit them? Will their mind be blown being however old they are and never having even walked into a store? How can I as a parent guide them and make the right decisions for them during such unprecedented times?

How, as parents, will this be a major adjustment for us too, as we have to allow them to start exploring the world at some point after fiercely protecting them with our every move during a pandemic? Because if there is one thing I am certain of after spending so many months at home, it’s that staying home all this time transforms you slowly into this hermit version of yourself. That is certainly not the me that I want our kids to grow up with, so I will have to force myself into a metamorphosis of sorts. I’ll have to retrain myself to approach parenting in new ways.

I don’t have any of the answers to share with you. I wish I did.

When I really think about it, parents , especially parents of twins, often spend lots of time at home during the first year anyway because life is so overwhelming and the babies are still so little. I doubt that seeing a lack of places in their early months will really scar them for life, but I do worry about the lack of exposure to people. As an introvert who doesn’t mind some alone time to recharge, I could suggest that interacting with people doesn’t matter, but I know that’s not true. People are the cornerstone of our lives. They are our support, our confidants, our outlets. Our babies are missing out on people. The good, the bad, the ugly of it all. I can only hope that soon they will be able to hug abuelas, kiss aunts, play with cousins, and get introduced to other babies at play dates.


Even now, knowing all of this that we’ve endured through this pandemic, I still hope for the future. I will continue to picture little adventures and hope that one day it won’t be necessary to have them be masked outings. I hope they will be able to hold loves ones in their little kid cuddles, rather than stare at them through face time. In the meantime, we wait for normalcy.


I don’t know what their world will look like, but I know that it will eventually become bigger, better, and we will do everything we can to give them a wonderful life, despite the hell of 2020.

The Thing About Words…

~Tiffany

Tired

We’ve been talking a lot about the meaning of words lately. Specific words, words like “tired” and “lonely,” but also words like “love” and “win.” It’s funny, I think one of the phrases we’ve said most often in the last 4 months has been, “and we thought we were tired before…” Because the level of tired we experienced prior to having twins was laughable. I dream of that level of tired, actually, I don’t dream, because I don’t sleep, which is the prerequisite to dreaming. I yearn for that level of tired. The level of tired we experience now is an exhaustion I didn’t know existed. It’s when you’ve gone past the point where you are sensible and deliriously clean bottles at midnight, then pick up the house from the mess you’ve made entertaining two 4 month-olds. It’s past the point when you can have a coherent conversation then you think back to the discussion you had the next morning and wonder what in the hell you were thinking. It’s past the point when you can make any kind of logical decision, so the exact amount you will feed your babies at their dreamfeed and the exact time you will wake up has already been decided upon and will NOT change because any method you use to figure it out will surely lead to confusion and frustration from lack of being able to string together thoughts, much less words.

Aly has likened entertaining babies to being on stage. I don’t disagree. And as someone that didn’t spend any significant amount of time on stage, apart from band concerts, and as a self-proclaimed introvert, this kind of interaction, is particularly draining. We are in a unique time when social isolation, meaning not being able to ask for outside help in addition to having new babies, are the perfect storm for daily battery draining on an otherwise daily recharged person. So, that’s tired. It means bone-tired. It means I need to be shut off for several minutes before, even plugged in, I will turn on again, and even when I do, my apps are slow to start until I have my morning coffee.

Lonely

Lonely is different in this COVID world. It plagues (no pun intended) us in such a way that individually and as a family, we’ve been unable to adjust to. Working from home, you’d think, would allow us the opportunity to have quality time constantly, but we don’t actually get to bare our souls to each other as often as we’d like. This means that we ruminate alone while we’re “driving the struggle bus,” as Aly likes to say. The conversations wait until we have the time and the mental capacity to have them after we’ve put the babies down for the night. We take walks in the evenings to get a little outside time, you know… like prisoners. I’m joking, obviously, but our walks allow us some time to soak in the sun and breathe air that isn’t circulated by our AC. Aly jokes around with me that all I do is talk about the changes in our neighbors’ lawns or how some people have, “really nice grass,” and we’ve taken to seeking out a young alligator we’ve named, Rita (the reptile), in the lake by our house as our new hobby while we’re out (while obviously keeping a safe distance). But we don’t normally have any deep conversations while we’re on this walk, and contrary to Aly’s personality, she hardly says anything at all.

During a text message conversation we had while we were lying in bed the other day after we had fed the babies and were making sure they weren’t going to stir, and honestly, just recovering from the crap evening we’d had where Benny had been inconsolable, she said she’d figured out why that was: why she doesn’t talk much on those walks, and it’s because after watching the babies’ alone full-time all day, prior to her recent return to work, she’s talked out. She talks all day to the babies. She “performs” for them all day and they soak in every minute of it because she’s amazing at it, but it’s also draining, so I’ll keep talking about lawns and grass and bumper stickers I notice.

She texted to me that something she didn’t expect about parenting is that we would never get a break. We thought we’d be able to call on friends or family to come over for just a couple of hours while we went on a date night and just be a couple and make sure that we maintain and strengthen that identity even though we’re also moms 24/7. We thought we would be encircled by our “tribe” in this new journey we would be on of parenting and do it “as a village,” as they say, but our relative isolation (sometimes lasting almost a month without any help), has been eye opening, not just in testing the limits of how well we can function with the fewest hours of sleep to keep our eyes open, but how well we’ve been able to raise our latkes basically alone for the past several months since we made our journey back to our own home, with no real end in sight. We never expected that.

The loneliness has made us stronger I think, as parents, and perhaps more resilient and aware that we need to be good at communicating even if it’s hard, if for no other reason than we love each other and them an immeasurable amount and too much to become a statistic of parents of twins, which has extraordinarily high divorce rates. So, somedays, we can be sitting right next to each other, resolutely working independently on our laptops, trying our best to be our best at that, all the while ruminating in our own heads on the many things we don’t have the time or the bandwidth to talk about yet and the many things we don’t have the time or bandwidth to do, and we do it all alone until we don’t, and until we reach out and work one-handed while holding each-others.

Love

The love has been the most earth-shattering re-definition. It’s confounding in a way that we wonder at daily. It’s a sick trick that you can love and be exhausted by something so completely and irrevocably. In the moments when one of the babies is inconsolable and I feel like the worst mother in the world because I don’t have the answer or the key to unlock whatever I need to make them feel better, I also love them so much, it hurts. I think that’s why it hurts, because when you can’t fix it, you hurt with them, but they also break you in ways you didn’t know you could be broken. They take the last ounce of energy you have and with a smile build you back up as if it didn’t even happen. They break your spirit when you’ve broken down all of your walls and gotten outside of yourself and your comfort zone, if only just to try to make them laugh and they respond with indifference, but then some unintentional action finally gets one out of them and you realize you didn’t need to try so hard and you learn that lesson over and over again. Love has taken on an entirely different meaning than it had before because it’s grown to a capacity I didn’t know existed, but also turned into an amorphous feeling that underlies every action we take in this home. I thought love was indefinable before our latkes were born because it knocked me off my feet with Aly, but this steal-your-breath, break-your-spirit, break-you-down-only-to-lift-you-up, love is entirely different and entirely as monumental.

Win

I doubt that most of you know, but I’m sure you can guess that keeping twins on even a loose schedule is a challenge. I have no point of comparison because we went from 0 to 2, but putting two entirely different humans with entirely different needs on any modicum of a similar schedule means that one or the other of them will inevitably get the short end of the stick at some point in time, whether it be that we need to have more feedings because Bella has reflux and requires it, but Benny can actually drop a feeding, or we need to have a dream feed because Benny wakes up otherwise, even though Bella can sleep through the night (irrelevant, because she needs the calories, but still, my point is made). So, having portions of days when we see them both thrive despite that we’re trying to fit them into a similarish box, feels like we’re walking on cloud nine. When we’ve managed successful naps and actually taken them on a walk and had smooth bath times and seen them do something new while they’re on tummy time…those are amazing moments. Though all of those “ands” seem far too generous and definitely never happen on the same day, they are amazing moments nonetheless, when they do happen. Because wins are wins and we take them as they come and we don’t question them for the gifts they are.

Before babies, we celebrated things that might seem big like promotions, graduations, work successes, etc. Now, we had a taco night for the first time last week since we had the babies and that was the biggest win we celebrated as a couple because the guac was the freshest thing we’d eaten in months, due to our many microwave-ready Costco-prepped mealtimes. It was so green! I missed green food. Now, when bedtime isn’t meltdown time, because we are struggling to figure out the perfect ratio of naps to wake time to play time during the day, that’s a win too. When we’ve cleaned enough bottles the night before to be able to spend a little extra time together on the next night, that’s a win. We’re living for these wins because they give us life when the days get hard and time feels endless in this COVID vacuum. We yearn for the day when we can stroller our babies through Mainstreet U.S.A., but take that our kids love Disney singalong with mommy as a great sign of things to come.

We can do hard things

This is the Albrecht Household at its crux. It’s full of a crazy amount of love that sometimes it threatens to burst, but loneliness that isolates in a way a pandemic only wishes it could also exists here because parenting twins is super hard. But, we can and do hard things. Every. Day.

Mom Guilt: The Daily Realities of a Working Mom

~Tiffany

My son smiles as he’s falling asleep in my arms after a middle-of-the-night feed. Besides the fact that I’m providing nourishment to him,
this is probably the best part about life at 3am. He chuckles most nights also, just as he’s drifting off, and Aly and I both wake from a
drowsy stupor, while we’re holding them up before putting them back down to bed, every time it happens. It’s an amazing sound. One we
find ourselves imitating throughout the day to him to try to entice him to reproduce it.

Parenting has turned out to be so many things. A great joy, to be sure. Perhaps the greatest alongside going through life with the love of
my life. It also happens to induce the greatest fear, when your child is running a temperature, the greatest guilt, when at the end of the day
you’re sure you haven’t done enough, and the greatest sorrow, when you realize that one day, you will have to share these perfect beings
with the world and you know that the world isn’t always kind.

A few weeks ago, I returned to work after being furloughed for 5 months. The challenges and blessings that came from being furloughed
can probably fill their own blog post, but for the sake of brevity, we’ll skip to what it’s been like post-furlough.

I’m working remotely, like most who can. I’d like to say that this has only been the best thing ever. I mean, how couldn’t it be? I get to be
home, with my new babies and wife, away from exposure to the pandemic, and I’m saving on gas. Win, win, win, right? I’d like to say
that. But, here’s the truth: there are so many more wins and losses in that scenario that get weighed against each other on a daily basis.

“Balance” is a word that gets thrown around a lot lately in the Albrecht household. This is the ideal. To find the right “balance” has been
my greatest struggle so far in this post-furlough reality. I think perhaps, I naively thought it would be as simple as picking up my
computer at the start of my day, putting on my employee hat, and then, at the end of the day, I would take that hat off and just slip on my
mom/wife/homeowner hat. Do you ever feel dumb sometimes when life just gives you a reality check about your expectations? Not only
is the idea of a hat that only fills one role ridiculous, I’ve found. I’ve also found that taking the proverbial hats off and on happens so
much more frequently throughout the day than at the start and the end.

I’ll address the first point first. I don’t think, since I’ve returned, there has been a moment, where I can be just an employee. This isn’t a
product of working remotely, the more I think about it, it’s a product of just parenting. Throughout the day, as I build my reports and
adjust my spreadsheets, I’m very aware of the fact that I am in the very fortunate minority to have been brought back from furlough. The
inordinate amount of pressure this creates as a parent of twins and wife and homeowner, can be crippling if you focus too much on it. The
understanding that there’s an inherent expectation to perform, whether that expectation is intrinsic or extrinsic, is enough for deep
breathing exercises. So, throughout the day, I’ll help with feeds and make up my working time in the evenings, and while I hold my
beautiful new babies, and have supposedly taken the employee hat off, at least for the moment, that pressure is still there in the back of
my mind, distracting from what should be a very precious moment.

To my second point, my changes in proverbial head wear happen very literally, all day. Even in short moments, when I’ve allowed
myself the reprieve of just observing our children sleep as I’m waiting for a meeting to start or less pleasant but just as valid, when one of
the babies has a blow out that necessitates a bath and now I’m watching the other while Aly manages the crisis. I wish it was easy to take
these hats on and off and isolate what each one represents. The adage, “leave work at work,” seems like an impossible ideal to strive for
as in one moment I feel guilty for not momming enough on a given day, and when we have a blowout emergency, or the like, throughout
the day, that draws me away from my computer, I feel guilty for being pulled away from whatever I was doing.

I’ve heard it called before, “every parents dilemma.” I’m not sure I’ve been generous enough to the ones who have to make this work and
do. That also says nothing for the other role that requires attention and care: wife. It’s very easy for work and babies to be the only things
in your world if you don’t have a constant reminder that you need balance.

Since I’ve returned, I’ve been frustrated at my lack of being able to find that balance. It’s still no where near perfect and I’m constantly
reprioritizing as Aly and I keep communicating, but it keeps getting better. It’s a ridiculous help to have Aly by my side. Taking care of
the twins, basically by herself, barring catastrophes of the pooping kind and feedings unless I have a meeting conflict.

Our days are longer, as we find our focus shifts after we put the babies to bed to maintaining our home and our relationship. And then we
have weeks like the last two where my balance has been horrible, at best, as I work until almost midnight during the week to try to finish
a report I’ve been building during uninterrupted time.

We’re figuring this thing out and that means recognizing that when we’re taking breaks from whatever we’re respectively doing, we’re
focused on each other and our family. It means, finding what works, in terms of understanding that I’m productive with work in the
evening when I’m uninterrupted by the twins feeding schedule, which in turn means, I can be more forgiving of myself when I do get
pulled away from work throughout the day and enjoy feeding my babies and soak in the after feeding cuddles without the guilt of having
to return to work immediately.

All of this is to say, momming/parenting is hard. It’s not for the faint hearted because it’s an emotional rollercoaster of the highest highs
and the lowest lows. Also, if someone has figured out how to “leave work at work,” or get rid of this pesky mom-guilt thing, could you
please feel free to leave a comment with the secrets of the universe below? I’m asking for a friend…

Life Looks Different Now

~Aly

While writing this, I hold my daughter, laying next to my sleeping wife, Tiffany, while her hand is on our son, comforting him.

Life looks different now for The Albrecht Household.

We had life as a couple for 13 years. 6 of those years were spent in the closet, easily finding ways to love each other, even when we didn’t love ourselves. All of the years, full of love and friendship that continued to grow. Those years were full of making our house a home and our marriage one that we could be proud of.

But as our family has grown from 2 to 4, many aspects of our life are unrecognizable. It has changed us. We are no longer just “us.” We are our marriage, our individual selves, our children, and our mom personas all intertwined into something entirely new.

Lazy Sunday’s laying in bed together cuddling, talking, and sleeping are a day of the past. Now our Sundays involve filling life in in between our babies’ 3 hour feeding schedule increments. They are full of tummy time, diapers, and bottles.

Dancing in the kitchen while cooking has been replaced with a new time and place for dancing. Now we dance to us singing “jingle bell rock” together, even though it’s September, with babies in our arms because for some reason, it makes the babies happy. No, the song cannot change. So, Christmas in September it is.

Giving each other massages has currently been replaced by lotioning chubby legs with lavender after bath time. The arms that held each other now provide comfort during cries and rock our children late in the night.

Dinner together while talking about our work day has been replaced by snacks by nightlight in a dimly lit room, so that we don’t wake the twins because while they need sleep, we also so badly need some quiet time.

Where we once showered together, we now run the shower while standing outside of it, holding a baby, because for some odd reason watching the water fall calms them when they are fussy.

Through the chaos, we still find each other, but we find each other differently than we once did. Our love right now is spoken in moments of “I let you sleep an extra hour while I got everything setup for the day.” It’s a check-in during the evening followed by a “Good job, mama” in solidarity. It’s a “you look beautiful,” even when your hair isnt brushed and when there is spit up on your shirt. It’s a hand hold in the night, when we each are reaching towards the middle of the bed to find each other, while we each face different directions towards each baby’s bassinet.

For so long we prayed for our family to grow… for our lives to change.

Yes, life looks different now. It’s hard and it’s messy and it’s lacking sleep, but this new life is also wholly wonderful with its newness.

Life looks different now and with it our marriage evolves. We will find our new rhythm together soon enough, but right now the babies dictate the beat of the drum in this house.

Life looks different now and even though I was happy before, a whole new kind of happy has bloomed. What we had is now surrounded by nostalgia because I know that we can’t have that again. But I also know that there was a time and place for that life and neither of us would ever give up this new life. Instead, we find delight in making our new life together.

Life looks different now and I embrace it all- good, bad, and all in between- with my wife holding my hand as we forge into our new adventure, ready to see what awaits, all while still loving the past for making us who we are in the current moment.

Life is different now and we are happy that it is.

Mama Meets Her Latkes

~Tiffany

Where to begin…The moments following the birth of our children were…too many things. They were amazing, overwhelming, uncertain, humbling… All of the things. 

I was escorted from the operating room by a couple of nurses. I kissed Aly’s forehead and told her I’d see her soon, but I needed to go with our babies. They thankfully didn’t have any NICU time, Bella being just above the weight limit required. We were taken to Recovery to wait for Aly to get out of surgery and to do the first of several assessments on the babies.

I struggle to find words here to describe what this time was like, but I’ll try. It was beautiful, and heart wrenching, it was intimidating, and defining.  We, meaning, myself, Arabella, and Bennett, were taken to a curtained off room. Empty, save for some medical equipment I knew would be used to monitor Aly once she arrived. The nurses wheeled in Bella and Benny and started doing some quick vitals. All I could do was stand at what I thought was a respectful distance (this seems funny to me now, they’re my children afterall). I watched the nurses do their work and make sure that our two latkes were doing ok. Bella seemed so much smaller than Benny. In retrospect, it was only a pound, but, since then, we’ve taken to calling her “delicate” and him “stocky,” so the difference looks much more severe than it is. , Really, the only difference in their vitals was that Bella had a little trouble maintaining her body temperature, so they turned on the heat lamp overhead of her bassinet and told me she was perfect and so was Benny. I already knew this. 

Once the vitals were done, the nurse that had been attending to Benny turned to me, and asked me if I wanted to hold him. My response to this question now, makes me chuckle when I think about it, and I’m sure it always will. I wonder how many new parents are like I was in their uncertainty about their new role as a parent, as I answered, “can I?” I asked the nurse permission to hold my son, really hold him for the first time, and she laughed and said, “of course” before placing him solidly into my arms. 

My son slept soundly as I stared in awe. I had pulled up a seat, so that I could be stable holding him for the first time, much as you would do for a child who is being introduced to a baby for the first time. Again, this is humorous to me now. She placed him in my arms and after making sure I had him well in hand, quietly stepped out of the room. This moment was one of many humbling ones I had that evening. I searched  my mind for what to do next. I loved him already, this was absolute. I looked up into the bassinet holding his sister and confirmed, yes, this was true for her as well. My heart belonged to both of them and their Mommy, with whom I was very anxious to be reunited and share this moment. I began a light rock in the chair on which I sat and inadvertently began to hum the first tune that came to my head: “All Is Found,” from Frozen II. 

I alternated staring at both Benny and Bella as I hummed, unaware, and uncaring if anyone else was hearing me, or I was off tune. I was in awe and this song, and his warmth in my arms, and her sleeping form in front of me, grounded me to the moment. I missed Aly terribly and when Bella’s nurse came in to check on how her temperature was progressing, I asked if there was any news on when she would be out of surgery. This was the first of many inquiries over however long it took until she was being rolled into the room we were waiting for her in, her son, daughter, and I. While I waited for the nurse to find out, I stared again at my beautiful children and tried to let that sink in. They were my children. Our children. They were here. And my God, how stunning were they? I ran my hands softly over every feature of Benny’s beautiful face and placed my hand on Bella’s head inside her bassinet, not wanting to disturb whatever treatment she was getting from the heat lamp overhead. 

It’s funny, three weeks in, I reflect on these moments and consider how I treated them exactly how I thought I would. Like crystal. Like they were breakable because I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing. 

Aly was eventually rolled in from surgery and, even in her medicated state, she was just as in awe as I was at the beautiful children she had made in her tummy. Shortly after getting her settled, Benny’s nurse came in and asked if I’d like to help feed them. Again, I answered with the same apprehension, and anxious anticipation. “Can I? I’d love to.” And then I was holding Bella in my arms for the first time, feeding her and it hit me again. This extraordinary love. Aly and I have taken to calling it, “crazy.” I don’t know how many times a day we say, “it’s crazy how much I love them. They’re perfect.”

While we were in recovery, for the 8 hours we were there, I fed both of them and held them both, and comforted them both, each time, growing more confident in my ability to do so. At first, when they cried, I was only brave enough to place my hand lightly on them and rock them back and forth, not having had permission from the nurse to pick them up. Again, this is funny to me now. Aly had skin to skin for the first time with both of the babies there as I looked on and fell in love again and again. 

In the days following, while Aly recovered, I slowly shed the apprehension I had felt in our beginning moments in recovery and the babies and I got to know each other. When Benny had his first poopie diaper, I asked the nurse to teach me how to clean him properly and every change since then, has been relatively without fear (there have been some doozies that have left me with a healthy level of fear, lol). 

Since we’ve left the hospital, Aly and I have only fallen more for our latkes. We spend an inordinate amount of time staring at them. I take an obscene amount of pictures and live for the smell of their skin and feel of their hands wrapping around my fingers. I never expected parenthood to be like this. So, all-consuming. We freely admit we’re obsessed with our babies. Lol. We’re absolutely crazy for them. Aly said to me, “if there was anything else in the world that interrupted our life as much as these babies, we would loathe it, how can we love them this much?” To which I responded, “I don’t know, but they do, and we really do.” That’s to say nothing about how you all of a sudden are able to function on exponentially less sleep than before they got here. It’s what I’m calling, the “parenting phenomenon.” Though I’m sure there’s something much more scientific about it. We keep saying we’re swimming in Oxytocin and that’s what’s giving us our superhuman energy. 

I get life now from the moments when they fall asleep against my chest and when I feel and see them growing. It fills me with joy when Aly cuddles with them and I am in awe of myself, to be honest, and the side of myself that I didn’t know existed but comes out around these babies so naturally. I am unabashedly silly and unrepentantly affectionate. I kiss feet and noses and smell heads and in the moments between feeding, and playing, and changing, when we have some quiet time, I wonder how it’s possible that I didn’t know I was meant for this more than anything else.

Becoming Mommy and Mama

Disclaimer: As we have done previously in The Albrecht Household blog posts, this post, which discusses the story leading to our twins’ birth, is separated into 2 perspectives on the same events. We hope this offers a more complete view of what it is like to be in each of our positions during this time.

Tiffany’s Point of View

Waiting for Their Birth

Where to begin…we’re in love and it’s been two weeks, but in all honesty, that part happened immediately, though I’ll let Aly explain her experience. 

The part that everyone knows at this point is that we spent two weeks in the hospital anticipating our twins’ grand entrance into the world. What we haven’t talked about was when it became “go-time”, until now. I’ll speak from my perspective and leave it up to Aly to share however much she feels comfortable later in this post. Needless to say, the birth of our children was not without drama and a high level of emotional upheaval. 

In the early morning on August 1st, or to us, 35 and 5, I hadn’t slept much the night prior. It was 2:30am, and I was anticipating the next set of Aly’s vitals at 4am. Something was keeping me up and I didn’t know what it was. It could have been that we had been in the hospital for two weeks, it could have been the not-so-comfortable guest pull-out bed, it could have been the stress we had been under, or the inevitable arrival of our latkes, or thinking about what parenting would be like, or thinking about all the decisions we had made in just the prior several days that changed the course of how we would approach the birth. The truth is, it was probably all of that. The truth is, all of those things had kept me up for most of all of the nights we spent at the hospital and throughout most of the days. 

When the nursing assistant came in to take Aly’s vitals at 4am, as expected, the process was much the same, pulse-ox, temperature, blood pressure. We waited, as always, for the numbers to show up, and the alarm went off that indicated her blood pressure was above where it needed to be. The nursing assistant said she’d be back in 15 minutes, per the hospital protocol to take it again, and in 15 minutes she was back again. The results were similar. Aly and I looked at each other and I jokingly said to her, “You know this means I was right all along.” I had predicted that our twins would be born on August 1st from the beginning. She laughed and shrugged, and said to me, “If it happens, it happens.” A calm had settled over us as we waited for whatever would come. Our nurse walked in and hooked up the non-stress test monitors so that we could get a reading on our twins and the on-call high-risk doctors stopped by to confirm that, sure enough, we were going to be induced. 

When the doctor from our normal OB/GYN practice stopped by, she explained how the process would unfold from then on and checked to see how Aly had progressed, if at all prior to inducing. She was much further than anyone anticipated and we found out later that she had probably already been in labor, and that had probably been the cause of the high blood pressure to begin with. They hooked some meds up to her IV to get her blood pressure under control and to labor and delivery we went. 

Labor and Delivery

Our nurse in labor and delivery was arguably the best nurse we had the entire time we were at the hospital. She was kind, attentive, compassionate, and humored us when we trying to make light of what inducing would be like for Aly since she apparently didn’t feel that she had been contracting for however long she had already been in labor. We joked and said, that maybe she would be the one that God spared from the pain, but quickly informed the nurse that anesthesia should still be on deck with that epidural in case we were wrong. Things progressed pretty quickly from there. We got the babies on the monitors and they were twinning, so it was difficult for the nurses to tell one heart rate from the other. We laughed as they came in for the 10th time to adjust the sensors on the Aly’s soon-to-not-be-pregnant tummy, and ultimately, called the doctor in to get his opinion on whether they needed to approach it differently. 

Aly was feeling contractions by this point, but they were few and far between, so when they kicked on the meds to induce labor, and she still wasn’t feeling much once a contraction was hitting, the nurse and I laughed and admitted that perhaps she really would be the one. Until she wasn’t. She started feeling pressure, but not pain, and our doctor came in frequently to check on her, knowing that she was going to want the juice. He indicated that she shouldn’t ask for it until she started feeling pain, so we waited, and the pain came, so Anesthesia followed. Here’s where my perspective on the birth story will really start to differ a bit from Aly’s. During the epidural, she was a champ. She didn’t feel a thing, did everything that was asked of her, moved as she was told, even though it was tough for her, being 35 weeks and 5 days pregnant with twins. About 5 minutes after getting her in the optimum position once she was laying down, her blood pressure bottomed out and 10 people came rushing into the room to stabilize her and make sure the babies were ok. We were told this was a common side effect, but that brought no solace to me as I watched entire room fill with people, in my mind, working to keep my wife and children okay. I held a cool towel to her neck as an oxygen mask was placed over her face and additional monitors were placed on our babies because it had already been hard to get a good reading on them. They pushed one med and another as I stood there and prayed my heaviest prayer up until that point in my life that God would take care of the things I held most dear and bless the hands of the people that were helping. This was, up until that point, the single most terrifying moment of my life. It took a while, and lots of medical jargon that frustratingly, went over my head, but they ultimately got her stable and she was coherent enough to be able to tell me she was okay, even though emotionally, she probably wasn’t. That was scary in a different way for her, I’m sure as her body did things that she didn’t will it to. 

Once, everything had calmed down, the inducement proceeded and it took about 10 hours from the time we entered labor and delivery to the time when the nurse came in and said, “it’s time to start pushing.”

Change of Plans

In the two and a half hours that followed, I witnessed my wife do the most amazing thing I have ever seen anyone do. I’ll invoke Glennon Doyle here when I say that I watched her become a cheetah, and do exactly what she was born to do. I held her hand, arm, leg, any body part I was instructed to, that would help her brace for the next contraction, and, in reverence, watched as she listened to her body and responded to it, telling her how to push our son out. She was a hero, a mother effing rockstar. I was in awe, humbled to help in any way that I could to help this miracle that was happening before my eyes. We were about to meet our children and Aly, in her strongest, most amazing form, was making that happen. The only hinderance, being that Benny was determined to stay in. After hours, the doctor informed us that Bella’s heart tones were not reacting well to the labor, and it would be best if we proceeded with a c-section, so the plans changed again and I could see in Aly’s eyes that she felt she had done her best, but she also felt defeated. 

We agreed with the doctor and said, “let’s do it.” We wanted everyone safe and healthy. So, again, an army of people came into the room to prep her for surgery and presented me with surgical scrubs to change into. I watched as, in the middle of shift change, they prepped and medicated, and introduced themselves and introduced themselves again. I tried to be part of the wall, so as to not get in their way, but also look as intently as I could at my wife who I knew was about to undergo major surgery. The fear and weight that overwhelmed me, almost left me immobilized, as I absentmindedly slipped the scrubs over my clothes and prayed, yet again, continuously, for God to take care of her and our children. I think I begged more than prayed, as I felt the control slipping from me. They rolled her into the operating room and left to sit in the loneliest chair I’ve ever sat in just outside of the operating room hall for them to call me once she was prepped. The doctor passed me on his way in and said they would call me once they were ready for me. I implored him to take care of her, them, as he self-assuredly went into the hall, to ready himself to bring my children into the world and keep my wife stable.

I was beside myself with worry. Fought with myself to stay seated. Envisioned myself rushing into the operating room, just to make sure I had eyes on her. All of these things wrapped themselves around me and made me feel a panic I’d never felt as I sat, again immobilized. Time felt stilled as the minutes ticked by and no one had yet come to get me. I wondered if something had gone wrong. If the amount of time I had been waiting was normal. If, for goodness sake, someone would just come get me already. Then, someone did.

They brought me into an operating room with my wife laying down alert and what must have been a dozen people in the room. I sat next to her head and pushed my fingers through her hair as I told her I love her and how incredible amazing I thought she was. I could hear things happening in my periphery, but I focused on her and then the anesthesiologist was pulling the curtain back to reveal our son and I could have fallen to my knees as my eyes filled with tears. His cries pierced the room with the strength of his lungs and I was in absolute awe that he was real, and he was beautiful, and the person I love most in the world, created another person I love most in the world. I told Aly what I saw, that he was beautiful and what a pair of lungs he had on him, and that she had made an absolutely perfect little boy. The curtain was raised again and I kissed Aly on her forehead and congratulated her on being a mommy. I reverently repeated that I loved her and then the curtain was pulled back again to reveal our gorgeous daughter. Aly asked why she wasn’t crying, and that seemed to trigger her, because her cries then filled the room along with her brothers, and our family was complete. I again told Aly how absolutely perfect she had made our children and how proud I was of her. 

I was given the opportunity to greet our latkes as they had their Apgar assessed, which they passed with flying colors and watched in awe and the little humans we had made with our love. I looked at their little feet and their little hands. I listened to their very well developed lungs, and thanked God that they passed all their tests with flying colors and didn’t need to go to NICU. I reported back to Aly how perfect they really were and then we were meeting them as a family. We were both in love. With each other, with them, individually and as a pair. All of us. It was, I know now, the defining moment of my life, the moment Aly made me a mama. 

Aly’s Point of View

The Miracle of Birth

We always hear that term- it’s the miracle of birth. There are miraculous moments in my birth journey with our twins. It’s a miracle that we all ended up safe. It’s a miracle that both babies entered this world healthy at 35 weeks and 5 days, without either needing any NICU time. It’s a miracle that my wife and I were blessed with these 2 little perfect beings and that our family is complete. It’s a miracle that we all got to go home together. You may be saying to yourself that it seems like a whole lot of miracles happened there and you would be right. But from my point of view, it feels more like the trauma of birth than the miracle of birth. 

Birth trauma is a real thing. It happens to lots of women. It has now happened to me. It doesn’t get talked about often. Culturally, birth is not supposed to be viewed as traumatic. Birth is beautiful, or at least it can be, but I can tell you that I feel robbed of my birth experience. I didn’t expect to be a pregnancy unicorn and have everything go perfectly, but I never thought it would be as scary as it was. When I talk about it now, I can’t talk about it without crying. Reliving the rollercoaster of pain, confusion, lack of awareness, and instability is still a bit raw. 

That morning, my blood pressure spiked at 4am. A few minutes later, I was told that I would be induced for my safety and for the safety of the babies. They would treat my blood pressure with a cocktail of medications and supplements going through my IV and it wasn’t long after that I was being transported to labor and delivery. To their surprise, I was already 4cm dilated and 70% effaced. They suspected that I was actually already in labor and that could have resulted in the huge spike in blood pressure in just a few hours. 

Labor and Delivery

While in labor and delivery, I was being prepped for vaginal birth while they monitored my and the babies’ vitals continuously. Things were stabilizing and I was getting myself mentally prepped for what was to come. I remember looking at my wife and thinking that she looked really nervous. I told her that I was feeling great and that we should be excited to see our babies soon. I didn’t want her to worry, though I knew she would. 

Things seemed to go well while getting an epidural a couple hours later, once the contractions became too intense to bear. I was working on my breathing and resting in between each one. As soon as the epidural was given and the catheter was placed in my spine, I was told to move myself down to the front of the bed a bit. As I did, the room started to spin. I instantly felt cold sweats and intensely weak. I laid there in a bit of shock as I whispered “something is wrong. I don’t feel well.” I felt like I was in a dream-like state. There was a rush of people and commotion in the room. My bed was surrounded as my blood pressure bottomed out. I was in and out. Medications were being pushed in my IV on my left side. I had a second IV on my right side that was already in use. Near my head to my right, I saw my wife patting me with a wet washcloth. She was white as a ghost and had a familiar face on. I knew that face; she was praying. I tried to smile at her reassuringly through the chaos and the oxygen mask that somehow made it on my face. I have no idea if I actually made the smile. I felt agonizing pain then as the doctor did something with his arm up inside me to stabilize the twins. I screamed through it, which my wife has later revealed that I never actually made a noise. The screaming must have been in my head, though I could have sworn it was out loud. 

Suddenly, I was stabilized. Whatever they did worked and shortly after they told me it was time to start pushing. Pushing was not painful thanks to the epidural, but it was exhausting. I slept in between contractions, trying to find the strength. Two and a half hours later, the doctor stated that only little progress had been made and that Arabella was starting to have decreased heart tones. It was time now for a c-section. 

There was a new mental state to prepare for now. I was exhausted and feeling desperate for me and the twins to make it out ok. Another group of people emerged. It was time for shift change and these strangers were surrounding me preparing me for what was now to come during this major surgery. 

I was separated from Tiffany for a bit and was terrified. I needed to have her there to hold my hand. It was incredibly reassuring to have her with me once they brought her into the OR. I felt confused and hazed as all the medications and the stress were taking over me, while I laid behind and beneath this blue curtain that shielded me from all the work they were doing to bring our babies into the world. 

I started off only feeling pressure. Just some tugging and movement. Then, I started to feel pain, definitely more than pressure. I could feel actual pain and burning as they used the cauterizer on me. I pleaded with the nurse anesthetist through moans and she told me that she couldn’t give me anything else until the babies were out. She kept reassuring me that they were almost out. Then I heard it, I heard Bennett scream. I could see him being lifted and moved to one of the two NICU teams waiting to assess him. I cried and I looked at my wife. She was crying too. Here was our son that we waited so long for. His entrance gave me the courage to calm down, even through the pain, not that I had a choice, knowing that my daughter was on her way too. They lifted a shield from the blue curtain to reveal a small clear window where I could see Arabella emerge into the world. The room started to spin for me. Everything felt muffled. I asked my wife if Arabella was crying and she told me she was. I felt a sense of relief as the NICU teams told us that both babies looked healthy. Our twins were born. 

The Haze 

It was around this point where they heavily medicated me. What I remember from the rest of the next two days is just a bunch of snapshots. Tiny moments of time that scatter like a deck of cards trying to come together but instead they fall to the floor in a bit of a jumble. I don’t remember so many things. I don’t remember holding my babies for the first time. I don’t remember feeding them for the first time. I didn’t get to have this moment of “wow, I’m a mom. These are my babies” as the reality hit me. I was heavily medicated to keep me safe, but it robbed me of what I had waited my entire life for…the moment you look at your children for the first time and realize they are yours and that you’re a parent. Being a parent is made up of so much more than that first moment where you see and hold your child for the first time. I am aware of this, but I can’t help but feel like I missed out on a major milestone. 

I do remember that I stayed on the OR table being put back together for a long time. My wife and babies- I don’t know where they went. I know I kept moaning asking for the pain to stop before they would hit me with another round of meds that would knock me out again.

I don’t know how I got into the recovery room. I know that I was supposed to be in there for around 1 hour and ended up there for 8. My blood pressure was a yo-yo. High and low. High and low. Repeatedly. Each time starting some clock for protocol that kept me there longer. 

The memories are just snapshots of random moments. A flash- my wife in the corner holding one of the babies. A flash- two bassinets with babies laying next to me. I reach my hand out to touch them, but they’re too far. A flash- more meds being pushed. A flash- a new room and new nurse. I’m in postpartum recovery. A flash- I fell asleep with a baby in my arms. Tiffany is watching my every move to let me hold them, but also keep the babies safe. A flash- I have to move and feel like I’m being ripped apart from the inside out. I tell Tiffany that I think my guts are hanging out and that’s my incision must be open. She needs to check to see if I am ok. A flash- they take me off the meds. A flash- a nurse takes my babies vitals and they scream. I worry. 

I know I texted people. I acted like everything was fine. I’m not sure I was aware yet how not fine things had been. I think I might have posted things on social media. I have zero memory. It’s all gone. The birth I waited for, the moments I became a mom are gone. I mourn the loss of the experience, while also knowing that all the memories I make as a parent matter more. I mourn the pain I felt and the trauma of all the happened, especially after already spending 2 weeks in the hospital, while also looking at my babies and feeling lucky. I mourn feelings of the uncertainty of all that happened, as I spew a never ending list of questions and rely on my wife to fill in the gaps during our conversations in the car to and from follow up appointments. 

Good job, Mommy. Good job, Mama.

Once I came to and the world looked more whole again, I realized that my wife had been essentially parenting twins for two days on her own. I felt weak and in pain, but I wanted to try. I wanted to parent and every second not parenting them felt like an eternity too long. I let her two days of experience guide me on what she had already learned about each baby’s feeding, diapering, and cuddling needs. She knew them already, but I was still holding strangers in my arms. 

The doctors and nurses all suggested that I take Percocet. They reminded me that my pain was real and that I should consider it. For me, I knew that I had already been in a medicated haze and had missed my children’s first two days of life. I didn’t know what they liked or what was bothering them yet, but my wife did. I wasn’t going to miss out on more. Physical pain sounded better than the emotional pain of missing more of their lives. 

At the end of my first really coherent day, I was able to comfort the babies during a time where they felt discomfort. My wife, my constant during all of this, looked at me and said “Good job, mommy.” Three words that really undid me. Three really simple words, but they had me break down. Three words that validated me as a parent and let me know I was on the right path now. I would experience them. I would love them. I could do this with my wife by my side. 

These three words are now a staple during the hard moments. Each time one of us has a parenting win over the next couple of weeks, we have looked at each other and said “Good job, mommy” or “Good job, mama” to the respective parent. These words will continue to bring us through the new part of our journey together. They are a small, but major reminder that we will be each other’s cheerleaders and support through all the unexpected that is yet to come.

Groundhog Day

~Tiffany

We mentioned this in our last post, but our days are blending. We define them in relation to their place in the gestation week. We were 34 weeks and 1 day when we entered the hospital. That seems so long ago now. We’re 35 and 4 now and just a couple of days from meeting our son and daughter. 

This is what our days have been like: at 4am, we get woken up by the nurse assistant to take Aly’s vitals and any labs that have been ordered by the doctors. This either starts our day or we’re able to get a few more hours of sleep afterwards. The deciding factor is where Aly’s blood pressure is, the approach and experience with the nurse assistant, and whether either of these things are going to set off some anxiety for us. There have been quite a few days that have started at 4 am since we’ve been here. The nurse assistant leaves, not knowing what her visit has left behind and then for about 3 hours, we either soothe our anxieties by talking, speculating about what the doctors will think of the vitals, or watching TV. If the blood pressure reading or experience isn’t bad, I crawl into Aly’s bed and we try to squeeze a couple more hours of sleep before shift change inevitably wakes us up at just before 7am. We listen along as they review again Aly’s medical history during something they call, “bedside.” A few quick questions and a couple of notes about their contact info and the nurses are out the door.

We’re awake now and our day is “officially” started. I have time here to order breakfast for us, help Aly get her slippers on before making what I’m sure is her 4th trip to the restroom, because twins, and get us set up for the dining people to be able to drop the trays off. Some time between the pee and the food getting there, the new nurse assistant comes in to introduce herself and take the next set of vitals, on which we focus and pray. After eating, we have about an hour to relax before the nurse comes back in to hook the babies up to the monitor for their non stress test. The name has been really ironic to me since we got here. We’ve done nothing but stress about it. A couple of the nurses have explained to us that in a 20 minute period, what they’re looking for is 2, 15 by 15 “accels,” or, accelerations in their heart rates. So, we do everything we can to get them to pass. We play an eclectic playlist, we tap Aly’s tummy, we talk to them and implore them to “move for mommies.” We try everything in hopes that 20 minutes will be enough for them to pass, because otherwise, they have another 25 minutes before the nurse puts in an order for ultrasound to come and do a biophysical profile to make sure they’re ok. And this is not stressful at all, when one or both of your babies aren’t moving in 20-45 minutes. 

Depending on whether a biophysical profile is necessary or not, we usually see the high risk (maternal fetal medicine) doctors around 10ish. My frustration with them is ongoing because I failed to go to medical school to know what they know and, therefore, as a layperson and the wife of their patient, need them to be more personable and sometimes I wonder if there is anything they could actually say to make me feel better about this situation. Thinking about it now and writing it, it’s probably me, not them. Ugh. Anyway, they leave, after providing, at least me, little comfort, the nurse comes in to give Aly her morning meds and any IV infusions that are necessary, take a listen to her heart and lungs, and ask if there’s anything else we need. We then take showers and at around noon, we order lunch, the nurse assistant comes back in to take vitals and with bated breath we wait again for the blood pressure reading and either take a collective exhale or hold our breaths for a second longer while we figure out whether the reading will have implications. You see, the machine beeps if there’s an alarming number on the screen. I’m sure it’s helpful for them, but it certainly isn’t for us. It just makes us feel that we have something to stress about.

Our food comes about an hour after we order it and this is probably our most calm period of the day. If we haven’t already seen the on call OB/GYN from our regular practice, they usually stop by around this time. They’ve been our demystifiers. Our decoders. Our beacons in this storm, if you will. Anytime the MFM docs say something that make us ask questions, the doctors from our practice have been able to answer them in a way that calms us and educates us, so that we’re not spinning our anxiety wheels. Once they leave, we usually breathe easier and take a nap or keep watching either the food network, HGTV, or currently, “Sister Wives.” We’ve got until the 4 pm vitals before we’re really visited again by anyone. We take these vitals with a grain of salt because our OB/GYN has calmed us about everything for the day. Despite our anxieties, the doctors have assured us that Aly’s blood pressures are in an acceptable range and none have required medical intervention. Sometime between the 4pm vitals and the 7pm shift change, we order dinner. We go through “bedside” again and once they leave, our food is normally coming in. 

At 8pm, we have our next set of vitals. The nurse gives us time before popping back in and at around 9-9:30 she hooks the babies up for their second and final non stress test of the day. All the nurses are amused that we know where they are and how to position the sensors best to find the heartbeats. It’s not like we’ve been here over a week or anything. But we’re good humored about it. Again, we plead with the latkes to move enough to pass so that they, “don’t stress mommies out.” 

Assuming they pass, we’ve got nighttime meds soon after and at around 11:30pm we’re visited again by the nurse assistant on shift assigned to us to do our last set of vitals for the day.

Somewhere in the middle of all of that, Aly has peed about 10 times, I’ve added several layers of clothing and we’ve found time to update as many people as possible on whatever has or could change. 

We’re just a couple of days out now. I feel the babies in Aly’s tummy all the time and I feel like I can already see them in my mind’s eye. We’ve talked about it, and this will all be worth it. The stress, the constant change of plans, the guessing, the second guessing, the bruises from the  injections, the times we’ve had to advocate for ourselves to make sure we had a voice. We will have done all of it for our latkes because we love them so much already. Aly is napping while I write this but I’ve barely been able to sleep these past couple of days. I’m so grateful she has. My brain doesn’t stop in this situation. It’s constantly running and I’m constantly thinking about what the next reading is going to be and whether Aly is looking like she feels ok or if there’s anything more I could be doing. 

I take solace in my quiet moments of just observing her, when she’s just resting, and she’s rubbing her tummy as she’s taken to doing since the very beginning, and that seems to be growing everyday. I like to think she’s been letting them know that we’re here and we’re waiting for them and love them like crazy. I think they know it too. They certainly will once they make their grand entrance. Until then, we’ve been fantasizing about what they’re going to look like. The running joke is that they’re actually red heads. Lol. Aly is convinced that Bella looks like an angry bubbe (short, chunky, and grumpy) even though she hasn’t let us get a good look at her at all. This all stems from her posing like Rosie the Riveter during two ultrasounds, we’re pretty sure she has a double chin, and they reacted to “Hava Nagila” during one of the non stress tests, so they’re definitely connected to their roots. But as far as we know, they’ve only gotten my music taste through osmosis by virtue of my presence/proximity, not my hair color. 

Tomorrow, we’re 35 and 5. I’m so amazed at Aly that she’s done this. I’m grateful to her in a way that I can never express because I have had the privilege to witness most of it as an unintended blessing associated with COVID quarantine. I’m so freaking proud of her. I admire her strength and resilience and perseverance when this journey has gotten really hard. We’ve always done things together, but she deserves the recognition for doing this thing. This growing two humans thing and carrying them for what is considered full term for twins. I love her more everyday of this journey. I’m so blessed to be growing the Albrecht Household with her. We’re a little silly and a lot crazy, but our latkes are gonna love it.