Waiting for Normal

~Aly

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

The Thing About Words…

~Tiffany

Tired

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

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

Lonely

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

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

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

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

Love

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

Win

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

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

We can do hard things

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

Mama Meets Her Latkes

~Tiffany

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Groundhog Day

~Tiffany

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am Shoe

~Tiffany

Who is “Mommy” and who is “Mama”?

One of the things Aly and I have been talking a lot about lately is what the babies will call us. In an effort to understand where some of our community stood on this, we went onto one of our LGBTQ parenting support group sites to see if this was a topic that had been discussed in previous posts. It turns out it was, and it turns out that, yet again, Aly and I were in the minority in what we were inclined to go with and what felt right for us. 

Aly and I have decided to be called, “Mommy”, and “Mama”, respectively. However, we noticed a lot of the responses centered around assigning a “Mommy”-like name to the mother carrying the child and then something entirely different to her partner. We were reading things like the kids calling them by their name or calling them “Mama” but followed by the initial of their first name, while the carrying mother didn’t have that delineation. We were reading comment after comment of families approaching the situation this way, and we thought, “what makes us different?” It was glaring that we were. There were a few responses where couples had a person who identified as non-binary, and so they preferred and went with, perhaps something more similar to “Mama”, “Papa”, and that made more sense to us for that situation, but approaching it in a way that seems to elevate the place of the carrying mother wasn’t even something that had entered our mind, so we tilted our heads in question at that one. Let’s discuss.

This is our perspective: in every way, the babies Aly is growing in her tummy, are just as much mine as hers. She is as much their mother, as I am. That she has been, and will continue to provide nourishment to them well after they are born, in no way means that she holds a higher status than I do. As far as we’re concerned, it was our love, faith, and God that brought these babies into our lives, irrespective of the fact that they won’t be biological or genetic representations of me. They feel so wholly hers and mine, that we forget that a donor even exists. Aly and I often say that we made them together with a little help from our doctor. 

Aly said she felt like she was, “the vessel” to bring our babies into our lives. I imagine, that’s what I would have considered myself as well, had I been the one to carry them because I’ve always felt that our children didn’t need to be a genetic representation of us for them to be ours and meant for us. That Aly is carrying them and that they will have her chin and her lips and her eyes, makes this experience all the more special, but it does not mean that they are any more hers than mine. In other words, I’m their mom, too, in equal measure. Thoughts?

Who is Shoe?

I’ve chosen “Mama” because it feels right to me. It feels like who I am supposed to be to our latkes. However, I know that there will inevitably come a time when they assign to me their own moniker that they’ve created from well-timed and articulated babble. I’m well aware that one day, I could be, “baba,” or, “lala,” or “shoe.” All of which I am okay with because they will be uttered from their cute little baby lips. So, if for a time I am Shoe, so be it.

The Roles We Play

Reading through the comments on that discussion thread got us thinking about the roles we will play in our childrens’ lives and whether there was something we were missing about our thinking or approach, because we weren’t in agreement, and in many instances in addition to this one, we haven’t been in agreement with a lot of the couples who have responded to these threads. We came to the same conclusion we always come to, and probably the one that each of those families came to, we’re doing what feels right for us and our family. The reality is that our kids will likely call us whatever we want them to call us because we will teach them. The more important thing is that the roles we play in their lives will be equal. Different, I’m sure, because Aly has her strengths and I have mine, but, equal. 

The more we get into reading through these parenting blogs and threads, we realize that we’ve already made decisions about how we want to approach this thing we’re doing, raising good humans. We have no idea if the way we will do it will be right. We have no idea if we will be successful. We know immediately when something feels right or doesn’t and in the end, our instinct has usually made up our mind about something before we’ve looked it up to see what popular opinion is, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t malleable if something strikes that we haven’t considered and that feels more right. 

Sometimes, parenting feels like chess. Our babies aren’t here yet and I feel like we’re already moving our pawns in this game of life, avoiding pandemics, setting up strategies to make them face the battalion of people who won’t like them simply for who their parents are, and protecting them the best we can from those who seek to do them harm. It feels like the best decision we made and the scariest one at the same time. Can I get an Amen?

Finding Comfort in Community

~Tiffany

Growing up, as an LGBTQ person, I often felt that there was no one else like me, going through what I was going through, feeling what I was feeling, and living what I was living. And, while every person obviously does have their own lived experience that is unique to them, it was as I grew into an adult and met more people like me, and read of more people like me, that I realized we could find commonalities across all of our experiences. Whether those commonalities existed in our coming out stories, our journeys to self discovery, or the films or books we were exposed to that awakened us to something that made us different, there was always something that connected us. 

Aly and I always talk about that when we meet someone new in our community or we hear about or read someone’s story and we catch similarities to ours. It makes us feel connected to something bigger. It brings us comfort and a feeling that we weren’t really alone.

As soon-to-be new parents, we’re in a whole new community and the stories we read and films we watch do the same thing for us. We watched, “Father of the Bride II” yesterday and so much of it resonated with us. I found myself connecting deeply with the character of George Banks, and some of you that know me well, might laugh and really understand that. Not the “let me dye my hair and join a gym because I’m worried my youth is behind me” part of him, but the self-doubting, protector, who just wants everything to be okay part. 

We’re not supposed to take comfort from films because they’re inherently deceptive. They’re constructed and edited to present the best version of themselves by the time they get to us, but I did. I got comfort, and I feel no shame for it because I feel like for a new parent, you need to take it where you can get it. 

I was having a conversation with friend a few months ago, soon after Aly and I found out we were pregnant, where she was recalling leaving the hospital with her little girl. She said, “I looked over at my husband once we were all strapped in and I looked in the back seat and suddenly realized that we were parents and there was a baby in the back seat that was ours. Fully ours. Our responsibility. No nurses or doctors would be at home to help us. So, I turned to my husband and said, ‘are they really just going to let us take her? I mean, they know we haven’t done this before, right?’”

At the time, I laughed and in passing, thought, “I’m sure every new parent feels that way.”

It turns out, that’s true, at least for us, and we haven’t even delivered them yet.

Still, thinking about this conversation makes me chuckle and feel like everything will be okay, because we’re not alone and other people have done it before us. People just as naive and just as unsure and just as prepared/unprepared as we will be, have done this before. 

It’s no secret that Aly and I, in addition to talking about everything, read anything we can get our hands on that might help us, so that’s what we’ve done since the beginning, and when I say beginning, I mean, before we even found out we were pregnant. We were trying, as best we could, to prepare ourselves for everything, knowing very well that it was impossible. When we found out we were having twins, we joined twin parenting groups and lesbian parenting groups on social media, we’ve been following families that look like ours, and we’ve reach out to those resources when there was a question we just didn’t know how to answer. Things like, “how do other families in the LGBTQ community celebrate Mother’s day?” It turns out we’re in the minority in the way that feels right for us, but understanding how others approach things we’ve never considered, allows us to consider things we, perhaps, otherwise wouldn’t have. I hate to say it, but, “we read, and we know things.” 

Our families laugh at us when we talk about this because they think that, we think, we can find answers to raising children in books, blogs, research articles, and social media, when really it’s that we can learn from people who have done this before, perhaps differently from how they did it, that makes more sense for us. So, perhaps, what they call naiveté, we can probably call reverse-engineering parenting research.

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.