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Then I Look at You..

And the world’s alright with me.

Then I look at you, and the world's alright with me. Lovely Day by Bill Withers was the last song on my birth mix, an almost afterthought.

“When I wake up in the morning, love
And the sunlight hurts my eyes
And something without warning, love
Bears heavy on my mind”

Everything seems more possible in the morning light. Including, in fact, low grade fevers, pandemics, and the heaviness that sits on my chest, both physically from engorgement, and emotionally by life. I’ve always prided myself on having a high pain tolerance, and my recent birth story certainly doesn’t dismiss that very idea, but lately it’s been hard to get past the problems I’ve been having. Third kid, third go-around, and I’ve had a little cockiness that I know what I’m doing. I don’t! No one does, of course, but I’ve been so knocked down by clogged ducts, soreness, and eventually – mastitis. I had nothing like this with the other two, or at least not this severe, this far in. In the morning light, the lactation consultants returned my call – the call I had made in tears the night before – and I saw possibilities spinning in webs and rays of spiraling and rising sunshine. The idea that I can get through this. We can get through this.

In fact, we are getting through it. Sloppily and beautifully.

Then I look at you, and the world's alright with me. Lovely Day by Bill Withers was the last song on my birth mix, an almost afterthought.

We sing him “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers every day. I don’t even know if he recognizes it yet, but I imagine he does. Five-weeks-old yields starter smiles and locked eyes and amazement. It also yields fussiness and tired eyes and bewilderment. Cassidy calls him “Boo Boo” and sometimes sings the song with “Boo Boo Day.” Des loves Mikey Day from Saturday Night Love, so you can bet we sing him “Mikey Day, Mikey Day” to that very tune. The song sticks into your head, but so does the idea, of this raw loveliness. This perfect, healthy, squirming creature, moving his hands in wonder and confusion, spinning those very webs of ideas and confidence and hope in the spiraling and rising morning light. This little “Boo Boo,” this “Mikey Day,” this “Stephen Strange.”

And the idea that it’s gonna be a lovely day, because he’s making a lovely day. It’s still building.

newborn on Boppy Newborn Lounger

She called me the day I got mastitis, and by “she”, I mean the representative of the hospital midwives. She’s not a midwife herself, but I had gotten to know her through the virtual pregnancy group meetings. It was the postpartum check-in call, to ask me the important questions I was still learning the answers to, and to help me schedule my six-week postpartum checkup, if I hadn’t already. I had, of course, because I’m super on the ball sometimes – building my own sticky webs of capability and confidence in the spiraling and rising light. Other times I’m caught up and in those very webs, suffocating and suffering against and underneath my own handiwork. She asked me the important questions, and when she got to the one about my moods and emotions and wellbeing, I paused before answering. I wanted to make it very clear.

About making it a lovely day in a not so lovely day. Yes, I can. I do.

Then I look at you, and the world's alright with me. Lovely Day by Bill Withers was the last song on my birth mix, an almost afterthought.

Tiptoeing in and out of the shadows of the COVID confusion, the early sunsets, and the intense pain and the eventual mastitis I so inevitably got, what do I do when I step into the light pieces in between the dark pieces? I sing, of course, and laugh. So that’s what I said. That’s what I told her. I said that times are very trying, for many of us in the darkest part of the year, but that I find joy and humor in between the heavy dark cloaks. Underneath, despite, and in spite of those heavy dark cloaks – inching and itching dangerously close around the most tender parts of our necks and chests and hearts. I think that matters. Finding ways to stop itching and remain breathing. At the most tender of times, and around our most tender parts, there’s a gift in that ripping off of the cloaked darkness. Then, I look at you, and I know. The world’s alright with me.

I know it’s still gonna be a lovely day.

lovely day lyrics

Every morning I wake up a minute before him or after him, or even with him. It seems that the more awake he gets, the sleepier I get. We’re not in sync with sleep or pain or sleeping and waking times, and every time I think we are, it shifts again. The challenges we face, and the shadows over our faces. Some days, these days, I wake up and I’m not in pain. Or I am but I realize how very temporary this kind of pain is. I look over at him, and these days, he knows how to social smile. It started yesterday before dawn. My phone died so I fumbled for a portable charger because I need that light, in the darkness, to make sure he’s properly latched when feeding. I got the power back in the phone, flipped on the flashlight, and lit up my face. I looked at him. He looked at me. And then the first full, non-lopsided smile lit up his face. It was over as quickly as it began, as they are at first. That pinprick of hope and light, though. This beginning.

Of what I’m sure will be, can only ever be, and will be many times over, a lovely, lovely day.

Then I look at you, and the world's alright with me. Lovely Day by Bill Withers was the last song on my birth mix, an almost afterthought.

“When the day that lies ahead of me
Seems impossible to face
When someone else instead of me
Always seems to know the way”

“Lovely Day” was song #43 (last song) on our birthing playlist, which was a last minute addition.

Then, I look at you, and the world’s alright with me.

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8 Comments

  1. Ohhh, this is beautiful. “Finding joy and humor in between the heavy dark cloaks,” says it all. The smile story is precious. Also, thanks for introducing me to the Bill Withers song. I don’t know how I didn’t know that one.

  2. Beautiful post! I love seeing how quickly Rider is growing – wow! Sorry about the mastitis.. been there, and I know it isn’t fun. I agree that the first “real” smile means the world. It gets you through:)

  3. My heart. Swoon at this little guy. I also had the same issue with my first baby and I know how painful it is. Take care of yourself, get the rest when you can. It will work itself out. I recall my husband telling me I should give up and give her the bottle but I couldn’t give in that quickly. I persevered.
    Each new day holds some element of surprise and beauty.
    That video is darling. Is the movie on Netflix?

  4. Thank You for sharing more of your experiences and feelings with us Tamara. I hope in some way that it’s helpful to you. It’s certainly helpful and inspiring to us when we read how you find joy and humor in between those heavy dark cloaks. I bought Bill Withers Menagerie album for this song. I remember that album hit the record stores shortly before Christmas 1977, forty-three years ago, and this song is #43 on your birthday playlist. How ‘Bout That!! Lovely Day has always been one of my favorite Bill Withers tunes. I’m very happy to see him in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, and the Songwriters Hall Of Fame.

  5. I couldn’t love this any more ❤️ Your little guy is so handsome. And alert! Love his beautiful big eyes. I think there’s likely an expectation of what a new baby is like after you’ve had two and of course each one is different but there must be some similarities there… right? Love getting to dee your relationship blossom—the social smiles, and the many milestones in those first few months. Hope you are enjoying all of it (except for that mastitis. That is a bitch and no one enjoys it!).

  6. He is beautiful! I am a singer and sing to my family all of the time. Even in public. They just love it….

    Sing him a song real loud this week for me OK? 🙂

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