When the baby is ill there's nothing to be done. The world is wrong, categorically and entirely, and she's thoroughly sick of it. She wants us to fix it but we can't. She lets us know - she doesn't let us forget. She mopes and flops, cuddles and dribbles, howls and howls and howls. She won't sleep - then she won't do anything but. She'll lie on me for an hour, then wake and immediately begin writhing, kicking, punching. I've set her down to bed and watched her rotate like a spindle as she tries to find some shred of comfort, all while yelling vitriol.
Days disappear. The horizon shrinks. Suddenly all I can think to do is - clean that up. Swab it enough that it's not obviously filthy. Get some food in her, or try. Let her snuggle, or walk her in the pram. Notice the milk's gone out of date. Puzzle it out. She fights going into the carseat, straightening her body out into a plank. Then she passes out inside a minute and I have to wake her when I get to the shop. Evening comes and I've not made dinner, not made plans for dinner, not thought about dinner. Do we have the makings? Of course we have the makings. But there's nothing with carbohydrates, or we're out of protein, or everything is brown and red and my body's asking for greens. After an afternoon of screams she falls asleep at 5pm. The night is a nightmare.
When this passes - like locusts lifting from a harrowed landscape - she has no memory that anything was ever wrong. I take a day to adjust. I can be pro-active. The routine is back. She'll eat at this time. She'll drink from a cup again. I have to remember to plan an activity for the afternoon doldrum. It's not pain that she's screaming, it's that I'm twenty minutes late for her breastfeed. The nappies are good and healthy and I comment on the quantity and quality of her poo. Beloved agrees.
I raise my eyes and look at the future again. There are things that need doing. This place is a state.