the marriage fight


Posted By on Jan 14, 2019

I recently had a conversation with someone – that started something like this … how much pornography is TOO much pornography?

So we talked about it – but I said – before we DO talk – you need to know 2 things …

1. It’s something that I am VERY passionate about. 2. I’m right.

That being said – ANY amount of pornography is TOO much pornography.

But what about … NOPE.

Well – when … NOPE.

Yeah – but … NOPE.

But I’m thinking about my wife when I look at it – NOPE.

But it’s just to get the job done – NOPE.

What are you going to do when the boys learn about masturbation in school? When they’re taught that it’s just normal.

Well – about that. The boys go to a school where that’s not taught as “normal”.

BUT – it got me thinking about it. What ARE we going to tell them?!

I was telling a friend about this conversation and she showed me a book she got for her kids.


Yesterday we started it – a few chapters at a time. It’s got questions to go over at the end of each chapter AND it puts the whole pornography thing into words that tend to escape you as a parent – especially of young children.

We finished it today. It explains the attraction center of the brain – what happens when you get excited and why pornography tricks you into believing the lies it’s telling you.

A few weeks ago – we were scrolling through NETFLIX and we settled on Princess Diaries 2 (it’s been a long winter so far here – even though it’s just starting) ANYWAY – the movie starts and Fitzy (who I forget can read most anything now) says – MOM! Chris Pine is in this movie!! YOU LOVE HIM!!

So today – I had the opportunity to explain it in a way they might get AND teach a little lesson.

You guys know that I think Chris Pine is cute right?! Yes – we know. AND you know that I think daddy is cute too right?! Yes – we know.

And I love daddy and am IN love with daddy and married to daddy and committed to daddy. Yes – we know.

So – should I ever look at bad pictures of Chris Pine – or anyone for that matter? No – you shouldn’t.

What if Chris Pine and I were in a movie together and I needed to kiss him in the movie?! Because I think he’s super cute and kissing him might sound like a good idea. MOM! No – you shouldn’t. Because you’re married to daddy and you shouldn’t do things that can make your feeling brain take over your thinking brain.

Fitzy chimed in – AND it’s in the 10 commandments mom.

And I’m sitting here typing this – watching FRIENDS for the first time since I watched it in high school.

SEX. SEX. SEX. Just like Seinfeld. Just like Big Bang Theory. And I’ve never seen pornography and I know that FRIENDS isn’t pornography – but Joey was in one. And they watch it – cus that’s just normal. IT IS JUST NORMAL. And when Jared told me – on one of our first dates – that he had a pornography problem – I thought … doesn’t every guy? Isn’t that just normal?!

You know what – it might be normal. It might very well be normal across the board.

How much pornography is TOO much pornography? Any amount. There is no other answer. LET’S MAKE THIS THE NORMAL.

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ten years (she said)

Posted By on Jun 26, 2014

We were married ten years ago today. At 6:30 in the evening – we stood before God and our families and friends and said yes. We will. Forever.

While we were on vacation last month – my sister pointed something out to me. She said – why is it that growing up – YOU were the romantic. And now you’re not? We’ve kind of switched roles. And it hit me. She’s right. Growing up – I daydreamed about love and boyfriends and marriage and romance and dates and romantic getaways. There was ALWAYS a boy that I liked – one that didn’t like me back – but oh did I like him. Every time. And in my journals – I gushed about love. It’s all I thought about. I just wanted to be married and have babies. That’s it. No college – no job. Just love and marriage and baby carriages. But those boys didn’t return my affections. So off to college I went – more boys to oogle over and more boys that didn’t return my affections. And I still journaled about love. I still daydreamed about romance.

And then I met Jared. And he pursued me. And I didn’t know what to think. He had a reputation in college – a good one – don’t get me wrong. But he was THE Jared Barden. It was intimidating. Why would HE want ME? All the other boys I pined about didn’t. And it scared me. I called my mom and she said – Danielle – if you don’t give this Jared guy a chance – you could be missing out on your whole life. So I did. Our first date was my brother’s soccer game. He met my family. He knew within a few weeks that he would marry me – but it took me a little longer. And then all my notions of romance seemed silly. Over the top. Who needs roses and candlelit dinners and teddy bears holding little hearts when this guy loves me when I’m in my sweats and eating a carton of icing. Jared fit into my family perfectly. I fell in love with his kind heart and sweet spirit. And we said yes. We will. Forever.

And almost right away – reality set in. Losing jobs – leaving apartments – praying for paychecks. Moving into a home that I didn’t want to be in (and still being there today) – battling chronic pain and wondering if I would ever feel well again – deciding that it was time to start a family (and losing and struggling and finally holding a baby in our arms – now two). Rehoming our sweet puppy – starting a business (pouring myself into it) – struggling with anxiety. Time has flown by. Seriously. And I look back and wonder – what ON EARTH did we do with our time. How have we been married 10 years already? I’m breathing heavy just thinking about the next 10 years FLYING by.

And just when things seemed to finally be “normal” – life threw us yet another curve. The biggest yet. And I was lost and broken and hurting. My best friend became someone I didn’t know. My husband – the man I vowed forever with – was trapped. Recovery was intense – secrets exposed. Our world was crashing. But we said yes. Forever. And I loved him. I needed him. And my love took on an even less romantic feel and more of a survival mode. Fighting for our relationship and our life we had built. In the midst of that fight – romantic love was hard to find – is still hard to find sometimes. Forgiving (really truly forgiving) and moving on (not holding on to yesterday). Taking care of a toddler and welcoming a new baby into the mix – all while recovering and literally just trying to survive day by day – overwhelmed me. Still overwhelms me at times.

And then this man walks in the door at 5:20 and looks at me. And smiles. At me. The girl he pursued over ten years ago. The girl that he chose. The girl that he asked to spend his life with him. This man that has struggled and worked so hard over the past year to show me his sorrow and his love. This man that loves me. The man that God put in my path. The man that has given me two beautiful boys. The man that just loves me.

And I am truly amazed.

I love you Jared Barden. And I am anxious to experience a whole new level of love with you.

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grace (she said)

Posted By on Sep 2, 2013


When I asked google to define grace – I got this.

1. simple elegance or refinement of movement.

2. (in Christian belief) the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.

Wikipedia gave me this –

The love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it. It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to man – “generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved”.

I don’t ask for grace – either from God for me or for me toward others. In fact – I don’t think I can ever remember asking for it.

Until the middle of July. It’s interesting that the last few posts that we wrote were about our craziness and how hard marriage is. If you need to go back and read those posts – please do. It’s important to what I’m writing here.

And – I don’t know if we shared this word from God on this blog or not – but I wanted to share it now.

I firmly believe that God gives words to people. And visions and dreams. This specific word in our life came from God through a dear friend. Two days after a conversation Jared and I had about our next pregnancy – should we ever have one. Two days after a decision that no one else knew about. A decision to not tell anyone if we got pregnant again. Not until the first trimester was over. Confirmation. While I don’t know much about God and how He communicates with us sometimes – I do know this. Confirmation is important. Very. Important. When you are given a word for someone – you don’t take it lightly. You hold it and pray. You might even consult with the ones that YOU hold dear and counsel with. You pray. And then you pray again. And – in my opinion – when God says – now. Share this now. You do. After prayer and consideration. But – like I said – that’s just my opinion – and I don’t know much about it. At all.

So – our dear friend sent us this in a text on 9.8.2012.

“You will get pregnant again. And even though you will default in your minds that you will probably miscarry – oh no. You will have a healthy child – possibly twins! It will be huge and massive BUT you must keep it to yourselves and announce at the END of the first trimester.

This is a promise from God and you will rename the son Enoch. God is NOT done with you. He’s just starting. You need to tuck this word on your hearts and cover it. The Enoch tattoo was intended as a remembrance BUT in God’s time was a prophetic act as to your next son’s name being branded. 

It will be a massive testimony and will restore relationships, friendships, and family ties in ways you never thought possible. It’s going to be mammoth. It will be full circle. Both of your families will be remarkably astounded at what God will do through you in this next pregnancy. BUT you MUST NOT announce it until the end of the 1st trimester. Not even to close friends or family. YOU MUST WAIT!

I honestly feel stronger about this than the word I gave you for Fitzy! You can’t even tell me when you first find out – I will already know. You can’t tell ANYONE! BELIEVE IT! RECEIVE IT! ACT! God is good and will be massively glorified through it. Save these messages for confirmation and documentation. Not for me – but so that we can honor Christ Jesus & God’s ridiculous faithfulness. He is good. He is really REALLY good!”

Awesome – right?

I share this now – because it’s important. When we announced our pregnancy at Fitzy’s birthday party – I read that text to everyone. Not the part about a son and a name – we waited to share that. And then when we blogged about it – we shared this. In joy and excitement. Not to bring focus to the person that God shared it with – who shared it with us – but bring honor and glory to God. To share His promise. His faithfulness. To encourage. To share what God does and is doing. Right this moment.

And when I look back on it – I can see the signs. Starting – the day we announced our pregnancy. The signs showing me that something wasn’t right. That while I was chalking it up to my emotions and being pregnant and being – well – crazy – there was something deeper going on. Something building. Something that would change my life. In what seemed like an instant. But was really building since that day. The something that made me beg God for grace. For myself and for my family.

While I am sure we will write about it more and share more as time goes on – for now – you just need to know this. That something was manic depression. That something was building in Jared. That something boiled over into mania the middle of July. I watched as my husband became someone I didn’t know. I begged him to stop acting so … strange. I had no idea what it was at first. I thought maybe it was my emotions again. Maybe I’m just being oversensitive. I had no idea that Jared was struggling under the surface. He didn’t have any idea. And it was the hardest thing we’ve ever done.

Once we figured out what was going on – I thought it would be over. Get some new medicine and he will be back to his normal self. Ya know – tomorrow. It didn’t happen like that. It got worse before it got better. It’s not my story to tell – so I won’t.

But I will tell you about grace. About how much I think that footprints poem is silly and overdone – but I can honestly tell you – without a doubt – that God carried (and is still carrying) me. It’s not so silly now. I am telling you that I have NEVER ever felt the strength of God like I have over the past month. While there were moments that I was absolutely confused. Hurting. Upset. Whether just in general or with my husband – I felt the strength of God – like never before. And I felt something else. His grace. At first – without even asking. Then more and more as I cried out and asked. Begged. Help me to not hold these things against Jared. Help me to not hold them against You.

It’s so easy to have the – why me – it’s not fair – mentality. I’ve been there before. Miscarrying and trying for a baby. It can take you to a deep dark place. A place where satan wants you to live. A place where he wants to drag you. A place where he will play dirty. One of our friends told me – satan’s goal is to confuse. Confuse your thoughts. Confuse your love. Confuse the good things that God has given you. The good things God is GOING to give you. And he will confuse you. And you must be prepared. So I prayed. I prayed that God would continue to pour out His grace on me. And give me a lot of it for Jared. Not God’s grace for him – I can’t do that. But the grace of a wife toward her husband. The forgiveness of a wife toward her husband. The love of a wife toward her husband. Please God – help me to support him and forgive him and show him grace. And while I asked for it quite a bit – I found that He was giving it to me quite a bit. And more. And some more.

While I am NOT a grudge holding person – I am a “don’t hurt me again” person. Forgiveness is amazing and awesome. It’s freeing. It’s beautiful. But I want to make sure that I don’t need to give it again. So – I guard myself. I don’t get as close as I was. Because while I need to forgive – I don’t need to be hurt over and over again. Which is true. But forgiveness isn’t a one time thing. Right? Not seven. Not seventy seven. Seventy times seven. Which doesn’t mean 490 times. Basically – always. Forever. Again? Yes. Again. So I know I needed it. And God gave it to me.

My heart only grew for my husband. My love dug deeper. The marriage fight. I was in it. I had a period of sadness and absolute despair. It was short compared to the period with boxing gloves on. Fighting. For my marriage. For my husband. For our boys. For our life together. For the glory of God.

Remember that certain part of the word we were given –

It will be a massive testimony and will restore relationships, friendships, and family ties in ways you never thought possible. It’s going to be mammoth. It will be full circle. Both of your families will be remarkably astounded at what God will do through you in this next pregnancy.

Restore relationships. Not break them down. Restore. Our marriage. Our love. Our commitment. Right before and then right after Jared was diagnosed – I had weddings to shoot. The first one – I was angry when I heard those vows. I wanted to interject and say – what about when your husband acts insane and you don’t know what to do. Even then? What about when you are so confused and don’t understand this sudden change in your husband. Even then? Little did I know how much I needed to be there. Right then. Capturing a beautiful bride and her groom – promising their lives to one another. Not knowing what might be ahead of them. But making a promise to be there. Together. Fighting. For their marriage. And then the next wedding – I was a wreck. I cried when I heard their vows. Knowing that the answer was – yes – even then. Yes. In sickness and health. In good times and bad. For richer for poorer. In sorrow and in joy. Yes. Even then. Together. Fighting.

When someone asked what I needed – I told them. Pray for me. Pray that bitterness does not take root. Pray that I can encourage and love my husband. Pray that he will be better than ever through this. Pray for him. Pray for him. Pray for him. God is carrying me. Pray for him.

When I was 22 weeks pregnant with Fitzgerald – Jared told me that he was very depressed. He was in one of the darkest places I’ve ever seen him. When Fitzy was born – Jared finally felt “normal”. I was 22 weeks pregnant with Enoch when we discovered what was happening with Jared this time. The doctor told me that it might take 3 1/2 to 4 months for him to truly feel “normal”. Taking us right to our due date.

It’s going to be mammoth. It will be full circle. Both of your families will be remarkably astounded at what God will do through you in this next pregnancy.

Those are words that God gave us. Words that I held onto. Words that renewed my strength. Words that grew my faith. Words that I know are from God. This pregnancy – what happened last month – while I don’t understand why (and we will probably never know) – I do know that God knows. Because He is awesome.

Even through this – through everything – Danielle – how can you say that? Because He is. And if He isn’t. Then why are we here? What are we doing?

As for me and my family. We are serving Jesus. We are believing in His power. We are waiting for Him.

In grace. Simple. Elegant. Grace. A refined movement.


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Marriage. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. For me – it’s harder than being a mom. While I have only been a mom for a little over 2 years – I’ve known my whole life that I would be one. To be honest – the whole being married part – didn’t really enter my thoughts. I mean – I knew I would be married. But – you just get married. And you live happily ever after. Because you are married. Because that’s what they say. Because that’s what happens at the end of movies.

Parenting is hard work. Parenting is exhausting and time consuming. Parenting is about letting go of your selfishness. Not marriage. And while parenting IS all of the above. Marriage is hard work. Marriage is exhausting and time consuming. Marriage is about letting go of your selfishness.

Marriage is much harder than parenting. For me. Right now. Or – maybe it’s marriage AND parenting combined.

Right now – I am extremely emotional. I am extremely sensitive. I am on edge. (I wrote about that here) So maybe right now – marriage is harder than usual.

It all comes down to this. Jared doesn’t listen to me and do what I want him to do. I think he should do certain things – without me telling him. Things that are painfully obvious to me.

And it’s stupid stuff. Right now – in a moment of rationale – I can see that. I can admit it. But in the moment of the issue – I’m extremely irrational. I know I am – but I can’t stop. It’s like I’m telling myself – just don’t say it. Just don’t say it – just don’t … BLAH BLAH BLAH. YOU DIDN’T DO THIS AND THAT. WHY DO YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME. WHY DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT ME. Seriously. It boils over – out of control. And I can see it when the smoke has cleared – but when the same exact situation comes up again – I freak out.

Here’s the crappy part – being married to Jared isn’t really that hard. Being married to me – is crazy hard.

I would love to tell you – and sometimes think – I can let things go. And while I can forgive – it’s hard for me to forget. When Jared does or doesn’t do something once – then I expect it to happen again and again. Which is really just me setting him up for failure. If I believe that he will always screw up (no matter what) – he will most likely screw up (no matter what) – because I’ve already prepared myself (and him) for that. That’s the excuse I use. Being prepared for the worst. Seriously.

I would love to tell you that I’m the encouraging wife – in every and any area of life. When it comes to anything. But – I suck. Like – really really suck. Words of praise and encouragement are Jared’s love language – he needs it. And the concept is absolutely ridiculous to me. (Again – not in the concept of parenting – I get that. They are just little guys that need positive reinforcement – but in the case of grown men – or women – I don’t get it) I wanted to start a business – so I did. I made up my mind to lose weight – so I did. Again – I don’t say this to be insensitive to anyone – just to let you know a little of what goes on inside this head.

Jared has spent most of his life trying to blend in with the crowd – not make waves – make people happy. I’ve spent most of my life trying to stand out in the crowd – be proud of being the goofy girl – not concerned with how people view me. Obviously – there are pros and cons to each situation. Jared craves encouragement and recognition. I crave time and service.

When I come home and Jared has picked up or done the dishes – he waits for recognition. I feel that I don’t need to say anything because that’s just something you have to do every day. I don’t get thanked for keeping up the house and doing laundry and blah blah blah. But then again – it’s not important to me. I don’t need it. He does. I just needed the house picked up and dishes to be done.

Why is it so hard for to me to say – thanks for doing the dishes. Why is it so hard for me to say – yes – go golfing. Why is it so hard for me to say – great job. Why is it so hard for me to leave shoes out of place. Why is it so hard for me to see the things that Jared has done to help instead of doing what I do best in pointing out the things he hasn’t.

Last weekend – I was explaining this to my parents. I said – I’m just so irritable right now! My dad said – as compared to what? He was joking – but not really. It’s not that I’m an unpleasant person – but I am a particular person.

I know that. Jared knew that when he married me. And while you shouldn’t want to change the person you marry – you try. And hopefully YOU end up being changed. It’s happening – even if it’s ever so slowly. I’m not as freaked out about things being “perfect” like I once was. I’m not nearly as uptight and stubborn as I once was – believe it or not. I’m trying – even as I type this – to think rationally. To pick my battles – so they say. To let things go. I don’t consider myself a fixer – although I know people would disagree. Instead of a fixer – I’m more like a – if you would just listen to me and do things my way – person. Which might be why mothering comes easy to me and marriage is harder.

But in the end – mothering isn’t about that either. Mothering and marriage is about trust. Trust in God. I can’t even say trust in your spouse. Because your spouse will fail you. Your kids will fail you. The only person you can really truly trust is God. And when you both trust in God to protect and guide your marriage (and your kids) – it’s a little easier. Still hard (for me) because I have control issues which means I have trust issues. And while marriage is the hardest thing I’ve ever done – nothing in this world worth having comes easy. I have a husband who loves me and stands by me (crazy or not) and I know why. Because he loves me – which has to be hard. And I love him.

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I’ve always known one thing. I want to be a mom.

When Jared and I were dating – a deal breaker came along – I wanted kids – Jared wasn’t so sure.

I would be a mother. I’ve always known it. He decided that he could indeed have babies.

We got married in June of 2004 – I was ready to start right away – but Jared wasn’t – so we waited a little bit. In July of 2005 – Jared lost his job and we moved in with his parents. NOT an ideal time to start trying. He got a job in August and we moved into his grandparents house in the fall. We talked about trying in the spring – and then the pain started. I was convinced I was dying – a brain tumor. I had crazy headaches and pressure. I thought I was having a stroke at times. I asked Jared to cut my face open once – just take the pressure away. They diagnosed me with severe sinus infections – nerve problems – anxiety – the works. In June of 2006 – I was diagnosed with severe TMJ disorder. An answer helped. But there were still unanswered questions. Would the pain ever go away – would I live a normal life again. It took two LONG years to find help. During those years – people asked about our baby status. I couldn’t take care of myself all day let alone even think about a baby. My dream of being a mother had left my head – completely. It wasn’t an option – and I wasn’t sure it would ever be.

In August of 2008 I got my retainer. It improved my quality of life 90%. When I met with Dr. Robinson – he asked me what my goal in getting treatment was. I broke down. I told him that I wanted to be a mother – more than anything – but the constant pain had ripped that want right out of my mind. He was confident that this device would allow my dreams to become reality.

In December we decided to take the plunge and try. Little did we know that it would take no time at all – not even a whole month. We picked up our new puppy and got a positive test all in a matter of weeks. We told everyone – we were so excited. We went to a wedding in Florida. I didn’t FEEL sick – but sometimes pregnancy doesn’t affect people – I must have been a lucky one. I was emotional – but I chalked that up to our new puppy and the thought of quitting my job to become a full time photographer. We were excited and scared.

I made an appointment at the hospital in Sayre – about an hour away – and my MIL took me. Jared decided to forego that first appointment and save his time off for later ones – where we could see our little babe! I didn’t expect an ultrasound at that first appointment – but I got one. The doctor looked and looked – the image displayed on the screen showed nothing. Not a thing. I’d never seen an ultrasound being done – but I knew what the image should look like. I wasn’t seeing it.

The doctor said – well – we should be seeing a small image at 10 weeks – and I see nothing. This happens a lot more often than you would think – especially with first pregnancies. You’ll miscarry within a few weeks and then you’ll get pregnant again and it will be great! I’ll see you again in a few months.

WHAT. WAIT. WHAT. The thought of a miscarriage – NEVER – EVER – entered my mind. I mean NEVER. And here I was – experiencing it. I was shocked. I was hurt – I was sad. I called Jared with the news – and the other loves of my life – my parents and siblings – my BFF.

I was okay – for a bit. I had my new puppy to cuddle and we would get pregnant again. We would use this to grow stronger – to trust God.

We didn’t get pregnant again. Month after month. I got angry. My MIL told me to trust God – I told her I did and look what happened – why would I trust Him? I was really hurt. I felt forgotten and abandoned by God. I was FINALLY better – and we couldn’t get pregnant.

What was wrong with me?

Babies consumed my thoughts – my life – my every energy. My relationships suffered – my sanity suffered.

We tried for a year – and then went to see a specialist. I had a procedure to check my uterus and fallopian tubes – make sure they were clear and okay – they were. Perfect – according to the doctor. More than fertile. Jared on the other hand – was not so fertile. He checked in on the low range. The doctor didn’t think we would get pregnant without some sort of medical intervention. I was crushed. Consumed with grief. I came to terms with the fact that I would never bear a child. Adoption wasn’t an option at first – I wanted a little Jared and Danielle. Why was that SO much to ask?

God slowly softened my heart to adoption and even foster care. We kept my cousin’s baby one night and the next morning I had the overwhelming feeling that maybe it should just be the two of us. Maybe a baby is too much. Maybe I could be happy without one. Maybe I am not ready.

I was at peace – for the first time in 18 months. Really truly at peace. I had given it to God – seriously – at last.

Two days later I took a pregnancy test. It was positive. I didn’t know what to think. A baby would be due at the beginning of May – right at the start of wedding season (I’m a photographer for those who don’t know) – and that would NOT be good for business. Yes – I seriously thought this. And I thought – what if we miscarry again – I don’t think I could deal with another – it would break me.

But this baby was meant for our hearts and our arms. My pregnancy with Fitzgerald was picture perfect. I felt fantastic – other than morning sickness the first half. I was often in disbelief that there was a little baby in there. But he was. He was born on April 28th of 2011. He was beautiful. My heart was healed. I asked God for a baby. He gave me a beautiful little boy. Finally.

We missed little Enoch but LOVED our time with Fitzy! We enjoyed him and spoiled him with love.

In January of 2012 we found out we were expecting again. We were shocked! It took so long to get Fitzy and this was a surprise!

But I was scared. I didn’t feel sick. I didn’t feel pregnant. I didn’t let myself get attached to this baby – I knew it wouldn’t last. I just knew.

In early February I started bleeding and miscarried little Joy shortly after. Experiencing a miscarriage while you have a baby in your arms is much easier than when you don’t – at least in my experience. It hurt but Fitzy’s kisses eased the pain. I cried but his laughs brought me back to life. Our miscarriage brought feelings up in us – crazy and irrational feelings – that took us to a dark place. We fought and cried – I wrote about that time earlier. Losing another baby took us to a place where we almost fell apart. But we didn’t. By the pure grace of God.

Just as our relationship was getting better – getting to a whole new place of trust and love – we found out we were pregnant. Again. This time I knew this baby would be meant for our arms. This bay would be due right when we miscarried our first. It completed the circle. Our family would be complete – and God designed it JUST this way. I just knew.

And I was wrong.

We had an ultrasound and it looked great. Then the doctor called. Our baby didn’t look good. The heartbeat was low and there was a tear near the sac. My doctor said – I know you Danielle – and while I encourage you to not lose hope – I must tell you that I think you’ll start miscarrying soon. I lost it. I cried and cried and cried. How could this be happening AGAIN. And why now. I truly believed that this baby would be in my arms. But again – Fitzy’s love healed my heart quicker than our first loss.

But jealousy and anger crept in. I had (and OFTEN have) a very hard time being happy for friends that are having babies. Unless they too have struggled – then I’m a little better about it – which is SO wrong. I especially struggle with the people that have babies when we would have. I don’t understand why they are holding their little ones in their arms while I hold mine in my heart. It’s a painful reminder of what I don’t have.

Getting caught up with what you don’t have can kill you. Seriously.

So now what?

Now we love. And live. And pray for that bitterness and jealousy to leave – even though it’s so easy to hold onto.

Now we hold each other up during the hard times. I keep going to my MOPS group even though it hurts to see babies the same age as ours would have been (some days are much harder than others) – I hold those babies. Some days I might cry. Some days I just hug them and thank the good Lord that they are here even though mine are not.

Now – I refuse to pretend. It’s something I don’t do well. When there is a problem – I confront it – figure it out – get it taken care of. When the problem is jealousy and bitterness – I can’t just shove it back down to the depths. The more you shove it down – the harder it digs in and the harder it is to get out. So I deal with it. I blog about it – talk to someone about it – pray about it – hold my sweet boy.

Now we pray. Pray that if God holds more children in His plan for us – that we can deal with that answer. I’m scared that this might be our only baby. Thankfully – I went into this journey knowing that Fitzy may very well be our only – so I have no regrets in our experience. I enjoyed my pregnancy – I got pictures taken. I had pictures taken at his birth – newborn pictures. I held him. I breastfed him – for a short time. I kissed him and told him I loved him. I held him while he slept. I asked for help.

Now we pray. Pray that I don’t become obsessed with getting pregnant again. Pray that I enjoy this baby and soak in every second. Pray that I can be happy with or without another child. Pray that the people I continue to meet through this journey will touch my life. Pray that we can touch theirs.

Now. We pray.

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I remember when we found us we were pregnant for the first time. It was so surreal.

Actually, let me rewind a bit first. Danielle mentioned that I was a bit apprehensive about having kids, and she was absolutely right. Terrified is probably a better word.

I’ve never really shared this with many people, and it’s pretty embarrassing. When Danielle was going through her insane problems with TMJ, I was glad. Not glad that she was suffering but glad to know that meant we’d be waiting a little while before having kids. Terrible, I know.

OK, fast forward to us finding out we were expecting.

It was right before heading to Florida to take part in one of my best friend’s weddings. We had just gotten our new Great Dane, Schrute. Life was so good.

I remember calling people as we were waiting for our plane in Elmira. We got to share the good news with our friends, the Yoders and the Fitches on the way down to the Sunshine state. It was just amazing. I remembering trying to be careful because I didn’t want to steal the thunder of our friends’ wedding.

And then I remember the life-altering bad news. They couldn’t see anything on the ultrasound. Nothing. Just blackness. I remember not even being able to comprehend what was happening. And then Danielle made it home. And I cried. And cried. And cried. It quite literally felt like my heart was breaking. One of the darkest moments of my life, for sure.

But we made it. Life returned to some normalcy, but the pain was there. Little things would happen that would bring the tears flooding again, but life went on.

I had to be the strong one for Danielle. She was in a bad place. She wanted noting more than to be a mama. And it wasn’t happening. For months. And it seemed like everyone around us was being blessed with little ones. It just didn’t make sense. It was a hard 18 months. Trying to remind your best friend that you just need to trust God, even though it doesn’t make sense and even though it was pretty much the last thing she wanted to hear.

And then we watched Danielle’s cousin’s baby for a night. What an eye opener! It was more then either of us bargained for. And then Danielle said she was OK with it just being us for the time being. I couldn’t believe it! I knew it was definitely God changing her heart.

And Boom. We were pregnant again. And terrified and excited and a whole host of other emotions. Like Danielle mentioned it was pretty much a perfect pregnancy. Danielle literally glowed. It was awesome!

On April 28, 2011 I met the most amazing little man ever. Even though I was in the midst of a rough patch of anxiety/depression, it was awesome.

Our lives haven’t been the same since!

Fast forward to 2012. We found out we were pregnant again early in the year. I wasn’t too worried because the pregnancy with Fitzy had gone so well.

Imagine my shock when I found out we were miscarrying again. It was a punch to the gut. I took it really hard, and it took me to a very dark place. I got really angry. Especially with God. Even though it wasn’t his fault. It took our marriage to one of its lowest points, but we survived. Through God’s grace.

A few months passed, and we found out we were pregnant again. Again, I was pretty optimistic, but worried too. We reached the dreaded 8 weeks again, and there was potential bad news. The Dr. said things didn’t look quite right on the ultrasound. We were scheduled for another ultrasound. When the second ultrasound was finished the tech never showed us where the baby was. I had held out hope thinking I had possibly seen a little baby on screen. That hope never played out the way I wanted. We were miscarrying. Again.

This third miscarriage almost sent me right over the edge. I know it was God helping me to hold it together. Again. He was faithful even though I blamed Him once more.

And here we are. We have one amazing, beautiful, happy baby boy in our arms, and three little ones we have to wait a little longer to see. It’s still really hard. Sometimes I’ll hear or see something that just makes me break down. I miss those little ones so much. But I’m so thankful we get to have little Fitzy in our lives.

There have been times throughout these three miscarriages when I’ve wanted to give up. There still are times. But we go on. With God’s grace. Believing in what we can’t see. Holding on to hope. Holding on to Jesus. Holding the hands of a beautiful little boy.

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