“#LoveWhatMatters, what matters to me is my children, my family… LOVE.
My husband was in the Navy, and I was the girl back in the states who couldn’t wait to meet him. We both would later find out we had previously been engaged, both of us looking back were still healing, but we found one another and our story began.
After dating for four months, I followed him out west to his next duty station, and we eloped a few weeks later in the fall of 2008. We had our growing pains the first year, and both were impressed that we made it through but we were both stubborn back then. Our second year of marriage we decided to have kids, but we would soon find out that the odds were against us due to health reasons, and our likelihood of giving birth was in the millions to 1. So, Corey came up with an idea for us to adopt… wouldn’t you know it, as soon as we had completed our Foster Care Training and all the home studies, we found out I was pregnant with our first. She was a miracle without a doubt!
I remember that spring, about a month before she was born, Corey and I flew back to Pennsylvania for a family funeral. We were staying at my aunt’s house and observed her and her ex-husband. They had been divorced for a time at this point, but he came to my grandma’s funeral, he brought his daughter home, he was randomly helping out at the house. I remember after we had seen their behavior for a few days, looking at Corey and saying. ‘I don’t ever want to get divorced, but if we do I want to have that kind of relationship.’
About a month later we had the most perfect angel. A preemie who was too small for preemie clothes, who slept a solid first two months which scared us both to bits due to her not waking for feedings, but the sweetest smile and cuddles. We couldn’t have loved her or our family more.
Time proceeded, and we faced a number of challenges with health, military, retirements, and a cross country move. We temporarily settled in Maryland with his family while we planned our next move, but it would be less than a year before our marriage started to fall apart. One day, he told me he wanted to separate. I was in shock, but pissed more than anything after everything we had been through to just quit. So, I left early the next morning with our daughter to a friend’s house a couple states away… I just needed space I told everyone. I needed to BREATHE! Corey beat me though, he ended up flying back West to start a new path and career. We never completely stopped talking because we had a child together. She still would call to say ‘Goodnight,’ and randomly they would FaceTime when timing worked out. Eventually, he and I began to talk, small talk at first about our daughter and then shooting the breeze like we used to when we were ‘just friends.’ It was nice.
After about a year, we decided to try again and see where it would take us. Where it took us was dating all over again, and eventually moving to New York for his work. Things slowly went back to the way they had been before and our family seemed to be whole again. We faced more challenges, the usual such as finances, and occasional arguments, and then eventually another move in the middle of winter which led us to a new home, new town, new life. It was a good positive change, and things were going really well.
Fast forward two and a half years later. We had just moved to a nearby town, buying our first home, and facing some work and health issues when once again, I was faced with the brutal reality of my husband telling me he wanted a divorce. This time I was just heart-broken and defeated, hopeless even. I didn’t know what to do or how to deal with the news. We tried to be normal as long as we could. Though we began to live separate lives, we still tried to be there for our daughter including coaching her soccer team. I coped for my daughter’s sake, but began feeling ill and in pain to the point I woke up one morning and headed to the ER. I was in tears due to the pain. A couple hours later, I walked out of the hospital having a full work-up of blood tests and ultrasounds, only to not find anything wrong with me… but rather miracle number two on its way, growing inside of me. I was in complete shock and didn’t know what to do at this point. So, I waited for the opportune time to tell Corey and our daughter. Turns out, they were just as in shock as I was… but this wouldn’t solve anything or bring us together. In fact, it was incredibly lonely for quite some time. I was in and out of the hospital with this pregnancy, no one could tell me what was going on- too many unexplained problems. Eventually I was upgraded… high-risk pregnancy and bed-rest… it wasn’t easy.
It was August when my daughter and I headed to Michigan, once again on our way to start over, get some space, BREATHE! She was my rock, but also challenged me quite a bit! Eventually, due to complications, I was told to be induced. Corey wouldn’t make it in time, but he showed me his true colors when he called regularly to check-in as soon as I told him I was checked into the hospital. It was probably around this time frame that I knew in the back of my head we could co-parent, it was more a matter of what that looked like and how would we go about it.
Corey would come visit a few times over the 2-year period, and our daughter would spend her summer breaks and Christmas holiday breaks with him in New York. It wasn’t by any means ‘easy.’ We didn’t have it figured out, we fought a lot that first year and a half of our break-up. I made sure our daughter called daily, most of the time a minimum of twice a day, and ensured her father was filled in on all things concerning school, and events… anything that was of importance to her. Thinngs I would want to be included in if the situation was reversed. It wasn’t perfect though- we argued a lot, we pushed each other’s buttons and had outside sources trying to break-up what we ultimately wanted… a co-parenting relationship. One of us fought to realize the mental blocks which were trying to tear us apart, and the other had individuals trying to divide us. Truth is, we almost allowed it. We almost didn’t make it. We almost let outside sources and past hurts divide us.
Thankfully, through grace, prayer and ultimately love ,we came out the other side, and managed to find a way back into our friendship- the friendship we had before we were ‘more.’ Eventually, after about two years, I felt the time had come for us to move again, only this time we were moving back to New York. I wanted the girls to be near their father and not feel they had two homes, two families, and parents who had to split time off and on. So, in the fall of 2020 amidst a worldwide pandemic and what felt like the world crashing in on itself at times, our family came together.
Speeding up to June 2021, we are divorced and our households are approximately 35 minutes apart. We make sure both of our girls have outfits for the season at each house, and favorite toys and books and personal items at both homes as well. We don’t want them to feel they are bouncing between households so the only thing that ever goes with them is usually a diaper bag. ‘Dad’s here get on your shoes,’ is all I need to say. The thought of doing an ‘exchange’ or having to pack bags for them to go stay at his house makes me sick- so we do our best to make sure that doesn’t happen. Our daughters have pictures of their parents together with them in both of their rooms at each house, because it is what makes them feel loved and makes it feel okay for them. They know we will never get back together, but that doesn’t mean their family unit must entirely break and fall apart.
As Corey works in our area occasionally, he will sometimes stop in to say hello, or have dinner with us. Similarly, for our eldest daughter’s first drama production ,our family was together (our girls, their dad, their mom and their bonus). Holidays, we have a schedule, but also choose to be flexible with them. This Christmas, he came here, and the one before I went over there. We don’t want our children to feel that they have to choose or we are separate in their mind. We do things for each other during Father’s and Mother’s Day and birthdays, and show the kids just because we aren’t in love, doesn’t mean we can’t still show love and care and be a family (which pertains even with us having partners and new relationships). We defend each other, we have one another’s backs and are close friends once again. I couldn’t ask for more, honestly. He’s a good man, and a good father.
I wish it wasn’t the norm to hate and hold such animosity, and I have first handedly seen how other people have let it eat at them over the years. Through choosing forgiveness, kindness and LOVE, we are able to move forward together. Allowing for the clarity and peace within each of us as well as the ultimate health of our children.
It’s not easy, but it is always worth it.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kelly Ferretti from Warwick, New York. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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