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Remembering That Night

“These things, they go away
Replaced by everyday

Nightswimming, remembering that night”

These things, they go away. Replaced by everyday. Nightswimming, remembering that night. September's coming soon. I'm pining for the moon.

At some point around this time last year, I found out we were having a boy.

I’m older now, so I got the NIPT testing done around 10-12 weeks. I had waited until 20 weeks with Scarlet and Des to find out the sex (I was right both times), and to more or less know about the full anatomy. The inside stuff, like hearts and lungs and tiny brains. It’s amazing to me that some things slowly change, while other things go FAST. I couldn’t wait to get through the first trimester with its weird queasiness and those weekly emails to tell you your baby is the size of a blueberry. Maybe a raspberry. I was waiting for watermelon territory, and I wanted time to hurtle through those growing fruits. These days, I get frustrated when 3-6 month clothes no longer fit.

Sometimes I can feel time moving through me. The pacing is so erratic. I’m not ok; I’m ok.

baby at the frog pond

The mornings and nights have a strange rhythm. In fact, everything has a strange rhythm. I’m not ok; I’m ok. I sleep, and then I don’t. I feel like I’m in trouble. Then I don’t care if I’m in trouble. Everything seems to take such special care, from words and facial expressions, to life-altering decisions. It gets easier and more fluid as I go on. The nights and the mornings, and being not ok and then ok, all blurs together just the same. And, where does that leave me now anyway?

I went into the bath to cry after I found out it was another boy. This beautiful, beautiful boy.

These things, they go away. Replaced by everyday. Nightswimming, remembering that night. September's coming soon. I'm pining for the moon.

“The photograph reflects, every streetlight a reminder
Nightswimming deserves a quiet night, deserves a quiet night”

The bathtub is so big, that I like to do my own splashing around sometimes. I can’t help but splash around like a kid again. I sat there for so long that afternoon, that the sky eventually gave way to nightfall, while I reloaded bubbles and warmer water several times. My phone was in my grasp, never to slip through the bubbles to the water, and I posted the announcement of the (healthy) tie-breaking boy. I got nearly as many Facebook congrats as I had received with the pregnancy announcement, and while I believe it would have been as many if I had announced a girl, it was different. Different people with their own single and sets of kids react differently to daughters and sons. I probably do too. And I emerged from that bath a different person than when I had sunk underneath the bubbles. The warm water washed away any initial reservations.

That I could be anything but perfectly in love with this child.

These days I still take the time to drink him in; this wiggly and magnificent creature. Now that I’ve resolved my breastfeeding troubles, and actually enjoy it as well, I still take the care to enjoy him as much as I drink him in. They go hand in hand. Devices and distractions rejected; as I learn and relearn the softness under his chin, and his giggles from tickles on the backs of his knees. He has a different smile for every situation, and I’d like to believe I do as well. In the bath, I’ll spike his hair and hold his body over my arm so I can wash his back. He almost always nearly slips under my arm; all soapy and wiggly, but I always keep him in my grasp. For as long as I can, because time and babies are wiggly and slippery. You take all the care to make sure they don’t slip under your watchful eye, but you can’t stop them from learning to swim. Time and babies gain wings and fins. They kick away anchors. They’re dizzying, disorienting; it’s cruel and kind.

So I find myself in a state of grieving, in both sleep and dreams, and I can’t quite figure out why.

These things, they go away. Replaced by everyday. Nightswimming, remembering that night. September's coming soon. I'm pining for the moon.

Maybe it’s the pandemic, and the lives lost; still to lose. It’s my kids growing up too fast in the breathless blink of the heaviest year. It could be months of painful breastfeeding and bleary-eyed sleep to dream to nurse again. I never liked the mornings at first – it’s when it would hurt the most. This heaviness on my chest. These days he stirs and I stir. I hold my breath and peer into his bassinet and he squeals and grins right back. I lift him into bed. The kids and Lucy, as if pulled by some magnetic event, always know when it’s safe to bounce in and snuggle with us.

I’m strong in these golden mornings, when the forest encloses us in our small paradise.

cutest baby in the world

“You, I thought I knew you
You I cannot judge
You, I thought you knew me
This one laughing quietly underneath my breath
Nightswimming”

And somehow I’m strongest when the golden glow gives way to darkness. It’s how you can care but not care; not care but care. I don’t care about rejection and teasing and being ignored – not when I’m diffusing hot tempers, baby wrangling and breaking up kid bickering, taking a phone meeting, and struggling to write these words. About the grief a mother has, for what’s been lost until this point, and what will slowly get lost from here on out. The intricacies and delicacies of trying to hold on, too much, too fast, too late, to these wiggly, slippery things with their wings and their fins. Too often, I’m afraid I’m losing myself the way I’m afraid I’m losing them. I’m not.

We’re not.

Maybe we’re just being found. I find my voice, through the grief and the late nights and the slippery, wiggly, tricky things. Like time and water and love and loss and words and facial expressions. I’m strong in the morning light; in love and loved. I’m strongest in the setting sun, where I’m lost and I’m found; wordless and full of words. Full of light and darkness, sometimes equal parts, I move. Taller and fiercer and ready, while the moon rises on another day’s end. I find my way along the meandering streams; where what we hold most dear, runs most deep.

I get it now; I’ll get it more then.

Soon we find the deepest part of the water; this water. We jump in, one by one, staggering our leaps and our falls. Not knowing if the water is deep enough, or too deep; what kinds of slippery creatures are hidden beneath the waves. The moonlight guides us, hand in hand, as we drop in together – with no choice but to break apart when we hit the water. We come up for air and splash around as the light fully gives way to the darkness; the moon behind its thick clouds.

Weightless. Fearless. Timeless. Together.

“Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
The photograph on the dashboard, taken years ago
Turned around backwards so the windshield shows
Every streetlight reveals the picture in reverse
Still, it’s so much clearer”

“Nightswimming” was song #16 on our birthing playlist.

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7 Comments

  1. Such visceral images, memories, hopes, dreams, stories, lives, seconds, minutes, millennia…..your craftsmanship in transforming the inner onto the written page is mind boggling.

  2. There is always hope. It is an offering for us to pick up. Love these photos of your absolutely beautiful boy – his eyes are so expressive. I love seeing them and it makes me hopeful!

  3. Tamara l have a comment very similar to Karen’s about how you creatively transform the inner to the pen and paper, and Karen said it so much better than l could. Rider obviously loves to splash, and his joyous expression full of wide eyed wonder are facial features to behold! My covid recovery took a couple steps back during this week, but l’m going to navigate through this virus until l drown it! 👍

  4. Beautifully written Tamara! Children bring a strength beyond measure to us. Rider’s daily dose always brightens my morning! He has that wonderful smile and bright eyes – full of hope!

  5. Lovely. Sweet babies splashing make me happy.

    I so wanted Anneliese to be a boy, but alas… 3 girls. One boy. Gosh how I love them 🙂 I get it though. Baths and water bring healing, no joke. I think it connects us with out inner mermaids 🙂

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