Reality Check-#5 things no one tells you about the first 3 months of parenting

The other night, I caught myself shuffling sleepily into my son’s bedroom. I listened for his breathing, sounded normal. I tucked in his blankets around him. Paranoid new Mommy?  No on the “new mommy” part…maybe on the paranoid part. My son is in high school for God’s sake, so this little ritual is un-needed. I rarely do it, however I’ve had babies on the brain.  Perhaps the reason is, that some of my friends and colleagues, who are now pregnant, keep asking me for any wisdom to throw their way about Motherhood. I’m too old to have more…so now I’ve moved into the “giving wisdom” stage. If you’re a mother, you’re always going to get the “what’s it really like those first few months” questions from Moms to be. What is it really like, anyway? Do we answer that honestly, Mothers? If our children are older, do our memories of those first few months grow fuzzy with time…or do we block them out on occasion? If we’re new Mothers, do we sugar coat the exhaustion and put on a happy face? I got together a few mothers who were perfectly at ease putting down the “rose colored glasses”, and sharing their wisdoms on those first few months….some nuggets of wisdom if you will, that might come in handy to know before you actually have the baby. Some are new mothers who are living through it now, and some are looking back a few years, but have forgotten none of the colorful details.  Put away the Dr. Spock book, for now. The first months ARE wonderful…but it ain’t all roses, ladies.

1. There are times that it won’t feel worth it

“For me, it was a long (and that’s an understatement) first 9 to 10 months. What is most surprising is that my friends had many opportunities to tell me; that loving your baby is immediate, automatic and very powerful. LIKING them…um…at times…not so much. It’s harsh, but it’s real for a lot of new mothers.  I do not apologize for it and neither should you. The piercing cries you cannot fix, the funny bumps on their face leaving you wondering if your own breast milk, coming from your bleeding, cracked nipples, is making your offspring have an allergic reaction of some sort. No one told me I would drive to the Dr.’s office more than once hoping something is actually wrong with my child so that I know why he has red bumps, a diaper rash, spits up a lot and cries more than he sleeps…all to be told, ‘looks great! Keep doing what your doing!’” – Christie Cuttell (mother of three, Cottage Grove)

  1. Breastfeeding is not always a piece of cake

“I don’t think you can ever take classes on breastfeeding to prepare you for something that’s not always in your control. My first son just wouldn’t eat. We had nurses and lactation specialist grabbing my boobs, trying to force him to eat and there wasn’t that loving bond you and your baby are supposed to experience.  When I finally got the blessing from my sister that ‘it was ok to use formula,’, I was like THANK GOD someone actually said it so I didn’t feel guilty in making the decision. I felt like a horrible mother because it wasn’t the “natural” thing to do, and there’s so much pressure about breast milk being best. We all want to do what’s best, but it doesn’t always work that way…so we shouldn’t feel like a bad mother for not being able to.” Sonja Haataja-Day (mother of two from Menahga)

  1. Trust your gut over all the experts

“Trust your gut. You can read all the books in the world and still not be prepared. Do not let the wisdom from the experts stop you from trusting your natural instincts and doing something contrary to what you’ve read or heard.” Sarah Frank (mother of a 3-month old, Waconia, MN.)

  1. Embrace all your emotions…you don’t have to try to be mother of the year every second. It’s not possible. ‘Enjoy EVERY minute’ people may say to you? It’s not true-no one can enjoy EVERY minute of parenting. It’s just plain hard sometimes. Allow yourself to be crabby and tired. Yes, you’ll experience a new level of exhaustion and sleep deprivation that hits you like a ton of bricks…but you’ll also find that your tougher than you think. You can operate on 1-2 hours of sleep and still change a diaper. Try not to snap when you hear people say “enjoy this stage, it goes so fast!”…because when your knee deep in it and exhausted, it does NOT go fast. It crawls. You’re allowed to feel all those emotions and feelings, and it’s OK that some won’t feel that great. Pat yourself on the back. You’ll do great. – Kelly Jo McDonnell. (Mother of one, Lino Lakes)


5. You will feel a new level of anxiety you’ve never felt before

“Anxiety meet Kelly…Kelly, meet anxiety. Nothing introduces you to the heart pounding, sweaty palms, sick to your stomach feeling of anxiety like parenting. You are in charge of a tiny little life…and that’s certainly a big job. We had a rough first year with my daughter, who was admitted to Children’s Hospital twice. I learned that year what anxiety and panic really feel like.”   – Kelly Plummer (Mother of two – Forest Lake)

Perhaps Cuttell hit the nail on the head, referring to why we Mother’s don’t always divulge all the details.  “At age 39 now, I know why you did it,” she mused, “That is why I do not hold a grudge. You knew parts of it, a lot of it….sucked. You knew the dandelion moments were well worth it, and mostly you knew, “hey we had to figure it out, let her, she ain’t special’.  We all have to tread our own path.”


A sad young woman is standing in a kitchen with a spoon in her hand






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