Tag Archives: Parenting

Dax Ocean: A Birth Story

May 3, 2018

Dax Ocean Baer was born eight days early on April 30th, 2018 at three in the afternoon. It was a beautiful, sun filled day. The beginning of one of the first warm weeks of Spring.

My water broke in the middle of the night. I was sleeping when all of a sudden I felt a gush of liquid. My first thought was, I am peeing. My second thought was, nope nope nope I’m not. When I looked at the clock it said 3:45am. I woke Austin at 4, and together we made a plan for childcare while I called the hospital and had a very predictable conversation that went something like this:

Me: My water broke!
Nurse: You need to come in right away.
Me: Can I take a shower?
Nurse: No.
Me: Straighten my hair?
Nurse: No.
Me: Pack my bag?
Nurse: No.
Me: What about waiting for the babysitter?
Nurse: You need to come in right away.
Me: I’m not having any contractions.
Nurse: This is your fourth baby, please make your way to the car.
Me: I have really long labors…
Nurse: Your risk of having a baby in the car increases every minute we are on the phone.
Me: What about a light breakfast?

After I hung up, we packed our things and waited for my dad who drove from the Philly suburbs in the dark to be with the other kids while my mom went to school to make lesson plans so she could join the circus later (bless their grandparent hearts). It was nearly 6am when we entered the hospital, and unlike my other trips in–I was given a labor room immediately because of fourth baby “urgency” and because I was leaking amniotic fluid all over the waiting room floor.

Once we were settled in, I answered all the major questions including:

Yes, I’m starting to have a few contractions.
Yes, I’m healthy and feeling fine.

You may remember from Novi, that things did not go as planned last time. The epidural failed, and after 21 hours of labor, it was a real screamfest. Of course after the fact, it was all fine and didn’t matter, but I wanted to skip that part this time and go back to the peaceful births of yore (Waylon and Eva).

I let everyone know.

Anesthesia was called a few hours later, and by 9:30 I had an epidural, a very slow drip of pitocin, and a nice big dose of Zofran to keep me from losing that light breakfast. Life was good! I chewed on ice chips. Austin put on Identity Thief. We facetimed my mom. Morale was high.

Then, just like last time, the anesthesia wore off and by 5 centimeters dilated, I felt it all.

For the next 45 minutes, my body did its thing and got to 10 centimeters while my brain did the other thing and tried to get me out of a very painful situation. At one point Austin thought I might rip his shirt in half. I have never screamed, moaned, and cried so loudly in my life. As you do when a human is exiting your special place.

Things moved quickly, though at the time it felt very slow. The worst part was the 20 minutes he was positioned in the birth canal and I felt the ring of fire non stop. If you’ve ever had a severe UTI, it felt like the peak of burning pain you get after you pee, but without any reprieve. I said a lot of things, including: MY BLADDER IS ON FIRE and CAN SOMEONE DUMP ICE WATER ON IT.

Finally he crowned, which is when everyone got serious and told me I had to push him out right away. And after a few minutes of pushing (Lord have mercy), he was born.

They said he was completely purple when he came out. The cord was knotted and around his neck twice. He didn’t make a single sound. I wouldn’t know though, my eyes were still shut tight as I was coming off the pain in a strange delirium.

Once they confirmed he was okay, they put him on my chest–and the relief was immediate.


8 lbs, 4 ounces. 21.5 inches long. The hardest and most intense delivery to date, but in the end a healthy, sweet, and perfect baby boy.

We are so lucky to bring the last of our family home.

Welcome to the world little baby Dax.

baby dax video

baer home movies

Sitting With Her

February 16, 2017

A few months ago I gave birth to my last baby. In predictable fashion, the time has gone remarkably fast. One minute he was emerging through a ring of fire, and now he’s growing out of small white onesies and requesting beer with dinner instead of breastmilk (just kidding, he prefers wine).

It is easy to panic about this passing of time, especially when everyone tells you to soak in every minute before it’s gone. It’s like if someone told you to really enjoy your ice cream cone now so that next week when you’re craving one, all you’ll have to do is remember today and you’ll be satisfied.

I wish that’s how it worked. I wish that three or five or seventeen years from now when I’m craving that newborn smell and the weight of a baby on my chest, all I’ll have to do is close my eyes to experience it again.

Instead I’ll only feel the familiar ache.


A few months ago a friend was crying over her daughter’s loose tooth. “Something is wrong with me,” she said. “There is nothing sad about a loose tooth.”

No, we said shaking our heads. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

This past fall, I took my first baby to Kindergarten. He was ready, I was ready, but when the time came to leave him at the door–he clung to my arm and asked me not to go.

“Stay with me,” he said, tears in his eyes. “I don’t want you to leave.”

“You’re going to be so brave,” I said to both of us.

Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

Yesterday a friend wrote to me and said she was failing as a mother. It’s so overwhelming. I can’t be everything to everyone. I’m doing something wrong.

No, no, not at all. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s wrong.


For a long time I looked for some sort of cure for saying goodbye to this phase of life, hoping that when the time came, I’d be ready. Equipped with all the tools to manage and cope and not drive everyone crazy with my inability to let go. Mostly I hoped to simply feel ready to move on; happy to say goodbye to the stained highchair, tall stack of diapers, and bulky pack-and-play that never folds down quite right. Instead I am so relieved to learn the truth. That just because it is hard to say goodbye to these baby stages doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

I am and will be so many different kinds of mother in this life. A mother of babies, a mother of toddlers, a mother of pre-teens and teenagers and 30-year-old men. And when I look back at the mother I was to these small children and feel that familiar ache, I hope I sit with her. Let myself grieve what she lost in late night feedings and celebrate what she has become. Just as there is room for joy and gratitude and exhaustion in parenthood, there is also room for what comes with saying goodbye. And for me, that is a lot of sadness and emotions.

Please keep Austin in your thoughts.

The door is not closed, but it will close someday one way or another. And when I find my heart heavy, I know what to do. I will look to that mother, rocking her baby in that well worn chair, and I will sit with her.


Oh Novi: A Birth Story

June 17, 2016


My sweet baby boy Novi was born on a cool June night after 21 hours of labor.

Things people told me about delivering third babies:
1) The baby will come early.
2) Labor will be quick.
3) It will be easiest one yet.

(Nope on all accounts)

My contractions started the morning before around 5am, two days after my due date. Because we weren’t sure if it was the real thing, Austin still went into work at 6 but promised to be back in a few hours if things didn’t slow down. They didn’t. They also didn’t speed up. Just like my other two labors, things moved slowly. For eight more hours my contractions were 7 to 10 minutes apart. In that time, Austin came home from his last day of intern year, my parents drove in from Philly, and Waylon and Eva ran around like drunk college kids asking WHERE IS THE BABY and CAN I HAVE A POPSICLE.

Meanwhile I never sat down because whenever I did, the contractions slowed down and I was determined to make this happen. And so I walked and rocked, rocked and walked. For a while I tried to walk outside, but it was so hot that I only drenched myself in sweat. At one point I was so desperate to stop walking circles in my kitchen that I drove myself to KMart to walk around in the air conditioning while my family sent threatening texts from the living room. It was a special time.

Once the evening came, I stopped timing contractions and started the work of really breathing through them. By 6pm, they were close enough together that I knew we needed to leave for the hospital soon. When I called the nurse and said my contractions were around three minutes apart, she said, “You need to come now. I don’t want you to have this baby in the car.” I laughed and waited 40 more minutes. I knew better. My body takes forever to dilate, and I wanted to be home as long as I could.

Things Austin did while I labored at home:
1) Nap.
2) Shower.
3) Light gardening, he even found the right planting zone for the trees.
4) Craigslist.
5) Instagram memes.

Things I wanted him to be doing once the pain reached an 8/10:

Finally around 7pm, we loaded our bags into the car and left. On the way we stopped at the diner where my parents had taken the kids and said goodbye. It was hard to look at Eva. I felt overwhelmed with love for her, but also excited and focused on the night ahead. I had one contraction outside the restaurant, ran in to kiss my babies goodnight, and then shuffled back outside to have another contraction. Things were starting to pick up.

Once we checked into triage, I felt a tiredness wash over me. I’d been up since 5, in labor for fifteen hours, and on my feet the whole time. This is when I said to the nurse, “Just to let you know, I’d like an epidural.” She gave the thumbs up, and four days later (two long hours later)–they finally gave me one.

Things I don’t want to be doing when the pain is a 10/10:
1) Watching Friends reruns.
2) Peeing.
3) Lying down.
4) Holding my gown together.
5) Waiting for an anesthesiologist.

This is the part of the story that, for me, usually ends in a calm, peaceful birth. Just like with Waylon, I’d been in labor for 17 hours and I was ready to rest before pushing a baby out. Instead, the epidural failed twice–and before they could try to fix it one more time, my water broke and I went from 8 centimeters dilated to 10 in about five minutes.

I wish I could describe what it’s like to have a drug free birth when you are not prepared to have a drug free birth. Have you ever been on a leisurely walk and then tripped and fallen onto a bed of hot nails? It’s kind of like that, except you’re exhausted and the walk wasn’t ever that leisurely to begin with.

In a very short time, my water broke, the drugs disappeared completely, and I felt the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life. Twice I tried to ask if anyone was going to fix the meds, but no one answered me. Instead they just avoided eye contact and tried to act busy. That’s when I knew things were about to get real.

Truth: delivering Novi into this world is the hardest thing I’ve ever physically done. At one point his shoulders got stuck (shoulder dystocia), prompting a doctor to press down as hard as he could on my abdomen to help push the baby out. Austin said he pressed so hard that you could hear an audible crunch. Luckily I couldn’t hear it over my very audible scream.

Things I yelled during labor that I don’t remember yelling:
1) NO
5) IT BURNS (hey ring of fire)

It was all very loud and fast, slow and silent at the same time. Once he finally slid out, I was so emotionally and physically spent that I just closed my eyes and wept. I never saw them hold him up or heard Austin say, “It’s a boy!” Instead I felt it all. I felt the weight of him on my chest, the relief of it being over, and the surge of immediate love for someone I just met.




We named him Novi Fox because we are the kind of parents who name their kid Novi Fox. Since Novi isn’t a real name, it doesn’t have an official meaning which means I can give it one all its own. So far I’m thinking “child who never complains,” but we’ll see.



It’s been five days since I delivered my sweet boy into this world, and while it was difficult and unexpected– his birth story has already started to feel less like hard jolt and more like an amazing and beautiful feat. I’m so glad I got to do this one more time.

Oh Novi. We’re so glad you’re here. You are everything I dreamed you could be.


// hello novi video //


Happy Mother’s Day

May 6, 2016

People often say that motherhood is harder now than it ever has been before, but I don’t think that’s true. Instead it’s just different. Some things are better, some things are worse. A lot will always stay the same.

I feel lucky to be a mom in 2016. Screen time and cyberbullying are tough terrain, but along with the bad has come a lot of good. For example, Daniel Tiger! The shift away from fear-based parenting. Breastfeeding pillows! We are also no longer expected to stay home and make lasagnas if we don’t want to. Despite the daily op-ed pieces on “Mommy Wars,” it is possible to create a fulfilling life without worrying what everyone else thinks.

I’m not saying it comes without serious challenge. But now more than ever, our sons and daughters are seeing their mamas pursue a life of meaning with equal co-parents, supportive friends, and without fear of retribution. That’s some good stuff right there, oh! and not to mention my husband just gave me as a gift the best creams I could ever asked for.

Motherhood will always be hard, but the upside is that there is always space for change. We are only as “good” or “bad” as we decide to be. Happy Mother’s Day to the strong women who decide day after day to show up and do their best.


The Second Trimester: A Love Story

March 9, 2016

2nd Trimester

Oh second trimester, how I love thee. The long bouts of energy, the relief from nausea, the vast exploration into the world of carbs with an extra side of carbs. Words cannot express how lovely it is to walk around vertically and not constantly cry on the bathroom floor. The last time I threw up was 8 weeks ago, and already I look back at it with the strange nostalgia usually reserved for wartime movies I pretended to enjoy. I also wanted to ask, can i tile over my current tiles? The tiles I have on my bathroom simple bring to me bad memories, and I’m not over exaggerating.

The visible proof of pregnancy is nice, too. All that extra help with doors without the weight of nine months of cheeseburgers resting on your pelvic bone. I’ll take it! Of course there will always be the friend of a friend who asks if you’re overdue at 23 weeks or the aunt who constantly points out your third cousin’s wife who “looks like she’s swallowed a basketball.” But we persevere. I may not look like I’ve swallowed a basketball, but it does look like I’ve swallowed a basketball player–and if that’s not overachieving, I don’t know what is.

Perhaps my favorite part of the second trimester is the TO DO LIST. Some women nest for the last few days of pregnancy, I nest for the last few months. Which is great for my minimalist pixie girl clean house dreams, but sad for Austin who is helping me scrub the basement steps at 11pm. I can’t wait to see what I’ll be doing at the end of May. The day before Eva was born I moved an entire couch across the living room while Austin cleaned the ceiling fans.

There is still so much to do.

When people ask how I’m feeling, I hesitate to answer. This has been the physically hardest pregnancy so far, but my favorite out of the three. Despite the bodily side effects, these months mark the end of a chapter that I have very much enjoyed–and I’m very aware each day how lucky I am to do it one more time.

Three months to go.


Second trimester with Evie.