We visited our reproductive endocrinologist recently, which is the doctor handling our fertility treatments. This video discusses how the appointment went, how we feel, and what is coming up for The Albrecht Household.
We’ve gone through ups and downs on this journey. It’s hard to believe that it was in January of last year when I asked Aly if she thought we were ready to start taking steps toward trying to have a baby. By far, the most difficult part of this journey has been the emotional turmoil of disappointments, both small and large. We’ve made significant strides in our weight loss journey, losing over 100lbs between the both of us.
Yet, at times, it doesn’t feel like enough. I keep saying that we need to be kinder to ourselves as we’re on this road to motherhood, because, goodness knows, it might not be kind to us. So, setting unreasonable and unrealistic expectations, makes riding along all the harder when we fail to meet them. It’s a little easier for me to take it in stride than it is for Aly. Maybe it’s because I don’t have the weight of impending pregnancy upon me. Whatever the reason, getting through to someone that their best is good enough even when they stumble, is ever more difficult when that person is your spouse because, of course, you’re biased.
I’m ever the optimist about this journey of ours. Always providing words of encouragement when we stumble along during a particularly difficult week, or reminding Aly that we’re doing this together. We’ve encountered challenges along the way that we certainly didn’t anticipate. Things like medications that were road blocks and psychological misgivings to get through that led to false conclusions about what our stumbles meant about what kinds of mothers we would be. Because you see, when it’s this hard, any set back feels like it could be a sign. When it’s this hard, it can make us second guess our plan. But we’ve kept each other on course at varying times during these past 2 years.
We’re coming up on our next appointment with our reproductive endocrinologist and each day leading up to is filled with anxious anticipation for the news she will deliver. Are we ready? I certainly think so. We’ve ticked off all the items that were pending on our last visit. We’ve embraced a healthier, cleaner, preservative-free, whole30-esque lifestyle for the last 2 months. We’ve gotten Aly off the medication she needed to get off of. I can’t think of anything else that we could possibly have done. I just want her to say those magic words, “let’s get started.”
I would never have predicted that it would take this long. When first we spoke, I told Aly, “we’ll be pregnant by Christmas!”…last year. Patience is normally a virtue I possess, but with this, I’ve had my moments. I think God has given us the opportunity to grow closer as a couple on this journey. We’ve talked often about this, Aly and I. How we’ve learned to be more patient with each other and I’ve finally learned how to validate without trying to fix (I consulted books, haha). I feel like these things needed to happen in order for us to be at our best for our little ones. In order for us to be the fittest as a couple, that we could be to take this on. It felt like growing pains sometimes, learning these lessons. You’d think that being together just shy of 13 years would make you pretty well-equipped to be a good partner, but over the past two years, we’ve learned so much about each other and found ways to appreciate each other more in the ways that we respond to, that we’ve found renewal somehow.
I’ve loved Aly for longer than I can remember. I don’t know myself as well apart from her anymore and I feel so much more myself with her. We’ve talked about how she feels the same. I think, as a family, with our two cats, we’ve found a harmony that’s leading us to this new chapter. We were definitely less ready last Christmas than we are now and in the end, I think God knew what he was doing in teaching us these lessons and growing our patience. In the end, I think He was also gifting us more time together as a couple. I’ve always told Aly, “we have so much love in our relationship, I just want to share it with our kids. I’m ready for my heart to grow.” Though I felt like that was true when I said it then, it pales in comparison to its truth now.
As you saw in Tiffany’s last post, Fall, well more specifically Halloween, is in full bloom at the Albrecht household the past several weeks. The decorating is complete, with minimal chaos, and I’m now managing our Halloween movie watching schedule.
In between the decorating and movie watching this Fall, Tiffany and I are trying to find our place back in our normal life. I’ve been struggling a bit emotionally these past few weeks, as my mind has been stuck in a dichotomy comprised of two opposite truths:
- We are incredibly close to our first round of IUI and pregnancy.
- We have hit so many roadblocks getting here that I feel unsure if this journey will ever end with the outcome that we want.
These two views are in a constant war in my head. Things are starting to feel really real- we are so far beyond the hypothetical stage- and the reality is bringing in some anxiety. I keep hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst, in an attempt to protect myself. My mind keeps saying that I should be ready for the floor to fall beneath me at any moment. The constant chatter about babies has been silenced at home, which has been my doing. The thought of possibly leaving this process without a baby is too painful a thought to bear. So, it has been easier to just avoid baby thoughts than confront that possibility.
As a result, each day right now has felt like we are merely going through the motions. Hoping that the next doctor’s appointment will result in the doctor saying, “Now is the time.”
It’s incredibly intimidating and vulnerable to share these thoughts, but I figured if I am going to have a blog, it should be real. I’ve read that these feelings of anxiety are very normal for couples going through fertility treatments. Perhaps, someone out there will read these words and feel understood too.
Tiffany and I are working through the dark thoughts. Trying to just keep swimming past the deep lake of despair and back into the light of hope for the future. We’ve been working on getting past this the way we do everything, together. When I get lost like this, concentrating on making our own happy moments gets me through. Doing this has been pretty successful, as I feel like I’m finally leaving the darkness behind and moving slowly back into a place of hope with my wife.
Finding our center is filled with the two of us spending lots of quality time together. There have been many games of charades at home with Ellen’s “Heads Up” app. We ended a few rounds with belly aches from laughter, as Tiffany pointed out that all of my impressions sound the same.
And of course, we ended up spending a day at our happy place- Disney. It had been so long since we had been there because all the mickey shaped snacks are definitely not baby diet approved. We decided that one day wouldn’t kill us and to go and enjoy our day full of Disney magic. Zero regrets.
Tiffany indulged me at the Magic Kingdom when I grabbed a book out of my backpack. I let the book lead us around to find Disney secrets of hidden Imagineering gems. I am aware that we looked like complete nerds, but we loved every minute. All of the nervous tension left our bodies as we searched for the hidden Steamboat Willie at Ariel’s grotto. Apparently, having a book lead you around Disney is all you need. Who says there isn’t fun in married life?!
Tiffany also inadvertently created a “Conversations in the Albrecht Household” worthy moment when she had me cracking up on Main Street USA. While strolling, Tiffany said, “Ya know what I just noticed?” I looked around and saw some young women wearing some very tiny shorts. I was wondering if she noticed them. I should’ve known better because she continued on with, “That stroller over there looks fantastic,” while pointing at an expensive one parked on the side. I can’t help but laugh that my wife is breaking neck for a stroller. I’ll take that any day.
So this is our life for the past several weeks. High days. Low days. In between days. I don’t know if other people experience life like this too, but if so, and you’re one of them, I hope you find your center. Maybe your center will be at Disney just like ours, maybe not. Whatever works for you, do it. Aim for hope for the future. I’m holding on to the fact that our fertility journey future will be filled with more highs than lows. For now, I’m just going to keep holding my wife’s hand, watching corny Halloween movies, and going to Disney as much as possible. Thank you for being on this journey with us.
I picked this entry up and put it back down a couple of times before I was finally satisfied that it was done. Reasons: work, keeping up our home, adulting, a sick family member, life throwing us curve balls, and my own harsh inner writing critic. So here goes…
More often than not, Aly is the brains of this operation. I may troubleshoot when there are issues every once in a while, but when it comes to our day-to-day, I’m usually pretty happy following her lead. She’s the keeper of “the calendar.” Our friends know this term as the driving force behind every social engagement we attend, but for us, it drives doctor’s appointments, grocery shops, vacations, date nights, etc. On the rare occasion when I have deigned to make plans without consulting the calendar, disaster has ensued involving double bookings and hard learned lessons by yours truly. Our social life survives solely by this calendar and this calendar is kept solely by Aly for this reason. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have a say, it just means that I don’t touch it. See previous disaster to understand why.
We’re busy. We have two cats, a house, a handful of friends we see regularly and no family in the area, which requires travel anytime a gathering is to take place, or that said family gets sick. On top of all of this, we’re each other’s best friend, and more than anything else in the world, we love to spend time with each other, doing anything or nothing. Part of the reason we waited to start trying to have children was because we knew how significantly our lives would change. We knew, though probably not to what extent, that the time, emotional, and psychological investment, a child/children would require, would be massive, and being willing to make those sacrifices was something we needed to come to an agreement on and something with which we needed to come to terms.
While we waited on Dorian a few weeks ago to sweep passed us, we spent countless hours watching Las Chicas Del Cable (Cable Girls) on Netflix, with intermissions of games of Sequence. This was our weekend. It was absolutely blissful and filled with laughter, cuddling, counting of slaps in this English dubbed novella we were obsessed with, and lots of cat purrs from Boo who just wouldn’t/couldn’t have an inch of space between herself and us. I leaned into Aly at one point and said, “Sometimes I worry that when we have children, we won’t have moments like this.” To which she responded, “Why do you think I wanted to wait? I wanted to hang on to this until we were ready to share each other.”
We’re at that point now. Or, at least about there, where we’re ready to share each other. We’re ready for our time to not be just ours and for that to not feel like such a sacrifice.
What will “Our Time” mean for us later?
It’s getting closer to Halloween and we’re getting into what isn’t really a Fall for Florida, but is a Fall nevertheless, which means that it’s time to decorate the house. This is a cherished tradition of ours. We’ve acquired all of our décor over the years together, or inherited it from Aly’s childhood (i.e. Mcdonald’s chicken nuggets dressed in costumes – the charm alludes me, but it makes her happy, so they take the prime spot, front and center, on our entertainment center every year).
Our decorating traditions go something like this: I bring in the bins from the garage that are labeled, “Halloween/Thanksgiving”. We start to unpack, placing things around the house. Aly moves everything I have placed into the exact right spot she has in her vision for this year. One or both of us comment that we’re missing a bin or décor. We inevitably find it, but it was unlabeled and we vow to not do that again next year. Then, we go out and buy more stuff to decorate with and fill another bin that we will inevitably forget to label for next year and that will be the unlabeled bin for the year to come.
All of these steps are time-honored and cherished. I’ve stopped taking offense when Aly moves anything/everything I put down and submitted to the fact that her vision will make our house look beautiful and perfectly decorated for the coming holiday. She makes our house, our home. I’ve come to realize that.
These moments, when we’re taking the time to make it homier, I wonder what role our kids will play. I mentioned this to her this year. I asked her in jest if she would move the decorations our children placed around the house. To which she responded, “When they’re asleep.” I barked out a laugh and loved her just a little bit more. Because the times we’ll share with our children will be ours as well, just differently.
I don’t doubt that it will take a while for us to find a rhythm or to even find that time exists again once we have a newborn, but I also have no doubt that we will, even if it means having to figure out how to live without the calendar that keeps our world from falling into chaos, and I’m looking forward to every second.
Through these last few blog posts, I’m sure it’s clear that Tiffany and I are planning and eagerly awaiting the next big moment in our relationship: the moment we find out we are pregnant. The truth is, I’m sure that we have spent a lot of time planning for major events throughout the course of our relationship. Graduations. First jobs. Coming out. Major vacations. Wedding.
Our life is made up of so much more than these big moments. While we certainly spend lots of our in-between time preparing, in the middle of it all, our time is spent in a normal, albeit, sometimes nerdy way, like spending way too much time focused on Disney or even taking funny (or what we think are funny) pictures.
We often spend time binge watching Netflix shows together and subsequently feel betrayed when we find out that one of us watched ahead without the other. Recently, we were also plagued by a lost remote control in our bedroom. This meant that one of us had to get up each time the volume had to be changed. After intense searches, over an embarrassingly long time, we literally celebrated together with yells of success when we finally found it in a duffle bag under the bed.
We take breaks from adulting by spending time watching House Hunters or Chopped. Watching these shows together involves a lot of predicting and then critiquing. “How could they choose house number 2- number 3 was so close to their job and had an upgraded kitchen.” Or, “NOT THE ICE CREAM MACHINE!”
We have quiet time where we are “alone together.” Alone time usually involves Tiffany reading a book and me tackling some kind of home project, beauty routine, or crafty innovation. Time apart is spent sending each other recipes that we will never make, political articles to debate, or gifs with complaints about life’s responsibilities. We also send way too many pictures of our cats back and forth.
Dinner time is often a never-ending scripted experience of groundhog day. “What do you want to eat?” “I don’t know. What do you want to eat?” “Pick something.” “Okay, Chuys.” “No. Anything but that.”
We have ugly times too, like any couple. We get frustrated. We cry, which is often because one of us is PMS (a lesbian couple strife with two a month and emotions flying everywhere). Discuss lots of feelings. Apologize. Compromise. Sometimes, little quirks drive each other crazy, but also make us laugh at the lunacy of it all. I squeeze the toothpaste in a haphazard way (or, as Tiffany lovingly phrases, “like an animal”), while Tiffany wants it to be squeezed from the bottom, in a methodical way. I find Tiffany’s no-show socks EVERYWHERE, except the hamper; their most common hiding place is in between the covers of our bed. I inevitably forget to check for toilet paper and yell for help from across the house. Tiffany snoozes the alarm 20 times every morning, disrupting both of our sleep.
We play trivia together on stressful days. Going back and forth asking endless questions about Harry Potter, Friends, or Disney. Acting like it doesn’t matter who wins, but we both know that deep down it totally does.
The little moments create the foundation of our relationship. It’s in these little moments where love lives and grows stronger.
It’s easy to see differences between our relationship and those of others. They’re straight; we’re gay. But I like to think, and I hope that many will see, that while Tiffany and I may not be the next Leave it to Beaver, we tell a recognizable, but unique, story of love in marriage. Our story hopefully showcases that many times, we are more alike, than we are different from one another.
We’ve been shopping online for cribs…okay, maybe not just online. We may have gone to BuyBuyBaby and may have visited Target (okay…several Targets) to peruse their baby section. I’ve always been much more of a dreamer than Aly. She likes to have evidence that things are real before she dreams about them…something about not wanting to get her hopes up. It was like that when I was dreaming of what our first house would be like and what our honeymoon would end up being. I’d pull up listings of homes on Realtor.com and show them to her, wanting her to jump into this fantasy with me of us cooking in these kitchens and getting ready in the morning in these bathrooms. I haven’t had to search for her excitement with the baby dream. She’s dreamt this one right alongside me all the way through. She’s done it in her way, granted, with categorized atop categorized Pinterest boards ranging from baby gear to tips for labor, but her excitement has matched mine and sprinkled it with anxiety every time we realize how ill-prepared we are, and I’m sure, how ill-prepared everyone is for their first child.
Dreaming this dream with her has been one of my favorite things we’ve experienced in our entire relationship because when I get to do this with her, I feel like I’m seeing it all ahead of time and it feels like a gift, like extra time granted somehow. We sat in gliders at BuyBuyBaby, wondering which would go best with our top three nursery themes, which seem to change weekly. We ultimately disagreed and came to a compromise about that particular baby furniture decision and many others that day. We discussed whether we needed a bassinet or a pack-n-play, or both. She, of course, had consulted numerous pins, which led to blogs on these topics, and we ultimately came to a decision that made the most sense for us, though I’m sure we’ll question it about a thousand times before any kind of purchasing happens, as will be the case for everything we arrived at a decision (::cough:: compromise) over.
She’s worried whether she would be able to have children since she was a teenager, having been diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) at an early age, which is part of why this particular dream is so monumental and sharing it with her, that much more special. To be very clear, PCOS is NOT an infertility diagnosis. But, for Aly, it is a very real possibility and one that she constantly thinks about and experiences anxiety over, so to be so close at this point, and to have her come on this journey with me, feels that much more rewarding and that much more a blessing. She says that the dreaming helps to stop the anxiety in its tracks and keeps her focused on the goal: Mission: Albrecht Baby.
When we left our doctor’s appointment a couple of weeks ago and our expectations about when we could begin the conception process weren’t met, the dream that we had been dreaming felt like it took a stumble. We understood, of course, the reason for the postponement, and agreed. We just wished it was different. It felt a bit like a half step back, not a full one, just a half. BUT, a week later, after suffering through the first Whole30 week, and having seen such transformational improvements for Aly with the health issues she’s been dealing with, we were back on track and cemented in the understanding that this needed to happen, however disappointing it was hearing our doctor push us back a month.
I dream this dream with her every single day, in so many iterations, but even though the dream is sweet, the reality feels like it will be far sweeter. So, last weekend we went back to Target to look at baby things and, in the midst of Whole30 and our new dairy-less, grain-less, carb-less world, we were brought back to center reading baby books aloud to each other.
Going Back Before We Move Forward
It has been longer than intended since our last blog post. Truth be told, I’ve been processing and slightly procrastinating. We have a lot happening at once, between new events in our fertility journey to general adulting tasks to take care of. Since our last post, we went back to see the reproductive endocrinologist.
Ultimately, the discussion with the doctor, while positive on our conception outlook, wasn’t exactly what we were expecting (maybe it was a bit of what I was expecting). To give me time to taper off certain medications that I can’t be on while pregnant, the doctor pushed our timeline back by a month. This, on its own, is not earth shattering. Delays happen during doctor-led pregnancy missions all the time. (I’ve lovingly been referring to ours as Mission: Albrecht Baby). The more challenging portion of our discussion was that the doctor felt that I should get on the Whole30 diet to help me transition off my medication, which is related to digestion issues. She further felt that it would help continue to boost our chances of conceiving, as it boosts metabolism and improves egg quality.
Whole Diet Changing
I had previously seen friends go on the whole30 diet and always thought, “Well, that’s great for them, but there’s no way I’m getting involved in that craziness.” I already had made major changes to my diet. Now, I have to make more?
My relationship with food hasn’t always been the healthiest and weight is something that I’ve always struggled with. But once we got on the baby journey in January 2018, I knew that I was going to have to make changes to how I approached food daily because I wanted to try my best to have a healthy pregnancy. Never before have I had such a motivator. This wasn’t about fitting into a smaller size or looking better in a bathing suit (although both would be nice). This was ensuring that I would be able to produce a healthy baby. It has taken time and there have certainly been ups and downs, but I have lost 50 pounds. Whenever I thought about giving up, I thought about being a mom. So, now I find myself at a crossroads. As difficult as it has been to make these lifestyle changes, my doctor was now asking me to make more. After coming so far, was I going to really stop here and give up? No way.
For those of you who don’t know much about it, the Whole30 diet is quite intense. No grains. No added sugars of any kind. No dairy. No beans. No peanut butter. No preservatives. I would like to point out that this covers the majority of the grocery store. It’s a strange day when you look at milk longingly, but it’s definitely happening. So, what can I have? Fruits, vegetables, spices, and proteins that have not been processed. This seemed so limiting to me and I knew that even beyond the temptation, that this would require a lot of work. There would be a lot less take out and delivery. As I cried, while ruminating over how my life was going to change even more, Tiffany held my hand and said she would join me on the diet. She assured me that we would tackle this the way we’ve always done everything, together.
Trader Joes Virgins
I spent several days after our doctor appointment doing all kinds of research on the diet. The diet normally only lasts 30 days, but in our case should be followed at least through conception. It feels more like WholeForever. Quickly, through the magic of Pinterest, I found that Trader Joes had all kinds of products that were Whole30 approved. The planner in me kept planning and found recipes that looked like things I could stomach. If we were going to do this, then I was going to go all in. Side note: if you have a Trader Joes near you, and you haven’t been yet, GO! I cannot believe how amazing it is and we have been pleasantly surprised about the prices. I will say that Tiffany yells profanities every single time we leave there because she feels so bamboozled by Publix prices. It’s a bright spot in my day that always makes me laugh, even when I’m up to my ears in spinach, instead of Oreos.
Since we started this our lives have been even more run by schedules. We have lots of meal planning, meal prepping, more dishes (which is something that take out doesn’t make you do), and just general craziness. I’ve eaten more fruits and vegetables in these past two weeks than I have, well… ever.
Perfection is Overrated
We have not always been perfect, but every day we get up and give our best effort to do right that day. I suppose that’s a lot like parenting. Hard as shit. Messing up even though you’re trying. Feeling guilty about messing up. Trying again, and again, but knowing through it all that in the end it will all be worth it. Until then, I’ll just keep dreaming about bring home our baby one day, while I snack on some more mango. Yum!