Latkes on BOGO

~Aly

As a woman who grew up with a single mom, I am no stranger to searching for the best deal. I spend time looking into sales and comparing prices when online shopping. I’m also eager to take advantage of the BOGO deals at Publix. I never expected, however, to find out I was taking part in the ultimate BOGO-all sales final- deal at the fertility doctor’s office.

“Are there two in there?” That’s what I heard my wife loudly ask during my first pregnant visit with the doctor. My breath caught in my chest. The doctor said “Yep. I told you on the phone that you were very pregnant.” I lifted my head to the side. Clear as day, two amniotic sacs were on my screen.

The doctor congratulated us and gave us the first pictures of our children before leaving the room for me to get dressed. Tiffany gave me the biggest hug and kiss while I stood there in shock. “Twins. Twins. Twins,” echoed in my brain. While I put on my leggings with the “twins” chorus on full blast inside my head, my wife dropped to the floor on her knees, placed her hands in the air, and praised God for the miracles that He gave us.

We walked back out through the empty waiting room, where Tiffany did a jumping dance of joy, as the front desk secretary, Danielle, walked out and giggled at our semi-private moment of celebration.

I felt like I was moving through a fog, like some kind of automaton operating on autopilot. Then, what seemed to be out of nowhere on the drive home, I just started laughing. Whole belly, tears, crazy person laughing. The laughs kept being interrupted with “Oh my God, Tiffany, it’s twins,” before the next cackle would begin. It was like elation was being mixed with disbelief, shock, and joy in some crazy cocktail that I was sipping on.

Suddenly, I stopped, panicked, and looked at Tiffany. “We need to make a budget. What luxuries can we cut? How the hell are we going to afford twins?!” My methodical and wise wife grabbed my hand and said, “Please let us bask in the joy of this for a while first.” So, I exhaled and continued to laugh at the crazy turn of events that we were experiencing. The doctor turned to us during the ultrasound and said, “You were on very low doses of meds. I suspect that you’re much more fertile than we all thought you were. Apparently, you’re very fertile.”

I’ve thought a lot about why my reaction was initially so subdued. They tell you that multiples are more likely when undergoing fertility treatments. I always knew that this was a possibility, but I do not think I ever really believed it would happen. It had taken us so long to get to this point that just having one healthy baby felt like a miracle that was almost out of reach. Two? Never really on my radar.

As I sit here writing this now, I hold my hand to my belly and feel like the greatest adventure is about to happen with our little blueberry sized babies (though Tiffany and I have been lovingly referring to them as our “baby latkes” due to my family’s Jewish heritage and the Jewish heritage of the donor).

Our “baby latkes” have a lot of growing left to do, but the doctor said that currently, they look “perfect.” They’re growing at the textbook rate with good heart beats. Prayers/good vibes sent for their health (and mine while I carry them) during these next several months are always appreciated.

I’m thrilled to be having twins with my wife. I feel like they have been sent to us and that we were destined to be their mamas. God must have a plan for what is to come and I have a suspicion that we have no real idea how drastically our lives are about to change.

Eggs and Croissants

~Tiffany

We’re five days into our second cycle. What does that mean? That means four days ago Aly’s uterus was thin and she had a bunch of follicles waiting to turn into mature eggs in her ovaries (according to the picture in the ultrasound).

It feels like a whirlwind. It seems crazy that we can pick right back up and start trying again so quickly. Then again, in different circumstances, I suppose it wouldn’t seem so sudden. Perhaps it’s all the doctor’s appointments. There are so many of them and I’m trying to be at all of them, even when I don’t have a question to ask and all I have to contribute is to look at the picture on the screen to see how Aly’s ovaries and uterus are doing and remember as much as possible about what the doctor says.

I joked last week when one of our friends reached out in a show of support, after we received the news we weren’t pregnant, that I’ve been trying to knock Aly up for years. Lol. This process has been so daunting and specific in terms of timing and medications and cycles, so on, that it’s a wonder “oopsies” happen for anyone.

I mean, the people that go to a reproductive endocrinologist are either couples like Aly and I, who belong to the LGBTQ community, or straight couples that have been trying for some time without success to conceive, or single women who want to have children (I’m sure I’ve missed a population here). How can it be that some people just “happen” to get pregnant when the likelihood for people who are actively trying, with medical professional assistance is only around 20% for the first try. This baffles me, but I’ve digressed.

We’re five days in and the meds seem to be doing the work, at least that’s the only explanation I have for the heightened emotional state at the Albrecht household. We have cramping happening and scattered headaches throughout the day and if this sounds like a weather forecast, that’s because it feels just as unpredictable as one. We suspect that the impact is stronger this time around because Aly’s gone much longer without being on birth control (at this point it’s been over a month, whereas, during the first round, she had only been off for a week). In any case, I’m doing my best to be my best self in the emotionally supportive, household helpery sort of way.

We have another ultrasound tomorrow to see how Aly is doing in her cycle and how she’s responding to the Letrazole. Considering she already had a bunch of follicles hanging out in her ovaries, I’m thinking it won’t have had to work too hard. The consensus after the last cycle was that nothing really went wrong. It just didn’t take, and so the doc didn’t adjust the meds or change the timing or do anything different really, at least not up until this point. She mentioned that she didn’t want to increase the meds because Aly’s ovaries seem to have a good amount of follicles already and we don’t want to make her ridiculously fertile. To which Aly charmingly responded, “I definitely don’t want to be giving birth in a cardboard box.” Lol

So, we’re cleaning the house, and building furniture from Ikea and Wayfair and getting our house all ready for the holidays (At least we were until Aly broke her pinky toe). Basically, biding our time until our next two-week wait, which we think will start in approximately 4-5 days, if you can believe it. Now that Aly’s toe is broken, it’s more her apologizing that she can’t help while I very expertly build  furniture and clean in all the wrong ways. Lol.

We had a conversation this weekend over croissants (this will be relevant in a moment). Aly turned to me and said, “You’re going to have our children learning French, aren’t you?” I should explain that I have been trying to learn French for years, but inconveniences like the CPA exam and life have gotten in the way. I responded, “I don’t speak French, despite my best efforts, but I could, absolutely!”  To which she responded, “don’t they have those ‘teach children languages things for the car?’” I swear I loved her more in that moment. I pictured myself repeating French phrases with the kids in the van while we are running errands, and this parenting thing was even more magical than I already thought it would be. She then said, “And your mom will definitely be speaking to them in Spanish.” “You’re damn right, she will. Our kids will be geniuses! They’ll know all the languages!” I said. Aly may have face-palmed while I dreamed, but that breakfast was so reassuring to me as we started this process all over again.

I didn’t want to write a response from my perspective after we found out the results from our first cycle because Aly very eloquently captured how we were feeling in her post, but we’re hopeful again about this one. We know what to look out for and what Aly experienced before when we were symptom-spotting. We know the things we shouldn’t do and the things that drove us crazy and probably should avoid. We know what questions to ask, so that Aly doesn’t feel stir crazy in the house and like I’m confining her to the couch for two weeks without merit. We know all of the things we are going to know from all of the forums we read up until last week and I doubt there will be anything knew. So, here’s to hoping for good news and a saner two-week wait than the first. In the meantime, our sperm is flying again, so I hope you’ll join us in wishing them a safe and speedy journey. Or, as the French would say, bon voyage.

IUI: Round 1 Part 2- Aly’s POV

~Aly

I won’t keep you in anticipation. I’ll start this blog by letting you know what everyone has been waiting for. I’m not pregnant. Am I upset? Yes. Is this the end? No. This blog post was written the night that we found out, so it’s pretty raw, but I thought it would be better to purge it all and also fill everyone in.

The Two Week Wait

After IUI (insemination of sperm deep into the uterus), which by the way was quick and painless, comes the dreaded two-week wait. I had read about this several times and heard about it on other lesbian couple vlogs. I remembered feeling like the two weeks would go by very fast. I thought about all the things you have to do daily- work, cook, clean- and thought this left little time to obsess over this. I was wrong. Never have two weeks felt so long. Days felt endless.

During the two week wait, the reproductive endocrinologist also had me taking progesterone daily. This helps to increase your chances that fertilization will occur by making your uterine lining sticky and decrease your chances of miscarriage. The benefits are great. The downside is that once you’re pregnant your body produces more progesterone naturally. This means that the early signs of pregnancy are also side effects for those taking progesterone. I felt pregnant, with all the early pregnancy symptoms, but without the benefit of actually being pregnant. I felt cramping constantly, extreme fatigue, considerable abdominal bloating, pain in my back muscles, aches in my leg joints, and emotional ups/downs daily. This kept Tiffany and I symptom spotting and truly made us feel like we were dealing with a positive pregnancy result. I think this hope made the fall feel that much harder.

Tiffany was truly a champ during the two week wait. They say to take it easy during this time. You don’t want to over-exert yourself. My wife took this to heart. She did EVERYTHING around the house and insisted that I stay off my feet. She also was my solid emotional foundation through the rollercoaster. Getting through this would be impossible without her. Just thinking about how blessed I am to have her support chokes me up.

The Results

We broke the cardinal rule of the two week wait. Don’t take a pregnancy test early. Take it too early and you risk a false positive from the trigger shot that Tiffany administered (per the doctor’s orders) to induce ovulation. Alternatively, taking it too early can also give you a false negative because the HCG that pregnancy tests are measuring may not be high enough yet, even if you are pregnant. By the time we took the test, the package insert stated that it would be 75% accurate. It clearly was negative, but we kept up faith. We stayed hoping for a false negative within that 25% wiggle room. Unfortunately, the blood test that the doctor ordered confirmed that this indeed was a negative result.

The Aftermath

Getting the final result has been a whirlwind of emotions for both of us. Tiffany has grown very quiet, as I know she is processing her emotions internally. Certainly, she is still trying to be my pillar of strength.

At 14, while undergoing testing to determine the cause of my symptoms, an ultrasound tech looked down at my terrified 14 year old face and said, “Yeah, you definitely have PCOS. You’re not going to be able to have children.” This woman doesn’t know how her words crushed me at 14. She certainly doesn’t know what it does to me at 29, as it still echoes around me like a threat in my mind. The negative result made me go back to that place and feel 14 again, despite that my doctor feels that I have an excellent chance of conceiving.

I have been all over the place. I feel sad that it didn’t take. I feel guilty that my wife and family have been so excited and that now as a result of me not getting pregnant, that they are now disappointed too. I feel like I’m being too hard on myself, while simultaneously wondering what else I could have done. I feel like God has the perfect timing and that this must not be it. I feel hopeful that the next time it will take. I feel loved from all of the support. But most of all, I feel exhausted. The journey just to get here has been so long and I desperately hoped that this next step would be easier. I wanted something to go smoothly for us in this process. It’s hard to keep stumbling and pulling myself back up, but I certainly will.

What’s Coming Up

When the doctor called to officially give us the news, she also gave us a light to look forward to. She told us that she thought we should just keep moving forward and go directly into the next IUI in just a few weeks. We agreed immediately.

We knew that the chances the first round were only at a 20% success rate. Your chances go up each round as your doctor makes adjustments based on the unique aspects of how your body reacts.

I am so hopeful for the next round. Praying to God for His will to be done and praying for strength and faith for what is to come. This process brought me so much closer to God as I’ve come to realize how little is in my control. I’m learning to give up control to Him slowly but surely through it all.

With the hope of another round also comes significant pressure. Each round costs us $2000 and I know each round is also critical to our morale through our fertility journey.

Thanksgiving

All of this comes during Thanksgiving week. While I am sad, I know that my life is full of blessings.

  1. My wife, family, and friends have provided me with a circle of support and encouragement.
  2. This blog has encouraged people to reach out to us and shower us with love and hope. All of it is incredibly meaningful.
  3. We are blessed enough to be able to continue to pursue multiple rounds of IUI, both physically and financially.
  4. The doctor still feels the odds are in our favor.
  5. I know that God, and family members who have passed on too, are moving us forward to our divine destiny.

Closing Round 1

I know that this is only round 1, but the journey to get to this point has been years in the making. This has been emotional for us.

Writing this blog has been a journey for me learning how to be open and honest, rather than only letting people in slightly. I’m being candid through this because this it is only worth writing if it’s real. Perhaps you’ve gone through something similar, know someone who has, or will in the future. I hope this long post helps you to understand the journey of others.

Life isn’t always a pretty social media post. Sometimes, many times, life is messy. Thanks for sticking with us through our mess. Keep praying and sending good vibes. We love you all.

Insemination – Part 1: Two Perspectives

Welcome again to The Albrecht Household blog! This post is a little different. Aly and I decided to tie in both of our perspectives into one post. We’ll keep changing things up to see what works and keep you on your toes :).

Tiffany’s Reflections

What exactly does letrazole do? Was taking it all at once really the recommended therapeutic dose? What exactly is a trigger shot? What does it “trigger”? Will our first try, stick? What did she mean when she said “test your levels”? Is it a blood test? Are they doing another ultrasound when we go in again? How many eggs has she produced? How do we know when she’s ovulating? When do we order the sperm to be shipped? Do we have her sign the sperm shipment form the next time we see her? The insemination seems to be getting close and the form isn’t signed yet, I think I should print a second copy, just in case something happens with the first one…

Early morning thoughts of an anxious wife. I experience anxiety differently than Aly. Normally, I’m very, “go with the flow.” Lately, since we got the news that we would start trying, I have not gone with anything that could resemble a flow. I’ve woken up before my alarm every morning with thoughts such as the ones above and they continue well into the day until I calm myself down by googling for answers to some of them. Research helps me. This isn’t the case for Aly. The more she knows, the more she has to worry about. The more I know, the less I don’t; therefore, easing my mind of the questions that are incessantly floating around torturing me every morning.

I’m the first to admit that we have no control over this situation. God is in complete control here and we have done everything we can up until this point to give us our best chances at success. On the surface, that brings me so much comfort. It’s warm and fuzzy in our little bubble of faith. But, also, I have to know more. I have to know what the things do and how everything works, so that I can fix what I can if I need to.

This feels trivial compared to what I’m sure we will go through when we actually have a little human to take care of, but it doesn’t feel trivial right now. It feels like a freaking big deal.

I want to know everything I can because I want to be able to answer the questions too, not just rely on the doctor to answer them. I want to be able to bring myself and Aly comfort when we don’t exactly understand why it is we have to take a medication at exactly this time in order for it to be the most effective when we need it to be.

It’s exhausting, but in the end, rewarding. Aly’s been doing so much in these last two years that I feel like the least I can do is to just know things, for myself and for her. I can think of no gift I will ever be able to give her that will ever amount to the one she is giving us, but maybe I can just know things so that I can have the answers and make this less stressful.

So, this is what I do. I research, so that I know things, so that when we do things, we feel good about them. I now know that letrazole induces ovulation by stimulating the growth of more follicles, which hold the eggs, and releasing them. I know that the high-dose letrazole has been scientifically proven to show more effective results than administering therapeutically over the course of 5 days. I know that a trigger shot is basically a lab-created version of hCG, which stimulates the maturing egg within the follicle to complete maturing and release. I don’t know if our first try will stick, but I have a heck of a lot of faith that it will. “Test your levels” means that she will measure the thickness of the uterus lining to make sure that it is ready for implantation and see where the follicles are in terms of size. Yes, an ultrasound will be performed at each of the coming appointments. We don’t know yet how many eggs she will release. We’re getting an ovulation testing kit to know when she will be ovulating, although, I have an idea based on the app I downloaded. We’re ordering the sperm to be delivered on a specific day now that, yes, the form is signed, submitted, and processed. It only took one copy, even though I brought two.

This is what I do. I research and I know things. So maybe now I can sleep tonight…

Aly’s Reflections

The doctor said that my uterus wasn’t “thick” enough yet this morning. A thick uterus means my body is ready for implantation- ready to make a baby. I’ve spent my entire life with a thick body and suddenly I’m not thick enough. What gives?! It seems like we are still on track, though.

The next steps are:
-see the doctor again this weekend to check my levels
-give a trigger shot for ovulation
-coordinate sperm shipment (the sperm will be flying across the country). FLYING SPERM! How crazy is that?!

There are many moving parts and all are part of a process that we are unfamiliar with. It’s quite overwhelming. If we ever have to do this again, I take comfort in the fact that we should know the drill now. But, certainly, I’m hoping that it will take this time and we won’t have to do it again.

I’ve worked so hard to get to this point and Tiffany has been by my side every step of the way. Personally, I feel like all I can do right now is pray a strange prayer. Pray for a thick uterus. Pray for a smooth shipment of flying sperm. Pray that the shot works. Pray that the egg will fertilize and implant.

I hope you’ll join me in this strange prayer. Send good vibes, should you be so inclined. The outpouring of messages and comments with support have been so encouraging. We appreciate all of you who are rooting for us.

Fall with The Albrechts

~Aly

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:

  1. We are incredibly close to our first round of IUI and pregnancy.
  2. 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.

Mission: Albrecht Baby

~Aly~

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.

Our thoughts before our fertility appointment

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!