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! 🙂

Eggs and Croissants

~Tiffany

We’re five days into our second cycle. What does that mean? That means four days ago Aly’s uterus was thin and she had a bunch of follicles waiting to turn into mature eggs in her ovaries (according to the picture in the ultrasound).

It feels like a whirlwind. It seems crazy that we can pick right back up and start trying again so quickly. Then again, in different circumstances, I suppose it wouldn’t seem so sudden. Perhaps it’s all the doctor’s appointments. There are so many of them and I’m trying to be at all of them, even when I don’t have a question to ask and all I have to contribute is to look at the picture on the screen to see how Aly’s ovaries and uterus are doing and remember as much as possible about what the doctor says.

I joked last week when one of our friends reached out in a show of support, after we received the news we weren’t pregnant, that I’ve been trying to knock Aly up for years. Lol. This process has been so daunting and specific in terms of timing and medications and cycles, so on, that it’s a wonder “oopsies” happen for anyone.

I mean, the people that go to a reproductive endocrinologist are either couples like Aly and I, who belong to the LGBTQ community, or straight couples that have been trying for some time without success to conceive, or single women who want to have children (I’m sure I’ve missed a population here). How can it be that some people just “happen” to get pregnant when the likelihood for people who are actively trying, with medical professional assistance is only around 20% for the first try. This baffles me, but I’ve digressed.

We’re five days in and the meds seem to be doing the work, at least that’s the only explanation I have for the heightened emotional state at the Albrecht household. We have cramping happening and scattered headaches throughout the day and if this sounds like a weather forecast, that’s because it feels just as unpredictable as one. We suspect that the impact is stronger this time around because Aly’s gone much longer without being on birth control (at this point it’s been over a month, whereas, during the first round, she had only been off for a week). In any case, I’m doing my best to be my best self in the emotionally supportive, household helpery sort of way.

We have another ultrasound tomorrow to see how Aly is doing in her cycle and how she’s responding to the Letrazole. Considering she already had a bunch of follicles hanging out in her ovaries, I’m thinking it won’t have had to work too hard. The consensus after the last cycle was that nothing really went wrong. It just didn’t take, and so the doc didn’t adjust the meds or change the timing or do anything different really, at least not up until this point. She mentioned that she didn’t want to increase the meds because Aly’s ovaries seem to have a good amount of follicles already and we don’t want to make her ridiculously fertile. To which Aly charmingly responded, “I definitely don’t want to be giving birth in a cardboard box.” Lol

So, we’re cleaning the house, and building furniture from Ikea and Wayfair and getting our house all ready for the holidays (At least we were until Aly broke her pinky toe). Basically, biding our time until our next two-week wait, which we think will start in approximately 4-5 days, if you can believe it. Now that Aly’s toe is broken, it’s more her apologizing that she can’t help while I very expertly build  furniture and clean in all the wrong ways. Lol.

We had a conversation this weekend over croissants (this will be relevant in a moment). Aly turned to me and said, “You’re going to have our children learning French, aren’t you?” I should explain that I have been trying to learn French for years, but inconveniences like the CPA exam and life have gotten in the way. I responded, “I don’t speak French, despite my best efforts, but I could, absolutely!”  To which she responded, “don’t they have those ‘teach children languages things for the car?’” I swear I loved her more in that moment. I pictured myself repeating French phrases with the kids in the van while we are running errands, and this parenting thing was even more magical than I already thought it would be. She then said, “And your mom will definitely be speaking to them in Spanish.” “You’re damn right, she will. Our kids will be geniuses! They’ll know all the languages!” I said. Aly may have face-palmed while I dreamed, but that breakfast was so reassuring to me as we started this process all over again.

I didn’t want to write a response from my perspective after we found out the results from our first cycle because Aly very eloquently captured how we were feeling in her post, but we’re hopeful again about this one. We know what to look out for and what Aly experienced before when we were symptom-spotting. We know the things we shouldn’t do and the things that drove us crazy and probably should avoid. We know what questions to ask, so that Aly doesn’t feel stir crazy in the house and like I’m confining her to the couch for two weeks without merit. We know all of the things we are going to know from all of the forums we read up until last week and I doubt there will be anything knew. So, here’s to hoping for good news and a saner two-week wait than the first. In the meantime, our sperm is flying again, so I hope you’ll join us in wishing them a safe and speedy journey. Or, as the French would say, bon voyage.

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.