Fat Kid Goggles

~Aly

Throwback and Rewind

Growing up, I had lots of friends from all different types of cliques. I was smart and high-achieving, which landed me with a group of friends at school that were perfectionistic intellectuals. I was also creative, loud, and dramatic, which landed me in classes like chorus, show choir, and drama. In these classes, I had like-minded friends, where the drama and theatrics were real intense, but the laughs were just as resounding. I was athletic, growing up playing soccer, basketball, and softball throughout the year, changing sports with the changing season. My teammates were my friends as we created a kinship through knowing that we had to work together and have each other’s backs. I also had what I called my neighborhood friends, where we didn’t necessarily have much in common beyond being bored and wanting to ride bikes, watch MTV, and play sidewalk chalk together (clearly during different stages of adolescence), but we somehow bonded and found common ground exploring our neighborhood and creating chaos in the lakes that centered our quiet Miami-suburbia.

In these groups, I also always felt like the fat friend. Yes, I was athletic and I was active. I worked out every day for whatever sport was in season. I spent little time sitting in front of the tv and lots of time on the go, but I was certainly still built differently than my peers were.

No one specifically told me I was fat, but subtle situations or comments made me feel it. I knew that my clothes were probably 2 sizes larger than my friends and let it impact how I viewed myself. I took it to heart when a family member would tell me things about dieting, even before I was a teenager. I felt sad when I was told to suck it in for a picture. And I felt ostracized when someone would comment on how great that skinny girl looked and would later comment on how a larger girl needed to choose a more flattering outfit that hid her curves.

I put on fat kid goggles and saw myself through that lens. Looking back, I was in actuality not as large as I perceived myself to be, but the mind was a powerful influencer, especially during adolescence.

My younger years

This didn’t make me feel terrible about myself overall, but it certainly had its influence on my own self-perception. My self-efficacy was high. I knew I could accomplish anything I put my mind to and felt successful as I tended to do well at whatever I tried to do. My self-confidence was a bit more malleable. I thought I was my own kind of beautiful, but certainly never felt like I was at a weight I was happy with. I always found something on my body to be unhappy with.

At the end of middle school, I got really into soccer. I practiced on my own, went on runs around my neighborhood, and was in fantastic shape. I was still thicker than my friends and teammates, but I was solid. I felt like I was rocking my look and my confidence started soaring, as I was soaking up the compliments from friends and family alike.

Then, suddenly, while working out harder than I had in my life, my weight started to explode. I gained 40 pounds in a short period of time, without explanation. I had heavy, long period flows. I had black spots show up on my neck and in between my breasts. My diet was good, I was running daily, how could I gain weight?! What were these other symptoms? What was happening to me? As an adolescent, I was devastated and wanted to hide.

Doctors didn’t have answers to these questions. My mom spent over a year taking me to different specialists, running all kinds of labs, and all without explanation. At that time, no one really knew what PCOS was. It wasn’t like it is now, where many people at least know someone who is diagnosed, but we finally got to the moment where a pediatric endocrinologist was able to offer a name to the symptoms. The treatments were really hard on my 14 year old body, but I at least understood that my body was going to work differently than my peers. It was going to be easier to gain weight and harder to lose weight, due to the way my body would process insulin in accordance with my PCOS diagnosis.

Fast Forward

My weight got out of control during my mid-twenties, as I dealt with coming out, family health issues, death of my grandfather (which felt like the death of my father), graduate school, and teaching. This placed me in a state of heightened emotional stress, not to mention that I also just loved food, and resulted in me making terrible food choices based on what made me feel better emotionally, not physically. If you followed my journey previously, you know that the road to pregnancy was spent first with two years of weight loss, due to these decisions.

The work to get healthy was hard. I missed eating what I wanted and there were many times where I didn’t want to go to the gym. But every time I went farther on the elliptical or lost another pound, the sense of accomplishment was profound. 50 pounds down by the end made me feel like I was doing amazing. Sure, I was still obese, but I felt confident and healthier than I ever had as an adult. I looked in the mirror and liked what I saw. I felt sexy, even with any stomach rolls I still had.

If you followed my journey, you also know how badly I wanted to be pregnant. I wanted to be a mom desperately, yes, but I yearned for that pregnant belly. I wanted to look at my bump and rub it. I wanted to feel my child kicking inside of me.

What I didn’t expect was the paradox that would soon follow upon my big fat positive pregnancy result. I look at my twin pregnancy body and feel astounded. I feel strong. Look at what my amazing, female body can do. Look at how my skin stretches, my womb grows, my breasts change. Look at how I lay here and make 2 sets of eyeballs. How does it know how to do that? Yes, I’m a powerful woman and I feel that pride when I see the changes taking place over the past 7 months.

The paradox- I also feel very upset when I look into the mirror right now. The fat kid goggles come back. I look at this huge belly and my see that my legs look bigger and I instantly feel like I need to cover up again, like I once used to feel. I instantly feel the urge to suck in my stomach, but that trick clearly doesn’t work right now. It doesn’t matter that logically I know that I’m growing two humans. The illogical side of my brain takes over.

I see other women taking pictures of their bump without shirts on over it. I see people take bump casts to remember what their amazing body did. I envy them. I can’t do it. Despite the fact that I’m fairly confident that my wife has never found me to be more appealing than I am right now, these thoughts remain true. The thing with body issues is it’s really about how you see yourself, not how others see you.

I hope I can get there. I hope I can take off my fat kid goggles. I hope I can lose those goggles for good for my own mental health and to be a better role model with body positivity for my children. I am working on how to embrace my body soon before it’s all over and these babies are born, especially since I’m pretty sure that this will be my only pregnancy, since kids and the process for lesbians to get pregnant, are so expensive. I hope that I can at least take a picture without a shirt, even if just for myself, and feel proud that this rounding body is making life and is something to be proud of.

While They’ve Been Growing

~Tiffany

The Elusive Kicks

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

CORN!

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

The Parenting 

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

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

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

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

Delivery Roulette

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

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

So I Guess While I Wait…

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

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

Valleys and Train Tracks

~Aly~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.