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The World I Know

“So I walk up on high and I step to the edge
To see my world below
And I laugh at myself while the tears roll down
‘Cause it’s the world I know, it’s the world I know”

I step to the edge, To see my world below, And I laugh at myself while the tears roll down, 'Cause it's the world I know

It’s funny to me that the different times I write these posts produce different themes.

I was totally going to use another song, but I heard this one in the car on my way home from Starbucks with the two babies and Lucy. I also totally gave Rider a cake pop from the front seat, and since he’s rear facing, I didn’t see him again until 20 minutes later. He held the cake pop magnificently by the stick, but his face was a chocolate masterpiece. Each day, it’s all about the little and big decisions you make that set your day (and maybe your life) on a different path. I am at peace with this sort of chaos, whether it’s destiny or free will or nothing else matters or everything matters. I am oddly at peace with it. And that’s because I like to find new songs and perspectives and different ways to look at different days. Maybe they all bleed and melt into each other anyway, and that’s because they do for me, and they especially do with a newborn, but it’s like Rider’s melted chocolate face. It was sort of inevitable, wasn’t it? And so is this post.

I step to the edge, To see my world below, And I laugh at myself while the tears roll down, 'Cause it's the world I know

It’s strange to me, the light and dark spaces I go through, in lighter and darker times. It’s always my resilience, my drive, my experience, my circumstance, my age, stage, and phase, and it’s all against the greater picture. And that can go as far as you can take it – local, national, global, universal, galaxy-wide, multi-verse, etc. and every which way. Sometimes your world goes from lighter to darker to lighter places, but there’s color. Sometimes, with anxiety, it’s too vivid and too loud. And sometimes, with depression, your world gets leeched and bleached of color. I remember having a depressive episode for a few days when I was 16, and on the great precipice of change that I couldn’t keep up with. I was lucky that it didn’t last, but just a few days, weeks, months, years, whatever, stays with you. I was sitting on a bench in the Finger Lakes, and a cat ran up onto the bench and sat against me. We sat in silence and I thought of the world I could no longer channel and feel. The world and the “me” that I was leaving behind. Depression is a beast, or such things like it, and even a few days of it can lurk like a demon you can never quite tame. And yet, when you get propelled back into color, you’re now better than you’ve ever been.

I think about that often.

“Has our conscience shown?
Has the sweet breeze blown?
Has all the kindness gone?
Hope still lingers on”

I’ve always been atmosphere-sensitive in that different places make me feel different ways, and at different times, depending on things. It has less to do with the physical, like I said, or even the sunrise/sunset pattern, the moons and the tides, or the weather. It has at least something to do with new surroundings (baby bassinets) and new sleep patterns (with babies), but it’s more about something cataclysmic happening (babies or pandemics or climate change or politics..) and then the world looks different. Even the places you always inhabit are different. And you can’t get back to the old way; the old feeling. Usually that’s ok because you’re resilient and wonderful and the new you will inhabit a new way; and the old/new place will adapt. You will adapt. It’s what hurts me the most, though, during the transition from darker to lighter places. I think about the atmosphere and feeling I can no longer channel. The me without the new baby, and the me full of mystery and excitement and wonder. Now I’m in the same place in a new way – with a healthy and beautiful new baby. It should be somewhat simple and light; full of love.

And it’s very much the opposite, but still full of love.

I step to the edge, To see my world below, And I laugh at myself while the tears roll down, 'Cause it's the world I know

“Are we listening
To hymns of offering?
Have we eyes to see
That love is gathering?”

It’s an insanely weird time to raise four kids at four different ages. What kind of world will the older ones have, or the younger ones? Over 1 million COVID deaths, and most of us are in denial of it, or just plain over it. The new laws governing a woman’s body thing, is terrifying. Climate change and gun violence; Ukraine and many, many other countries and conflicts and confusion. This past week or so, sort of broke me. Granted, I was for sure already in a weird space having an unexpected birth and unexpected aftereffect and unexpected baby, but I’m almost nostalgic for that physical pain and weirdness, and even the normal postpartum blues and feels. Lately, with the news of the world, it’s bad enough, and there has been more. My uncle got gravely ill, and rebounded, this time, but it was haunting. We celebrated my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday and I had to wrap my head around that, even though 80 is way different from how I pictured it as a kid. And actually, I was only about ten when my grandparents were 80, and they both still had decades to live. And we’re all just tired lately. Tired and self-consumed. There is a magic that seems lost; a hope. And I expected this to feel like my third pregnancy and baby, and it doesn’t.

As it shouldn’t.

And it doesn’t mean that all magic and hope are lost, of course, but I thought it would make sense to make a list of different ways that postpartum life has/is been affecting me. I have been scribbling these notes for weeks and they definitely change by the day. There is no rhyme or reason to it, and no order of importance or events. There are just postpartum feels, and the like.

I hope some of you can relate to these. And if not, that’s ok too. I’ve always been an odd duck:

Rider. He was my everything. And true, that by the end of pregnancy I wanted so badly to hold them both, I miss the time with him so much. I did everything for him and with him. I bought his clothes, changed all of his diapers, read to him, arranged his room, bought his wipes, went through his milestones. Being gone nearly ruined me. And it was ONLY TWO NIGHTS. There was this thing – right before Sawyer was born, Rider had a tooth that seemed imminent on his top gums. When I had been home a few days, I looked into his mouth to see if the tooth had arrived, and it hadn’t, but the thought of it happening without me by his side RUINED ME. I sobbed! It has since come in, well while I’ve been here, but the haunting quality of him going through something without me was enough to bring me to my knees. It hurt for weeks, to realize that only other people had changed his diapers and dressed him. My beautiful organization was gone. And it should have been ok and beautiful. It still hurts deeply, in a way I can never explain.

That was my baby. Does he still need me?

I step to the edge, To see my world below, And I laugh at myself while the tears roll down, 'Cause it's the world I know

Then, there is having another boy. I was in a place in which I wouldn’t be disappointed either way, which is why we didn’t find out. And I already have a girl. It’s something deeper. It’s about the fact that, since I didn’t know what we were having, I had built up both the little souls in my mind. And yes, one never existed, but she felt real enough to me, so I am almost mourning her loss. And EVERYONE told me I was having a girl, except for maybe two (important, but only two) people. And I had psychic readings that revealed a little girl. I guess it’s almost like the loss of that magic. I wanted so badly to believe in psychics and predictions, and the whole having two and two thing. It just seemed so cosmic and right to have these happy surprise bookend babies both be girls. Now you know I love Sawyer with all of my heart, but there’s a strange adjustment that he’s not what I expected. Beautiful and (mostly) chill and healthy, but not what I expected.

I step to the edge, To see my world below, And I laugh at myself while the tears roll down, 'Cause it's the world I know

In those first few days/weeks after we got home, we watched the show Severance. At first it totally depressed me and confused me, but then I fell in love with it and couldn’t wait for the next one. That said, I was fresh off of a spinal headache and there were all sorts of weird brain and head stuff going on in that show. I was afraid of a spinal headache coming back for weeks.

I’m so glad it didn’t.

I step to the edge, To see my world below, And I laugh at myself while the tears roll down, 'Cause it's the world I know

I had Sawyer fairly late in the day, and we had to wait to tell people because Scarlet was at a band recital and I wanted her to be among the first to know. After we told the grandparents, I had a massive spinal headache by then, and could only really lie down while Cassidy told people the news of the baby. It gave me a bit of a disconnect that people didn’t get to hear it from me, and heard it from him or social media. It was just easier that way for me. Of course it sort of leads me to believe that my family is more dysfunctional than I originally thought, or maybe more dysfunctional than we used to be, just because it seems like no one really cares anymore.

We’re all just trying to get through this pandemic wasteland. I’m guilty of it too.

I miss pregnant, even though it was a bonus pregnancy on top of a bonus pregnancy, of me being SURE I was done forever, but I miss it. I miss the way I was treated when pregnant, and now I feel invisible. Everything was just easier and gentler, like even going to the dentist and not having to have X-Rays. I feel like I was kicked out of a great club.

I step to the edge, To see my world below, And I laugh at myself while the tears roll down, 'Cause it's the world I know

Back to Rider, but more from the perspective of being six weeks into this, I feel like whole days pass and I barely see him. Cassidy does a lot of the morning rush these days and I try to get through the morning, and then Rider takes a massive nap. Everyone is home by the time he wakes up and it feels like there’s a dinner rush and he’s swooped into bed. I know it’s not like it was when Scarlet was three and Des was born, but she got so attached to Cassidy at that time because I was always with Des. I’m haunted by that, even though I’m not who I was then, and these kids are different. And Scarlet and I are totally close now, but I felt like I went from being with her 100% to barely seeing her. Or not really spending quality time with her. It all evened out beautifully, but now that feeling is back, both better and worse, and I feel like it won’t leave.

I’m sad that there was actually something wrong with me, with rising blood pressure and a spinal headache. Both were treatable but I guess I’ve just never really had something wrong with me, enough to make doctors or nurses worry.

I also feel a major existential crisis, like I had had when Scarlet was two or three months old. Somehow I didn’t have it with Des or Rider, but there were other things going on then. Even though I didn’t even expect to have Rider, much less Sawyer, I feel a letdown like there’s nothing to look forward to anymore, now that I’m not pregnant. Time passes so fast, and I feel so insignificant sometimes; it’s like what’s the point of anything? I have battled these crises before, and always because I really do care about everything and feel like everything matters, much less nothing. Boy, it’s tough to feel this way, and tough to not feel this way, when life is so scattered.

It also seeps into looking at the babies and thinking about how they will also grow old.

When Rider was a newborn, I panicked about him no longer being a newborn, but I also coped well when it happened. I feel like I have lost my coping chill for kids growing. I look at Sawyer and can barely enjoy him being this little, because I think ahead about the fact that he won’t be. I’ve never had such a weird feeling – usually I’ve been able to enjoy the present more. Or at least look forward to the growth.

I step to the edge, To see my world below, And I laugh at myself while the tears roll down, 'Cause it's the world I know

I really worried about Des as a newborn, because of his NICU stay, but Rider and Sawyer both strike me as so healthy (even though Des was too). That said, I still find myself fixating on baby acne and baby hairlines. It’s like fixation finds a way, no matter the weird or normal outlet.

I step to the edge, To see my world below, And I laugh at myself while the tears roll down, 'Cause it's the world I know

Before Sawyer came, I loved to stay up and write and welcome a new week of pregnancy every Thursday night. It was so special and fulfilling. Now I have nothing like that. I was working toward something for so long, and now I feel like I have nothing to work toward, even though I logically know that the real work is just beginning. I miss my Thursday nights so dearly. Now I’m writing these Friday posts on Friday afternoons and evenings and I’m just so tired, always.

I don’t even know who I am right now.

I step to the edge, To see my world below, And I laugh at myself while the tears roll down, 'Cause it's the world I know

Then there’s Cassidy. I felt like we got to such a growing place exactly a year ago now, and it was exciting and beautiful. Of course it’s always a work in progress, but I swore we would never go backwards again. It’s so hard with a newborn. I don’t feel hopeless, of course, or like we are back where we were at our worst, but sometimes the baby will cry (not even out of hunger) and he’ll just leave the bedroom without a word to sleep downstairs. And we have such a big bed and are nowhere near each other. I can’t sleep on my sides yet because it can cause clogged ducts, and I just want to feel close again. I’m not sure how to do that, but I bet it’s simpler than I think.

I step to the edge, To see my world below, And I laugh at myself while the tears roll down, 'Cause it's the world I know

I know I have written about “the feeling” in the past and it’s worse than ever right now. Generally I can smile and mourn and cope with the squishy heart feelings, but they’re almost unbearable right now. I get them for the baby, when he cries himself to sleep because no one gets to him on time, and I get it for Rider when he falls or when he is so excited over a bowl of ice cream. Of course I get it for our elders, for any suffering and pain. I get it bad for strangers, and for animals.

That’s a pretty comprehensive list, but it’s not the end-all, because it’s strange times! These aren’t always 24/7 overwhelming feelings – they can be bits and pieces of temporary madness. I can be lamenting that Sawyer was only in newborn sized clothing for a month, which is plenty long! I can be lamenting Scarlet going to a school dance tonight, even though I love who she has become and is becoming, and she still is only 12. It’s the way time constricts and expands, and messes with your head every time you think you have it figured out. Right now it feels like it’s moving while I sit here, and I just want more, more, more of these ever sweet moments. And that’s what they are. They are ever sweet and almost indulgent in their richness and variety.

I step to the edge, To see my world below, And I laugh at myself while the tears roll down, 'Cause it's the world I know

And I know that some things are normal things and some things are not. The world is weird anyway right now. And I know that some things are Tamara quirks and some things are not. I do know warning signs and timeframes and how to get help if needed. And I know to be honest with my midwives when I have my big six week postpartum appointment very soon (next week).

I write to make sense of the world; in the least, I write to make sense of myself.

I step to the edge, To see my world below, And I laugh at myself while the tears roll down, 'Cause it's the world I know

“All the words that I’ve been reading
Have now started the act of bleeding into one
Into one
So I walk up on high and I step to the edge
To see my world below
And I laugh at myself while the tears roll down
‘Cause it’s the world I know, it’s the world I know”

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9 Comments

  1. I can really relate to this. It’s been a minute, and it’s hazy, but the year I had the fourth baby was one of the hardest years of my life. I mean, it was happy and hard at the same time. And in the middle of it we moved to California and left behind a world I loved for one where I was a stranger. But the baby phase, the newborn phase. I always missed my still-a-baby that was getting replaced with new-baby SO MUCH. It killed me not to be the one taking care of Daniel when JD was born or Joshua when Caleb was born. I didn’t have a baby when Daniel was born. Anyway, it’s that deep, deep bond and the space put in there is painful.
    But then you have this new baby you are meeting and falling in love with and that’s so wonderful. Juggling a household of six though, for some reason, that was the hardest of all for me. And it felt like Alan was never around. I didn’t know how I’d get through it. Alan would come home at 6:30, and I’d just look at him, anemic, clutching my newborn, total chaos of a house downstairs while I’m up in the nursery, and I’d say, “Surgery. Surgery. You are getting surgery.” And he got one right away.. Okay I’ve gotten off topic. Sorry.
    Gradually, those last two babies became almost twins, even though they are a solid two years apart. My favorite activity was putting them in the double stroller and walking them. Stroller was so heavy too because Dan was a chunk.
    I hope when you look back on this it will be a beautiful haze for you like it is for me now, but even now I remember it as a solidly hard transition. I hope yours is actually easier than mine was!

  2. Aw, Tamara you brought me back to a time when I had two babies under the age of 2 years old. And seems like a lifetime ago and yet seems like just yesterday. I can totally remember feeling torn in two taking care of my first and a newborn at the same time. I can tell you on some levels it does get easier as time goes by. But other times it is harder in some ways. Just know that you are an awesome and amazing mom always. Hugs and all my love to you always ❤️

  3. Your words are beautiful as always! I love this: “I write to make sense of the world; in the least, I write to make sense of myself.” Me, too.

  4. It is such a strange time and I can only imagine how busy you are with the babies! But what a blessing in this crazy world we are in right now. Love all the photos you shared too! ❤️

  5. Oh yes, My youngest is 8 and going through a sleep crisis. My husband and I haven’t really slept in the same bed for a long while. That 4th one is something! Hugs to you. I remember the toddler, baby, tween stage all at once in my life and I always felt like I was missing something. The good thing is that having such a big family means they support one another when it matters. Somehow it all works out. Sorry for my MIA this month. We have had the stomach flu, colds, pneumonia, so many recitals and activities and I am mostly losing it. Luckily, the healthy and functioning ones support the kiddos who needs it. It really does work out 🙂

  6. The time after the arrival of a new baby is emotionally tumultuous. Super high moments and often very low ones. It is just a rollercoaster. We can get very reflective in those sleep-deprived hours. The beautiful thing about you is you feel the freedom – as we all should – to give voice to what you are thinking. I don’t know how the world will unfold, but I have faith, and that adds a lens of peace to everything. So thankful for this lovely family. Blessings, my friend!

  7. Tamara, this is such an honest, raw and beautiful post. I am nodding as I read, because the post-partum experience is so familiar even after all these years.

    I think Sawyer being baby 4 for you, it is more intense. No doubt, you miss little Rider. It is hard to watch them bond with the other parent when it’s always been YOU. But dad always was there, too, and maybe we only notice it more because we have no choice but to step back and toward the newborn. I recall my daughter being mad at me when we brought home her little brother. LOL.

    Everything is going to be okay–better than okay. I think focusing on the day at hand and trying not to focus on the what ifs and the one year from now, may help. But I know that’s easier said than done. As for the world events, it’s so hard to hear about all of these crisis. WE have no choice but to tune it out at certain times—self care. Love and hugs to you, beautiful mamma!

  8. I wish I could write as open and honestly as you do. Somehow because my dad reads my blog, it has held me back tremendously and it would hurt his feeling so bad if I told him that. As far as he knows everything is always “fine” and so I can’t write about it not being fine. I could relate with a lot even only having one baby once upon a time ago and none of the postpartum stuff. I mourn the loss of a twelve week miscarriage which I felt in my heart was girl. This July she’d be 20 and she had a name in my head. (Side note I have a beautiful plant with no name that I’m saving that name for when I really know she going to make it)
    I had a lot of comments along the way but can’t remember them all night. But I did hope to scroll into Rider’s cake pop face. Did you get a picture?

  9. Such a raw and sweet post, Tamara. Your heart is so special, and sometimes I can feel your emotions through the screen in an almost surreal way. You remind me so much of my Ben. He has feelings that are so intense and powerful and giving. You both make a difference in the world with those feelings, though, even though I know those feelings must be so hard to experience, sometimes. I’ve had you on my mind a lot lately, with everything you have going on. I know you’re doing an amazing job. Hang in there.

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