‘I told my husband, ‘Things are not working.’ I wanted the kids to see their dad every night.’: Mom of 6 details love story, journey to full-time traveling family

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“I met my husband in the summer of 2014. I was 21 years old working full time for the State of Missouri and a single mom of a beautiful 18-month-old little girl. Her donor chose to never be in the picture. Being a mom and working full time left little time to date, so I turned to online dating. I vowed to myself any man who only said ‘hey’ would be ignored and not worth my time.

One morning, I logged in and had a few messages, but this one caught my eye and all he said was, ‘Hey’ (I know). Anyways, something in my gut told me to reply, so I did. I ended up giving him my number right away because it’s hard to be on the computer and chasing a baby around. I worked an evening shift and we planned on meeting when I got off work that night. Crazy. I told everyone at work that afternoon this is who and where we are meeting tonight in case I’m kidnapped or worse.

So, midnight rolled around and we were meeting a town over where my dad lived. I was so nervous and a little scared because he lived over 2 hours away in a neighboring state. We ended up driving around and talking ALL night long. I felt like I had known him for years. When he got back home, he asked me to be his girlfriend and I said yes. He was working for a traveling welding company so he headed back west to Wichita for two weeks. We talked all day every day and the weekend was finally here again so we could see each other. I met his family and we went to the races.

selfie of a man and a woman on a date wearing sunglasses
Courtesy of Katherine Umbarger

The next day, I asked him if I could go with him. I didn’t want to go another day without seeing him. He said yes so we drove to my grandma’s (where my daughter and I lived), packed a couple duffle bags, and headed back to Wichita. I quit my job and he got us an extended stay hotel to live in for the next 6 weeks. Once the job wrapped up, we were getting ready to head to Iowa. When we were at his buddy’s house, on October 24th to be exact, he told me he had to run to Topeka with his buddy to get tractor parts, so I was hanging out with his friend’s wife. I was kind of annoyed that he was gone for long, but to my surprise, he was secretly picking out an engagement ring.

He proposed to me in the backyard of his friend’s house. Poor guy was so nervous he could barely talk and grabbed the wrong hand. I was in complete shock. We headed up to Iowa for a quick job and then headed down to New Orleans while he worked at the sugar plant. So, December was here and we were renting a single-wide furnished trailer since we didn’t have a camper.

Right before Christmas, we decided to go to Panama City for a little vacation since we weren’t making the 16-hour drive back to see family for the holidays. We found out then we were pregnant. We might’ve been trying. So this brought up a decision that needed to be made. He either buys us a house or a camper to live in. I chose a house because who in the world lives in a camper with kids? We found a cute little 2-story house in his dad’s town. We only had 4 houses to choose from and settled down but he still traveled for work.

pregnant wife wearing a white long dress next to her husband who is holding her baby bump
Holly Marie Images

So here I am in Kansas, in a town where I don’t know anyone, pregnant and with a 2-year-old. Most of the pregnancy went well and we were excited to be welcoming a baby girl. He continued to work out of state coming home in between jobs for a weekend or a week if we were lucky before he was on to the next job. I filled my spare time with making wedding decorations, etc. We paid for our own wedding.

In August, towards the end of our pregnancy, my doctor kept saying I wasn’t getting bigger. She wanted me to go in for an ultrasound but couldn’t get me in till the following Tuesday. I honestly think that weekend was our first big fight because he hated missing work but I was very adamant about him being at the ultrasound. I won. After our ultrasound, they sent us home and we were like, ‘Okay everything must be good.’ He sat down for lunch on the couch when my phone rang. It was my doctor asking how fast we could come back to be induced. So, I packed our bags and went to the hospital we went to.

Labor was fairly quick,6 hours was all. To my surprise, she came out so purple. I remember Kyler asking me if it was normal and I burst into tears shaking my head no. Little miss had the cord around her neck and her hands and feet were tied up in the cord so she had stopped growing. However, she was healthy and doing amazing.

mom with tears in her eyes while holding her newborn daughter for the first time
Courtesy of Katherine Umbarger

A short 6 weeks after we had Kinsey we got married in a small-town venue! Everything was perfect and I was so excited to be marrying my best friend exactly one year after he proposed. We ended up leaving our wedding to go to a Halloween party in a barn in the middle of nowhere but it was so much fun!

husband and wife holding hands at the altar during their wedding ceremony
Courtesy of Katherine Umbarger

Kyler continued to work on the road coming home when he could. We really never knew when it would or for how long. I started redoing furniture to pass the time after the girls went to bed, and it later turned into a huge crafting business I was running from home every night when the girls were asleep. We ended up having a surprise pregnancy that spring, but it soon turned into a miscarriage. I took this so hard but was so thankful my husband happened to be home that week. I lived in bed for a week crying and being mad at my body for everything I was going through. It was so hard on both of us.

I then desperately wanted another baby. Six months later, we were pregnant with number 3! Another little girl. Kyler was still in and out with his job and I had gotten in so deep with crafting. Then Kinley’s (our oldest girl) grandma was taking us to court because she wanted visitation rights. This was my donor’s mom and despite him not being in the picture I always let her come to everything and have her all the time almost every other weekend. But I found out he was having another child and was hurt that she didn’t tell me. I mean, I invited her to our wedding, we all got along that well.

We filed back wanting his rights gone so Kyler could adopt her. Ultimately, he signed his rights over and Kyler adopted her. The grandma got more rights than my own dad did with me growing up but Kinley was finally his little girl. Towards the end of this pregnancy, his company had a job going on a couple hours from home so he was driving back and forth every day. I asked my neighbor Nikki if she wanted to meet up and walk to the park so all our girls could play.

husband and wife standing in the woods next to their little daughter while holding their baby daughter
Courtesy of Katherine Umbarger

We walked across town and we could see the park when I felt a pop. I looked at Nikki and said, ‘I think my water just broke.’ She was shocked. I was shocked. I called my husband 4 times before he answered. I told him, ‘My water broke and we’re heading home to pack a bag.’ He was up in a lift and I remember hearing him yell, ‘Let me down. I gotta go. My wife’s having her baby.’ Nikki watched my kids and dropped me off at the hospital and Kyler made it there shortly after.

It was the worst labor. Three failed epidurals later, they were trying number 4 when I was sitting on the side of the bed throwing up. Lo and behold, a beautiful girl with thick, dark red hair. She was about 9 months old when I told Kyler, ‘Things are not working. You are never home and we never talk when you are gone.’ I brought this up constantly for 6 months while he was gone. I was drained. I was raising all the kids alone and he was never home.

I decided it was just better if I was alone. My crafting business was more than enough for me to take care of the girls, and I was tired of being alone, so I told him I wanted a divorce. The following weeks were just a complete blur from fighting constantly to him moving his stuff out into storage and finally going back on the road. I had never felt more alone and heartbroken in my life. I cried so much, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, and I could hardly function. I felt like my heart had been stabbed out and I was so upset with myself that my kids were going to grow up in a divorced home like we did growing up.

One day I texted him so mad because  I couldn’t figure out how to apply for a tax number and he came by and we talked. I told him I was so sorry for asking for the divorce, but I actually wanted to be with him, not married and alone for weeks and months like it had been. So, he called the lawyer and they canceled the divorce with the state. We didn’t make it an official divorce so we didn’t have to get remarried.

We wanted to leave the house for a little bit, so we went on a family vacation to Colorado. There he brought up the idea of moving into a camper and traveling with him. By this time, he was working for a pipeline company that didn’t hop around as much as his previous company. I wanted this to work and for the girls to see their dad every night. And I wanted to be in his arms. So, I agreed we would give the camper life a chance. We looked at a few campers and picked one out with a bunk house so the girls would have their own room and bathroom. We decided we would head out after our oldest got out of kindergarten, which gave me plenty of time to pack up the house and sell whatever we didn’t need.

But life throws curve balls, and I found out we were pregnant again with our 4th little girl. We listed the house for sale and in February we picked up our camper and parked it at his company’s work yard. I remember being close to the end when he got called out on an emergency job he couldn’t leave until it was completed. No big deal, I had everything ready for the baby and the house was pretty much empty other than essentials.

husband and wife holding a onesie that says "coming soon"
Courtesy of Katherine Umbarger

I woke up one morning to a text from our realtor saying someone wanted to come look at the house that evening. I dropped Kinley off at school and started having this sharp, cramping pain. I texted Kyler saying hey I might be in labor but I’m not sure. The cramps increased so much, but I was trying to get the house ready for the showing. I was on my hands and knees crawling and knew I needed to go to the hospital.

I picked Kinley up and dropped her off at a friend’s house and headed to the hospital to be checked out. Turns out the baby had positioned herself where my urine couldn’t travel from my kidneys to my bladder so my kidney was starting to shut down. They decided it was best to induce me but wanted to do it the next day. Kyler wouldn’t be able to leave the job yet, so I asked them to move it one more day out. I thought it would be long enough for him to finish up the job and get home.

The night before I was to be induced, Kyler had welded all day long and then headed home around 9 p.m. He was in Illinois, so he was driving all night. We had to be checked in at 6 a.m. He drove as fast as he could and made it home with just over an hour to spare. He took a shower and tried to nap a little before we had to go. We got checked in and things were moving slowly. Around 1, he was starving. I kept begging him to go to the cafeteria and grab some food; he really needed it. He refused to go eat until she was born and I’m glad he waited because she showed up a short ten minutes after that conversation. Those words I’ll never forget, ‘I just drove all night. I’ll be damned if I’m eating and miss her birth.’

Postpartum mom at a hospital bed with her two little daughters holding her newborn baby
Courtesy of Katherine Umbarger

So, Kelby Dean was here. We have her with his middle name because she was our last baby. Our first week home with Kelby was our last week in the house. We moved everything over to the camper with a one-week-old newborn. I brought the bare minimum too. We stayed at the RV park in our town for one week to work out the kinks before heading out. Kinley finished kindergarten and we headed out that weekend.

dad and three daughters standing in front of their camper house holding a sign that says "AND THE ADVENTURE BEGINS"
Courtesy of Katherine Umbarger

The first stop was Bloomington, IL. We found a nice little RV park about 20 mins south of there! I cried so many happy tears knowing our family was finally together every night. We had barbecue dinners, fishing nights, lots of laughs, and s’mores and I have never been happier in my life. I had told him we were going to make this the best adventure and do as much exploring as possible, so I would take the girls hiking a couple hours away at the state park to see all the waterfalls during the day, and then we would be home before he got off work to spend the evenings together.

One evening he said he had to work late, which I really didn’t think anything of because it was nice out and the kids were playing, so it really wasn’t a big deal. However, he was actually out buying a new ring to propose to me again. Yes, we were still married, but he wanted to have a new wedding and a clean slate; he even had our oldest film him proposing. Of course, I said yes because he is truly the only one I want to spend my life with, and I knew right then and there this was it.

Husband carrying his wife on his arm while giving her a kiss in front of their camper house
Courtesy of Katherine Umbarger

We’ve had so many amazing trips since we hit the road with him and everything in life was going perfectly. When we got done in Hastings, we had to go back to Bloomington, Illinois. We hit up Chicago one night and drove along the shores of the Great Lake one weekend. Letting the kids see as much as we possibly could, we wanted to show them there’s more to the world than our small-town Kansas.

When we got done in Illinois, we decided we wanted to have a weekend together, so we dropped the kids off with my mom for the weekend and we headed to Eureka Springs. We got tattoos, acted like kids, toured caves, did axe throwing, and rode every single roller coaster in Silver Dollar City. After that weekend, we picked the kids up and headed to Minnesota. We stayed at a little campground at a hotel and that has probably been our favorite spot up there. Life is simply beautiful and nature is just amazing.

When we were in Minnesota, we found out we were pregnant again and this was my first time experiencing pregnancy while living in a camper. Baby number five actually turned out to be a boy and we were so excited. We were going to name him Kyler after his dad. That winter, I ended up staying at the RV park in our small town in Kansas while he was working up north in the dead cold. It was honestly rough being pregnant and alone again with four kids. This time in a camper during the winter, constantly dealing with freezing pipes and busted lines.

pregnant mom holding her baby daughter with her older 3 daughters hug her
Holly Marie Images

Finally in March, he was done there and we were heading to Oklahoma. When we first got to Oklahoma, I finally got to meet my best friend. We had met at a welder’s wife group a few years previous. Two days after I got to meet her, the pandemic hit. My husband was considered an essential worker, so he still worked, but the kids and I didn’t go anywhere. We had 5 weeks to go until our son was due and the job in OK was done, so back to Kansas we went to have our son.

On June 1st, we ended up buying a flip house because we had remodeled our house in town and thought it would be a fun project. It was almost completely gutted, so we got straight to work. On June 4th, I woke up from a nap bleeding, so I went straight to the hospital, and they decided to keep me in. Kyler got there as quick as he could, and 3 hours later, baby Kyler was in our arms. He was the cutest little boy I have ever seen, and I was so thankful God decided we needed one more. I will never forget taking pictures of my husband holding our son for the first time.

dad holding his newborn son for the first time
Holly Marie Images

Once we were released from the hospital, we went straight back to working on our flip house. We were determined to have it finished by the beginning of July before hitting the road again. Despite having a brand-new baby, we were able to get the house 85% of the way done. We hit the road on July 8th and headed back to Minnesota. I absolutely love Minnesota and was thrilled that’s where we were headed. We kept our adventure going and took a vacation along the north shore all the way up to the Canadian border.

When we got back from that vacation, Kyler’s supervisor started being really sketchy. He actually ended up quitting because he was tired of being treated like crap from his supervisor and the company itself. I was so scared and so lost. I’d be lying if we didn’t have a big fight over it. Here we are with five kids, a pandemic, and no income. Kyler promised me he would take care of us like he always did and told me he wanted to start his own company. And then Umbarger Construction was born.

He ended up landing a huge job back in Oklahoma and part of the deal was we were able to bring our camper. This was a winter long job on a ranch by the pioneer woman’s ranch. We were building pins for the Buffalo and doing concrete work. I absolutely loved seeing the wild bikes every day and the kids had so much fun helping Kyler with work. We worked long hours, but it was so much fun.

That December, we found out we were pregnant with baby number six. I was shocked and a little scared, but we were still excited. We got done with the job in Oklahoma in early March and decided it was time to start building forever. We had bought an old farmstead a few years ago and were back-and-forth on whether to live there because it’s literally in the middle of nowhere. Ultimately, we decided we did want our kids to grow up living on a farm like we did.

dad holding his baby son at a farm with a tractor in the back
Courtesy of Katherine Umbarger

So, we drew house plans for a 7-bedroom, 3-bathroom house. Luckily his company boomed, and he spent most of the summer working. With the pandemic, everything house wise was behind. Three of our girls started school in August and miss Konley Quinn made her arrival the day before Kinsey’s 6th birthday. Hopefully soon we can pick back up on building our forever.

If our journey has taught me anything, it’s if you want something in your life worth fighting for, then you must be willing to put in the hard work day in and day out. As for now, I’m beyond thankful and looking forward to our next chapter of life with my husband home again and our dreams becoming reality.”

6 kids sitting on a couch inside of a camper house smiling
Courtesy of Katherine Umbarger
Husband and wife walking on a field holding each other's hands
Courtesy of Katherine Umbarger

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Katherine Umbarger. You can follow their journey on Instagram and FacebookDo you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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