Superstitious

~Aly

There are many stereotypes that are associated with lesbians. I hate to perpetuate any because, like every community, all members of our community are unique. Yet, Tiffany and I do validate a few stereotypes- one being that we met on our high school softball team. I was a freshman on the varsity team desperately looking for someone to pair with for warm ups. She was new to the varsity team and needed a partner too. A friendship developed and more blossomed later. The rest is history. 

Something you may or may not know about athletes is that their lives in sports are surrounded by superstitions. There were people on our team  who didn’t wash their socks during winning streaks. We all had to cross 3 body parts (fingers, arms, and legs) when traveling past a cemetery to a game. Specific bats, mitts, and balls were deemed to be lucky. While Tiffany and I are past the stage in our lives of participating in team sports, sometimes old habits die hard. 

A few days ago, while Tiffany and I prepared for the second insemination (we are currently in our two-week wait again), I noticed that our superstitious mindsets still surrounded us. The routines being setup by us to try to ensure a positive IUI result were and are aplenty. 

Us about to go into the Dr.’s office for IUI Round 2

Our Positive IUI Superstitions:

  • Putting the right movie on before bed the night before our IUI will create a good day the next day. The choices are normally “You’ve Got Mail” or “Mary Poppins.” They set the optimal scene for the next day, apparently. 
  • Jewelry is an important accessory choice that brings the right energy into the procedure, if you choose correctly. 
    • 3 Alex and Ani bracelets:
      • Disney Christmas bracelet- to bring us a Christmas miracle this year.
      • Elephant- for luck, of course.
      • Cross- to bring strength, faith, and blessings. 
  • A specific perfume will make the doctor give us a good report. I didn’t wear it once to our appointment and our 1st IUI got delayed. This further validated the use of this perfume as a necessary part of our IUI routine. 
  • Wearing matching t-shirts, with the word “Love” written across the chest, to the IUI procedure will remind us of the strength within our relationship and will help us keep the right mindset throughout. 
  • Making wishes when the clock shows 11:11 for a healthy pregnancy and baby can’t be missed. 

Do I really believe that all of these things will determine our IUI fate? No, but my gut says “Why chance it?!”

I am able to recognize the hilarity, absurdity, and desperation in it all. When it comes down to it, all of this is just an attempt for this type-A woman to have the illusion of control. I’m grateful that Tiffany joins me in these ridiculous antics, so that we both can embrace our weirdness.

Ultimately, we are so ready to be mamas that we are willing to go through all of these silly routines to help get us there, even if they are just based on superstition.

If you know of any more lucky things we should add to our routine, I invite you to share it with us. After all, it can’t hurt! 🙂

IUI: Round 1 Part 2- Aly’s POV

~Aly

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

The Two Week Wait

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

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

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

The Results

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

The Aftermath

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

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

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

What’s Coming Up

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

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

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

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

Thanksgiving

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

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

Closing Round 1

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

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

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

Insemination – Part 1: Two Perspectives

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

Tiffany’s Reflections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aly’s Reflections

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

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

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

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

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

Our Time

~Tiffany

I picked this entry up and put it back down a couple of times before I was finally satisfied that it was done. Reasons: work, keeping up our home, adulting, a sick family member, life throwing us curve balls, and my own harsh inner writing critic. So here goes…

More often than not, Aly is the brains of this operation. I may troubleshoot when there are issues every once in a while, but when it comes to our day-to-day, I’m usually pretty happy following her lead. She’s the keeper of “the calendar.” Our friends know this term as the driving force behind every social engagement we attend, but for us, it drives doctor’s appointments, grocery shops, vacations, date nights, etc. On the rare occasion when I have deigned to make plans without consulting the calendar, disaster has ensued involving double bookings and hard learned lessons by yours truly. Our social life survives solely by this calendar and this calendar is kept solely by Aly for this reason. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have a say, it just means that I don’t touch it. See previous disaster to understand why.

We’re busy. We have two cats, a house, a handful of friends we see regularly and no family in the area, which requires travel anytime a gathering is to take place, or that said family gets sick. On top of all of this, we’re each other’s best friend, and more than anything else in the world, we love to spend time with each other, doing anything or nothing. Part of the reason we waited to start trying to have children was because we knew how significantly our lives would change. We knew, though probably not to what extent, that the time, emotional, and psychological investment, a child/children would require, would be massive, and being willing to make those sacrifices was something we needed to come to an agreement on and something with which we needed to come to terms.

While we waited on Dorian a few weeks ago to sweep passed us, we spent countless hours watching Las Chicas Del Cable (Cable Girls) on Netflix, with intermissions of games of Sequence. This was our weekend. It was absolutely blissful and filled with laughter, cuddling, counting of slaps in this English dubbed novella we were obsessed with, and lots of cat purrs from Boo who just wouldn’t/couldn’t have an inch of space between herself and us. I leaned into Aly at one point and said, “Sometimes I worry that when we have children, we won’t have moments like this.” To which she responded, “Why do you think I wanted to wait? I wanted to hang on to this until we were ready to share each other.”

We’re at that point now. Or, at least about there, where we’re ready to share each other. We’re ready for our time to not be just ours and for that to not feel like such a sacrifice.

What will “Our Time” mean for us later?

It’s getting closer to Halloween and we’re getting into what isn’t really a Fall for Florida, but is a Fall nevertheless, which means that it’s time to decorate the house. This is a cherished tradition of ours. We’ve acquired all of our décor over the years together, or inherited it from Aly’s childhood (i.e. Mcdonald’s chicken nuggets dressed in costumes – the charm alludes me, but it makes her happy, so they take the prime spot, front and center, on our entertainment center every year).

Of course, Hocus Pocus plays while we decorate!

Our decorating traditions go something like this: I bring in the bins from the garage that are labeled, “Halloween/Thanksgiving”. We start to unpack, placing things around the house. Aly moves everything I have placed into the exact right spot she has in her vision for this year. One or both of us comment that we’re missing a bin or décor. We inevitably find it, but it was unlabeled and we vow to not do that again next year. Then, we go out and buy more stuff to decorate with and fill another bin that we will inevitably forget to label for next year and that will be the unlabeled bin for the year to come.

Aly’s vision brought to life

All of these steps are time-honored and cherished. I’ve stopped taking offense when Aly moves anything/everything I put down and submitted to the fact that her vision will make our house look beautiful and perfectly decorated for the coming holiday. She makes our house, our home. I’ve come to realize that.

These moments, when we’re taking the time to make it homier, I wonder what role our kids will play. I mentioned this to her this year. I asked her in jest if she would move the decorations our children placed around the house. To which she responded, “When they’re asleep.” I barked out a laugh and loved her just a little bit more. Because the times we’ll share with our children will be ours as well, just differently.

I don’t doubt that it will take a while for us to find a rhythm or to even find that time exists again once we have a newborn, but I also have no doubt that we will, even if it means having to figure out how to live without the calendar that keeps our world from falling into chaos, and I’m looking forward to every second.

The Albrecht Normal

~Aly

Through these last few blog posts, I’m sure it’s clear that Tiffany and I are planning and eagerly awaiting the next big moment in our relationship: the moment we find out we are pregnant. The truth is, I’m sure that we have spent a lot of time planning for major events throughout the course of our relationship. Graduations. First jobs. Coming out. Major vacations. Wedding.

Our life is made up of so much more than these big moments. While we certainly spend lots of our in-between time preparing, in the middle of it all, our time is spent in a normal, albeit, sometimes nerdy way, like spending way too much time focused on Disney or even taking funny (or what we think are funny) pictures.

We often spend time binge watching Netflix shows together and subsequently feel betrayed when we find out that one of us watched ahead without the other. Recently, we were also plagued by a lost remote control in our bedroom. This meant that one of us had to get up each time the volume had to be changed. After intense searches, over an embarrassingly long time, we literally celebrated together with yells of success when we finally found it in a duffle bag under the bed.

We take breaks from adulting by spending time watching House Hunters or Chopped. Watching these shows together involves a lot of predicting and then critiquing. “How could they choose house number 2- number 3 was so close to their job and had an upgraded kitchen.” Or, “NOT THE ICE CREAM MACHINE!”

We have quiet time where we are “alone together.” Alone time usually involves Tiffany reading a book and me tackling some kind of home project, beauty routine, or crafty innovation. Time apart is spent sending each other recipes that we will never make, political articles to debate, or gifs with complaints about life’s responsibilities. We also send way too many pictures of our cats back and forth.

Dinner time is often a never-ending scripted experience of groundhog day. “What do you want to eat?” “I don’t know. What do you want to eat?” “Pick something.” “Okay, Chuys.” “No. Anything but that.”

We have ugly times too, like any couple. We get frustrated. We cry, which is often because one of us is PMS (a lesbian couple strife with two a month and emotions flying everywhere). Discuss lots of feelings. Apologize. Compromise. Sometimes, little quirks drive each other crazy, but also make us laugh at the lunacy of it all. I squeeze the toothpaste in a haphazard way (or, as Tiffany lovingly phrases, “like an animal”), while Tiffany wants it to be squeezed from the bottom, in a methodical way. I find Tiffany’s no-show socks EVERYWHERE, except the hamper; their most common hiding place is in between the covers of our bed. I inevitably forget to check for toilet paper and yell for help from across the house. Tiffany snoozes the alarm 20 times every morning, disrupting both of our sleep.

We play trivia together on stressful days. Going back and forth asking endless questions about Harry Potter, Friends, or Disney. Acting like it doesn’t matter who wins, but we both know that deep down it totally does.

The little moments create the foundation of our relationship. It’s in these little moments where love lives and grows stronger.

It’s easy to see differences between our relationship and those of others. They’re straight; we’re gay. But I like to think, and I hope that many will see, that while Tiffany and I may not be the next Leave it to Beaver, we tell a recognizable, but unique, story of love in marriage. Our story hopefully showcases that many times, we are more alike, than we are different from one another.  

~Aly~

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.