the year of living squawkously

Hylas and the Nymphs (Study 2), by John Waterhouse

I missed a lot of Christmas Day for worrying about Squawk, who for over a week had been running a temperature that kept spiking up to 39°C; we ended up at hospital later that evening to get her some antibiotics. One week later, I missed New Year's Eve because, thanks to having caught Squawk's cold and being immuno-compromised due to sleep deprivation, I was back at the hospital getting treatment for conjunctivitis — which treatment didn't take, because I'd managed to contract a good dose of one of the few cases which didn't respond to the antibiotic eye drops. Two days later it had spread into sinusitis and tonsillitis for shits and giggles, between Squawk and I there were three different types of antibiotics (and a whole lot of aches and pains) on the go, and to call me miserable would have been an understatement. It felt like the bones of my face were contracting, grinding down into the meat of my brain, and my eyeballs threatened to burst at every movement. I have honestly never felt worse, than being sick and yet still having to care for a (sick) baby.

Safe to say, as far as parting shots go, 2013's was a doozy.

Which pretty much summarizes the whole of the year, honestly. After giving birth in the dying days of 2012, this past year for me was about learning what it really meant to usher a life into this world. To take a squalling ball of infinite need (more colloquially known as a child) and transform and guide it, one feed and nap and cuddle and game at a time, into a person. I've taught her how to smile, laugh, love, and play (including practical jokes), among countless other things.

I have not, to my endless sadness, successfully taught her how to sleep. So believe me when I say to you, I'm tired. In fact, I cannot tell you the number of times I shampooed my face this year. On the whole, I have to say I can't recommend sleep deprivation on a prolonged scale.

Pregnancy is easy: it's just turning food into a human, to borrow a line from Modern Family. Being a mother — being there for someone at all hours; guessing at and tending to their needs; feeding them when you can't hold your head up for tiredness; wiping that meal you carefully cooked off the floor; staying calm and patient (and sometimes not) when all you want to do is scream and throw things yourself; listening to them cry; letting them back on your breast despite the fact that the last three times you did just that they bit you with their brand new teeth, sharp enough to cut through human gums — being a mother is so much harder.

5 thoughts on “the year of living squawkously

  1. And yet…you did it! Back pats do not even start to cover it 🙂

    That fever-morphing-into-infected-face thing is here, too, and I want to reassure you that by the time you both get hit by the next bug you have no immunity to, she'll be old enough to tell you that she hates taking antirobotics but if she takes it anyway can she have a golden gaytime.

    I remember the year that the Small One turned 12 months old was the swine flu scare year and everyone in my mother's group was terrified…luckily it never really eventuated.

    1. Oh, she let us know quite roundly and soundly that she didn't want to take her antibiotics! I could tell she was getting better when she stopped fighting it like a cornered cat.

      Our main problem right now is negotiating childcare. We have her in one day a week, because I didn't want to rush her (she's not really ready to be apart from me, but I need some writing time), but she's not coping with the betrayal of trust particularly well, and it's led to a major regression in terms of settling, sleep quality and length, and all things cranky associated with sleep-deprived babies. Negotiating my needs versus her needs on compounding sleep debt is just indescribably hard.

  2. Two things I've learned so far (3 months nearly in) – it's unbelievably amazing what you can make yourself do when you have no other choice, you cannot not do it, and also, the ability to reset the patience back to the beginning, over and over and over.


    1. Yes, this. I especially marvel at the patience thing – I'm not a patient person by any means whatsoever, but with her it can (sometimes) be like I have no buttons to push. I surprise myself. (That being said, after a year of not only sleep deprivation, but her sleep patterns actually getting worse rather than better, the days/times when I have to reset my patience are starting to cluster closer together.)

      1. At first, I got irritated and frustrated a lot more – I was much more sleep deprived but also in the shock of just how little time I got to even scratch myself. I found myself losing my patience a lot and then realised there was no point because whether or not I lost my patience didn't matter and she still needed what she needed, either way. Now I'm better at taking a breath first. Who knew I would find yoga practice at 3am 🙂

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