Dear Benny and Bella…

Dear Benny and Bella,

I have been your mommy for 25 weeks, but I’ve waited for you for so much longer than that. As a child, I dreamt about being a mommy one day, as I practiced by caring for my own dolls. I changed their clothes and pushed them around in child-height strollers. As a teenager, my heart ached when my doctor told me that having a baby wouldn’t be impossible, but would be challenging for me, based on my diagnosis. I carried it around with me along with my teenage angst. As a young adult, I waited for the timing to be right. I waited for me to do some growing up, but I never stopped thinking about what it would mean to be your mom. As an adult, I fought for you. We, your mama and I, fought for you. We fought to eat a healthy diet, pushed past the exhaustion on the elliptical, researched to find the right fertility specialist, and searched for months to find the right donor to ensure that we could give you your best chance.

We continue to fight for you now, during a pandemic. We waited and waited for the right time to bring you into our life. We wanted you to have the least amount of struggle. We knew what it was like to have financial struggle and only one parent at home. We worked on our relationship during bumps and even during the highs, through communication and workbooks, so that we could be the solid foundation for you at home. We made strategic financial choices to give you every opportunity. But no amount of planning can still make the right time, clearly, as we never wanted to bring you into this world during a pandemic. We have such little control, if any, in all things in our life.

We fight to keep you safe during this challenging time. We have stayed at home for months, without leaving for anything but a doctor’s appointment, which even then meant a mask was donned. We haven’t eaten out a single time in fear that there could be some way that we could infect me or you with this virus. I worry about the kind of life you’ll have with the changes we are experiencing in this world. I don’t know what kind of life will be normal soon, but I hope you know that mama and I will try our best to fill it with happiness, love, and nourishment for your body and soul.

I sit in your room a lot. I sit in there and just experience your imaginary presence. Many people can tell you that Disney is my happy place, but right now during this pandemic, it’s your nursery. I see you laying in your cribs. I see a tired mama rocking you. I feel your positive energy there before you’ve even taken your first breath. You often bring me out of my thoughts while I’m in there, with a sudden kick to a random organ, but I think you’re just making your presence known again. Keeping me grounded.

I used to want to be a mom for me. I thought that this would fulfill my life. Now, I realize that I’m not a mom for me. I’m a mom for you. The shift has already happened. I’m living every second to be the mother you need.

I am someone who has prided myself on my accomplishments. I’ve always done well in school, college, adulting, and my career. I haven’t held you in my arms yet, but I know that you are my greatest accomplishment. Nothing your mama and I will ever do, will ever bring us more joy or pride than being your parents. I feel it with every beat of my heart. I see it with every toothy grin on your mama’s face when she has just a glimpse of you on a face-time screen or has the privilege to feel your wiggles.

We don’t have everything figured out. We will try our best to figure out how to care for you both physically and emotionally. I don’t know if we can give you everything you will ever want, but I promise you that every day you will know the immeasurable amount of our love. Our babies. Our favorite little beings.

We cannot wait to kiss you and love you forever.

Love always,

Mommy

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.

Dreaming This Dream with Her

~Tiffany~

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.

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!

Opposites Attract

~Tiffany~

She’s the F to my T

I’ve taken the Myers Briggs personality test several times throughout my life for different reasons, and on multiple occasions, up until I hit my late-twenties, my result was INTJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging). Only very recently did I take the test again during a development class at work and find that something had changed: my last letter. I went from an INTJ to an INTP. Somewhere in the course of my twenties, I started perceiving more than judging. Consistently, Aly and I test exactly opposite. When I tested INTJ, she was a ESFP (Extroverted, Sensing, Feeling, and Perceiving). She has since also changed to an ESFJ…still my exact opposite.

So, what does this mean? I thrive in an environment fueled by logic and not clouded by feelings or emotions or any of that other “fluffy stuff.” Aly, on the other hand, on top of being an ESFJ, is a Cancer, which means that if there is an emotion out there to feel, she will feel it, and she will articulate that feeling better than anyone. This has led, on several occasions, to a conundrum: how can I, as a logical problem-solver, be a supportive partner to her, an emotional feeler of all things, and how can she do the same for me?

Our approach to this problem-solving conundrum: the fix or feel method. For instance, when Aly complains about something in her day, I quickly pose the question “Fix or Feel?” Having her say “fix” allows me to go into my natural state. It’s what I do best. The “feelings,” while out of my comfort zone, result in a lot of “Yeah, that would make me upset too.” Or, “That was so rude. I can’t believe they did that to you!” She suddenly feels understood and I feel like a rock star.

My mind at work: “What’s the most efficient route to get through San Diego Zoo in one day?…”

The Emotional Monkey Wrench

I jokingly call her my “emotional monkey wrench,” because when I think I have a problem figured out, and I present her with the solution that seemingly would work perfectly, the emotional monkey wrench gets thrown in and stops the gears from turning for a while until the feelings are resolved. It’s funny how relationships make you adaptable, and now that I’m thinking about it, I wonder how much of my conscious effort to be better at feeling for her, and, subsequently, talking about those feelings, played into my last letter changing.

I had to very consciously make an effort to not approach solely problem-solving with Aly. I had to, when presented with a problem, very literally, take a second to tamp down on my initial reaction, understanding that the moment was about her. I often still fail. Less often now, thankfully, but I do still, now and again.

“And you get emotions, and you get emotions,…” (Oprah voice)

All of this makes me think about how I’ll approach emotionally charged situations with our children. Aly has asked me before, “How are you going to react if our kid/s comes home and says they’re getting bullied?” I proceeded to tell her of all the ways I would engage the administration at the school and ensure that the parents of the bully would be notified and take action. Aly’s next words were, “but what about our child’s feelings? How will we handle those and make sure that they’re ok?” I was at a loss. I responded in the way that I do when I don’t know the answer to a question. I said, “I’ll read a book about how to handle it.” Aly jokes that I think I can find the answer to all problems in books. Perhaps I do. In books I find the known when I come face-to-face with the unknown. They provide me with the possibility of a solution, but it occurs to me now that this approach is akin to trying to piece-meal a manual for child-rearing out of the experiences of others. It’s sounding more and more like a ludicrous approach. So now, where do I turn?

Times, they are a’changin’

I wonder how kids will change our personalities and approaches. I wonder how they’ll change our relationship and our traditions. I’ve always considered us to be so compatible, whether because we are opposites in many ways, or because my passivity is just enough for her necessity to be in control. I often joke with her that together, we make the perfect person because she’s strong where I’m weak and vice versa. I doubt that this will translate into being the perfect parents, but I muse about how we will play off of each other knowing what our strengths and weaknesses are and how our children will receive and perceive it all.

Planners are Planning…

~Aly~

I’m a planner by nature. One look at my desk full of calendars, planners, and post-its would make that clear, should there be any doubt. Deciding to try to have a baby has been no exception. Being a part of a lesbian marriage helped to further enable the planning measures put into place, as an awful lot of planning is necessary for my wife and I to have a baby. No oopsies here!

Since January 2018, Tiffany and I have set goals, made to-do lists, and basically started to research as much as possible. We have spent many evenings reading blogs or watching vlogs about lesbian couples conceiving, pregnancy prep, birthing options, breast feeding, and even baby shower themes. Truthfully, I remember fantasizing about raising children together years ago when we started dating and fell hopelessly in love, like an SNL skit about a stereotypical lesbian couple. Many years have passed since, as have discussions with countless versions of our visions of children. These discussions always reveal that our children are going to be brilliant, gorgeous, athletic, funny, and artistically inclined. We will also be fantastic parents who are emotionally aware at all times, involved by coaching their teams, and planning school events on the PTA. You’re always an amazing parent with perfect children before you actually become a parent, but I digress.

Now, as only a couple more months separate us from our first round of IUI, we are truly moving into uncharted territory. Sure, it’s good to have plans. I’m glad I learned what foods are helpful for conception. I’m excited to look at baby clothes. I enjoy perusing through endless lists of baby names. And I’m sure I’ll be grateful that I read that article about which exercises will help to prevent vaginal tearing during birth. (I am aware that we aren’t pregnant yet. Don’t judge.)

But, what about all the unknowns? The things that no amount of planning can control. Will we have trouble conceiving? How would I ever recover from a miscarriage? What if we become pregnant with multiples- will we be able to handle it? Will the baby be healthy? How are we going to afford all the diapers and daycare? I even think about stuff that is farther in the future, such as, how will we protect our child from the bigots of the world?

To cope, I find myself repeating a phrase I often heard during my mental health counseling grad school classes. “Trust the process.” I think this is going to be a learning experience for me, for her, for us. I already feel myself adapting and growing. I pray for guidance and comfort during our journey. I always knew that having a baby would change me, but I never expected growth while simply trying to have a baby.

Truthfully, I’m so glad that I have Tiffany by my side during whatever is coming. We are each other’s support. Our marriage is our life raft during life’s inevitable chaos. I expect that this fertility journey will bring us tears, joy, and every emotion in between.  Yet, I’m pretty sure that embracing the unknown will be necessary now. I’ll have to jump in, not just dip my toes.

So, cheers to growth, to finding excitement/happiness through the unknown, and to sharing the highs and lows with possibly only 5 readers (which are probably just close friends and family who see us regularly anyway). This is the start of sharing our journey with you. Welcome to the Albrecht Household.

Life, bring it on. We are ready. 

Becoming The Albrecht Household

~Tiffany~

My name is Tiffany. I’m the one in the hat on our homepage, sitting next to the beautiful one with sparkling eyes and a gorgeous smile. I’m a ginger that very much cowers in the face of sunlight and I often burn in my car on my way to work. I’m an avid reader and don’t generally discriminate when it comes to genre, though, left to my own devices, tend to stray toward queer and historical fiction (it’s a great day when I can find both in one book). My favorite thing in the world to do is spend time with Aly. This may sound cheesy, but she was my best friend before she was my girlfriend and, subsequently, my fiancé and wife, so it stands to reason that the more time I spend with her, the happier I am.

We want to have a baby, or babies, or however many blessings are meant for us. You see, we’re people of faith, and the journey we’ve been on, has demanded, and I imagine, will demand, a lot of it. We’re in the midst of testing and doctor’s appointments that are too numerous to count, but all worth it. The process we’re planning on going through to conceive is called IUI (intra-uterine insemination), where-in, our doctor injects the sperm from our chosen donor into one of our uteruses. In our case, that will be Aly’s. The running joke is that I have the spare…just in case. It’s sort of an unintended benefit of a lesbian relationship. Lol

We came to this decision over many years and it really felt natural for us to have Aly at least carry our first, if not, all, of our children. I never really felt that “thing” that many women say they feel. The internal pull to carry a child eluded me for most of my life. I want to have children, don’t get me wrong. I want to have tons of them! I just don’t feel that it’s my biological imperative to carry them. Aly, on the other hand, always saw herself as one day being pregnant. In this way, and in so many countless others, we fit. So, my uterus is the spare, and very happy to remain that way, but Aly has always been open to the idea of my carrying, should my feelings ever change. They haven’t as of yet, so for now, I’ll keep the ginger gene to myself.

When we began this journey over a year ago, it all felt like it was going to happen so fast, at least to me it did. Aly has always been more realistic with time. In my mind, I saw it going a little like this: lose all the weight we need to by the summer for a healthy pregnancy, pick our donor by August and get inseminated by December. Badda bing, badda boom, baby(ies) in 9 months… Boy, was I wrong. We’re finally here though, and we’ve reached the goal we wanted to reach.

Am I nervous? Sure. Am I completely freaked out by the idea of raising a human, let alone, a good one? Abso-freaking-lutely. My biggest fear at this point is just that. I want us to raise a good human. I want them to be healthy and then, when our part kicks in, I want them to be kind and think of others first. I want them to think for themselves and stand up for what they believe in. I want them to have Aly’s wit and my humor. I want them to have Aly’s endless capacity for emotion and communication and none of my inability to articulate even the most basic of feelings. That’s what I’ve been doing lately…Thinking about the things I want to make sure to pass on and not to. Thinking about how I can be better at the things I know I’m not great at. But here’s the reality: I’m more thoughts, and Aly is more feelings. I’m more about solutions, and Aly is more about making sure we understand the problem before we fix it. Aly talks more and I talk less. Like I said before, in so many ways, in all the ways…we fit. I can only believe that when it comes to parenting, this will be true as well. We will complement each other as we always have and this brings me comfort and calms the nerves.

A year and a half ago, this felt like a dream, but with a couple of months until insemination, and our sperm in a freezer at the bank, waiting for our withdrawal, we’re very much in reality and I feel anxiously fantastic about all of it!

The Journey Begins

Some 12 1/2 years ago, the love of my life became my girlfriend. Five years ago, she became my fiance, and a year and a half ago, she became my wife. For us, we feel like we’ve been on this journey to motherhood and family since we fell in love, but in actuality, we starting taking steps toward making a baby just last January. I sat across the couch from my best friend in the world, on New Year’s Day and said, “I think we’re ready.” I knew we were newlyweds, and I knew we had a long road ahead of us, but there was no one in this life or any other with whom I would want to travel it. So, I held her hand and promised we’d do it together, as we always had done everything. And so began our journey of growing #thealbrechthousehold.

~Tiffany

Life in #theAlbrechtHousehold

January 2019

Tiffany: Why are there more TJMaxx bags than Publix bags in our extra bags drawer?

Aly: Don’t ask questions you don’t want to know the answers to…

#doweneedgroceries #raedunnaddiction #thealbrechthousehold

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