Guest Posts/Interviews

TEAR DOWN THE WALL | An interview with Morgan Trinker

February 16, 2016


The Amazing Morgan Trinker

Do you guys want to know a secret?

Whenever I publish a post about how difficult being a Mom can be I have a fleeting and cringe-worthy thought:  There is a woman out there who will read this post amidst a long struggle to become pregnant.  It could be someone I know well or an old Facebook friend I forgot I had or a random reader I don’t know at all.  This person will read my words and think…”she is so ungrateful.”

I have been wanting to address it, I just haven’t been sure how.  Because the truth is that I am grateful.  I am so grateful that I was able to conceive and give birth to my daughter without any complications or delays.  Despite how it may sometimes seem, I really don’t take it for granted.  For reasons I can’t explain, I spent most of my 20’s feeling a nagging premonition that when Joe and I got married and tried to start a family someday there would be issues.  Issues because of my weight or some other unknown factor.  I couldn’t shake the worry.  Trust me, I was as surprised (but more pleasantly so, I imagine) as a teenager 3 weeks after prom when the pregnancy test read positive.

Anyway.  Back to the point.  Every time I’ve had this horrible thought about the mystery woman reading my blog and thinking me ungrateful, I’ve wanted to follow through and scream it from the rooftops – I am grateful.  And I know how lucky I am.

Enter Morgan Trinker.

When I was first getting into wedding photography I started following Morgan online.  We occasionally exchanged business-related emails.  I even flew her in from Alabama to shoot my own wedding 2 years ago.  We have had this very low-key online friendship that allows me to feel like I know her better than I really do and vise versa.

A few weeks ago she popped on the internet and shared this.  I read it with tears rolling down my face.  Her candor.  Her bravery.  Her strength.  Her everything.  I emailed her with some positive vibes and timidly asked her if she would be willing to be interviewed here and she said yes.

For me, sharing Morgan’s story is so important.  I hate that there are invisible walls and veils of secrecy and shame.  Everyone knows someone who has been touched by fertility struggles, miscarriages and general baby-making heartbreak.  I just feel like women in the year 2016 need to stand together because whether your baby lives in your arms, in heaven or solely in your heart and mind….we are all Mothers.


So I wanted to start with “Tell me a bit about your infertility story” but I’m already worried.  Is “Infertility” a 4 letter word?

My husband Jamie and I have officially been trying to conceive for a little over a year, which now officially places us square in the “infertile” category. (The doctors give you 12 months if you’re under the age of 35 and relatively healthy, and 6 months if you’re older than 35 or have known reproductive issues, before they classify you as infertile.) Unfortunately they don’t make a Girl Scout badge for that. I have to admit, for most of the time we were trying until reaching that one year mark, I was in denial about that scary word “infertility” and refused to think of my own situation in those terms. Even when I was put on medication for hypothyroidism last spring, even when I was told I had a tilted uterus, even when I visited a fertility doctor in July and she did an ultrasound revealing two baseball-sized cysts in each of my ovaries and Stage 4 endometriosis, which required me to have an intense laparoscopic surgery a month later, even when we started fertility treatments… I still couldn’t bring myself to say either out loud or to myself that we were struggling with infertility. “We still have a few more months,” I kept telling myself. But then the months passed, and that one year mark rolled around, and at that point we could no longer deny it: I was infertile. There was a period of depression and a whole lot of grieving that shortly followed, but after it passed, I began to ask myself what I had been so afraid of. Why is infertility such a scary, dirty word? Especially when a whopping 1 in 6 couples struggle with it at some point in their journey to having children. It is so much more commonplace than our everyday conversations would lead anyone to believe. But once I began opening up about it to friends and family, I began hearing so many stories from others who had faced similar struggles and I couldn’t help but wonder why I didn’t know about them sooner. There is so much shame and fear that hangs like a dark rain cloud over this topic, sending women into secret hiding places to suffer alone. And for good reason: when our fertility is taken away, we feel like a crucial part of our identity as women and as humans is just gone. It’s easy to think that no one could possibly understand the pain we feel, and we don’t want their judgement and pity anyway, so we’ll just lock our emotions up and plaster on a smile for every pregnancy announcement and baby shower without allowing anyone else to know what’s really going on inside of us. And that, my friends, is heartbreaking, and probably the biggest reason why I decided to come forward with my story.

Amazing.  What was it that finally made you go public?  

To put it simply, I was tired of feeling isolated, and I knew that there were women out there who needed to hear my story so that they too would feel less isolated. I was so scared to hit publish on that post, knowing that all my deepest darkest secrets were about to be exposed to the world. But I could no longer ignore the strong urge I was feeling to write it all down and share it, so I just took a deep breath and did it. And you know what? The week following that post has been one of the best in a long time. I was almost immediately inundated with texts, phone calls, emails, Facebook messages, and comments on social media. The Monday I went live, I spent the entire rest of the day in tears at work, reading kind and encouraging and beautiful words from loved ones and strangers alike. I can’t even begin to tell you how many women– women I never would have suspected– came forward and shared their own silent struggles with infertility or disease or depression or all of the above. If I ever thought I was alone before, I was so sadly mistaken. I had simply not taken the opportunity to be vulnerable and to allow myself to be loved on in that extreme vulnerability. I had many women say that I had inspired them with my bravery (which I can assure you, definitely did not feel like bravery to me) to face down their own demons. I had several friends who revealed that they hadn’t been able to acknowledge their depression until I wrote so openly about my own, and one of them said she called her doctor immediately after reading my post to set up an appointment to discuss her mental health. WOW. Just wow. This is the kind of thing that happens when we trade fear and shame for honesty– we find out that we are not special snowflakes who are the only ones suffering. There is so much suffering out there, and it comes in so many shapes and sizes, and the best way to get through it is together. 

The thing that has stayed with me most from your original post was “whatever demons you’re facing right now, you aren’t alone. Never, ever hold up someone else’s perfect Instagram feed as a mirror to your own life, because whether or not we choose to share the innermost workings of our hearts, you’d better believe we’ve all got ugliness in there.”  Such a powerful message for our generation and, in ernest, a lot of my fuel for writing this blog.  Did “unplugging” from social media for a while help you manage your own headspace?

In a word, yes, absolutely. When you are in a dark place, the worst thing you can do is log onto Instagram or Facebook. Because social media feeds are, for the most part, highlight reels. Our “Sunday best,” so to speak. Nice, neat little summaries of all the great parts of our lives with none of the actual messy and hard reality. And to be clear, I totally get that. I understand why. No one likes a Debbie Downer who just complains all the time. And usually we’re only motivated to share things when they are good and happy and inspiring. I am very much that way. That’s why when I go on trips or I’m doing something fun, I’ll post lots of stuff all at once, but then it’ll be crickets for a week after. I think it’s just human nature. The terrible danger in all of it, though, is that it’s so easy to fall into the trap of comparing another person’s highlight reel to our own less-than-ideal reality, as if that’s even remotely a fair comparison. No matter how much I knew that what people posted was not always an accurate reflection of their real lives, it was still hard to see. Plus, no matter how much you don’t want it to be, it can be fairly painful when you’re struggling to conceive to scroll through what feel like endless pregnancy announcements, ultrasound photos, pictures of belly bumps and newborn babies. Not because you don’t want the best for your friends– of course you do!– but because these are all just tiny little reminders that the thing you desperately want more than anything is not yours, and may not ever be. So for those reasons, there were several times in the last year where I had to simply step back and take a break from it all. And it was exactly what I needed for a good reality check. BUT the beauty of this experience is that I’ve now been able to return to social media with a much healthier perspective, partially because I’ve learned to thrive without it, but also because I realized what an amazing thing it could be if I chose to simply be more honest. And guess what? Those brutally honest and not traditionally “pretty” posts have gotten way more likes and comments than anything I’ve posted in ages. Which tells me that maybe a few things need to change about what and how we share our personal lives online.

The dreaded question.  We know they meant well, but what is the worst thing someone has said to you? 

Oh man, this is so hard. For one, I feel incredibly lucky to have been surrounded by nothing but love and sensitivity throughout this process. I now am FULLY aware of how loved I am, and it is the best feeling. But there are definitely some general statements that people tend to make in response to these issues that leave the recipient feeling… well… worse. And they most definitely mean well and are only trying to help, which makes it that much harder because you just kind of have to grin and bear it. But one of those sentiments is “Well, I guess everything happens for a reason.” I’m sorry, but no. That’s just not okay. Even if you believe, as I do, that God has a perfect plan and orchestrates all things for His glory, it’s really hard to stomach in the midst of your suffering that there’s an actual reason for it. Because how good could that reason possibly be? It’s different when you are personally able to look back at hard times in your own life and see that ultimately, it was all for the best. To have someone tell you that your total agony in that moment is somehow “for the best” is maybe not the most sensitive phrasing.
Another common response is, “Well, at least you can always adopt!” While I am extremely thankful that both Jamie and I are on the same page about desiring adoption, since that means that no matter what, we’ll be able to be parents, it is by NO means the “solution” for all couples. For one, other couples may have not have the same desire to adopt, and there’s nothing wrong with that. They shouldn’t feel like terrible people if they only wish to have biological children. For two, adoption is not a “fix” for infertility. It doesn’t erase a woman’s desire to experience pregnancy, or a couple’s excitement to see which of their personality traits or physical features their babies will inherit. For three, adoption is a long, very expensive, very emotional process that not everyone is able to undergo. The average adoption takes about 2 years and costs about $25,000-$35,000. It is an enormous investment of time and money and emotional energy, when “normal” expecting couples simply wait 9 months, pay a few thousand bucks for their labor and delivery, and they bring their baby home. So if you do decide to bring up the subject of adoption, make no assumptions, and do so in the most loving possible way.
Photographer Gina Ziedler wrote a beautiful post on how to talk to your friends about their infertility, and I would highly recommend checking it out if you’re feeling unsure of what to say!

What advice would you give someone who is close to a couple struggling to conceive? 

 I think this is such a beautiful and important question, because through all this, I’ve discovered that Jamie and I are not the only ones struggling with our infertility. It also has an impact on our family and friends, who so desperately want to help us and fix it for us but don’t always know what to do or say. And it’s hard, it really is. As a person who is obsessed with controlling and fixing ALL THE THINGS, feeling helpless is not a good look for me. So if you find yourself in that position, feeling helpless as you try to help your friends or family through this difficult time, I’ll give you this piece of advice: all you have to do is simply be there. I think most couples who are going through this don’t necessarily want to be badgered with medical questions or offered advice about what they should do. Chances are, it’s all they can think about and talk about with each other when they’re alone, and they’ve probably already read or heard about all their options and possible solutions and are feeling overwhelmed enough as it is. If they’re anything like me, and I hope to goodness they’re not, they start crying as soon as anyone asks about an upcoming doctor’s appointment and can’t get the information out anyway. So I would just ask them what they feel comfortable with as far as talking about it or receiving advice or guidance. Give them the opportunity to communicate what kind of support they need from you. Be understanding if they maybe aren’t the most present friend or daughter or sister during this time. Love them anyway, because this too shall pass. Don’t assume that they want space and privacy either, because sometimes they might and sometimes they just need community. Live life normally… go on trips with them and go out to eat with them and laugh with them. Talk about anything but babies. Trust me, they really, really need that sometimes, and they will forever be grateful for the comfort of normalcy and routine and fun when they’ve forgotten what it’s like to simply live their lives. It’s so hard to know what to say to someone who is struggling or grieving, whether it’s due to infertility or death of a loved one or illness or whatever it may be. But I think that sometimes the only thing to say is “This really, really sucks. But I love you and I’m here for you, in whatever way you need me to be.”

Thank you, Cat, for inviting me to share more on this today! And thank YOU for taking the time to read. If you have any questions or just need to talk to someone who’s been there, feel free to email me at or find me on Instagram at @morgantrinker.


Morgan.  I’m obsessed with this interview.  I’m obsessed with you (as you already well know).  Thank you.

An Interview with my Bestie, a Colic Survivor

November 5, 2015


Sidney Ann!  I want to bite those cheeks every time I see her.

Kaitlin gave birth to her daughter Sidney in July.  Almost immediately, Sidney Ann made her tough-cookie presence known.  I sat helplessly on the sidelines as Kaitlin battled her way through her maternity leave, trying everything in her power to soothe her sweet girl’s cries.  They saw specialist after specialist and got more than one vague and confusing diagnosis.

In the end, it all added up to the one thing no deliriously sleep-deprived Mother ever wants to hear:  Colic.

From what I can gather, the worst thing about colic is that they don’t know what causes it.   It’s defined as episodes of crying for more than three hours a day for more than three days a week for three weeks in an otherwise healthy child between the ages of two weeks and four months.  :shudders:

I remember the handful of times Maisie has cried and I didn’t know why or couldn’t immediately figure out how to fix it.  Every single one of those occasions left me in panicked tears myself.  I can’t imagine (like literally, CANNOT imagine) living that on a daily basis for 2-3 months.  And living it at 1 a.m., 2:30 a.m., 3:45 a.m., 5 a.m…..

Thankfully Sidney has turned a corner recently and the worst of it seems to be over.  In the continued spirit of Mothers admitting loud and proud how effing hard it can be to be Mothers, Kaitlin agreed to be interviewed.  I hope this helps even one person out there on the interwebs!

First, tell me a little bit about your daughter.

She is smart, beautiful, and sensitive… Those things I know for sure. I’m still waiting to find out the rest!

What did you know about colic before Sidney was born?

I knew that colic meant constant crying and that gas pains were a factor. I did not know the extent of how stressful and painful it is for the whole family.

What is the most challenging thing about having a baby with colic?  

Colic is feeling like somehow, someway, you are the cause.

What would you say to another new Mom who has a baby with colic?

Ask for help from someone who has experienced it. You can’t control it, the only thing you can do is hear other people’s colic experiences, and take breaks away from the crying/screaming.

Knowing what you know now, would you do anything differently if you could go back to the first day home with her?

I would have stayed in bed with the baby for the first few days and tried to get any amount of sleep.  Instead, I made the same mistake a lot of new mothers make, trying to get up, get dressed, and function. I had no idea how long it would be before I got any quality sleep.

How has having a tough-cookie baby like Sidney changed your view on Motherhood?

Having a colicky baby taught me that as a parent, you can’t control the outcome of most things the way you could before being a parent. There’s always going to be a new obstacle with your child and you can’t stop it from happening, you just have to face it.

Thanks so much for sharing Kaitlin.  I’d love to keep featuring some guest posts and/or interviews, so if you have a story to share – get in touch!


On the Flip Side | An Interview with Joe Dugan

October 6, 2015


I have been using this space to ramble on forever about being a new Mom, but what about the new Dads?  The days of the men waiting in the hospital waiting room with a pack of cigars are long gone.  Dads are UP IN that shiz.  Diapers, swaddles, bottles…everything.

Personally, seeing Joe become the amazing Father that he is has been the highlight of our 10+ year relationship.  In the early newborn days, I was actually jealous of what a natural he was with Maisie.  He was like a duck in water and I was a frazzled, panicked disaster.  A Dad is an irreplaceable person in a girl’s life and Maisie is one lucky little lady.

Anyway, Joe Dugan agreed to let me interview him to get his perspective on things.  He can be kind of quiet and tight-lipped when it comes to his feelings so I was SO fascinated by his answers.  It was like being on a private tour of the mind of my own husband.  I joked that I want to start holding weekly husband/wife interview sessions about everything in life.

How has being a Father changed your life?

It’s amazing how it consumes every minute of your day.  You’re responsible for another life.  All the books and cliches on TV and whatnot try to prepare you…as much as you think you know what to expect you have no idea.  Becoming a Father means becoming a different person.  I was always concerned about how I was going to deal with talking to a baby or how to change a diaper or give a bottle and it’s amazing how instincts take over and you just…do it.

What has been the scariest thing about becoming a Father?

I don’t think there’s any one scariest thing.  The whole thing is terrifying.

What was it like seeing your daughter being born?

We knew exactly when the baby was coming.  Counting down the days to Cat’s induction was bizarre.  Leading up to the delivery I was nervous thinking about how awkward this experience could be – being in a room with doctors, nurses, my Mother in Law and my wife (in a very vulnerable position)…but it was totally different than what I expected.  It was the most incredible experience of my life.  Indescribable.  I went from feeling excited to meet my daughter and wanting to be a supportive husband to feeling like a hockey fan during a Game 7 overtime.  The feeling of anticipation – like the most intense Christmas morning ever – was overwhelming.  Once the baby was out I was just relieved that Cat was okay and Maisie was perfect.

What did you think when you first saw your daughter?

I had a hard time composing myself.  I was weak at the knees.  I always thought newborn babies looked like aliens…I was actually concerned in advance on what my reaction would be to my own alien baby but she was the cutest baby I’ve ever seen.  I couldn’t believe how adorable she was.

How has being a Father changed your marriage? (after a long pause…this is not a trap!)

There have been more trying moments than we’ve ever faced before, but it has also brought us closer at the same time.  We each have meltdowns and freakouts and the other person is always there to step up.  We’re a team.

What are your feelings on having a girl?

She’s not a girl, she’s Maisie.  I felt a connection with her the instant she was born.  Her being a girl just means I have a lot of learning to do about all sorts of different things.

What are some things you are looking forward to doing with your daughter when she gets older?

I don’t want to look forward.  I want to enjoy everything as it happens.

What advice would you give to a close buddy who’s wife is pregnant?

I don’t know how much advice there is to give.  I’ve only been a Father for 5 months so I don’t think I’m in a position to give advice but I guess I would just say be prepared for your life to change forever.  It’s a very difficult but rewarding experience.

Big thanks to my husband for participating in this very official and professional living room interview.  Way to go, Dads!

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