Wednesday, July 13, 2011

... ingrid jane mealy


oh wow. introducing my new life. ingrid was born on the fourth of july at 8:04 am to lots of emotional fireworks and celebration. to say that she is the most beautiful thing i've ever seen is an understatement. and she was a very big baby indeed! 9 pounds 8 ounces and 22 inches long. yowza!

everything i've ever heard any new parent say about the first week with their newborn is entirely true. it's a whirlwind, a dizzying spell of delight and despair, a fever dream, a roller coaster of emotions. it's hours of quiet stillness with feelings of the most amazing heart-filling love followed by thoughts of "oh my goodness, i am going to kill this fragile little creature if i make the slightest wrong move" followed by deep, deep feelings of inadequacy. and then the cycle starts all over again.


the most true thing i am finding is that it's hard to not get caught up in whatever thing i am feeling at the moment, and then start thinking that that's how it's going to be forever. when she cries i think, "oh no! she is going to cry forever and i can't do anything about it!" and when she is quietly snuggled up in my arms, her wide eyes staring up at me and her adorable little mouth making my most favorite little faces i think, "i could do this forever! i am super mom!"

i know, everyone tells me that it's all just a phase, and i need to start repeating that to myself like a mantra.

of course, all of this is heightened by the fact that i am simply not sleeping. and i don't mean that i'm bummed that i'm not getting my usual 8 hours a night. i mean that half the nights so far have found me up all night and getting zero sleep at all. i do not recommend this. yesterday, after not napping all the previous day and not sleeping all night, i will be honest, i spent most of the day in tears. like, inconsolable sobbing. my poor husband had to deal with two crying ladies all day. he is a super champ, taking care of the both of us. but this morning, after a night where i got to sleep for a cumulative three to four hours, i'm feeling great. cue the rocky theme music, and imagine me running to the stop of the stairs at the philadelphia museum of art pumping my fists in the air.


and then imagine little ingrid as burgess meredith, who played rocky's coach, which is exactly who she looks like in this little cap. and that tickles me to no end. see, she's even pumping her fists for me!

some things i've learned over my nine whopping days of motherhood:

  • poo-splosions happen. learn to deal with it.
  • do not get overzealous in making plans. accept the fact that just getting one thing done in a day is enough, even if that one thing is simply feeding and caring for your baby. the other day, in a fit of energy and optimism, i declared i wanted to accomplish three things: do some shopping, prepare and wash the cloth diapers, and take our weekly photo (a most wonderful idea stolen shamelessly from here). our shopping trip ended in a poo-tastrophe (see above), our weekly photo was essentially five shots of a crying baby, and i abandoned the diaper washing in lieu of a nap. oh well.
  • sleep is good. but if one more person tells me to sleep when the baby sleeps i will knock their block off. seriously.
  • accepting help from friends and family without feeling guilty is super important. i would not be coping nearly so well without the tireless help of my mom, who came to stay with us last weekend, and spent so many hours fixing us delicious and nutritious meals, taking the baby in the early morning hours so i could get a couple more hours of sleep, calling throughout the week to make sure we're doing alright, and giving me pep talks to help me through the tougher days. i am also insanely grateful to our friends and neighbors who have brought us food, dropped off treats, stopped in for visits, or have signed up to bring us meals in the future. such generosity is amazing.
  • it is important to stop and appreciate the small things, like taking a short walk down the street to get some air, laughing with c over something silly, taking time to smell the calycanthus that is currently blooming in the front garden, or enjoying a few moments of quiet in a hot shower. i am also appreciating the fact that i can now sleep on my belly again, that my terrible acid reflux is now gone gone gone (!!!), and my painful swollen cankles are slowly turning back into ankles.
  • don't compare yourself to others. one of the things i've had time to do is keep up on blogs, since i can use my laptop one-handed whist nursing ingrid, and i found i was getting discouraged by what others seem to accomplish. even those with very young children. i need to remind myself that i am my own person doing my level best and what anyone else is able to do is completely irrelevant.
  • we are going at our own pace in this household. and that pace is dictated by a little someone who is the most important thing right now.
  • i chose the right man to marry and have babies with. c has been the most amazing partner for the past 10 years and is now an even more amazing father. i am the luckiest girl in the world.

holy wow, i did not intend to be this loquacious. for any of you who have bothered to read all the way down here, i would love to hear your stories of life post childbirth. were there things that you struggled with? lessons you learned the hard way? days spent in tears? perhaps it's that misery loves company, but i'm finding it heartening to hear about other parents' difficulties in these first weeks and knowing i'm not alone. so please share your stories with me if you're so inclined! it would certainly make this tired mama feel like she's in good company.

Ingrid Jane Mealy


  1. That first bit is wonderful but hard, no doubt about it. You can lose all sense of being your own self, as you give over every moment and thought to caring for your new little person. And what makes it harder is that it feels like it'll be that way forever. But as she gets a little older and you become more experienced at being her mama, gradually you'll be able to regain some balance between being Ingrid's mama and being Ara Jane.

  2. congratulations! what a sweet little girl, love her name. :) And your not alone. Those first few weeks are incredibly difficult, but things change, not necessarily getting a whole lot easier but they change in good and different ways. :) Please don't get discouraged by other bloggers, believe me, if I would be having another baby my little blog would go out the window!

  3. Ara Jane! Ingrid is so beautiful and perfect. I love the Bay Hay onesie. Congrats and hang-in there. I have no advice because I haven't been there yet, but I can say that it is great that you know how lucky you are. I am sure you are doing everything least right for your family.

  4. Oh, she's lovely, so lovely. And I have to say that I am truely impressed that you found both the time and the brain power to write such a beautiful post. My brain was absolutely much for atleast the first several weeks after I had my daughter. Sleep deprivation sucks...hard! And I could never sleep when the baby slept, so I say "boo! hiss!" to those people too!

  5. Oh, look my brain is still mush...that's supposed to read "absolute mush," not "absolute much" but you get the point :)

  6. yeah, yeah, yeah, YEAH!!!! I'm so happy to meet her and what a lovely name. Your post was delightfully honest. thank you. Since you asked, I'll tell you that I almost gave up on breastfeeding Aria (child #1) because it was so darn painful. Like, more painful than birth. And, you have to do it FOREVER (or so it seems). I ended up using a nipple shield at 1 week postpartum and it saved us. Also, I learned with Liam that you can decide how long the baby gets to nurse and baby will still grow (imagine that). With Aria I fed her for 1 to 1.5 hours each time those early months. Madness. My (sorry) admittance is that Aria slept through the night by 2 months old and never looked back. I think that mainly had to do with following suggestions from "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" and never, ever nursing her to sleep. So, yeah, that's my secret. Love to talk babies anytime!

  7. I remember when I had my daughter, the first night home we got no sleep. I told myself "you can sleep tomorrow night" and then I burst into tears as I remembered the new baby I had and pronounced "no, I will never sleep again" it is amazing what lack of sleep does, but with my son I tried to use those awake times at night as our special times, makes the feeds a liitle easier.

    I agree with the "sleep when they sleep" annoyed me to no end, but occasionally I had to do it

  8. First of all I would like to say Hello! and Congratulations your daughter is beautiful.
    I also want to tell you how much I admire your bravery in posting this. So many people say how great motherhood is and not as many people talk about the trials, especially in the beginning.

    My daughter is 8 months old and I had a tough time the beginning with no sleep and feeling like I didn't know what I was doing half the time. It did get better over time but not without some tears and wondering if I was crazy for wanting this.

    I eventually got back to feeling like I had a handle on things and feeling like myself again. My daughter has slept through the night since she was about 9 weeks, so that helped a lot. We still put her to bed around 5:30 or 6 and she sleeps until around 6 am the next morning. Really sticking to a bed time helped us enormously.
    I could not stand people telling me to sleep when she slept because there was no way I could do it, there was always something else to do or I just wanted to relax on my own.
    If you want to do the weekly pictures don't give up. We have done them for my daughter and have come to LOVE taking them. We had some early struggles with them too. Now it's a fun family time for us. A few crying pictures are all a part of her early weeks too!

  9. Congratulations! What a beautiful little girl.
    I struggled for weeks with breastfeeding. I was miserable and in pain all the time then got mastitis. Yuck. I'm envious that you can nurse and type. Nursing, even with my second, was always a two-hand operation.

  10. Congratulations with your sweet baby girl!
    I'm 41 weeks pregnant now and so needed to read this. What a great reminder of what really is important during those first weeks. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
    You are a smart smart girl! I really have struggled with accepting, or asking for help. Finally the third time around I have help during the last weeks of pregnancy and I'm so grateful for it.
    When you get more children it is easy to see that it is just a phase, but it never felt like that with the first one!
    And by the way, during the pregnancy I have been comparing myself to you:) (Ara Jane has all this beautiful things made for the baby, I have done nothing!)

  11. Ara Jane, Ingrid is just darling! The lack of sleep and hormones make you feel crazy, but they will settle down. As far as accomplishing things - the first few weeks with my first baby, it was a really good day if I got dressed by early afternoon :)

    As you say, for now Ingrid runs the household. As she gets a little older (in a few weeks), things will settle into a more predictable routine.

    Just by watching your baby and trying to figure out what she needs, you are already a great mom in my book!

  12. Ingrid is gorgeous! Thank you for sharing. It is certainly a journey and each child and family is so different. Enjoy and relax.

  13. Congratulations, she is beautiful! My youngest baby girl just turned a year, and I cannot believe how quickly she has grown. Enjoy the newborn goes by way too quickly.

  14. Ara Jane! I hated every single person who told me to sleep when the baby sleeps. The first morning after we came home from the hospital, my husband had to deal with me, Boaz and our cat all crying at once. It does get easier. I didn't believe my doctor when she said he will one day sleep from 8-6, but she was actually right (except Monday night when he was up the whole night for NO reason). I agree, just let people do stuff for you. My in-laws would come watch him so I could take thirty minutes and get a coffee or a manicure. It made such a difference. Nursing was hard, and I gave up and just pumped. Whatever you do it will be fine. The best advice I got is that things change every day. She's a beautiful girl, enjoy her!

  15. Congrats! What a wonderful little girl. My first son is now 6 months old and I completely understand the whole frustration with people telling you to sleep when baby sleeps. I especially wanted to kill my husband when he said it. I was like I have to do more than just sleep people... like shower, eat and even just go to the bathroom. Enjoy the little one!! They grow so fast.... they really do.

  16. Things I learnt the hard way - keep her in her cot to sleep, put to sleep awake, don't nurse to sleep, don't rock to sleep...all this rules which one to obey????!!! I finally stuck to a few but couldnt help but rock and cuddle cos babies are so damn cute and squishy!!

    You'll adjust to lack of sleep, to having a faint pooey smell you can't quite find the remains of, to lugging stuff about in your arms, to trying to walk out the door and just that moment you get spewed on.

    Three kids later I still feel under qualified. But yes, it's true what they all say - it does fly past. So just cling to that thought when you are up for the fourth time in a few hours....

  17. I was not prepared for the emotions after childbirth. I felt like I should have it together and just *do* all the things I had prepared for, but the reality was more of the emotional rollercoaster. Crying because I wasn't sure I could deal, crying because I was crying, feeling guilty taking a nap while the baby cried and my husband dealt with her, crying about that, worrying about the baby crying, worrying about whether I'd get sleep, crying about worrying...and yet all this was at the same time I was loving the beginning of our family life, watching the miracle that was before me and loving her more than I could ever imagine, enjoying a snuggle or frankly anything she did. It was at once scary, miserable, wonderful and magic.

    I often wondered why no one warned me, but maybe the truth is that in a short time it gets better and you are left with only sweet memories and that is what people like to talk about and remember.

    I think you are wise to look at it so honestly and accept your experience as your own and be happy with all of it, good and not as good. It is true what EVERYONE says, it goes by insanely fast. Enjoy!!

  18. Congratulations! She is such a beautiful babe. Those first few weeks are so hard. I remember sobbing in the shower because I had read somewhere that you shouldn't use scented body products so the baby can get to know how you smell and all I had was a floral body wash. So silly but it was the end of the world then.

    I also felt terrible because I didn't have that instant head over heels love the moment I saw her that so many talk about. I knew I loved her more than anything but it just took a little time for us to get to know each other. My poor husband felt the same way and was struggling with it until we both came clean. Such a relief to know I wasn't alone in how I felt.

    They change there likes and dislikes so quickly but you will always find that trick that calms the beast, whether it is speed walking around your house with them tucked into your arm like a football or playing Tibetan monk chants (those low tones can do wonders). There is something out there that every baby loves.

    Bouncing with your baby on an exercise ball is also so much better than pacing around when you have had a total of 20 minutes of sleep and are delirious.

    I hated that everyone started calling me mama instead of by my name and I let them know how much I disliked it. I am my own person. Don't forget about yourself- a happy woman is a good mama.

    Above all just know it does get better. Take in deep breaths of that wonderful new baby smell and the sweet milk breath because it is gone before you know it.

    All the best to your family!

  19. Congratulations Ara Jane! She's beautiful and although I have no experience with post-birth I loved reading your post. Now you can enjoy your amazing baked goods again - no more acid reflux must be such a relief!

  20. She is gorgeous! I found the sleep deprivation the worst. I did not cope well at all. Our boy was bad sleeper for a long time (he is great now) but a champion nurser. Oh boy that boy seemed to feed a lot (well it seemed to come around quick) but he was quick (30 mins)and a good burper. My motto was to take one day at a time and just do what you need to do for YOU.

  21. I'm not a parent, but your honesty is refreshing. I think I know with 100% certainty I want to be a mom one day provided I'm in the right life circumstances for that to happen. Yet when I look at myself, even at my age, an age when I should be able to feel completely settled and "ready" for children, I think, "my god, how on earth will I ever be ready to handle all that parenthood brings?". The other thing that sounds crazy is that I've always, always wanted children (and still hope an opportunity to have my own presents itself). But I have never seen myself as a natural "baby person" the way some people just seem to be so innately good with kids. You know? Sometimes I wonder if that means something is wrong with me...(though maybe it's just inexperience--other than being around a lot of friends' kids, I've actually not been around a lot of young ones in my own family b/c I'm the youngest of everyone in my generation--youngest sibling, youngest cousin, no little ones came after me growing up, and I never had little siblings or cousins to play with or help take care of, like many of my peers did). That tangent aside, though, I mean, I love babies and kids, and I enjoy all of my friends' children and it's fun to hold them and play peek-a-boo with them and all that, but when they cry or spew or poop and show stranger anxiety towards me, I think "oh I'm so glad I can give him/her back to his/her parents (my friends) to handle the tears or messes". But is it just completely different when it's your own baby? That's what a lot of my friends with kids say and I hope so. And/or is it that the mothering instinct is there, but there's also a steep learning curve that comes with it once you actually have the baby and bring him/her home, and are on your own? The crazy thing is...despite those insecurities, I know in my heart that I want motherhood for myself. One day. Some day. Hopefully. Ara Jane, this is a magical time in your household. Enjoy it.

  22. Congratulations! Enjoy your little adorable sweetheart!

  23. ok, now i am crying again reading all of your comments, but crying in the best way possible. thank you all for sharing your insights and journeys with me. so many things you said are so very true for us, too, and it's so so so good to know i'm not alone. i appreciate every single one of you for stopping by, offering encouragement, and bearing with me and this blog while i adjust to this new life.

  24. Congrats! What a beautiful baby and a beautiful name. I really wanted to name my second daughter Ingrid, but I couldn't talk the hubs into it. Oh well.

    A new baby is a HUUUUUGE adjustment, especially your first new baby. I had an unexpected c-section and got extremely sick in reaction to the antibiotics they pumped me full of during the surgery, so needless to say, my first days as a mom were not what I expected AT ALL. There were times in those first days when i looked at my husband and said through my tears, "WHAT HAVE WE DONE??" But we got through it just fine, and in fact, looking back, I wouldn't trade a minute of it - I got the most wonderful child ever (seriously) in exchange for my trouble. And you sound like you're doing great in comparison! : ) So I bet you'll surprise yourself by how quickly you get into a groove and get adjusted to your new life. Best of luck to all three of you!

  25. Oh I loved this post, and she is beautiful, and I am so, so, SO very happy for you! Your knock-your-block-off comment made me smile, because that's how I feel about old ladies that tell you to "enjoy it now because it'll be over before you know it." HA! You put brand-new motherhood to words so incredibly well. Everything you wrote is spot-on and so utterly incredibly completely normal. If it makes you feel any better - my husband had to go to Army basic training when my 2nd child was 2 days old (and the older child was 22 months old). Cried every day, sometimes many times a day, for weeks. Never would have made it without the help of others. But know you what? I'm not afraid of anything now. I think when you make it through a really tough/challenging time, you can look back and think, hum - that sucked - but boy howdy, look at how strong I am! -- 'cause you are!! :)

  26. this is incredibly sweet. i love your thoughts. your baby is perfect and oh so blessed to have you as her mama. you are doing an awesome job little mama :)

  27. Hope to see you today with gift in hand. I remember all the unsolicited advice and might have to tease you with some today!

  28. Congratulations on your little bundle of sweetness, Ingrid Jane is perfect!
    And even more congratulations on having enough energy to write that long blog post, that is quite an accomplishment for a new mummy!
    I originally came to your blog to admire your quilts, but now I'm admiring your darling daughter.
    BTW, my son and DIL are expecting twins at any moment and they already have a 26 month old boy.... life is going to be C.R.A.Z.Y. at their house for a while! I'll be posting pictures of the twins on my blog I'm sure, it would be great if you could find time in your busy new mama schedule to have a look when they arrive!

  29. What a beautiful girl, and a beautiful post as well. Enough to bring this lurker out to comment.

    When my son was born, I remember nights when my husband was sleeping so he could go to work. Junior would cry for what seemed like hours and I couldn't figure out anything to do to make him stop. I remember crying and secretly hoping my husband would wake up from all the crying so that I wasn't so alone. I had worked in day care, and my favorite was taking care of the infants, so I felt like I should know what I was doing. It was so hard to admit that I didn't have a clue. Junior turns 4 in a month, somehow we're making it through :)

  30. Congratulations! She's beautiful! Don't worry about the crying, but be sure to be gentle with yourself. And get help if you need it--so often women suffer with postpartum depression without help and just feeling something is wrong with them. I'm not at all trying to say that you sound like you have it, but just that so many people gloss over it and it is very real. Anyway, enjoy the sweet moments with your baby!

  31. I just discovered your blog through Seattle Modern Quilt Guild and I'm going to recommend it to my daughter, who lives there and is expecting her first baby in January. From an older mom to a young one: it gets easier, and then it gets harder, but it's all a wonderful part of living life to the fullest. You sound like a sweetie. I wish I knew you personally!

  32. She's amazing ... and judging from this blog ... so are you. Congrats to you both!

  33. I am late reading this but loved it SO MUCH. I found it so hard to put into words the weird and wild times those first few weeks but you really hit it here, girl. I recall our first night home from the hospital, completeley freaked out. I didn't know where to put her (was she too little for a bouncy seat? was a swing too stimulating? she ended up on a blanket on the floor), I didn't know how to get comfy sitting on the couch to nurse since I was so used to the cozy and safe surroundings of the hospital bed, and I distinctly remember a mid-dinner breakdown (with my parents and aunt as guests and meal providers), sobbing something along the lines of "I'll never be able to cook, or work in the garden, or do anything around the house anymore!" Dead serious. I of course look back and chuckle because everything seemed so FOREVER - it was all new and scary. I never did sleep when the baby slept, but I did chill out on the couch and catch 90210 every day at 3 pm on the Soap network for a good month or so! :) I am so happy for you two, and wish I had something like this to read when I was going through the newness of it all. Big hugs!

  34. Congratulations! And what a beautiful name (and baby).

    First time round, I swear I cried every day for a month. Maybe two. I was terrified of EVERYTHING, not least of which was breaking the baby by doing the wrong thing, exactly as you describe. Lack of sleep is such a killer, combined with the biggest life change you'll ever have.

    I seriously can't believe how much better it is this time around. Yeah, I'm even more tired, but not having The Fear makes life so much easier!

  35. awwww congratulations!!! she is purely edible!
    loooove her name :)

  36. Congratulations! And though you've only been doing this a while, as a seasoned mother of 5, you hit it right on~it's all those things and your advice is perfect. Love the little piece of heaven~she's beautiful!

  37. What a gorgeous, gorgeous little girl! congrats! What a beautiful name as well. Enjoy this time with her!~

  38. Congratulations on your beautiful baby girl! Be kind to yourself, lady. :)

  39. Congratulations on your sweet baby girl! My kids are 11 and 8 now, but I clearly remember repeating to myself after the first was born, "People have more than one all the time; it must get better or they'd never go for a second." And I promise, it did. :)

  40. Hi there! Congratulations on your beautiful baby! I just recently found your blog as I was searching for a specific tutorial... I added to my blogs that I follow list and wallah... There is this post.

    I have four kids and my youngest is 16 month old. I just wanted to say that I also struggle greatly in the first few weeks after bringing baby home.. I think it is from a compounded situation of the lack of sleep, hormonal changes, water retention... Just all the changes. After having my first baby, I remember asking my mom to just stay with us until I felt "up" to this challenge!! With baby #'s 2, 3, and 4, my concerns shift greatly and I'm known to obsess over the condition of my older children coping with the change of bringing baby home.... It's so funny to me now.

    I was NEVER good at following books' technique's to getting your baby to sleep through the night. Here is some knowledge my experience brought. 1) It took me a good six weeks to bring up my milk supply to satisfy my babies... So I supplement just a little after every feeding. I drink water while I nurse, before I nurse, and in between nursing. 2) ALL babies have some reflux issues. My baby #4 slept through the night SO much earlier than the rest. It is due to the fact that he slept in a vibrating bouncy seat, in bed with me... It is so much nicer to not trip across the house. Sweet hubby needed more rest than I was getting so he took the living room for awhile. Yes, I was guilty of leaving the vibrator seat on so I could sleep 3, 4, and 6 hours through the night.

    I so hope you are doing better and your sweet baby sleeps for you! Can't wait to hear about your sweet baby!!

  41. Great observations! I remember realizing several of those things.
    Other things I learned the hard way: Those first few weeks, I needed Liam almost as much as he needed me. We had grandparents around constantly for two weeks and I would only get to hold him when I was nursing him. I wasn't sleeping or healing properly until I figured out I needed to hold him for fun. Nursing is work - hard, painful, miraculous, joyful, stressful, depressing, uplifting work - and I needed to just cuddle him to release the right hormones to get my body working right.
    Did I mention that nursing is hard? For something so natural, it takes a lot of getting used to.
    Giving birth is traumatic (at least it was for me), and I think I had a mild PTSD-sort-of-thing for awhile.
    I had terrible nightmares that woke me up sobbing the first several weeks. I even had them if I tried to nap during the day.
    I didn't expect to miss being pregnant, but I really did.
    Every baby is different, every Mama is different so don't expect to be able to read (or hear) what worked for someone else and have it work for you. That said, reading (and talking with others) helps because sometimes what works for them will work for you.
    I never knew I could love someone as much as I love Liam.
    I never knew I could love someone as much as I love Ian as Liam's father. Liam has completely changed our relationship in so many ways, but overall it made me much closer to him.
    I know you probably were looking for what people learned about their babies, not themselves, but that first month was as much or more about figuring out who I had become as it was figure out who Liam was.