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.

The Weight of the World While We Wait

~Tiffany

The world is in chaos, but then I guess it always has been. There has always been child hunger juxtaposing extreme wealth and despots ruling over the oppressed. There has always been fighting and opposition and causes and evolution of thought. There has always been a history of all of these things that we perpetually repeat in so many different iterations. They manifest themselves when those with power speak for those without or those without speak for themselves. I don’t mean for this to be a political post, and it certainly isn’t, but I had a conversation with Aly last night about the weight of this world and how much heavier it seems with our babies on the way. Not just because we’re bringing them into this inflection point in our world’s story, but also because it will be our job to teach them how to behave in it. How to be a good person. How to be inclusive, and anti-racist, and generous, and open-minded, and open-hearted, and all of the things that are required to embrace and not break under the weight of the moment we’re in now. 

It feels daunting. It was daunting 7 months ago when we found out that we were pregnant, when Coronavirus wasn’t even a reality on our local streets in the middle of all of these movements that are gaining traction during a time where, in the absence of the distraction of our “normal”, we have nothing to do but to focus on them. Valid movements that need voices and require everyone to take responsibility for the role they play in them. 

My point is this, the news and media feels like it’s rushing against us as crested waves on a shore where we’re fighting to stay standing enough to see the next one coming in order to brace ourselves. 

I asked Aly yesterday if she thought our parents faced the same questions and pressure we’re feeling in this time when they were bringing children into the world? We’re both daughters of single mothers and with that, I’m sure there were questions and challenges that Aly and I aren’t facing, but as I said before, there has always been chaos in this world, so my question was more about whether they felt the weight of their moments, their climates? It feels inescapable to me, but I wonder if that’s a generational, cultural thing that we developed by virtue of being more aware and more involved as millennials. 

Aly said that she didn’t feel the weight of the world on her shoulders growing up, and looking back, I don’t think I did either, but that seems more a factor of lack of exposure, so it brings me back to the question of if this is overwhelming for adults to digest, how can we, as parents make it digestible for our children in a way for them to understanding and learn from us and our failures? Is anyone else daunted by this, all-too-important task? Is this just a new parent thing? Is it just that we’re in a state of hyper-awareness, given our current quarantine climate?

Aly calmed me down last night when it felt like it was getting too heavy. She said, “we’re not going to give them a perfect life. Thats impossible. But, we’ll give them a good one.” She said we’d teach them the things that make them good humans in age-appropriate ways and make sure that they learn the things that it took us too long too learn, much sooner than we did. They will be loved above all and where I am weak, she will be strong and vice versa. In other words, she took some of the load from my shoulders and placed it on her own like the incredible wife and mother she already is. 

The closer the delivery date gets, the more daunting the whole we’re bringing two humans over which we will have sole responsibility gets. Incidentally, the closer it gets, the more I seem to love them. All three of them, my wife included. 

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.

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

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.

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