Survival Guide to the first few months of parenting

I had no idea what to expect the first few months or first days of parenting for that matter.  Most of the books I read said that parenthood would be filled with happiness (Think: rainbows and unicorns.)  Well, those authors must have written those books in the 60’s, and 70’s when LSD was still legal.  I am here to tell you, if you see a unicorn or rainbow it will be because you have passed out from exhaustion or stress, hit your head VERY hard and went off to play with the fairies in unicorn land.

Below is a little list of tips and tricks to help you survive the first few months of parenting... 

  1. When you hear your baby cry for the first time, it will be the single most amazing sound you have ever heard in your life. It will also be the beginning of a huge overhaul of your life and most of all, priorities.  Everything will change at that moment... for the better.
  2. Bask in the glory of being at the hospital, ask questions, sleep, eat, let the nurses help you.  I cannot recommend enough letting your baby go to the nursery while you sleep and have him/her brought back for feedings.  Trust me, the hospital sleep may be the best sleep you get for a few weeks.
  3. Once you get home, take deep breaths when you get overwhelmed, EVERY TIME you get overwhelmed. It actually helps. P.s. Everyone gets overwhelmed.   
  4. Have no fear, you have an instinct that kicks in.  Dad does too. Also, the baby really only needs a few things at first, so meeting his/her needs is easy.  It’s just the number of times a day you have to meet those needs that are shocking.
  5. Expect the worst!  I know some people may read that and think I am a shit for saying that, but trust me, LOWER your expectations for perfection, ease and “Yay this is going to be awesome.”  That way when the moments of “ok, I can do this” come through, you will be so freaking stoked parenthood will be nice again.
  6. The baby WILL NOT do what you want or expect, so all ideas, plans, and routines must be thrown to the wolves.  Chances are your new bundle will let you know what’s up, about a second before it is 100% necessary for you to sort it out.  i.e. he’s hungry, wet, tired, “you are an idiot and need to learn how to hold me properly,” “this swing is stupid to try something else”… the list goes on and grows daily, sorry.
  7. Your baby will cry at first for three things, hunger, cold, wet diaper, super tired.  I always start with hunger, then wet, then sleep.  You will know what it is pretty quick, but I have been tripped up by a wet diaper a few times thinking it was just him wanting food mid way through a feeding cycle.  Even if you think it’s not the diaper, check anyway!  The only other things Ollie cries, for now, are when he is bored with his swing or cold from a bath. 
  8. If you are breastfeeding, you can do it, sister!  Breastfeeding is the hardest thing I have had to do in my life.  It is a VERY VERY VERY selfless act. I personally do not like the constant baby stuck to my breast while my husband watches TV, plays on his computer or sleeps, I want to slap him. Very hard.  But, ladies, please learn from my false animosity towards my husband, if he could feed him he would.  I know it makes him feel bad that he cannot help.  It is not the man's fault he cannot help breastfeeding so don’t slap him.
  9. Again if you are breastfeeding… When you want to throw in the towel email me.  When you are sitting on your couch crying because you hate it and cannot take it anymore know that WE ALL have done that, you are not alone.  Breathe in and lean down and kiss your precious baby and know that what you are doing is the VERY best thing you can possibly do for your child right now.  Again it is a selfless act, welcome to mommyhood.  YOU CAN DO IT!  Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it!  I am selfish and have entitlement issues. Yet I whip out the booby every three hours and dream about my sainthood I just know I will get for this incredible miracle I keep pulling off of continuing to feed my baby.
  10. One more note for breastfeeding mothers.  If you don’t have a pump try to get one.  Even if it is a manual pump.  I would have lost the plot fully by now without my pump.  I cannot do it all alone.  Now that my husband is handling the late night feeding I can sleep a little longer and feel SO much better for it.  Without a pump that would be impossible. Also, at first when Ollie was learning to latch, and I was learning the positions, he shredded my nipples.  24 hours of pumping allowed them to heal and me to regain my sanity.
  11. The first few weeks are gnarly, to say the least.  Breastfeeding or not, there are loads of feedings in the 24 hours period, so solid sleep is not going to happen.  You will quickly learn that while you think you have lost your sanity, you can still function. It helps you only have a few tasks at first so you and baby will survive the first few weeks of confusion. 
  12. EVERY time you feed to change the diaper.  The last thing you want is for your baby to wake up mid sleep for a wet diaper.  How pissed at yourself will you be? 
  13. Switching your baby from wanting to party all night and sleep all day is a mission! It will take a while so be patient.  Naps in sunlight during the day, and little to no stimulation after dark is all you can do, baby will sort out the "rest." lol
  14. Having a baby is VERY stressful.  Chances are this will put your relationship with your partner/ Baby’s daddy under EXTREME pressure.  I have been even nastier to my husband then my pregnancy combined.  Yes, it is true I have screamed at him and even threatened divorce.  I have/had all these ideas in my head and my husband has/had his, we were very far apart on these ideas and have butted heads many times in the last 5 weeks.  We are doing better now.  I am also sleeping better… 
  15. SLEEP, EAT, AND MAKE “ME” TIME!  That goes for both mom and dad, and more than essential for the primary caregiver.  EVERY  DAY, you must eat breakfast and lunch, shower, use deodorant and ALWAYS put on clean clothes. Also leave the hose alone once every other day at least. Even if it is to drive around the block to hear your favorite song.  You are a mommy yes, but you are still YOU so make sure you remind yourself of that regularly.
  16. If someone offers to come over and help, LET THEM if someone wants to bring dinner, LET THEM!  You have to learn on your support group.  Call someone to let you nap if you have to.
  17. Sleep when the baby sleeps! This is a little difficult for me.  I still have things I need to do around the house when he is asleep.   BUT!  I have learned that I have to nap with him in the afternoon or I am an exhausted agitated crank by night.  I make a “To Do” list and try to accomplish as much as possible in the morning and early afternoon then sleep with him after.  Sleep is so key during this time I cannot stress it enough!
  18. I tried to pull off a routine for nighttime that included bath, feeding, and rocking.  I turn the lights low, reduce the noise and cut off stimulation once I put him down.  Unfortunately only I knew I was trying for a routine, Ollie and my husband thought it was a shitty idea and refused to follow the program.  I was pissed at first but realized my son is only weeks old, not months and to have any expectations is foolish.  I have reduced my expectations to be stoked if he eats at midnight and sleeps until close to 4am so I will only have one middle of the night feeding.  Waking up only once during my normal sleep makes such a difference. I get up with him between 7-8am feeling pretty good this way. 
  19. By the end of the first month, things start becoming a little easier, not much but a little.  It’s hard right now because both you and baby are trying to figure out what the hell is going on and what you need to do to be happy.  I’m sure every baby is different, but from talking with others, I think the first month is about the same for all first-timers. It’s such a process and adventure. 
  20. ONE DAY AT A TIME!  One day will be complete shit, filled with tears, confusion and a possible fight with daddy.  The next will be smooth and wonderful.  Sometimes two bad days will come in a row and then two good days.  It definitely gets better... slowly but surely.  I say slowly because you have to have heaps of patience, but with my son already being 5 weeks old today, it does go by very quickly.  Before you know it these days will be long gone, so try your best to embrace every bit.  Takes loads of photos, give lots of kisses and cuddles, and have faith in yourself that you are a great mother. 

    Two confused parents=One amused baby Hopelessly we are trying raise a baby who is clearly smarter than both of us. April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit