Our Infertility Journey

the wedding binder

image by Stacey Woods Photography

image by Stacey Woods Photography

It was my very first purchase after he proposed and I said yes...or, more accurately, I said "are you sure?" and then I said "yes!" Not just any old wedding planner would do. It would have to be perfect. I had been the stereotypical little girl who dreamed about her wedding and her Prince Charming. I would play with my porcelain bride dolls (which happen to also wind up and play "Here Comes the Bride") and imagine my Prince Charming. A hopeless romantic. In love with love.   When I was older I began looking at all the bridal magazines. I loved my family management classes in high school and soaked in all the information about planning weddings...and a bit about the whole planning a marriage thing too. In college I would actually buy those bridal magazines and comb through them. I held onto them and dog eared my favorite things. Martha Stewarts were my favorite. So, naturally, when it came time to purchase my wedding planner, I knew it had to be the one from Martha. In her signature blue, it had everything a girl could ever need in what would hold all the essentials in planning her big day plus room to add more. I began to fill it with my dreams...and Bret's too, of course. Images of dresses, tuxes, favors, flowers, decorations, wedding DIYs, sample timelines, vows, business cards, quotes, lists of local vendors, all my research of all the things, and, of course, dream weddings. We wanted our friends and family to walk away with a better sense of who we were. We wanted them to see us in all the details. To see our love. We would have different shades of pink, obviously...that's my favorite color. Bret insisted on actual bow ties...no clip ons for him. We picked a location for the reception that screamed KY, with its rolling hills and beautiful sunsets (Talon Winery...one of my favorite places to shoot to this day). I picked my dress out online and knew it was the one before I even tried it on. I knew we had to have a sparkler exit, so cute little pink matches were the perfect favor. I DIYed everything I could...invitations, decorating the unity candle, the centerpieces. Every detail was just us. Our story. Our love.

That Martha Stewart blue binder was bursting at the seams with details for one day. One beautiful day that was exactly 13 years ago. What it didn't include, what it was so obviously missing, how to plan a marriage. It didn't include details on how to organize finances. It didn't give helpful tips on how to disagree with love and respect. It didn't warn there may be times when you still feel lonely and scared of what the future holds. It didn't tell how to plan for infertility and the possibility of never having a child. It didn't teach about having empathy for your partner even when you don't really understand their thinking. It didn't tell us how to truly be partners. It didn't guide us in knowing how to be gentle with each other while going through those first few months of bringing home a newborn. It didn't give either of us tips on how to handle a mommas postpartum depression. It didn't teach us about giving the best of ourselves. It didn't say we should take a date night once a week or continue to actually date or pursue each other after the wedding. It didn't demand we find a way to have a work life "balance" or how to handle the ups and downs of careers and owning small businesses. I'm thankful we included the 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 in our ceremony or it wouldn't have even included anything about what love actually is. I don't blame Martha. I mean, how could she know what our lives would hold. How could we even know that? 

We learned the secrets to love and marriage can't be held within a binder. They are held within our days. Within each moment, each struggle, each "I love you", each spin around the kitchen, each kiss.  We learned how to love when we fought infertility and held each others hands through IVF. We learned to love when we felt the tiny kicks of our baby for the first time. We learned to love when he held me as I pushed our sweet baby boy into the world. We learned to love as we struggled through the first few months of being new parents and the journey through postpartum depression. We learned to love through owning a home and all...the...projects. We learned to love through the laughter. We learned to love through the tears. We learned to love through miscommunication and every "I'm sorry". We learned to love through slammed doors and raised voices. We learned to love through holding hands and big kisses and "good efforts". We learned to love through watching t-ball games and five year old basketball...laughing and cheering. We learned to love through honey-do lists. We learned to love through dreams coming true and the disappointment of dreams missed. We learned to love through books and experts and therapy. We learned to love through self growth and self care. We learned to love through loving ourselves first. We learned to love through dates and surprises...so many wonderful surprises. We learned to love through church hymns and prayers. We learned to love at Friday night football games and late night talks after. We learned to love through rushed mornings and slow summers. We learned to love through teaching our son to ride his bike and skinned knees. We learned to love through seeing friends and family rise and fall. We learned to love through long talks and silence. We learned to love through slow dances and silly family dances. Mostly, we learned to love from choosing each other every single day...through all the beauty, all the darkness, all the passion, and all the fear.

It's not like I imagined when I put together that perfect little blue Martha Stewart wedding binder all those years ago. It's better, stronger, more colorful, and more full of imperfect beauty than I had ever imagined. It's us. It's our story. It's our love. 

I love you, babe! Happy 13 year anniversary! I'm sorry I forgot to tell you this morning in the mad rush to get out the door. I'm so thankful you choose me every day. Can we have a dance in the kitchen tonight? And maybe not cook in it? You know...after football practice and your radio interview and soccer practice. I promise I'll try not to fall asleep when I lay down with Steff. 

So much love...


My "Life List" Update | Priscilla Baierlein Photography {a bit of a dreamer}

I am a bit of a wonderer...a dreamer. Always have been and suspect I always will be. I have big plans and dreams. However, I feel myself always saying no. I have great intentions when it comes to these big dreams, but often let them sit there and gather dust. At least that's the way it feeeeels. It feels like I am going through my day to day. Hectic life of two babies (a 3 year old and a business...yes the business totally counts as another baby), a beautiful husband, a home owner, a friend, and a planner. I want to live a life of adventure. Not always the big adventures. Sometimes small adventures like hiking through the woods (or to the other side of an island), other times big adventures like hang gliding (don't worry...I've been told the dangers of such) or traveling to the other side of the world. Truth be told, I don't think I always saw the small ones as adventures. Now a days an adventure can be going to Michlers with my son or going on a "treasure" hunt. I want to instill a thirst for adventure in him. I want him to see adventure all around. At 3 he certainly does see adventure. I burst with pride as he said "momma you wanna go on a benture (adventure) with me?" I quickly learned that the adventure was playing on his play set and moving between swing to swing and the slide and under the playset. I want that sense of adventure to always stay with him and be all around. I want him to see magic in every thing...in our day to day hectic lives. I want him to be able to slow down, breath it all in, and whisper a thank you to God. Maybe that's what God wants for us. To always see the world as an adventure. To love life deeply and passionately and adventurously. This past year I took time to learn about, well, myself. To learn why I feel the way I do some days and why I react this way or that way at times. To put words and names to these things. I spent the year basically healing...and that is a life long process. But I knew I wanted this year to be about the word YES...to say YES to what God lays in front of me...to say YES to that little voice in me...to dare greatly...to be brave. The beginning of this year, I've been kept busy with...well...busy work. Busy important work that makes my dream of being a photographer a reality. The thing is...when I'm busy I have a hard time listening. Oh goodness though...when I do listen...really listen...do those things that the tiny voice calls me to do ("Go see your neighbor...she has a story to tell." "Do a shoot to benefit a friend." "Call her...she needs to hear from you.")...living for the next moment...doing the next right thing...that's truly when I feel most alive. That's when I feel like I am listening and "hearing" God. Not like audible God with the Morgan Freeman voice. It would be a lot easier to decipher what was him and what was just me if that were the case. Okay...I think I may be sounding crazy now. All I know is that when I'm listening like that, life feels like an adventure. The more I listen, the more I hear. The louder I love...the louder I am loved.

The last day in my twenties I shared with all of you my Life List. This year I thought I would refresh it and bring life back into it. I've actually marked off quite a few things. I'm sure I will continue adding and taking away and marking things off. Do you have a life list? What's your favorite thing on your list?

Here's the blog post from almost five years ago. I have changed the list a bit and added pictures, but everything else is the same....


Well, I have thought about this entry a million times and now when it comes down to actually writing it I'm having trouble finding the words. Today is a special day, but yesterday was even more special. Today, June 16th, is my birthday, but yesterday was the day I wanted to hold on to. My last day in my 20's. I told Bret that was the last day he would have the chance to kiss a girl in her 20's. For some reason the last day of everything always hits me harder than the actual day...the last day as a teenager, the last day of high school, even the last day in Elementary school (can you believe it started that early!?!) As my best friend, Andrea, likes to remind me, I cried and said "it will never be the same again". Some how I just KNEW that going to Middle School was going to change everything. Little did Andrea and I know that the many years in school would change us to the point that we would be where we are today...best friends. She was always the cool kid with the awesome ribbon belt that I wanted. Now she's the beautiful Mom and woman that I look up to. It would only make sense when Andrea blogged about her list I would soon be creating my own. Some call it a "Bucket List", or the "Burn List", I call it my "Life List". My list started way back in college, but wasn't very long and was far from complete. I've been putting off blogging this because it just never felt complete and truly still doesn't. I keep thinking of things I want to do. Some are small and silly...others are big and I realize may never happen. A fellow photographer posted a quote on her blog today which said "Shoot for the moon. If you don’t make it, at least you will land among the stars." After all, isn't it the journey that matters the most? I've listed things I've always wanted to do, things I think that everyone should learn...know...or do, things that will strengthen who I am as a person, will strengthen my relationship with God, things that will help others, and things that just flat out give me the warm fuzzies. Trying to make things measurable in order to be able to one day mark them off was a challenge, so there are some that just aren't. I'm getting butterflies just thinking about posting this.

Now...for the LIFE LIST.

1. Play putt-putt golf (completed with Bret, Andrea, Brad, Bailey, & Jake, while I was pregnant June 2011)

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2. Become a Mom (August 7,2011 I didn't dare write this on my list until after, but it was certainly always there)

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3. Grow our own fruit trees/bushes

4. Take salsa lessons

5. Scuba Diving

6. Go back to Europe (preferably a European tour)

7. Visit Savannah, GA

8. Visit New Orleans and try all the delicious food that Bret talks so much about

9. Raise children who feel love and belonging with shame resistance

10. Write a book and try to have it published

11. Learn how to can food (2011)

12. Make my own jam/jelly

13. Make pickles (summer 2013)

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14. Have a healthy birth with as little interventions as my body will allow (August 7, 2011) Photo credit Amy Parsons Photography

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15. Sing karaoke by myself

16. Bake my own bread (summer 2013)

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17. Make butter

18. Have a fire pit in our back yard to roast all the marshmellows and hot dogs we want! (thanks to Bret & Steff, summer 2013)

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19. Live a bold, intentional, authentic, and meaningful life full of little and big adventures

20. Take a girls trip with Andrea only Feb 2014


21. Run a 5k (I like the idea of the color run)

22. Begin a tradition to do something for a charity every Christmas

23. Do yoga on a regular basis

24. Take family walks and/or bike rides on a regular basis (step 1...get a bike)

25. Start praying more and strengthening my relationship w/ God (on going, but yes :) 2014?)

26. Read and understand the Bible to the best of my ability (working on this now)

27. Go parasailing again (Completed with Bret June 2010)

28. Write letters to those who have made an impact in my life. Mail some of them.

29. Learn family history...even the things no one wants to talk about

30. Have a back yard family dinner with a beautiful long table, eclectic chairs, white lights, and the food all spread out on the table (September 2013 & hopefully many more)

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31. Use my photography to make a difference (on going)

32. Give our Wilmington honeymoon another shot (our last was cut short)

33. Hawaii w/ my little family

34. No credit card debt

35. Go a week with out the internet (on purpose)

36. Really use our back yard (hang out, grill, plant, etc.) often (ongoing, of course Summer 2013)

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37. Have my sewing machine out in a place where I can use it when I want to

38. Be happy with my body

39. See a Broadway musical

40. Visit Chicago

41. Truly make a difference and let my life be a testimony for Gods love (on going)

42. Run the Marine Corps 10K in Washington DC

43. Make drinking water often part of my every day life (January 2014 :))

44. Grow several large hydrangea bushes

45. Swim with dolphins

46. Help Andrea mark things off her list (at least 5 things)

47. Finish Andreas scrapbook

48. Zip line

49. Sky dive (not positive about this one)

50. Drive in movies Summer 2014

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51. Private :)

52. Take a big camping trip with my closest friends

53. Visit Great Wall of China

54. See the Eiffel Tower at night with Bret

55. Pay Mikie and Erica back in some way

56. Go to the beach often...I always feel closer to God there

57. Learn Mommy's story and tell it the way she would want it told

58. Have something a little stronger than a Coke in Monte Carlo

59. Own my story

60. Take Chasity to the KY Derby

61. Tip someone unexpecting a very large tip (i.e. a dive restaurant waitress, a street musician, etc.) (2011 at Asuka, left before we could see his reaction)

62. Go to a major music festival

63. Tour the White House

64. Write a hand written card or letter per week for 6 months.

65. Go on a ski trip complete with a cabin, fire place, hot tub, and hot chocolate

66. Go see an old black and white movie in a theater

67. Private :)

68. Ride (or drive?) a paddle boat

69. Ride a jet ski in the ocean

70. Visit Africa

71. Create an album for each year since the year I became pregnant

72. Have a sushi lunch (many times since...with Bret, with my friend Laura)

73. Learn to make sushi rolls

74. Play in a warm summer rain (complete with puddle jumping) (yes! with Bret & Steff August 2013)

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75. Learn to bake my own baguettes

76. Fly a kite

77. Learn to change a tire

78. Donate blood (UGH!)

79. Host an out door movie night

80. Fully learn to drive a stick shift

81. Visit New York City in the fall or New Years Eve

82. Go to a beach in the winter when it's cold. Bundle up in sweaters and my boots. Preferably with a fire and roasted marshmellows.

83. Blog something personal once a week for three months

84. Watch a meteor shower (unfortunately I can't remember when!)

85. Organize my old photos

86. Travel to CA and have a photo shoot w/ Tara Whitney

87. Visit Greece

88. Make home made ice cream

89. Visit the new Busch Stadium

90. Get on a horse again

91. Get over my fear of public speaking (this one use to be so terrifying that I didn't put it on the list...I'm one step closer)

92. Cookout on the beach at sunset in Dunedin (with Bret, Andrea, Brad, Bailey & Jake, while I was pregnant, June 16, 2011)

93. Have boudoir photos taken of me (of course very tasteful ones!)

94. Eat a snow cone at the beach Completed with Bret in Dunedin June 2010

95. Visit Mt. Rushmore

96. Give a TED talk

97. Take a drawing/painting/pastels art class (one or all)

98. Take a ceramics class

99. Learn to crochet

100. Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity

101. Go hang gliding (apparently this is more dangerous than skydiving but I am leaving it on here for now...it still sounds so beautiful)

102. Volunteer abroad for at least one month

103. Give ice skating another shot

104. Visit Niagra Falls

105. Relax in a natural hot spring

106. Learn to build a fire

107. Learn the Heimlich maneuver and CPR (completed class before son was born, but not sure I remember it)

108. Learn to jump start a car (sometime in 2012)

109. Go to the Ellen show

110. Go to a zoo August 2014

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111. Stand under a waterfall (preferably in Hawaii)

112. Have a successful herb garden (oh yeah...summer 2013) I think it's become a little more than an herb garden

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113. Fly fishing

114. Visit the Grand Ole Opry December 2014 to see Rockettes

115. Have a family reunion at the place where I grew up

116. Learn to play poker

117. Learn self defense techniques

118. Volunteer with Toys for Tots

119. Meet Loretta Lynn

120. Shoot with an old film camera

121. See the July 4th firework show in Washington, D.C.

122. Take the road trip I had planned for our honeymoon that includes stops along the Blues Highway (adjust the trip to our liking)

123. Visit Graceland

124. Read at least 50 of Newsweeks Top 100 Books

125. Visit 10 different kinds of churches and learn something about that religion

126. Grow the business enough that allowed for enough time to give and enough money to help

127. Spend a night on a boat under the stars

128. Go to the KY State Fair

129. Have a swing at our house (either porch or tire) and/or a hammock (summer 2011) Picture isn't of a porch swing, but it's somewhere up there in the other pictures :)

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130. Meet my friend Stacy in person

131. Photograph a water birth

132. Be featured on Creative Mama blog (a couple times :))

133. Live a wholehearted life

134. Tell my story...let it be heard...let it help others "Don't hog your journey"

135. Pick fresh strawberries at local "u-pick" place (the way strawberries are taking over our garden, this may turn into my house)

136. Inspire five others to create a "Life List" of their own

137. Make someone's dream come true

138. Stop drinking Pepsi (or any sort of pop/soda....except for the occasional sip) January 2, 2014 failed and trying it again

139. Find a church home and be an active member

140. Begin a random acts of kindness advent tradition for Christmas

141. Attend the Pursuit 31 Conference

142. Meet Bob Goff and Glennon Doyle Melton...such inspirational people

143. Renew our vows in our favorite spot in Dunedin

144. Go to Disney World with my little family

145. Give a birthday party to a child in need

146. Teach my child/children about what's really important in life

147. Raise kind and loving child/children

148. Wake up my son to walk in a fresh snow like Bret and I use to do

149. Travel and volunteer together as a family

150. Go sailing

151. Go canoeing or kayaking...I really don't know the difference

152. Go hiking or backpacking as a family

153. Spend a month as a vegetarian

154. Take my son to watch the sunset at my favorite spot in Dunedin June 2014

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155. Prepare my will

156. Support someone through their birth

157. Empower new mommas

158. Hike to the very tip end of Honeymoon Island (February 2015)

159. Ride in a hot air balloon

160. Visit Bali

161. Visit Peru

Now...I encourage all of YOU to create your own life list. Bret has to remind me that the point of the list is not to simply mark things off. It shouldn't become a job. The point is to live life and this truly empowers you to do so. It feels like you've really accomplished something, even if it's the smallest thing. Life passes by so quickly. Before you know it, you're 80 years old, sitting in a rocking chair, thinking about all you wanted to do. Or 30 :) We met a lady while parasailing in Clearwater. She said her life used to be filled with fear. What if this happened? What if that happened? Then she decided to put all the fears behind her. My favorite story of hers was that she showed up at the airport, got a ticket to Peru. While there they were watching all these people hang gliding and thinking how crazy that was. Next thing she knew, she was up hang gliding with them...up above the skyscrapers. Can you imagine just going to Peru on a whim? Hang gliding on a whim? Your list doesn't have to be filled with adventurous things. Just filled with things you want to do. Anything you've thought "oh I would love to do that" and thought it was too far out of reach, put it on the list and it may just motivate you to do it. Of course, if you're like me, you may have to win the lottery to accomplish them. Maybe I should put that on the list too?"

travel...anxiety...journeys...and seasons

I'm going to let you in on a little secret, my husband and I don't do road trips well together. I am full of nerves and anxiety on long drives. Even I can admit it is not my finest quality. I love adventure and love travel, but the problem is getting there. I'm not all that fond of flying either, but it's over so much quicker and I'm not constantly nagging Bret for his driving. I will take flying over driving 13 hours any day. This year...for practical reasons that didn't seem so practical later on...we decided to drive. The trip started out promising with a nice long breakfast, the relaxing vacation feeling, dancing, and singing. It wasn't long before the overwhelming anxiety set in. And now that we have a little one in the back seat for which we are responsible and love more than anything, the anxiety is even worse. See, it's not so bad when I drive. I know...completely irrational. But I KNOW what I can see and how I'm going to react. I have no idea for sure if he saw those break lights or that stop light. Trust me...I know how impossible this is. After tricking, I mean, convincing Bret to let me drive , I was set. Smooth sailing. When we FINALLY arrive and have a bit of sleep, we go to enjoy our day. Then...we all get a virus! What? Y'all. You just don't know how much I love vacation. I have loved it even more since having Steff. It's so peaceful and we are all so happy. To get a virus in our happiest place, well, that's just not even right. Steff and I were the last to get it. My philosophy was we were going to enjoy the sand and sun and beautiful ocean no matter what. Steff and I had the first day on the beach as a mommy day date. I loved watching the waves crash up against his toes as he would giggle and run away, only to run right back. This was peace. It's because of this day that I realized there is no place on Earth that God is more present than the ocean. The interaction between Steff and the waves reminded me of playing Tag as a little girl. Only he was playing tag with the ocean, perhaps with God. The drive, the virus, it was all worth it. It's a little like life. The process, the waiting, getting "there", isn't always fun. Doesn't seem like it will ever end. But it does, and you do get there. And it's all worth it. It all passes and feels like only a little blip of time. It felt like we would never make it to FL, but we did. And goodness did God, on His time, let us know it was worth it. The same with our infertility journey. It felt like we would never have a child. It felt like God was saying no. The journey, oh, the journey felt as if it would last forever. But here we are. Over three years later. And when he gives me a bear hug or kisses my cheek or makes me laugh or even drives me crazy, I know it's all worth it. There are days that I don't feel equipped. Maybe even most days at times. But I do know that he was worth the journey. We had to make it through that season to get to the next. To be the people we were to become. Just the same as this season and the next. It all will pass and pass too quickly. Speaking of passing a bit too quickly...of course, vacation did just that. Here's a little look into our, mostly, peaceful two weeks.


Speaking of God being so obviously present...


Guest Post on Creative Mama

Eek! I can't believe I almost forgot to post this. Some of you may remember that back when I was pregnant I had the unbelievable honor of writing a guest post for the Creative Mama. It was actually something that I had listed on my Life List (which needs a major update). I just love Creative Mama. There's so much inspiration jammed into one blog. You can read about the lives of every day women, learn about photography, learn to craft, and learn to cook all in one place. Can you imagine why I love it so? I was absolutely thrilled to write about where our journey has lead us. So thankful for this opportunity. I would love for you to read my guest post over at the Creative Mama!