• Dear babies

    Dear babies,

    First off, I know that you are not babies. 

    But, I also know that when I feel one of you reach for me in the middle of the night,

    or smile as you greet me with sleepy, almond-eyes first thing in the morning,

    or kiss your eyelids as you slumber,

    it’s just like you are my little babies all over again.

    It has been a long time since I have written a post, babies, but I realized that if I dictate a post and then put it into this little window here it allows me to share things with you without having to violate my “screen break” rules.

    When I wrote about how hard it is to be a parent, we were only just embarking upon this new chapter in our lives.

    I thought being a parent was hard THEN! It has gotten harder.

    As always, it has also gotten more magical; remember, that is why we all have two hands.

    We had an emotional summer, with storms that shook our house, both literally and figuratively.

    But, I am not writing to you to dwell on the hard stuff. We know the hard stuff.

    I am writing to you to memorialize the special stuff.

    When I started writing this blog, a whole nine years and three months ago, it was my way of chronicling life in real time. I did not want to forget any moments. Thousands of posts later, I still want to keep this online baby book, for my babies who are not really babies at all.

    But, like I said,

    and in the words of Mariah,

    you’ll always be my baby (babies).

    It is a cloudy, September afternoon. Beau, you are downstairs with daddy, eating “Taylor ham, made from bacon pigs, not pig pigs, hot, but on a cold plate, extra floppy.”

    You crack me up, kiddo. You just said to daddy, “You know, if you want, you can make me some Taylor Ham. And, you know, if you want, you can give me a bowl of Rice Chex and an icy cold glass of milk. And, you know, if you want, you can give me the Rice Chex while the Taylor Ham is cooking.”

    I never want to forget your mastery of language, and the quirky-adorable-hilarious-brilliant way you say things.

    (Recently, you got so mad at your sister for tricking you into smelling a yucky essential oil.

    “It’s on my hands!” you shouted to me.

    “It is on my hands, but it is hovering over my hands and up to my nostrils! This is horrifying!

    I smell like an ANTIQUE SHOP!“)

    Belle, you are in your room, and I just brought you a mug of hot cocoa with whipped cream and an inappropriate slogan. Some people would judge me for giving you something like this (both the cocoa and the inappropriate mug), but you guys know that even though I sometimes say “bad words,” I never say the worst word: hate. As long as you abide by that, I am cool with you knowing a lot of words. And having hot cocoa as an appetizer.

    You continue to amaze me, sweet girl. This morning, you asked us if you could make us breakfast, and brought daddy a green smoothie in bed. You have such a big heart.


    I just got home from physical therapy, and I had an experience there that made me think of you.

    I did not want to forget.

    I was having my bad back pain, and some nerve pain was shooting down my arm (this happens a lot lately – something that I am less eager to remember, but still) so my physical therapist decided to try a new position on me.

    She sat me on a raised mat, and pulled her stool right up to me so that she was facing me, just inches away. She pressed into my belly, next to my rib, with her hand, and told me to lean into her hand as I bent forward. This made my arm hurt and my hand get tingly, so she told me to place that arm over her shoulder as I leaned in, like a half hug.

    As I sat there, leaning into my physical therapist, I was immediately brought back to the operating room at Lankenau Hospital, at that very same time in the afternoon, on a Thursday, almost six years ago.

    I was getting ready to receive my epidural -

    which means I was actually getting ready to meet you, Beau -

    and I was scared.

    That is the truth. I was really, really scared.

    Anna, the medical student assigned to my surgery, told me to lean forward and drape my arms over her shoulders. She instructed me to lean into her, and to hug her, and she held me, gently, as the anesthesiologist put the medicine into my back.


    Even though this summer was a doozy, there are some really special moments I want to remember.

    Beau, I cherish the time we spent “chit chatting” on the unicorn float. The hours we spent there, being cozy in the sunshine on the black and white striped towels, talking about horror movies, and Pokemon cards, and life, were some of the most lovely moments I have ever had. I loved finding Lemon the white frog with you, and teaching you to play baseball in the garage, and watching you do flips and handstands in the water. I loved playing charades with you, especially as you’ve become an expert on Titanic, The Bachelorette, and the characters from Donkey Kong.

    Bellie, I loved our s’mores dates on the front patio. I am so proud of you for so many reasons, including your love of absolutely charred marshmallows, burnt into oblivion. I had the best time playing basketball with you (you and Zeyds against daddy, Bubs, and me), and hearing you sing “Arabian Nights” in your play, and sitting on the porch swing with you as you helped to edit the picture book. I loved watching “Now and Then” and “The Sandlot” with you for the first time, and I agree that you’re totally a Sam, with maybe just a little Teeny mixed in.

    My favorite memory of all, though, I think, is from the last night of summer at Fox Hollow, when the four of us played “Truth or Dare” in the hot tub. I bet you didn’t expect me to actually jump in when you dared me to sing, “Shallow” on the ledge of the deep end! I loved listening to music, and watching the lights change colors, and watching you make each other laugh in the way that only you two can.

    My dear babies I love you more than I know how to convey. My brain is still healing, and so this is not my most eloquent piece of writing, but it captures a few moments like grainy polaroid pictures; they aren’t the highest quality, but they are often the most raw and real. I will keep working really hard to get my brain back to normal so that I can write polaroid posts by choice, rather than by necessity.

    Beau, I think you’ve just finished your exquisite dinner (extra floppy pork roll FTW!) and Belle, I am going to snuggle up with you, Tina Turner, Twinkle Ra Ra Rainbow Ta Ta, and Pinkberry, because you told me that you’re still not feeling so hot. And I will kiss you, because I do not care if I get your cooties.

    They are my favorite cooties.

    You are my favorite things in this world.

    Dear babies,

    as they say, life can be tough, but so are you. So are we.

    And, when you read this, I guarantee I will love you so so so so so much more than I do right now.

    Because I love you more with each breath.

    Love XOXO,


  • What I Didn’t know: The Truth About Prenatal Anxiety and Depression

    Last month, I had the amazing honor of speaking at the March for Moms, on a huge stage in front of the US Capitol.

    The experience, for me, was so moving that I have yet to put it into plain words.

    I met the most AMAZING people, all fighting for the same thing: better maternal care for all. I met survivors, advocates, those who have loved and those who have lost. I spoke on maternal mental health, and connected with the most incredible souls. One such soul is someone you may have heard of. She is the Founder and CEO of Every Mother Counts, “a non-profit organization dedicated to making pregnancy & childbirth safe for every mother.”

    Her name is Christy Turlington, and her outside beauty is only rivaled by her most beautiful spirit.

    Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 4.15.33 PM

    We met at the VIP reception on the night before the event and we shared a little bit about our work and our experience and she accepted a copy of my book, said she would be in touch.

    And she was.

    While I will write so much more about my experience at March for Moms and some of the key players who made it happen, I am humbled, now, to present a piece of wrote for the Every Mom Counts site.

    Here, I share What I Didn’t know: The Truth About Prenatal Anxiety and Depression.

    Thank you to everyone at March for Moms, to Christy, to Wallis Post and everyone who fights this good fight – who helps this cause – every single day.

    With all my love and orange roses



  • The Never Podcast

    When it comes to my tribe, I am so lucky.

    I have said it before and I will say it again.

    I feel so grateful that my best friends, with whom I speak to regularly, send me texts saying,

    “You NEED to publish a new episode of the podcast! I miss your voice!”

    They know my stories. They do hear my voice, over the phone and in person. They are just amazing and supportive and tribe: I love you!

    That said, I love having this Podcast. It is so much fun. So much so that, if you have listened to (or listen to) Episode 3 you will hear that I had to record it twice, as I lost the first take.

    All of my podcasts are recorded on my iPhone in one take, off the cuff, with no script or plan. I just talk, which is basically the perfect job for me. Because, if we have ever spoken, you will know how I tell a story.

    Instead of going from A to B I go from A to Q to R to an explanation of how Q brought me to R and as an aside did you see this episode of TV show X and then to F and then, finally, maybe, I arrive at B. Oh, and this story will have been prefaced with my saying, “To make a long story short…”

    Brevity is not my strong suit.

    The most recent podcast from last week is based on a blog post that I wrote two years ago, entitled, Never. In it I invent a verb and in the podcast I talk about how life has changed in so many ways, and how it has also stayed the same.

    Why am I telling you this? Because the next episode is going to be the long-awaited “Birth Story” story.

    Birth Story #1 that is, when I had my daughter and first became a mom. The story that brought me here, today.

    I am publishing this episode this week because my baby–the amazing, beautiful human who made me a mom–is turning seven. Is that even possible? I mean…

    The best thing I can do is to point you here, which takes you on our journey. It links to when I wrote about planning her first birthday when she was six-months-old. And now she is turning seven?!?!?!??!

    Also, my best friend is asking for her birth story to be on the podcast…even though she knows the story. She was there.

    See? My tribe is the best tribe.

    And so, if you want to listen to The Never Podcast (episode 3) or catch up from the beginning, you can:

    click here The Podcast

    go into your phone and look for my name or “Mommy, Ever After” in the iTunes podcast section

    or google it.

    However, with the last option, I caution you…you never know what you might find. I once had someone find my site because they searched for “Jeff Lewis baby unibrow“. So, actually, that could be fun!

    In the meantime, I am going to go play with the little girl in donut pants who has asked me to do Just Dance 2017, teach her yoga (ha!) and snuggle.

    Much love to you, my tribe and babies with unibrows,


    (P.S. if you want to see some recent family antics, including #sibinggoals, hula-hooping, baby’s first manicure and so much more, don’t forget to check out our Instagram page. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll judge. But hopefully you’ll like. xx)

  • A Birth Story-My Sequel: Part 3

    photo (30)When we left off, I was being wheeled into the OR in the afternoon for a surprise C-Section, 4 days early, at 38.5 weeks and scared as hell.
    I am a very superstitious person and look for signs all around me. During the scary, unknown part of my first unexpected C-Section with my daughter, I was feeling helpless and hopeless and the doctor said “The baby is about to come out” and my Nanny’s favorite song, Desperado, began to play in the OR radio. That was a good sign and even though my daughter had been in distress, her chord around her neck twice, she was OK. Because my angel had told me so.
    So for my second go-round, I had my husband in my lucky socks, and was looking for similar signs. First, I liked the date. I am a numbers person and like that 2 is my mom’s lucky number, 4 is my sister’s and added together, 6 is my dad’s. That seemed to me like a good sign.
    The second sign was my med student, Anna, who stood by my side the entire time, was named Anna. Anna is a very symbolic name for me, as it represents the name of my other angel, my Superman, for whom my daughter was named. Then I met my new anesthesiologist. His name was William. That was the name of my husband’s late grandfather. I felt like this was another sign, that our angels had gathered together to watch over my surgery and this birth.
    The final sign was that William’s last name was Shepherd. Dr. Shepherd. McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy. That had to mean something.
    But despite these comforts, I was still scared to the point of shaking uncontrollably. And dear, sweet Anna, Doctor Anna, hugged me and held me, and told me I was in good hands, and she even hugged me, as I had to curl my spine over in order to receive my epidural. After having explained my aversion to my previous spinal, Dr. Shepherd decided to give me an epidural instead of the one shot spinal, and it was a much slower onset, which I preferred greatly. They also gave me pain medicine and some anxiety meds through my IV, something that he equated to a glass of wine (as I did not want to feel too out of it, but definitely needed to take the edge off).
    At this point my OBGYN came in to “Get the party started” and because an epidural works differently than a spinal, I could feel so much for. So much so that I heard them say, “Time to insert the catheter” and I shouted, over the blue screen that they had put up between my face and surgical site, “I can still feel my vagina!”
    The next part is somewhat of a blur; they opened me up, my husband was allowed back in with me, my blood pressure kept dropping, I kept feeling scared, I literally felt myself lift off the table as they yanked the baby out,
    I kept hearing them talking about things like seeing a hand and adhesions and blood and I loved it and hated it all at once
    and then,
    all of a sudden,
    a cry.
    I had a son.
    And I looked at the clock. My daughter was born at 2:22 am, a hard time to beat in my book (for my lucky number is 11, so 22 is double 11. I know that I’m weird, by the way.)
    My son was born at 4:11pm. 4/11 is my birthday. Could not have gotten better.
    And speaking of numbers, he came out weighing 7 lbs 12 oz. The exact same weight as my daughter.
    What is more interesting is that he was 7lbs 12 oz at 38.5 weeks, while she was full term at 40; so apparently my uterus hands out an eviction notice at just that size. They were only a half inch a part, him being 21.5 inches to her 21. I make solid babies, it seems.
    And, because I had asked for it beforehand, they brought him to me, and I saw that he had fair hair and a cleft in his chin (like many of the men in my family) and I swear when our faces touched he smiled.
    And then the world disappeared. I know this sounds like one of those hokey, cliche things, but everything else melted away as my husband, son and I cuddled up, as the doctors were still working to sew me up, and we sang to him. We held him and sang a song that my PopPop made up for us years ago.
    Mommy loves the baby, 
    Daddy loves the baby, 
    Everybody loves the little boy. 
    I remember wanting to be out of the OR, and holding him in my arms, and eventually we got there and he latched on immediately as I held him and nursed him and sent a text to my friend saying “I have a son.”
    My pregnancy with my son was not nearly as magical or enchanting as that with my daughter, but I must say, the birth and the time right thereafter was extraordinarily special.
    But there was one milestone left to happen; we needed my daughter to meet her brother. She had been having a great time at her best friend’s house, so much so that she peed her pants in all the excitement. So I am proud to say that my daughter met her baby brother for the first time wearing her boyfriend’s Cars underpants and cargos.
    And at around 6 o’clock that evening, my little girl, who suddenly seemed so big, walked into the recovery room and over to her brother and said, “Hi baby. I love you. Don’t cry. Maybe I can carry him?”
    And then there were four.
    I will never, in all my life, forget the feeling of wholeness that that moment provided for me. All of my fears about not being able to love a second child, or a boy, washed away. I was, instead, swathed in rich, deep feelings of love and gratitude.
    So that’s how it all went down. It was not easy, but it was beautiful.
    And I am never doing it ever, ever again.
    So instead of saying The End to this story, I will say something far more appropriate:
    The beginning…

  • A Birth Story-My Sequel: Part 2

    Perhaps I should back up a bit. As I mentioned, the doctor told me that because of the nature of my contractions,
    the difference I was feeling (despite having already been through FOUR false alarms),
    I should come in to Labor and Delivery to be checked out. You should know this about me: I am a positive person, I am constantly accusing my husband of being a big ol’ naysayer. But in this case, I was miss “this is ridiculous, why am I going in again, I am going to be pissed to be sent home again, blah da de bla bla”. And remember. I had “Hot Cocoa” on my nails and they were 2/3 chipped off. And, while typically I don’t care about dirty hair, I did a hasty wash, threw on some eyeliner and blush, and called my mom, while in a towel.
    “The doctor wants me to come in.” I said sheepishly.
    And for the first time, her voice was different. “I think this is it.” She said.
    We didn’t tell my husband.
    We called my mama bestie to have her “On call” in case we needed her to pick up my daughter from school, and off we went.
    Just in case, I wore my lucky underwear and purple socks, but I was still skeptic city.
    Upon our arrival at the hospital I was greeted as an old friend; everyone there knew me. The residents and I were on a first name basis. It was embarrassing. But I had to admit, the pain I was feeling was different. And the monitor showed the same. I was having strong contractions every three minutes, regularly.
    But, alas, as it has always happened when it comes to me and my labors, my cervix was not opening. Not at all. Not even one centimeter.
    So I waited in the bed, for hours, contracting to the point of agony, when I started to cry.
    I cried from the pain.
    I cried from the uncertainty.
    And, most of all, I cried because I hadn’t said a proper goodbye to my daughter.
    I had had fantasies of how we’d spend our last night together as a tripod; A special dinner, and then maybe I’d sleep with her that night, since it would be our last time being just us. 
    As a side note, late in my pregnancy my kid discovered a PBS kids show called Peg and Cat. The theme goes like this:

    It is a show that encourages counting and early math. But the lyrics go
    “We are two, na na na na na, Me Plus You, na na na na na…”
    and every time I would hear this I would think,
    “It’s me plus you, girl. It’s us. What the hell are we going to do with a fourth? And a BOY!?” I still get a lump in my throat when I hear that song.
    Anyway, back to the hospital.
    I was contracting and thinking and perseverating and all of a sudden, I started to cry.
    I cried to my mom, really from the pain. “I can’t go another weekend like this.” I said. And I consider myself to be strong. Emotionally, I may be a basketcase, but pain-wise, I am pretty darn tough. But I just knew, much like the first time around, that it was time for this baby to come out.
    At about this time my OBGYN showed up. He confirmed what the residents had said, that my cervix was still closed, but added that it had softened a lot, and said that my contractions were really strong and regular on the monitor, inevitably putting stress on my uterus.
    “We’re having a birthday party today.” he said.
    And then I cried some more.
    Out of relief, out of fear, and out of, pardon my french again, the “What the fuck?!” feeling of having planned everything, every last detail, and having it all turned upside down by a sideways (literally) baby.
    And I still hadn’t called my husband!
    At that point the doctor offered me an epidural for the pain, but I declined. If i couldn’t experience a natural birth, my dream, I’d at least experience natural labor. And that I did. I am no masochist, but it made me feel like I could, at least, have some control over my body.
    And so we called my mama friend. She would watch my daughter, and host a playdate with her son, whom my girl refers to as her “prince charming”. And then we called my husband. He was in a big meeting. He was told to rush out. He asked for permission to go home and change out of his suit. He was told no, there was no time.
    I was forced to take off my all of my clothes, including my lucky socks. And so when my husband arrived, handsome and dapper in his suit, I had him put on my lucky socks, in their neon purple glory, under his gray slacks and ultimately under his full scrub attire.
    The next bit was a blur; I met with anesthesiologists, got an IV, met my labor nurse…it was really happening. And my nurse, Katherine, held my hand and told me I’d be OK, as I told her how scared I was to go into surgery. How unprepared I felt. How my three and a half year old needed me.  I am very superstitious and her name starting with a K, the same as my Nanny, comforted me. It was a sign, like the signs I had experienced during my first birth. My angels were there. And there were more of them to come.
    But then Katherine told me it was time. So my hair was placed in a net and I was placed in a wheelchair and I hugged my mom and husband tightly. It was time. I couldn’t stop shaking. It was time.
    Time to meet my son…
    (Stay tuned for more…and it involves some more signs from angels and maybe even a little spontaneous singing in the OR)

  • A Birth Story–My Sequel: Part 1

    Hello, there. Or, to many, I should say Hello, Again. Welcome. Or Welcome Back. Right now, you can find me mostly over at 511 Ever After, but I’ve decided to return for a post that could only be written here; here where my mommy roots are anchored in deep, in stories of joy, enchantment, confusion, pain….my stories from the trenches. So much is different now. First off, I now have two kids. It’s funny; I wrote this post literally a day shy of two years ago. I was grappling with the idea of a second child. And now, spoiler alert!, he’s here. And he’s just as magical as my first baby was, but the experience has been totally different, starting with the birth. If you want to start from the beginning with many of my past stories, including my birth stories, in all 5 parts, you may. Or you can just start here, at the sequel. So, like any good story, let’s start at the beginning. It was a cold morning in March and my husband was out to brunch with my dad and some of their friends. And I was a week late. So I took an old HPT that I had in my linen closet, peed on it, and two lines appeared in 20 seconds. And my daughter was in the bathroom with me. And I said, “Holy shit, I’m pregnant.” And she said “I’m Cinderella.”I was stunned. When trying for our first, we tried. This pregnancy happened immediately. I hadn’t expected it to happen so fast, as we had barely unpacked the boxes in our new house. But I was excited. Thrilled. And I was even more enthused when I had my daughter hand my husband the positive pee stick upon his return home from brunch. Our little family was growing and my heart was bursting. And a lot happened in the 9 months following, and perhaps I’ll go into them some day on here, and perhaps I will not, but for now, I shall cut to the chase. The birth story. In parts. For the last two months of my pregnancy, I was experiencing painful Braxton Hicks contractions; so strong that these moments of uncomfortable tightness would show up strongly on the monitor. I went into labor and delivery 4 times for “false alarms”, as the contractions were present, but not doing anything to induce real labor. I should mention that because of my previous C-Section with my daughter, I was scheduled for a repeat surgery on October 28, 2013. Not only was this a routine repeat, but my little boy, in all his enormous glory, was lying in the transverse position, which means instead of being head down (or, in breach cases, head up) he was lying smack across my stomach. I looked like I was smuggling a watermelon under my shirt. It was ridiculous looking. I was all belly and my belly had a belly. I had mixed feelings leading up to my c-section. I was relieved, in some ways, to have the luxury of planning my second child’s birth; to schedule a day, to make sure that I gave the proper preparations and goodbye to my daughter, to make sure that my nails and toes were perfect….but I was also scared. And pardon my French, but I was scared shitless. I remembered the scary parts of my first C-Section: The Spinal and the feeling of not being able to breathe; the kind anesthesiologist who put a wet sponge to my parched lips; and then the whole BABY thing. The idea of another baby terrified me. And I teach babies. I love babies. I am kind of a baby expert. But I was so scared about how to expand our little tribe. We had things down over here, and I worried, every minute, about going through surgery, surviving surgery, and then surviving parenthood. I grew increasingly nervous as the date approached, talking to my husband, parents, friends and OB. He would refer to the scheduled C date as a “birthday party” and I looked at it as a day of dread. It is hard for me to admit this (especially in hindsight) but I was just terrified. And all of my trips to labor and delivery did nothing to assuage my fears. Four times I said “Bye Bye” to my little girl, saying “We may be going to meet your brother!” and then having to waddle on out hours later with a closed cervix and tons of embarrassment. And pain. And contractions. And, in one case, sleepy baby. And then, at 4 am on the morning of October 24, I awoke out of a dead sleep in pain. Real, can’t really breathe, stomach-tightening pressure and pain. It was so painful that I woke up my husband. I was 38.5 weeks pregnant. My C-Section was scheduled for the following Monday. And so, I said to myself, “Self. You are NOT going in again for a false alarm. You are not. If this means that you are having this giant transverse baby at home in your bathtub so be it.” I even went as far as to pack my daughter’s lunch note reading “Four days until you meet your baby brother!” I gave her a regular kiss goodbye. “See you after school!” I said. But by 10 am when the contractions were becoming more painful and regular, I called my OB. And he asked me if these contractions felt different. And they did. And he told me I had to come in. ”It may be party time!” He said. My nails were chipped, my hair was dirty and I had not said goodbye to my daughter. It could not be time. But the contractions were hurting so badly that I was almost in tears. So off to the hospital I went…To be continued…(and trust me, it gets a lot better…)