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. 

Latkes on BOGO

~Aly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Into the Unknown

~Tiffany

The two-week-wait, or 2ww, as we obsessively on pregnancy blogs/forums know it, is a special kind of torture. It’s filled with a wide range of emotions from hope to despair and everything in between with a whole lot of anxiety mixed in. When you’ve already gone through one 2ww, the second one feels…different. It feels less optimistic and more cautious, while simultaneously, less scientific, and more hopeful, because science has already failed you.

Our first cycle went exactly as planned. The medications worked perfectly, the biology responded as it should have, the fertility process should have been a slam dunk, but for whatever reason, it just didn’t take. So, for this next cycle, nothing was changed, dosages weren’t adjusted, timing wasn’t altered, essentially the same sequence of events took place in exactly the same sequence of time.

There were differences this time though, if not in the process, in the way we were approaching it. In the way we were thinking about the different permutations of futures that could arise. How many more tries would it take? Would this time take? If it takes, how many do you think we will have? What will it be like to have one? Two? Three?! With each question we asked ourselves for the second if not hundredth time, I realized that my mindset was less starry-eyed and more ready to accept whatever future was in store, whichever of these futures that may be.

So, we kept saying things like, “I really hope this one takes, but if it doesn’t, we just try again…” After which I’d think silently to myself, “but I really hope this one works.”  You see, I’m sure if you’ve read any of our other blogs by this point, you know how much we want to be parents. You know how hard we’ve worked to get to the point where we will work even harder to raise good humans. So, even the slightest hope feels like the heaviest weight.

I held Aly’s hand in the doctor’s office, praying my strongest prayer that one of our little swimmers would make it. I stroked her hair in wonderment at this amazing thing we were doing with the heaviest hope I have ever felt.

It’s funny, you know, during the last cycle, Aly and I both had a really good feeling about it. We know now that it was our faith that elevated us. It was something that we really needed at the time, especially it having been our first try. This cycle, however, Aly said to me, “I don’t have a good feeling about this one.” To which I responded, “Maybe that’s a good thing.”

The two-week wait commenced and we waited and waited, but this time, we didn’t drive ourselves nuts on google like the first time. We didn’t read every forum about early pregnancy signs and we didn’t watch endless videos about women who had tested positively after symptoms like the ones that Aly had been having. We “symptom spotted” less and put less stock in things that felt suspiciously like pregnancy signs. All of this we did/didn’t do to maintain our sanity and keep our stress levels down. That is…until Aly’s breasts were continuously tender, and she was smelling the dog from across the house and day 10 was turning to day 11, then day 11 was turning to day 12 and those symptoms weren’t abating and they hadn’t been there the last cycle… When these things happened, our resolve broke and the pregnancy tests that we had stored in our medicine cabinet and sworn not to use, came out.

Have you ever wanted something so much, that when you finally got it, you didn’t believe it was real? That was our life from December 20-23rd, and we have the three positive pregnancy tests to prove it. The faint second line taunted us for three days until, on Monday, our doctor called us, once the lab work came back and told us that our HCG levels were excellent. For those of you who are interested, it was at 187 on day 14. We were in a state of cautious optimism for 3 days and now acceptance has kicked in because Aly is super freaking pregnant with an HCG level that high so soon.

So, now we’re venturing into a new kind of unknown. An unknown filled with nightly readings of, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” and registries “must have” lists, and revisiting Aly’s many, many, many Pinterest boards to figure out what the heck we do now that we have a baby (or multiple babies) growing in her tummy. This unknown feels so thrilling and terrifying and amazing. It feels like a blessing I’ve never encountered before. One thing I do know is that as we shared the news with friends and family it was very clear that Baby(ies) Albrecht would know love from so many places and we are so grateful for that.

We recently visited BuyBuyBaby again, this time as expectant mothers, and just to be able to write that fills me with such joy, that I haven’t the words to express it. We looked around and pointed things out we already had on our registry (yes, we already have started building a registry. If you don’t know we’re planners by now, you’ll never know it). We tested and re-tested gliders and ended up compromising yet again, even though my pick was very clearly the more comfortable option. J

As you know, I read. A lot. The “Best of” lists…I’m all over them, doing comparisons on what strollers and car seats should be on the top of our lists, and which bottles/bottle sterilizers/formula/baby monitors are the highest recommended. This pregnancy has my normal tendency to research going on hyper drive.

Strollers have never been as daunting as they are when you’re considering filling them with more than one child at a time. The things you need to consider when buying a stroller for 2+: safety, weight, compatibility with infant car seats, frame durability, wheels, suspension, is it compatible with two infant car seats in the very likely event of twins, do the rumble seats fit comfortably back to back when the babies grow out of infant car seats, how many adapters/what kind of adapters do we need depending which car seat we choose/stroller we choose, what about weight limits for the seats, how easy is it to fold, and a whole host of other things that I’m not thinking of off the top of my head as I write this.

In any case, while I’m obsessing over lists, Aly is busy making little humans, we have our first ultrasound on Wednesday. It’s the 6 week ultrasound to determine if the pregnancy is viable and how many little ones we have growing in Aly’s tummy. Aly’s pregnancy symptoms are pretty strong, and that coupled with the insanely high HCG at 14 days is giving us warm and fuzzies about the viability, but also anxiety about how many we will have at once. No matter what the number, we’re ecstatic. As the number grows, so does the anxiety, but we’re freaking grateful for all of it that we’re just eagerly anticipating seeing our little apple seed/s on the big screen on Wednesday.

As always, we’re so grateful for the good vibes and the love you all have sent our way since we started sharing our journey with you into growing the Albrecht Household.

Drumroll, please!

We are really excited to share this news with all of you who have been along with us on this journey. We received the best Christmas gift ever this year. Today we are officially four weeks PREGNANT!

We’ll share some reflections with you later this week, but we just wanted to share our Christmas miracle with you. 🙂

Love and holiday wishes to all.

The Albrecht Household

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.