Baby Ever After

“I know words, and I love words, but I simply do not have the words to express my gratitude for this book and for all of the people who made it possible.”

When I wrote this in the acknowledgments of Baby Ever After, it was my way of trying to convey the deep and profound appreciation I feel in a way that will never do it justice. I call myself a writer, but I could never possibly impart the gratitude; it is just so vast.

Six years ago, right now, I needed help. Not the help I wrote about today in a long Instagram post (more on that tomorrow!) but intense and intensive support I required just to survive. So that I could try to claw my way out of the hard story, even when the hopeful story felt so far away that I couldn’t even see it on the horizon line.

Out of sight, out of my mind.

Life has changed so much. The world is colorful, but in different ways. The palette is not even the same.

I am not depressed. I have anxiety that, at times, can feel debilitating, though I don’t know the clinical severity. I do know the big thing — the thing that I have said over and over, in front of crowds of thousands, and in the quiet of my own bedroom, said solemnly to Kenny in the dark of night: I am one of the lucky ones. I never, ever forget that, nor do I take it for granted. We have struggles, and since January 2014 they have only grown, but I feel indescribably blessed to be here for my children as we all claw our way up different mountains.

I cannot believe that I am now just two days away from the release of my second book. Not only is it something that still astounds me on a fundamental (and high) level, but I cannot believe I have been given the opportunity to share my story and write about my experience and share the stories of others and write about other people’s experiences and, now, once again, I am at a loss for words.

Fortunately, in just two days, you will be able to read approximately 80,000 new ones, I hope they turned out OK.

I hope you like it.

Let me just tell you, if you thought my first book was honest and raw, you ain’t read nothing yet. In this new book, I talk about some of the most personal things a human being can share as I take you on a tour of my body and my mind in ways I never imagined, but also do not regret.

We talk about my ovaries. In detail!

We talk grooming. I shave my legs for you!

We talk tattoos. I LET YOU UNDER MY SKIN!

We go deep. Oh, do we go there.

I hope that by unzipping myself as I have in writing Baby Ever After I can help you or someone you love to feel seen or understood or a sense of camaraderie or the deep belief that none of us are alone.

Aside from my own unzipped self, seven women and one man shared their unique stories for this book, and they are just exquisite. We have stories of pregnancy post-postpartum depression, and tackle topics including marriage, divorce, fertility, vasectomies, OCD, psychosis, religion, and other things that are often considered to be too taboo,

and therefore only talked about in hushed tones.


And they don’t even know this yet…

While every story is different and unique and discreet, they are also so similar. There are things that unite each story in ways that turn my belly in a flip or give me goosebumps or make me weep.

It is a tapestry.

A multimedia collage.

A woolen blanket.

It is my own ragged pieces of yarn, woven together – hopefully with some dexterity – with the colorful threads shared from the incredible contributors, all so beautiful and tattered and soft and delicate,

which are then expertly woven,

over and under,

around, up and down

 to your stories –

the ones that you hold in the deepest places of your heart, and that no one knows, or may ever know.

It is something that we make together, and it is heavy and light in the right ways.

Six years ago if you told me I would be two days away from releasing my second book on postpartum depression…

well…honestly? I don’t know what I would have done, as my emotions were very up and down those days.

I will tell you that I shared more than I ever thought possible in this book, because I have more than I ever could have imagined.

We did this. Baby Ever After is our hopeful story (with happy and hard sprinkled in – anchoring it).

It is our piece of art. It isn’t the very best thing I have created,

as that is a clear tie between the two creations currently playing on the jungle gym in my backyard,

but it is my hope that it is up there.

Thank you for continuing to be a part of my ever after, and for allowing me to be a part of yours.

Cheers to words, and woolen blankets, and the light and the red balloon, and all that is hopeful -



Dear Kenny

Dear Kenny,

As I leave the hospital,

the place where both of our babies were born,

and handed to us,

and first fed by me,

and diapered by you,

I hit a sea of blue scrubs, all in different shades and tones.

When I first pulled up this morning, for an early test, I thought that it would be like living out a Grey’s Anatomy fantasy. I was here so early that I even got the mommy spot, right next to the elevator. I was here before most of the doctors and staff members, before there was a line at the always-crowded-coffee-cart, before some of the elevators had even taken their first trip of the day.

But, now, as I leave, it seems to be right at start time for most of the docs and nurses and other professionals. I walked through a deluge of navy scrubs (do you think this is the signature color of “attendings” like in Grey’s?). There were light blue scrubs, and darker light blue scrubs, and aqua scrubs, and teal scrubs, and a lot of stethoscopes, and a few white coats.

I have been spending so much time here lately, seeing different specialists and having different tests, usually with you by my side, so it’s lost some of its power for me. Every time I come here of course I see the pregnant women and the expectant families, but it feels less viscerally painful now. Now, I feel like I have some control in the matter.


Except, this morning, as I left my test, and headed towards the elevators on the second floor, I walked up to an already open elevator, filled with handful of men who I imagine to be season doctors, all in white coats and with gray in their hair.

One of the doctors leaned forward a bit to see who I was and, before I could ask them if they were going up or down, thought I already kind of knew the answer, I saw that it was the doctor took away our ability to have another baby.

Ok. I’ll pause. That was just extremely mellow dramatic as we all know that he did not take away our ability to have another baby anymore than anyone else who was involved in this process did except for the fact that he is the one who literally gave you the vasectomy that started the end of some of our journeys and the beginning of others. A move that caused us both tremendous pain over the years. You can argue that his caused you more pain and I won’t even try to fight with you on that one.

It’s not a zero-sum game nor is it a fight that I’d ever want to win.

But, while much of your pain was remedied with bags of frozen peas and video games, mine has been, too often,  inescapable.

You know better than anyone that the new book (for which you wrote!!!) is the story of our murky quest to expand our family after postpartum depression and also ways in which all families can expand. Just like with the first book, I have an amazing indexer, Ronnie, and she has provided me with the most thorough indexes imaginable. I thought she had outdone herself with the first book by indexing the word “pineapple” which always struck me as particularly funny. This time however she took us to a whole new stratosphere.

While there are many hilarious and random entries in the index for baby ever after, none compares to

“hasty vasectomy.”

You often tease me and say that I tell everyone we meet, everywhere we go, that you have had a vasectomy and though that is a slight exaggeration I see what you’re saying. It was only recently that I explained to you that it is a matter of self protection for me. As a 34-year-old woman I am constantly faced with questions and answers and when I say that I think I’m done having children and people respond with a coy eyebrow raise and a “Well, you never know…”

it’s my way of telling them that yes, yes I do know and no, if we do have another baby it will not be by happy accident. This morning when I saw the doctor who (which, I must tell you, the computer autocorrected to say Doctor Who, and I know you will appreciate this) gave you the old snip snip I didn’t have my armor on. I didn’t expect to be hit with the memory of that awful January morning, when I was still in the throes of my severe postpartum depression, in the emergency room bleeding uncontrollably, thinking that they were going to have to perform a hysterectomy on me, as you had to leave me for your 2 PM vasectomy appointment upstairs. The truth, as they say, can be stranger than fiction. I did not lose my ability to bear children that day

but we all know how it went for you.

We made that (hasty vasectomy!) choice using the information we had, and, at that point, with me so raw and suffering so deeply and causing suffering among all of the people who loved me, I know that you were trying to take matters into your hands in the only way you knew how. By having a (hastyyyyy) vasectomy, you were not going to let this happen to me — to us — again. We did not think to ask the doctor to bank sperm for us, just in case. We did not know to wait a few more months until things had calmed down.

I was 28, you were 31, and we were lost in the abyss that is postpartum depression.

So, I saw your doctor this morning and my heart stopped a little bit but I kept going and I passed more physicians stopping to say hello to the ones I knew, I passed the coffee cart as it became more and more crowded and I peeped the good soft pretzels but decided it was too long of a wait, and I did not text you even though I wanted to because I thought if I did, I might cry. I walked back out to my mommy spot and though I feel like a mommy more than ever, it can still sting. Or ache.

Of course on my way out I saw a woman in a black maternity T-shirt. Her horizontal stripes accentuating her cute baby belly and I felt nothing but happiness for her. It just felt really, really weird.

Today you and I are stronger than ever before and I love you more than ever before and you know that I am obsessed with you and barely know how to go in our without speaking with you and still I acknowledge that we have lost a lot together — things both tangible and intangible — I won’t share too much here or I will potentially spoil too much of our story, and that would be bad author etiquette for me but I just want to say that I love you, I’m sorry for everything, even though I know you will tell me not to be and that nothing is my fault. I’m sorry and I apologize and I’m sorry and that I am regretful.

But, one thing you don’t know is that this morning, before you woke up, and before the sun had risen in the sky, I was thinking about how when you turn 40 Belle will turn 12. I thought about what it would be like for us if we had another baby when you are 40 with our children 12 and eight years apart and what it would be like to have our child graduate from high school with you being the same age that my parents are now as I am 34 years old. And didn’t scare me but it also didn’t seduce me. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it can hurt and, at the same time, I feel more certain than ever that we will figure it out.

I’ve been dictating this message and I’m now close to home slightly regretting my decision to not stop for that soft pretzel, but I know that I will walk in the doors and Lola will run to me, and Crosby he will jump on me, and I am optimistic that the kids will smooch me, but I know that you will kiss me, with one of your new and improved hello kisses, and I will feel OK again, because that’s who you are to me,

I’s what you’ve always been to me and who you’ve become to me.

It’s how you look to me.


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,


a blogger?

Hello, my friends.

How are you, on this fine day? Did you rest well? I sure hope so.

Speaking of rest, I was thinking of you this morning, at 4:30, when I was roused from slumber and then could not manage to fall back to sleep.

I tried all of my go-to tricks; the healthy ones, to start. I counted backwards, slowly, from 100, taking a deep breath between each number, and, if my mind started to wonder, to started back at the top.

Once I got down in the low 80s I knew that this trick was not working. Not this morning.

4:30 is one of those weird hours; when I first woke up, before checking the time, I did not know if it was 2am or 6am, because, these days, the light at those hours looks the same. Having gone to bed around 9 last night, after yawning through the evening, I figured that by 4:30 I had gotten a reasonable amount of sleep. If I was up for the day I would definitely be tired, but it would be survivable.

When my healthy tricks failed me, I turned to the things filed under: “Bad Idea” –

I let my mind wander;

I checked my messages;

I peeked at Instagram;

I opened the Netflix app on my phone and, after losing all self-control, turned on Season 2, Episode 21 of Gossip Girl.

The latter served to tired my eyes, but sleep continued to elude me.

I checked the clock, again, and it was 5:30, though the sky still looked the same from the bedroom windows.

In one, final effort, I put Dax Shephard’s “Armchair Expert” podcast on, stuck it on the bedside table, curled up under the covers and, the next time I opened my eyes, it was 7:30 and Beau was singing “Happy Birthday” to me.

It is not my birthday.

Early this morning, while my mind was wondering, I thought of my goals for today.

I have been hitting the book-writing hard, and have accomplished more this week than I had in the past couple of months. I am really in a groove, and as hard as it is to write this book, it is therapeutic, and it draws me in, and it is, in some ways, healing. I am learning a lot. And who doesn’t love to crush a daily goal?

But, as I realized, with some horror, in the wee hours, I have not been blogging.

Have I been sharing my life? Yes.

I post on my Instagram page every single day, with full posts, photos, and stories.

Instagram now, for me, is what blogging once was;

it is my connection to the outside world. It is where I share vulnerabilities, and my daily goings-on.

When I first started this blog in June of 2010 (we are talking almost NINE years ago, folks!), it was my way to feel connected during a time when I was otherwise isolated. It was on this site that I’ve told my hardest stories.

It was on this site that I came out with my postpartum depression, in real time, as I was in the midst of my battle.

But, my old, short, quip-filled, pithy blog posts of the past have morphed into longer, more meaningful, dense posts of today. It is on Instagram that I share the little notes and captions and stories and photos.

I’ve written on here, countless times, about “keeping it real” — but, on Sunday, I shared this.

I have blogged, for almost nine years, about dance parties. But, last weekend, I was able to post this video.

This is not an excuse. In some ways, it feels like an apology.

Because, at 5am, as I have done so many other times in recent months, I turned the same question over and over in my head:

Am I really a blogger?

The landscape of blogging has changed. It is a saturated market, and people can gain (and, ehem, purchase) social media followers to become “influencers” and it is a way to make money and feel relevant and make this big world a lot smaller. When I started blogging, things were so, so different.

I share on social media, but in different ways. I have never purchased a follower, but I am sure my account would look more appealing if I did.

I am a writer. I authored a book and I am writing my second.

I have been able to speak at conferences, and marches, and small, intimate truth-circles.

But, am I a blogger?

I can try harder. Even if this means taking some of my instagram stories and posts and building on them, so that they are fully-formed pieces on here, I can do that.

BUT, I also want to stay true to my resolutions.

I’ve been doing well, so far. Some areas are harder than others, but I am pushing myself, nonetheless.

So, in that spirit, I will not apologize for my lack of blogging.

I will just remind you that I am here and I am grateful to you, always.

Without you, I would not be able to do any of the other things about which I just shared;

without this blog, there would be no books; without this blog, there would be no community;

without this blog, I would be adrift.

I would have so much less to ponder at 4:30 in the morning.

Perhaps I will share some of the stories with you that are centered around the main topic of book 2.

But, for now, catch me over on Instagram, take care of yourself, and know that I am endlessly appreciative.

Am I a blogger? I hope so! I hope this blog is like one of my soul-friends, with whom I can go weeks, or months, or even years with out seeing, but, when we are together, it is like no time has passed, at all.

Will you accept me, despite what the answer may be?

I hope so. I accept you, too.

With stories to tell and zzzzzzz’s to catch



“I need to access your heart.”

“Does that stethoscope really work?” he asked, his blue, marble-like eyes widening.

“Of course! I am a real doctor,” I said, straightening the lab coat I had gotten made for his Halloween birthday party.

I’d had it embroidered with “Meredith Grey M.D. F.A.C.S.” to wear along with my scrubs, messy bun, Grey + Sloan Memorial Hospital ID badge, and converse sneakers.

He looked so adorable in the “Lothar Classic Muscle Warcraft” costume that I had surprised him with the night before. I don’t know what or who “Lothar Classic Muscle Warcraft” people are, so I just called him a badass knight, and he totally embraced it.

He was four days short of five years, and I could scarcely believe it.

“Can you check my heart?” he asked, fake muscles bulging from under his faux armor.

“Of course I can. My speciality is in general surgery, but I’ve done plenty of cardio.”

I put the ear tips inside of my ears and tried to place the round end of stethoscope on his chest, but I hit padding. I tried to go from underneath, but realized that the costume was all one piece, and so that wouldn’t be possible. I tried to reach down the top of his suit, fishing the bell of the stethoscope under the layers of polyester, but I just could not reach.

“I need to access your heart.”

And then it hit me. I had just said it all.


My love story with Beau is not the traditional one.

I have written a lot about the guilt I feel surrounding his early days (/years).

The fact that postpartum depression robbed us of so much togetherness during his time as a baby. That we loved each other, but were not connected in that fierce, enchanted way that one expects to connect with her newborn.

Over the years I have written countless posts about our bond, as it has it has blossomed and grown contemporaneously as it has blossomed and grown on the pages of this site. In the book. Everywhere.

It has been a slow courtship at times, and mad love, always.

Like him, it can be very subtle, yet profound. It can be quiet and big at the same time.

Our love is intense and warm.

We have tender moments, and dance parties, and epic battles of wills.

I love Beau deeply, and not just because I have to; not because I should. 

I love him because he is funny and smart and creative. I love his imagination and empathy and eye for detail. I love his stubborn streak, naughtiness, and his heart, so big that I cannot believe it can be contained in that small (albeit extremely tall) body.

I appreciate the love we share not in spite of our tumultuous beginning, but because of it.

Once my severe postpartum depression abated and I started to see light and color, again, I wanted him to want me in the way that I wanted him. And yet, for a long time (and I mean years), he chose me last. He loved me, but not as much as he loved his daddy, or his Bubbie or, most of all, his big sister. When he had a boo-boo that needed kissing, he sought out another’s lips. When a group of us walked through the door to greet him, he jumped into another’s arms.

When no one else was available he would cuddle into me and let me love on him, but I always felt as though I was some sort of consolation prize.

“I need to access your heart.”

I would say it silently, to myself, when watching my son choose someone else’s embrace over mine over and over and over, again.

Like Meredith Grey, I would look into his eyes, and I would say, “Pick me. Choose me. Love me.”

But there was always an Addison. A roadblock. Just like with every great love story, I suppose.

A couple of years ago, things began to shift. Our love story veered in a new direction. I went from a supporting character to a series regular. And while Belle (his “Boppy Girl”) will always be his leading lady, he allowed me to be a star; his star. It was me that he started to come to for comfort.

It was my hand that he’d reach to hold; my body that he’d curl up to in his slumber after a nightmare; my kisses that would soothe him; my nook in which he fit perfectly.


On the day of his fifth birthday party, I could not figure out how to listen to his heart with my old stethoscope, but I most certainly had access to his heart. I was the one who carried the cake out to him, surprising him with a icing-made-photo of his face, rimmed with Batman rings. I was the one who held his arm while he made his wish.

But, this is not about me.

Beau, you amaze me. You are clever and kind and good. You are tenacious and quirky and bright. Your face is so handsome that I have to kiss it every time I am in its proximity. Your chin — the first thing  noticed about your little face when you were brought over to me in the OR on October 24, 2013 — is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, with its perfect dimple.

I love the fact that you embrace your uniqueness; that you are proud to be the only one in our house who has red hair (that’s really strawberry blonde), with blue eyes (that really are spectacular), and who is a leftie. You always say, “I am special!” and I hope you never, ever forget it.

You are a wonderful human.. You the best brother in the world.  You are an extraordinary son.

And, today, you are five.

It is an honor to be able to access your heart.

I will never be able to thank you enough.

Happy Birthday, Beau Beau…

and many, many, many more

Mommy Gut

As humans, we are often told to listen to our hearts.

We are told to pay attention to our “inner voice” and that its words should reign supreme over all else.

There is an actual movement surrounding a greater effort to pay attention to our feelings, and while this is something that I would ordinarily get behind (and, in some ways, I do), it is also scary for me.

It is scary AF.

You see, I do not like the idea of “intuition.”

This might surprise you, seeing as I am one of the more superstitious you will meet, and those things seem to correlate, as they imply a certain amount of control that we, as humans, either try to or think we have.

No form of intuition, however, scares me more than the one that involves the thing that was given to me when I first became pregnant with my daughter; the thing that grew, along with my belly, instead of the third arm that would have been SO MUCH MORE HELPFUL!

The Mommy Gut.

Why is the idea of the mommy gut so scary to me, you ask? Because it can be loud, or it can be quiet, but it is not always right, and it is impacted by both anxiety AND data, and, most of all, because I do not know when it is right, so I do not know when to (or not to) listen.

And that is terrifying.

You might be aware of the fact that I recently wrote a book about prenatal and postpartum anxiety, among other things. In it, I tell the story of the night my daughter was born, and how, had I not listened to my “mommy gut” and gone back to the hospital to have her checked, and had I not insisted on an unplanned c-section that evening…

I cannot even bear to complete that sentence.

But, before that night, when I was around my sixth month of pregnancy, I remember, so vividly, my first experience with the notion of the mommy gut and how, though intended to provide me with comfort, it filled me with utter anxiety. It was a cold day on the playground at the school where I was teaching. I was supervising my class on the jungle-gym and having some small talk with some of my colleagues. As they were all mothers, I decided to turn to them with something that I was chewing over in my mind.

“Hey, can I ask a question?” I opened up to my friends. “I haven’t felt the baby kick as much this morning. But, there are times when babies are more active and then times when they are less active, right?”

And that is when it happened. One incredibly kind, well-meaning colleague said, “You have a mother’s intuition so just listen to what your gut tells you. You’ll know if something is wrong.”

That scared the shit out of me. Let’s say I didn’t listen? Let’s say I missed something? Let’s say I listened all the times, but then the one time when I should have listened I said to myself, “Ok, calm down, all of those other times you freaked out and it was nothing, so I am sure this is nothing, too…”

…because there is so much anxiety swirling around in any and all of these situations and it makes it very hard to determine the difference between “mommy gut” and fear.


On February 3, the day before THE SUPERBOWL, my daughter woke up with a fever and dry cough. She had been complaining the day before of a headache and dizziness. But, the thing is, my daughter complains a lot. When I pick her up from school, I ask, “How was the nurse, today?” as a running joke, because it’s always something.

But, as soon as she woke up that Saturday morning, with no other symptoms than those that I shared above, I knew she had the flu. No one in her class had it. She had been vaccinated. But I just knew.

And when the nasal swab thing tested positive for Influenza Type B I felt simultaneous relief and dread.

I was right.

I was not scared because she was sick. I was scared because I had a feeling that something was wrong with her and that feeling turned out to be correct. BUT, I get scary feelings a lot of the time. So does that mean that they are all going to come true?

She was home sick for over a week with the flu, and we spent a ton of time cuddling, got the Tamiflu administration down to a science (I told her that her bite of a roll and sip of orange juice before and after her shot of Tamiflu was similar to something I would teach her in 13 years, but that it would involve salt and a lime!!!) and, a few days later when her brother and I also got sick, we decided to just camp out and home and ride it out.

However, there was a little complication. We were supposed to leave on February 10 for a tropical vacation. This would have been one week after her diagnosis, 4 days after my son’s and just too soon and too scary, for me. My daughter had been counting down to this trip for months, sending daily text messages with my dad with the number of days shrinking from 100 to 30 to 11 to 4. She was sick, and not getting worse, but not really getting better, and I had an incredibly hard decision to make. Could I put my kids on an airplane, so that they could breathe in recycled air, breathe out air that could be germ-filled, possibly with fluid in their ears, only to be on an active vacation that they were far too run down to enjoy, and away from medical care that I knew and trusted?

I wrestled with this decision and it was brutal. I tried, desperately, to do what was right, and not just what was safe. I worked to tease apart my anxieties about traveling in general from the actual facts of the situation. Was it reasonable to cancel a trip, disappointing my children, because of the flu? Certainly. Was it the right call? That was for me to decide and I was told, over and over, to listen to my mommy gut.

Something about the trip just did not feel right. I could not put my finger on it, but there was something wrong.

After a lot of deliberation and a large amount of sneezed-in tissues, I made the final call.

Screen Shot 2018-02-22 at 1.46.22 PMI still asked everyone I knew if they thought I had made the right choice.

Now, days after we would have returned, after some additional, unexpected life circumstances came up, not limited to a bout of pink eye and some additional sickness-related-symptoms, I am completely confident in the decision we made to cancel the trip (and, instead, had the best time ever in the Poconos, but I’ll go into that, later).

The night before we were supposed to go, I shared this on my Instagram. It was the right call.

But was it because my “mommy gut” informed my decision, or because I listened to my human brain?

That is a rhetorical question.

Here is the real truth. In thinking of the instances in which I used that mommy gut, I can point to many circumstances in which my instinct was correct, despite what others, including professionals, were telling me.

Like the time that my daughter was so sick that she could not stop sleeping and would not eat or drink, but the doctor said it was not, in fact, strep. I knew it was strep. I brought her back in the next day, after a whole extra day of suffering and, what do you know, the first test had been set inaccurately, giving her a false negative. She had strep.

I knew it all along.

Or the other time I knew she had strep, just a year ago, and was told over the phone and upon examination that it was not strep. “BUT, oh we will just test her anyway to make you feel better…”

…it was strep. Again.

I knew it all along.

The examples above can be chalked up to the mommy gut thing, or they can simply be, “I know my kid well. I know that this is what she looks like when she has strep. I have data, because I have been her mom for almost 8 years.”



Today, more than ever, we are reminded of just how scary it is to be a parent. I mean, it is scary to be a person, but, in the context of this post, and with what has gone on in our country in the past 8 days, it feels scarier than before. Every day, I have to kiss my kids goodbye, send them to school, and I hope and pray that they are kept safe while they are not with me. I hope that they don’t fall down the stairs or cut themselves or…

I cannot even bear to complete that sentence. Once again.

I wish this were a post that could be wrapped up and presented in a tidy bow, with some revelation or kernel of wisdom at the end. The truth is, it is more of a diary entry than anything else; more of me working out my feelings, but this time on the computer screen and not just in the confines of my own mind. If I feel this way, and if I fear the mommy gut, others must, as well. Right?

Or, am I doing something wrong?

Is there some magical answer of when to listen and when to say, “Ok, shush, I have an episode of Grey’s to finish,” because if there is, please tell me.

But, the answer cannot be, “You will just know.”


Thoughts and feelings are two different things. They are completely different. But, what I have learned is that they are sneaky little buggers, and they can, so often, masquerade as the other. As I try to remind myself, there is no correlation between the amount I believe that something is true and the actual truth. So often, we invent stories, and convince ourselves that they are true and the line between thoughts and feelings (and anxieties) continues to blur.

Yes, I have been able to accurately diagnose my daughter with ailments several times. But, what I did not mention is that there have been countless other times when I have taken her to the doctor and her ears were not filled with fluid and her rash was not whatever scary rash I had pulled up a photo of from Google Images. We just don’t remember those times — the times when we are wrong — as often as we cling to the times when we are right.

Because the latter? They swirl around, together, and feed off of one another, and make nice little homes in our bodies. Right in the spot where I can feel my anxiety physiologically; where I somaticize my woes.

In my stomach.

The place where pits grow. The place where my thoughts are digested. My butterfly-filled stomach.

Or, to call it by another name, in my gut.

My mommy gut.

Why I wrote “Beyond the Baby Blues”

(Originally published on postpartum project, as “Why I wrote “Beyond the Baby Blues”)


“If this can help one woman then it is worth it.”

That was my refrain. That was what I said. That was what I typed, even when my hands trembled.

In February of 2014 I made a decision that would change the trajectory of my life forever:

I decided to open up about and document in-real-time my struggle with severe postpartum depression. I had been writing a Mommy Blog, Mommy, Ever After, since the birth of my daughter in 2010. But, after the birth of my son in October of 2013, I was walloped; transformed into a person whom I no longer recognized. As I explained to my then 3.5 year old son back in October, I was sad. Supremely, devastatingly sad.

My story is not unlike so many other women’s stories.

My world turned gray. I was plagued by guilt. At my worst, I lost the will to live. And, because it is so well-documented and, fortunately, discussed, everyone knew what was going on with me. I had postpartum depression.  Even though people did not always understand it entirely, every person I knew had some idea of what I was experiencing. They knew because celebrities had spoken out about it. Because it had become a buzzword.

But, in order to truly tell my story, I must back up. I did not just suffer from severe postpartum depression; I suffered from severe prenatal anxiety and depression; I just did not know it.

“If this can help one woman then it is worth it.”

The refrain continued. As I explored my experience in therapy, finally identifying, through my postpartum treatment, that I had been suffering for months prior to my son’s birth, I realized just how paralyzed I had been by my prenatal distress.

Yes, I spent a lot of time crying (to friends, family members, physicians). Yes, I once stormed out of Bloomingdales after my mom and I tried to pick out a layette for my son, only to find that everything for a boy had either a teddy bear or was light blue (and, in that moment, I decided that I hated both teddy bears and light blue). Yes, I told my neurologist, whom I saw for a complex migraine, that I did not want my baby when I was 33 weeks pregnant. And out of all of these episodes, he was the only one to take notice. Dr. Schulman said to me, “I am not worried about anything neurological with you. But, I am worried that you are going to have this baby and develop a walloping case of postpartum depression.”

I knew what to look for after the baby was born, but I did not know how to identify the suffocating, devastating effects of prenatal distress as I was living through it.

On October 24, 2013 my son was born and I fell in love with him. I just fell out of love with life.  And that is why, on that cold day in February, when he was just 4-months-old, I decided to open up to my readers. I would tell them, in “the hardest post I’ve ever written,” that happy, enchanted “Mommy, Ever After” was in a black hole of despair.

And the response was incredible. The blog’s popularity soared, my readership grew and I began to connect with so many women, all of whom shared some part of my story; my struggles.

Then, the refrain began to change. It no longer came from me. I had helped even one woman (which I say so humbly and with tremendous gratitude). And these people (women, their partners, caregivers, professionals) wanted more. They asked me to write a book.

And that is how “Beyond the Baby Blues: Anxiety and Depression During and After Pregnancy” was born. It was not easy (and the former pun was completely intended as this was a labor of love) but it was so worth it. “Beyond the Baby Blues” has been another game changer for me, as it symbolizes something far greater than when I first hit publish on that hard post nearly four years ago. This book is big for me for so many reasons, but, more than anything else, it is because I can reach a broader audience and help more people. Just with the act of having written this book, and getting published, I am able to show so many people that there is color on the other side of the gray. It takes hard work, but it can be done. In fact, my book is structured to emphasize that quite deliberately. It is “A Happy Story” “A Hard Story” and then “A Hopeful Story” and it shows everyone (sufferers, caretakers, students, teachers, doctors, humans) that no matter how far into the abyss you or a loved one might sink, there is still a tiny bit of light that shines from above. And if you keep your eye on that prize—that light—there can be magic on the other side. And, in doing the climb back from the bottom, there is so much strength to be gained.

“Beyond the Baby Blues” is special to me in a way that is hard to articulate, but I am particularly proud of this book because it is a real resource about prenatal anxiety and depression.

It is the book that I needed when I was pregnant in 2013. It includes actionable advice, psychological research and the story of a girl who was confused, sad, hurting, lonely, afraid, depressed and lost. But, it also includes the story of how that girl is now clear-headed, OK, strong, surrounded by the right team, competent, a work-in-progress and, of course, found. I still seek treatment for my post-postpartum. I still suffer from anxiety and I have a diagnosis of PTSD. I still have dirt under my fingernails, embedded there, from my arduous climb. I am grateful for that dirt. It reminds me of where I was and how far I have come.

Today, I am happy. I am not happy all day every day, but I find joy in life, again. I laugh with my kids as I learn from them. My daughter is now 7.5 and my son is 4 and they are best friends; they even share a bed every night. My husband and I, having struggled through the hard story, have found strength in our relationship that we never thought possible. He gives me butterflies, again. I spend my days writing, being a mom, having an occasional band-practice (because one of my favorite hobbies is singing in an acoustic duo), driving carpool, sharing my story and going to many different therapy sessions (including with a psychologist, psychiatrist, dietician and family/couples therapist). I have fortified my village and the people who are in my life today are here for a reason. I am happy to say that I no longer hate teddy bears.

“If this can help one woman then it is worth it.”

Just now, truly, just as I sit here and type this today I am having a realization. I kept saying that line, over and over, every time I decided to open up about something difficult. And now I realize the most important truth of all. I have helped one woman.


(Many thanks to Zoe Hicks, editor of Postpartum Project and incredible therapist/advocate/human being!)

Beyond the Baby Blues

Happy Birthday, Book!

Today is the day!

After years of writing,

months of teasing,

weeks of sharing photos and videos of reviews, copies and clips…

today, “Beyond the Baby Blues: Anxiety and Depression During and After Pregnancy” is out!

I am so overwhelmed by this — we wrote a book!

If you do get a chance to read Beyond the Baby Blues, make sure to check out the acknowledgements, as there is a special little shout out to you. Yes, you.

If you want to get your hands on this book — my own story (which, by the way, is not a compilation of blog posts and goes way deeper into the dark abyss of what really happened), combined with actionable advice, clinical research, case studies and other women’s stories — I can help you.

If you want to order from the publisher, because you are fancy and proper, like that, here you go!

If you are an Amazon Prime member, click here (it will be shipped to in hardcover soon OR you can get it dropped onto your Kindle, today!)

If you already have a full online cart at Target, you can add this on. You know you were going to overspend, anyway.

If you are a purist, and like to buy from good old Barnes & Noble, get your nook on.

It is also on a lot of other websites, and, it is in other languages (and being sold in other currencies, so watch out!)

Check your local library: I know that it has already been ordered by many across the country, but if you want to read it and your library doesn’t have a copy, as them to get one. I have a friend who did just that and, lo and behold, they had two! Ask your favorite local bookstore. If they do not carry it now, they sure can.

If you want to celebrate, officially, with me, in the Philadelphia area, join me on January 31 for a

“Happy Hour for Happiness”

Screen Shot 2018-01-05 at 1.00.38 PM

And watch out, because I might be coming to a city near you. Stay tuned for updates.

Here is the truth:

I am writing all of this in a straightforward, matter-of-fact way, but this is huge for me. This was my dream and I have had the chance to realize it, and in such a meaningful way. I am happy, as I hope it helps others. I am nervous, as  hope it doesn’t suck. I am so touched by the positive response so far. I fear the negative comments and I have been trying to grow a thicker skin in anticipation of this (despite all of the dry brushing I do).

No matter what, I am proud.

Because I have lived the happy. I have lived the hard. Now, I am living the hopeful. The hopeful combines both.

It has been a journey and not one that has been easy or that has gone in a straight line.

But it has all been worth it.

Happy Birthday, Beyond the Baby Blues.

Kenny made me a wife. Belle and Beau made me a mommy. You have made me a blogger.

And, now, this has made me an author.

With so much love, tons of feathers and a little sparkle–



Their names

Ok. This is a biggie. Not in the way that some other posts are biggies,

but in a different (and maybe even biggie-er) way.

I have been writing this blog for over seven and a half years.

On it I have shared my innermost thoughts and feelings; my deep secrets; my real-time triumphs and trials.

I have even shared my birth stories, in full detail, in multi-part installments.

I opened up about my postpartum depression as it was happening, when I was in the thick of it.

But, in all of the talk about my children, there is one thing that I have never shared:

Their names.

This has been a rule for me since this blog’s inception.

It is funny, because I love talking baby names as much as (more than) the next person, but, for me, it never felt right.

When our story was featured in The New York Times in March of 2016 I explained this a bit further

(and, in retrospect, perhaps a bit more naively).

I wrote:

I am very careful about the exposure of my kids on the internet, because I never want my decision to write openly to have a negative impact on them in any way.

(By the way, the way I justify this as follows:

I used to only post photos of my children from behind or with their faces obscured, but that has changed, and now their pictures are out there on the internet. I don’t include them in most articles, and try my best to post cute things like their feet or accessories, but sometimes their faces are visible and I know that.

I have never shared their names on this site and never will. Even in The New York Times article I had the writers refer to my son by the name we call him, but it is not his full legal name.


I am confident and optimistic that I will raise children who will be proud that their story, our story, was able to help thousands of people across this world. I hope that I do.

“…and never will” I said, with such conviction. Just as this blog has evolved, so have I. So have they. 

And in writing the book I made the careful and deliberate decision to reveal their names, both given and the names by which we call them. The book seemed so big, and to continue to refer to them by “my daughter” and “my son” seemed off; shortsighted; not right. They have names and I was writing my most true, raw, open story in a hardcover book and opacity no longer seemed appropriate.

So, I wrote the book and used their names and told the stories of how their names came to be and it all seemed so far away…

…and now it is not. The book comes out in less than two weeks (eeeeeee!) and it has been getting some excitinghumbling reviews (eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!)

In one such review, a “Starred Review” by Booklist, the reviewer talks about my family members by name.

Screen Shot 2017-12-26 at 10.03.31 PM
Before I wrote this post there were two people with whom I had to consult:

my daughter and my son.

I asked them how they felt about me sharing their names on this blog which, presumably, could have a broader reach than the book (though I hope that is not the case!), to be memorialized on the interwebs for all of time. They are seven and a half and four.

I explained their privacy to them, and their rights. I explained to them that when people do a Google search for their names I want articles to come up that have nothing to do with me. I explained that I fully expect them to do incredible things with their lives and therefore these blog posts should be buried so far down that this won’t really matter, someday. They both took the time to think about it and then both told me to go ahead and share.

But, I think that they did a really good job doing so themselves. So, I present to you,

The Big Reveal: Their Names


Annabelle Lily and Alexander Beau

(Belle et Beau)

My super star(r)s.

Big News!

Well, I have to come clean. I have been keeping a secret from you, holding it close to the vest and close to my heart.

But now I can share some big news!

It’s time for a new Edition to my world…


I am writing a book!

More than that—I have a book deal!

Thanks to my amazing literary agent, Renée C. Fountain, I got an awesome book deal and am now signed to a publishing house who believes in my work as much as we do.

Go #teamMEA!

This has been my dream. I got signed by my agency and wrote my first book proposal two years ago, and since then, with Renée’s help (and with the support of Gandolfo, Helin & Fountain Literary Agency), the premise has morphed and evolved into something that I hope will be captivating, emotional, helpful and, as always, real. From the bottom of my heart I am optimistic that I can help other women, their families, caregivers, supporters, mental health professionals, doctors and anyone else who has ever struggled with mental health issues; for all humans.

And so, I have been plugging away, writing my Happy Story, Hard Story and Hopeful Story, sometimes cheering and, to be honest, often crying.

I am writing about the hardest of times, and struggles that I have not ever shared on here. The aim of this book is for it to be unique, so that it stands out and so that it can fill the void that I longed to fill when I was suffering from acute and severe postpartum depression.

I want to note something important: I announced the book deal as if I were announcing the news of a third child; a new baby.

And, to me, this is my third child; my baby.

I did this deliberately (and confused some people in the process! I am sorry!). I want to say that I in no way wish to be insensitive by making a baby announcement that…well…isn’t.

I am not going to be announcing another baby because I cannot have another baby.

That is an integral part of my story.

And I have written so many times before that I know that there are other ways in which we can and could add to our family, and I have not foreclosed any of those options, but, if I am being completely honest, I don’t think that another baby is in my future.

And that makes me sad, at times, but, more and more lately, I have been focusing on what I have.

My kids are growing into remarkable little people and I am enjoying them in the moment.

And I have a book deal.

So if you see me typing away at the coffee shop, chai tea and almond croissant in front of me, tears streaming down my face, it is probably because I am writing some of my Hard Story and it is still hard.

And that is why I am sharing it. With the world.

So not only is this big news for me, but it’s huge news for us. For you, my dearests.

Big news! Go team!