Dear Little Whisp and Thumper,

I’ve never experienced the extreme spectrum of emotions like I have while mommy has carried you around in her tummy, helping you grow. Because of her and you both, I have felt my happiest happy and my scariest scared. You see, parenting, being your parent, your mama, is the most daunting thing I have ever done, or will ever do, in my life.

From the second, I saw you as owl eyes on the screen in the doctor’s office, after she helped mommy, me, and God, make you, I knew that it was up to us to try to make sure you would always, or mostly always, choose goodness in your life. Mommy told me once that I want people to be so good sometimes, that I would always be disappointed in them because it’s hard to be good all the time.

From you, before you have gotten here, and I’ve cuddled you and kissed and hugged you, I want you to know that I don’t expect you to be or choose good all the time and I won’t be disappointed in you when you don’t, but I will love you always. I’ll love you when you choose to be kind and when you’re not, though I hope you always are. I’ll love you when you choose to be gracious and when you’re not, though I hope you choose to give of yourself for the good of others more than you don’t. I’ll love you when you choose to be selfless and when you’re selfish, though I hope you know the profoundness of selfless love in your life.

I hope to be the mama that you deserve. Mommy will be amazing. This I know to the bottom of my soul. I know she will play the best dragon and kiss your scrapes with the most tenderness. I know her words will sooth even the hurtiest of hurts in your life. I’ve learned so much from her already, and you’re not even here yet.

You’re my little whisp and thumper, that wiggle to the music I play you and swish under my ears when I place my head to Mommy’s tummy, and more than anything, I want now to be worthy of the blessing God has given Mommy and me in giving us you.

Mommy and I talked about you for years before you were ready to be ours and we were ready to be yours. We talked about the life we would have and the love we would share. We talked about the things we would teach you and you would teach us. We talked about the home we would build for you and how you would feel not only safe and loved, but free to be whoever, and whatever you wanted to be there. You see, before you were ours and we were yours, we loved you so incredibly much that we made sure we could build that home and give you that love and teach you those things.

I’ve always told Mommy that she was my favorite person. It was something I started saying after she introduced me to what I’m sure will be a recurring film in our home still, “Mary Poppins.” I have three favorite persons now in this incredibly blessed life of mine: Mommy, and my little whisp and my little thumper.

When you finally make your entrance into this world, there is one thing you can know for certain, Mommy and I have loved you since forever because God destined us to be a family long before we knew what our family would look like. Our hearts and homes have grown to receive you and though we want you to keep cooking until you’re ready, we can’t wait for you to get here, so that we can love on you.

Forever your Mama,

Tiffany

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

While They’ve Been Growing

~Tiffany

The Elusive Kicks

Try as I might, by sight, or sound, or touch, they elude me. Aly has been feeling Bella and Benny for days now. DAYS! As soon as she alerts me that she feels something, my hand immediately goes where hers is resting, presumably, hovering over where they’ve been bouncing. Nothing. I place my ear to her tummy where I can feel my daughter is laying just out of reach and she has nothing yet to say to me, so all I do is sing to them. Songs that I sang just to Aly before we were pregnant, but now they’re our songs, our not-so-little family’s songs. 

CORN!

The many apps we have, tell us how they’re growing (11.3 inches and about 1.5 lbs each now – the size of an ear of corn!). And the phenomenon that I already feel like a parent before they’re even here, when they’re just 1.5lbs, is astounding to me, but I do. As I build their cribs, to make sure their place to sleep is safe, and paint their room, to make sure the place they call home is soothing, I’m doing everything I can outside of Aly’s womb to make sure I can be the best parent I can be. 

The Parenting 

I keep saying that I will only have a chance at being good at this parenting thing, because I have Aly by my side , as with all things in my life. I know I have so much to learn from her. She’s so naturally nurturing with kids. They immediately connect with her and she knows how to connect with them. It’s what made her such a great teacher. 

When these babies are born, there will be a lot of experiential learning. After all, neither of us has ever changed a diaper, but the diapers will get changed, and neither of us has ever bathed babies, but they will get bathed. 

Most who know me, know that I’m not the most animated person. Pretend play will not come naturally to me; Aly has always been better at that. We’ve talked before on this blog that I’m naturally a fixer, rather than a feeler and Aly is naturally a feeler. That means that when they come to us and say that someone hurt their feelings at school, she will immediately tend to their emotional wounds and I will be holding them thinking about who will incur my wrath at their school the next day and who I can contact immediately to rectify what has been done to my child. We will navigate this world of parenting balancing each other out as we always have. She will calm me down and tell me that my wrath is unnecessary, and that my focus should be on bandaging the hurt that was caused to our son or daughter, and I will take her with me to the principal’s/teacher’s office the next day, so that she can keep me calm while I rationally explain to them that they need to do better to protect my children when I’m not around.

I read all these posts about parenting and all the profound things that you want to do for your children and wish, hope, pray, that I will be able to do them. I read a post by Glennon Doyle that said, “I used to lie to my kids all the time, back when I thought my job as a parent was to shield them from pain to keep them safe rather than walking them through their pain to make them brave.” I think about how I want them to be safe AND brave. I think about how I can possibly ensure both and how daunting just that sounds.

Delivery Roulette

We’re taking this online twin parenting class, because of course we are. The good news is that we’ve made the right decisions with things like our cribs and cars seats and the multitude of mom blogs and Pinterest boards we’ve consulted have led us to the right products to put on our registry. The not necessarily great news: One of the tasks that the class gave us to do was to watch some birthing videos to compare a C-section and vaginal birth of twins. An hour and half later, I’m convinced twin mommies are nothing but heroes. HEROES! All mommies are, but twin mommies… Do yourself a favor and watch one of those videos if you don’t agree with me. The moral of the story is that there is no easy way for us to have these babies. 

Here are some interesting facts for you: Vaginal or C-section delivery will be rough because there are two of them growing and if you didn’t know, all of this depends on the positioning of Baby A, which in our case is Bennett. All of this rides on if Bennett is in a good position for vaginal delivery. If he’s head-down and ready to go, then we’re at least starting off that way, otherwise, he’s decided that they’re both coming out through C-section. Our baby boy holds the cards in this crazy game of delivery roulette.

So I Guess While I Wait…

For now, I’ll keep putting my ears and hands to Aly’s tummy, hoping to hear them move or feel them kick. Until then, I’ll just keep singing to them and thinking about how to make them safe and teach them to be brave and kind and compassionate. Also, we’ll be waiting for Benny to decide how he wants Bella and him to make an entrance into the world.

As always, thank you for your thoughts and prayers and well-wishes. We appreciate all of them and hope that you and your loved-ones are staying healthy and safe.

Valleys and Train Tracks

~Aly~

Like so many across the country and world right now, COVID-19 has directly impacted Tiffany and I financially. We’re incredibly grateful that it has not impacted us physically, and hope it never will, but still, knowing that your finances have changed while you have twins on the way is a hard pill to swallow. 

We’re handling this obstacle, the way we handle all obstacles…together. I told Tiffany that in life we are bound to walk through valleys. Valleys, perhaps even barren valleys, are an inevitability. Yet, I know I’m blessed even in this midst of this valley, because I don’t have to travel it alone. We have friends, family, and each other. Tiffany and I sometimes walk through the valley hand-in-hand. Other times, we take turns carrying each other through it and up the mountain. For me, no mountain top would be complete without her. And any valley with her is far superior than a mountain top with anyone else. 

Never could I have imagined that my pregnancy would have been in the middle of a pandemic. Some days, it does feel like a cruel joke. Chairs next to exam tables in OBGYN’s offices aren’t supposed to be empty. They’re supposed to have a loved one there to hold a mommy’s hand. Event halls instead of virtual spaces are supposed to host baby showers. Soon-to-be parents are supposed to peruse baby sections in stores without masks donned. 

But when I see those babies move on an ultrasound, when I feel them wiggle in my belly, when I watch my wife read my stomach a story because the app said that the babies can hear now, everything else seems trivial. This is what we always wanted. This is what we worked so hard for. It’s just placed in a very different box than I expected it to be in. 

One of the Albrecht’s favorite movies to watch is “Under the Tuscan Sun.” While watching it this week, I heard a line that felt new to me while in our current situation. Martini, a supporting character, looks at Francesca, the protagonist, and says “Signora, between Austria and Italy, there is a section of the Alps called the Semmering. It is an impossibly steep, very high part of the mountains. They built a train track over the Alps to connect Vienna and Venice. They built these tracks even before there was a train in existence that could make the trip. They built it because they knew some day, the train would come.” I’ve probably heard this quote a hundred times before, considering how many times we have watched this movie, but this time was different. I was struck by the blind faith being described.

It hit me that so much of our lives have been built on blind faith. I chose Tiffany, even before I knew how the world would react to us. We chose careers that would give us similar schedules and stability, even before we were married. We bought our family home, with the intention of family dinners and holidays, even before there were children being tried for. And now, we make choices every day during this pandemic to bring our children into a stable home, even before they’ve been born. It sounds foolish in some ways to build tracks before a train and to plan a life as a parent even before children, but I know that this kind of faith is what will get us through this valley. Someday, not too far from now, we will bring our babies home, the train will be ready, and we will realize why every hard time was worth working through.

No Stressing, Just Nesting

 Aly’s POV- Excuse the crazy hair, but Tiffany and I are in full nesting mode. We picked “honied white” #SherwinWilliams Zero VOC paint for the babies’ room. Tiffany and my grandma are painting Benny and Bella’s nursery and I am staying far away in case there could be any fumes. While they paint, I’ve been organizing our baby supplies. Thank you to everyone who has sent us diapers and wipes. We signed up for rewards with #Huggies and #Pampers because we know we’re going to need them. Did you know that the twins will go through 600 diapers a month? My mom is cleaning the rest of our house to save us all from CORONA anxiety.

Tiffany’s POV- Life’s a little crazy right now and we’ve got nowhere to go. This weekend, to distract from all of the stress, we steam cleaned the carpets, painted the nursery, built one of the cribs, organized a bunch of baby stuff, dusted our bedroom furniture… and I’m sore just writing this. Aly’s 15th wind is still going while I lick my wounds just keeping up. Pregnancy gives you superpowers, I’m convinced of this now more than ever. Every time we walk into the nursery and something else is done, we get so excited. Our baby latkes are growing and we can’t wait to meet them.

Twins in the Time of Corona

With the world and our lives in chaos due to COVID-19, Tiffany and I have felt too mentally and emotionally spent to sit and write a full blog. But we miss being able to share our journey with our loved ones. We’re going to start posting some daily quick shares to keep everyone updated until there is a better normal. – Today is the official reveal that we are having a boy and a girl. Get ready world for Bennett and Arabella Albrecht. #QuarantineDay20

Two Blogs in One

This week you’ll get a blog post from each of us. Enjoy!

Atari ~Tiffany~

We were escorted to the ultrasound room at our new OB/GYN’s office on a couple of weeks ago, and I was just about bouncing, I was so excited to see our babies again on the big screen. I couldn’t wait to see how much they’d grown and I was anxious to hear that they were doing well and growing as they should be. As Aly got her feet into the stirrups, I grabbed her hand and the ultrasound tech motioned that she was about to start the trans-vaginal ultrasound.

My hand tightened and my eyes glued to the screen. In no time at all, there they were. Baby A was making themselves known on the screen and wiggling about. The most amazing thing, truly. Baby B was hiding a bit as they’re positioned a little lower and so the tech had to do some maneuvering to get a clear picture, but, sure enough, they made their appearance and did a little shimmy for us too. It was like magic. I couldn’t believe they were moving! Aly began to squeeze my hand and I basked in the significance of the moment. Our babies, growing, and moving around in their temporary home inside my wife’s belly. I was in awe. The ultrasound tech continued to take a bunch of measurements of the babies and other things and before finishing up, gave us a glimpse of them together. It took her a while to get them in the same image, but she was able to do it, and Aly was a trooper.

The tech wrapped up and gave us some privacy before we were going to be escorted to the waiting room to await our doctor, when Aly turned to me and said, “that was so freaking painful.”

Aly has been checking in with me constantly to make sure that I feel like an integral part of this pregnancy. She had expressed concern that because I wasn’t carrying the baby/ies, I wouldn’t feel like I was a part of it. I laid her fears to rest of course, but, what the appointment brought to light is that even though I feel like a very important part of the pregnancy, my experience has been entirely different than hers. I go to every appointment, I’m constantly kissing or touching her belly, and we’re talking about our future with these babies together.

While the ultrasound tech was “playing Atari with the wand,” trying to get good measurements of Aly and the babies, causing pain to Aly, I was transfixed by the black and white images on the screen before us. Completely in awe. I was peripherally aware that Aly was uncomfortable, but not until the tech left, did I realize how much discomfort she was in. We’re going through this pregnancy together in every way possible, but there are just some things that I’m not attune to.

I think another one of those things will be the first flutters of movement that Aly will be able to feel when our latkes start wanting to make themselves known to her. I’ll have to be patient, which is a small ask when the love of my life is growing our children in her tummy, so I think I can manage.

When our experiences in the ultrasound room were so different, I thought it was worth writing about because it was something we hadn’t considered in the months and weeks leading up to our pregnancy. How even though we’re going through this pregnancy together, we’re experiencing it very differently. There’s no doubt that to both of us, this pregnancy has been nothing short of miraculous and although the idea of twins is daunting and the reality downright terrifying, we’re working hard to try to embrace every moment of this journey in preparation of the our latkes being here.

Not Like the Movies ~Aly~

Twelve weeks. I have been pregnant with twins for twelve weeks! I’ve been doing very well so far. Weight gain has been on track, minimal nausea, and some fatigue. The nausea and fatigue are going away slowly now as I head into the second trimester.

My pregnancy so far has been nothing like the movies. Movies often portray pregnant women incredibly sick, yet feeling unbelievably joyful (when she isn’t having some comedic mood swing). Things just seem to overall go relatively smoothly for these characters. 

My reality has been a bit different. Life is chaotic. My family is living with us while they search for a house to buy. Tiffany has been dealing with a shoulder injury, which she now has to have surgery for. We are preparing to sell our house and buy another. And all this while finding out we aren’t just expecting one new bundle of joy, but two, which is just that much more to prepare for (although it does also mean double the love). 

Honestly, I  guess I just pictured my pregnancy going differently. 

I thought other aspects of our life would basically stop and that we would be able to be pregnancy focused 100% of the time. (I do realize how naive this sounds). Clearly, life and God had other plans. 

I thought I would just continue my plans with what I had been doing for healthy living, but there is so much more I have to limit while pregnant. I don’t mind the limitations, which includes a lot of food I can’t eat (though I do miss a good medium-rare steak), and due to the restrictions of a twin pregnancy, having to swap my gym routine for a casual walk. I obsess over every calorie and pound gained because I want so desperately to avoid gestational diabetes (which I am at an increased risk for due to a twin pregnancy, being overweight, and having PCOS). And in general, this mom guilt is intense every time I eat something sweet or don’t go for an evening walk. All day long I make every decision surrounding keeping these babies safe (I’m sure the moms out there are thinking, welcome to parenthood). Any little mess up makes me feel like I’m letting them down as a parent already. 

Additionally, Twin life is already different than non-multiples life (even before they’re born). I worry about their health because I know that twins may be susceptible to more health problems and premature birth. I try to plan more financially and panic when I think about the cost of infant daycare for two babies, on top of a mortgage and student loans. I’m also bombarded by negativity regarding what is to come with twins. 

When people hear “twins,” they tell you things like, “I barely survived with one. There’s no way I could’ve done two.” Or “ Wow. Think about the cost of diapers for two.” Online isn’t much better. Joining twin parent support groups can feel less than supportive. Their pages are filled with articles about how miserable the first year of life with twins is and how long these babies stay in the NICU. It’s filled with health issues, stories of bed rest, and leaving the hospital without one or both babies. 

Needless to say, all of this is very overwhelming. It’s also unbelievably confusing to feel an immeasurable amount of love towards these babies growing inside you and having no idea how you’ll get through all of that bad that social media and people tell you is coming your way. Of course, your mom guilt also increases for feeling guilty in the first place. Remember, pregnancies need to remain as stress free as possible. 

I want these babies more than my own breath. More than life. More than I can describe. I picture holding them, feeding them, and loving them through every unpredictable moment of life. I’m sharing all this because… because it’s real. Because it’s truthful. Because I secretly hope that other moms felt as much love and concern for the unknown future with their babies as I do. If they do, it sure isn’t shared freely, probably because moms are expected to be perfect. Well, I don’t have room for mom shaming on this blog or in this life. And we really do need to do better about talking about uncomfortable topics like this. 

Currently, we are awaiting the results of the genetic testing for the baby latkes. This will be able to tell us their sexes (which is really exciting), but more importantly, it will be able to tell us if they’re healthy right now. 

Tiffany and I are filling our schedules with even more baby(ies) prep while we wait on the results. It’s a nice distraction that gives us the illusion of some semblance of control. We have spent our time deciding on baby shower games, buying cute onesies, and looking into upgrading Tiffany’s Honda Civic with a SUV. 

In the meantime, we wait. We plan. We dream. We comfort each other. We hold my belly and say prayers for their health. And we take parenting classes to try to give us a better idea of what is to come. Until next time, keep the baby latkes in your thoughts and prayers. Healthy babies are an amazing blessing.