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The Truth About the First Three Months

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This article is brought to you by the bitch that's going to tell it like it is. Me. Jennifer.

mother carrying a crying baby

Jennifer Farrell: You are not going to like it. You might even be offended. That's okay. No one is forcing you to read this. But if you are a pregnant woman having your first baby, I strongly urge you to continue. If you don't, you will find yourself back here after your first month as a new mom crying "but you never told me how it really was!" I won't feel sorry for you! Okay, maybe I will. But only a little bit. After all, I tried to warn you and you didn't listen.

What you believe: Pregnancy classes will accurately prepare me for birth and my birth will go smoothly without any problems because I am prepared.

I'm warning you; the reality is that no pregnancy class on the face of the planet can prepare you for your birth. By 'your,' I am referring specifically to the birth you alone will experience. All the good expectations in the world, all the practice, all the training, all the breathing ... how do I say this with kindness? This is a business, ladies, in which a well-trained instructor sells you on the idea that you are prepared. It is a lie. Birth is going to be scary, hard, and painful, not what you expected and something you absolutely cannot avoid. I'm sorry if this hurts -- it's the truth. I'm not here to hold your hand. I'm here to tell you the things that your mom friends won't.

What you believe: Reading parenting books will prepare me for being a new mom and will help me know what to do with my baby once I return from the hospital.

I'm warning you; the reality is that you could read every single book on the market and -- given your luck -- you would have the one set of tits that spurts orange juice instead of milk. Alternately, you could be mentally prepared for severe sleep deprivation to find you have the only infant in the world that sleeps 8 hours a night. As prepared as these books make you feel, they cannot accurately provide you with any realistic idea how difficult those first weeks and months will be. The only advice that makes any sense in parenting books is "Sleep when the baby sleeps." That is the only useful bit of information. Period.

What you believe: Sleep deprivation is not/cannot be/will not be as bad for me as it was for my sister/sister-in-law/neighbor/best friend/cousin. I will not be affected as badly as they were and they might have been (possibly) over-exaggerating. I honestly believe it can't be as bad as they're making it out to be!

I'm warning you; sleep deprivation really IS that bad and if you honestly think you are going to be the one woman on earth who will never be sleep-deprived, you are delusional. Do yourself a favor and prepare yourself for it before it happens to you. Go online and Google 'sleep deprivation'. Read up on what sleep deprivation does to people. That way, when it happens, you'll be prepared for it. Otherwise, you won't understand the urge to accidentally 'drop' your baby down the stairs so it will stop crying and you can finally (finally!) get some sleep. I can practically see you rolling your eyes and thinking "it just can't be that bad!" I'm here to tell you to wake up! Where do you think the jokes about sleep deprivation came from? Why do you think it's used as a form of torture? Why do you think hospitals send new parents home with armfuls of pamphlets exclaiming in blaring capitals "NEVER SHAKE YOUR BABY!"?? I bet you're one of those women who see baby-murdering mothers on the news and wonder "How could a mother ever kill her own child?" Do yourself a favor and ask your mom friends. After they're finished lying to you about how perfect their kids are, ask them to tell you the honest truth. You'll be surprised that most of them have entertained the same thoughts. Am I scaring you a bit? Good. This is your wake-up call.

What you believe: Maternity leave is going to be just like a paid vacation. I get to sleep in, feed my gorgeous baby, take her to the park, and do some light shopping. Then, in the afternoon, I get to have a long luxurious nap. Maybe I'll bring her into the office? Maybe we'll go swimming at the community pool? I'll have lots of time to prepare a wonderful dinner for my husband. It sounds like bliss.

I'm warning you; it sounds like bliss because bliss, by definition, is a state of extreme happiness. It's unrealistic. If you are used to working as a professional 9-5er before your baby comes, then you have a taste of the kind of work you will be doing after your baby comes. Why? Because being a new mom is hard work! Maternity leave is not a paid vacation, unless you are being paid to vacation in hell. You will work harder physically than you have ever worked before and you will complete these tasks while suffering from sleep deprivation (like my friend Aimee) or postpartum depression (like Rebecca) or healing from a C-section (like Sarah) or suffering through 33+ stitches stretching from your vagina to your asshole (that was me!). You are going to run your ass off for your child who will cry, spit up, not sleep, urinate and defecate on you. All the things you normally did during 9-5 will seem like Child's Play (ha! pun!) compared to your new responsibilities. During the first three months, you think you're going shopping or to the park? You will be lucky to get out of bed and shower once a day. Hey, don't shoot the messenger, I'm only telling you the things we all wish our mom friends had told us.

What you believe: Colic is over-exaggerated by moms who want to scare you. It can't be as horrible as everyone says. I'm not even sure Colic exists, but if it does, so what? How bad can a crying baby really be?

I'm warning you; it's not over-exaggerated and it is as horrible as everyone says. Do yourself a favor. Ask to borrow a friend's baby or, better yet, get a recording of a baby crying. Now play it for 2 minutes. Are your nerves on edge? Now play it for three hours. Still think Colic is no biggie? It's even worse if you are the type of woman who believes that having a colicky baby is somehow your fault and you're ashamed to admit to anyone that you need help because you're suffering. You lie to yourself, trying to convince yourself that it's not really as bad as it is. I'm here to tell you, it is as bad as it is. There is a reason for the old saying "It takes a village to raise a baby". Think about it. I'm warning you, if you don't swallow your pride and ask for help when you need it, you will live to regret it.

I'm warning you; motherhood is the most wonderful, rewarding, heart-warming experience in the world. The first three months are as close to hell as you will ever experience, but once you are past them you will feel sheer joy that borders on bliss. There will be many, many moments every single day you have this same feeling, from the very first time you hold your new baby. My goal here isn't to reinforce how much you will love your infant because -- lord knows -- no one has trouble talking about that. Look, I'm here to tell you the truth, okay? These are the facts no one else will tell you because they don't want to scare you. I scare you because I care, because I wish someone had told me the truth, because I know (from experience) that we all go through the same things and maybe, for whatever reason, we don't talk about it like we should.

What are things they didn't tell you about pregnancy? Discuss!

next: Found: The Busiest Time of the Week
40 comments so far | Post a comment now
Amy April 14, 2009, 9:01 AM

AMEN! i told my mom that no matter what anyone told me that nothing could have prepared me for how much hard work it is. hardowrk emotionally, physically, mentally, and everyother way that you can imagine. i was healing from a c-section and had a GERD baby. no matter what medicine was given to him he would cry for 5 HOURS straight sometimes. that hard on any mom, but especially a first time mom.

Anonymous April 14, 2009, 10:00 AM

What a load of crap! What makes you the expert? Because you obviously had a hard time you think its the same for everyone? My first few months with my baby was the bliss you stated was unrealistic. I was on such a high with my daughter and it didn’t end for months. It was a piece of cake. It didn’t get that challenging until she was mobile and into stuff and even then it wasn’t the misery you’re describing. Having kids isn’t for everybody.

Karen April 14, 2009, 11:03 AM

Alot of what Jennifer writes is spot on. the first few months ARE very hard. The lack of sleep can wipe you out. Read every word she wrote…and then go back and read it again.

it’s all about lining up help when you come home. Have people come over to care for your infant for a few hours while you sleep, go for a walk, etc. You will NEED and WANT a break. It’s healthy.

AMY April 14, 2009, 11:27 AM

anonymous. EXACTLY!! EVERYONE’S SITUATION IS DIFFERENT! you are very lucky you had such a wonderful, perfect and happy baby. who made you the expert?

LC April 14, 2009, 12:00 PM

It’s true, every baby is different, my first one was extremely hard, she suffered from reflux and had lots of gas. She barely slept more than 45 mins at a time every day, so there was no sleeping when the baby sleeps. I was so sleep deprived I felt like a walking zombie every day. She only started sleeping through the night at 5 months. The second one however was extremely easy. She was sleeping through the night at 6 weeks.

D.W. April 14, 2009, 12:02 PM

OMG!!! some one needs to send this to Michelle Duggar’s Daughter-in-law… this is so ABSOLUTELY true. I breast fed all 3 of my kids and it was the same thing EVERYTIME!! i know i am a glutton for punishment. it’s even worse considering the fact that i am a military spouse w/no help,friends, deployed husband…nada!! so yes, this is tru. love my kids TO DEATH. but this article is REALITY!!

PrettySprinkles April 14, 2009, 12:28 PM

A bit of a tough reality though I think. Some bits are as hellish as the OP describes but she did forget to tell you any of the nice bits or give you any advice as to how to deal with the hard bits. I’m far from a glass half full, sugar coater but I think it’s important to put balance into articles aimed at frightened mums-to-be. Thankfully every birth, every baby, every parent and every day is different for everybody. No-one can tell you exactly what parenthood will be like for you but a positive, relaxed approach to the challenges it brings will no doubt be far more helpful than the attitude this article suggests you adopt.

meghan April 14, 2009, 12:38 PM

I wish my teenage stepdaughter read this before she got knocked up, you forgot to mention how lonely it can be to be a new mother after all the new baby excitement wears off and the family and friends go home. It’s too easy for some people to get pregnant, the idea of a cute little baby to love is far from the reality and responsibility of raising a human being

Shannon C (Anonymous) April 14, 2009, 12:46 PM

AMY - I never said I was an expert nor did I write a piece for publication on a website telling everyone what they can expect as if I were an authority on this topic. It would have been better received had it been written as her personal experience versus what to expect when you have a baby. The tone of her piece reads as if this is the norm not that everyone’s situation is different.

Meghan April 14, 2009, 12:46 PM

I wish my teenage stepdaughter read this before she got knocked up. It was so easy for her to get pregnant, and get on food stamps and Medicaid with the idea of a cute baby in her head, but in reality the responsibility of raising a human being is enormous. The only thing you left out is how lonely it can be after all the friends and family leave and the new baby excitement wears off

Anonymous April 14, 2009, 12:54 PM

i was very young when i had my first baby nows hes 17 i didnt have any parenting classes when i was preganant with him or my other 2 children which are now 5 and 2 it wasnt as bad as your saying it is your making it sound like having these babies are hell when its the best gift in the world mayb it was just hell for you

Gigohead  April 14, 2009, 12:56 PM

I was a young when I had my son at 23 years old. I was so frazzled with my son’s cries for help with his constipation. Poor baby. My daughter at 29 also frazzled me because she had her 1 hour crying jags happened when I got in from work. She was an angel in the day with my mom. I’m now pregnant with my third at close to 40 now. I am not kidding myself that it will go smooth, but I am convinced, its not forever, I will go back to sleep again. My solace is that the first one who gave me so much trouble years ago, is now one of the most quietest young adult imaginable.

Anonymous April 14, 2009, 1:03 PM

well i must of been blessed with my kids i also was very young when i had my first son who is now 17 and now i have a 5 year old and a two year old .i never went through what your describing never went through long crying spells or acid reflux or anything of that nature i was really lucky it that way im not saying is was perfect but only because my husband works alot and i was home with the kids by myself mosstly

Sara Jane April 14, 2009, 1:08 PM

Excellent Article! One of the best for MomLogic. Be prepared is my moto! Plan for the worst and be happy when all goes well.

Mary April 14, 2009, 1:52 PM

Great article. No one warned me of how awful it could be. Sure, I had heard of Colic - but was one of those ‘oh - it would never happen to me’. Until my first one was born. Those were the roughest 3 months of my life. I had envisioned having plenty of time to cook up some great dinners with my ‘extra time’. My husband was lucky to get a bowl of soup I would heat up once he got home after I would hand him the baby. Luckily my second child was an absolute angel - very rarely would she cry. As noted before - plan for the worst and be happy when all goes well.

steph April 14, 2009, 2:33 PM

Another AMEN from me!I wish i would have read articles like this before I had our little one. I was hearing from everyone how beauuuuuutiful it is..which it is..but its hard to see that when you are completely sleep deprived and trying to get to know the likes&dislikes of your little one. I didnt realize how dark post partum depression could be..and i am a counselor! It took personal experience and seeking help to understand it first hand. Thank you for this that other new moms may get the truth. I am working on the friends that are now considering children…just preparing them for the truth. I had carried three jobs plus volunteer work plus full time in college..and that was nothing compared to the first three months with a newborn!

Anonymous April 14, 2009, 7:59 PM

oh god what ppl will do to sell a book it might of been hard for you but its not hard for everyone its all how a person can handle things if your the type of person who gets stressed easy of course its gonna be hard. so dont try and give ppl your not forcing your opinion on ppl crap

Denise April 14, 2009, 8:27 PM

Yep, been there done that, with twins. I barely remember the first three months. My son had colic, my daughter was a good sleeper. Note to any mom having twins. When one wakes up for a late night feeding. Make sure you repeat the process with the second baby even if it is sleeping, or you will never sleep.

Anne April 14, 2009, 9:31 PM

True, all true, and the article doesn’t even mention post-partum depression and bad marriages and husbands who think you ought to be ready for sex in a week. Not to mention you feel like you barely survived a car wreck. I had no support system whatever and a young husband who thought all females just knew how to care for a newborn. It’s amazing that anybody ever has more than one baby. Our second woke up screaming every two hours for five months! I was as stressed and as close to insane as I ever want to be. Then I understood how moms somestimes kill their babies, even though they love them. If this article causes one new mother to recognize that she needs to recruit some help, emotional, physical or medical, it could literally be a life saver. I am glad to see it.

XMR April 14, 2009, 10:20 PM

The pregnancy itself is bliss.It’s what comes after that’s hell.
What I can’t figure out is why so much of the opposite on the TLC,Discovery Health,The View,whatever.And why are those shows so successfull for the B.S. they pour out?Take that junk off the air and we’ll have a step in the right direction.

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