The Sh!t No One Tells You

A Guide to Surviving Your Baby's First Year


By Dawn Dais

Formats and Prices




$15.99 CAD



  1. ebook (Revised) $11.99 $15.99 CAD
  2. Trade Paperback (Revised) $17.99 $22.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around November 9, 2021. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

"Dawn Dais bravely goes where other baby books don't…. She spills the truth about everything from breastfeeding to getting along with your partner post-baby." — Parents Magazine

There comes a time in every new mother’s life when she realizes that all the pregnancy well-wishes and baby shower gifts left her profoundly unqualified for the realities of life with a newborn. Who knew there would be so much crying—and how much of that crying would be coming from the mom?

Bestselling author Dawn Dais believes that a vast conspiracy exists to hide the truth about parenting from expectant mothers for fear that if the truth got out, women would (1) stop having babies or (2) stop bringing them home. Eschewing the adorableness that oozes out of other parenting books, Dais offers real advice from real moms—along with hilarious anecdotes, tips, and the encouragement every new mom needs to survive the first year of parenthood.

Revised and updated with new chapters offering advice for single moms and tips for partners,The Sh!t No One Tells You is a must-have companion for every new mother’s sleepless nights and poop-filled days.



AT SOME POINT during the first few weeks with their new bundle of joy, every parent will most likely utter/scream/sigh/cry out into the night, “I had no idea it was going to be this hard!” This is because a vast conspiracy exists to hide the truth from all who have yet to bring home a baby, for fear that if the truth were to get out, people would (1) stop having babies, or (2) stop bringing them home. I am here to end that silence. And replace it with a lot of bitching.

Before I had a baby I would see those Johnson & Johnson commercials where a mom is gleefully giving her perfect and beautiful smiling baby a bath in the sink. Splashing and giggles ensue. The tagline for the commercial is “Having a baby changes everything.” I used to well up with emotion when I watched that commercial, knowing that when I had a baby she would change everything, too. And by “changes everything,” I thought they meant “changes the things you clean in the sink.” Turns out by “everything,” they actually mean “everything, as in your entire life—we are not joking.”

Now that I have a child, I believe their point would have been better conveyed if the baby were screaming at the top of his lungs in the sink while a mom with alarmingly dark circles under her eyes stared off into the distance blankly, unaware that the water from the sink was being emptied onto the floor by her splash-happy child. I get welled up with emotion just thinking of that scenario.

Don’t get me wrong—I love my child deeper than I ever thought I had the capacity to, but it’s not all giggles and playful splashing. I actually think the most difficult part of new parenting is the conflicting emotions you feel, and your fear of even acknowledging those different emotions, let alone sharing them. I planned and prayed for my baby for years before she arrived. When I found out I was pregnant I was ecstatic. Holding her for the first time was unreal. But then we got her home and the day-to-day realities of caring for a newborn started to sink in. This is when I started thinking, I had no idea it was going to be this hard.

I felt guilty that I wasn’t loving every second and that I didn’t look or feel anything like I thought an ecstatic new mother should. Of course, I had expected it to be hard, but somehow not this hard. I blame my lack of information on my friends who had children before me. When I told them I was pregnant all I heard was “Congrats!” and “Yippee!!” Never did any of them say, “Hold on to your f’n hat. Shit’s about to get real.” Sure, it would have been the first time any of them had ever said, “Shit’s about to get real,” but I feel like it would have been the perfect time to christen the phrase.

Instead, I went blindly into parenthood, with no idea of what was coming my way. It was months before I really talked to anyone about how overwhelmed I was. Up until that point I was a little ashamed that I would essentially be complaining about having the healthy baby I had dreamt of for so many years. But when I finally started talking to other moms, they all agreed without hesitation that having a new baby is ridiculously hard. They would then instantly start bombarding me with tales of their own struggles. This gave me comfort, but mostly it pissed me off. “How come you didn’t warn me about any of this??!!!”

So that is what I’ve set out to do with this book. Warn you about all the shit no one is telling you. My intention is not to frighten you or to scare you off having children. My hope is to give you what I didn’t have: the ability to say, “I am not the only parent in the history of the planet to have their asses handed to them by something they could fit in a purse.” Knowing you are not alone actually helps a little. Trust me, misery does love company, especially during 3:00 am feeding sessions.

To add to your company, I’ve enlisted the help of a few of my mom friends to share their stories as well. I call them my “Moms on the Front Lines” because they are reporting live from the battlefields of parenting. They’ve built up heavy armor over the years and gotten quick at dodging land mines. They have come here to share with you their inspiring tales of survival. (None of them have teenagers, however, so I can make no long-term guarantees for their well-being.)

Not long ago a series of web videos made the rounds giving encouragement to gay youth that “It Gets Better.” The Sh!t No One Tells You, with its honest advice and stories from the front lines, is an “It Gets Better” book for new parents. As you navigate the challenging first year with a new baby, we will be here to encourage you (and bitch with you, of course).

Go ahead. Stumble through the first year of sleepless nights and poop-filled days, and carry this book with you often (preferably keeping it a safe distance away from the poop, if at all possible). I’ve purposely made very little effort to organize the chapters of this book. Jump around from chapter to chapter, depending on what you happen to be dealing with on any given day. And with your impending memory loss (see Chapter 25, “Remember Your Memory?,” for more info on this subject), you’ll be able to read the book seven or eight times before actually realizing you’re finished! So many good times ahead for you.

So let’s head out on this parenting adventure together, shall we? There will be ups, downs, tears, and vomit. And that’s just the childbirth. Because, as I warned you before, shit’s about to get real . . .


THERE IS NO one right way to do anything when it comes to parenting, which is one of the most frustrating things about parenting. What works for your best friend and her child might not work for you (and honestly, probably works only about 75 percent of the time for your best friend). Although I’m the one writing a book about parenting, with only one eighteen-monthold child to my credit by the time I finished it, I know there are a lot of other opinions and stories out there to be told.

That’s where my Moms on the Front Lines come in, referred to collectively throughout the book as my MOFLs. I’ve known all these women for years and asked them if they would contribute to this book. I hoped to get a little insight into different parenting styles, struggles, and stories. They gave me more than I could have ever hoped for.

While all our families and situations are a little different, the MOFLs have a lot of things in common. We all love our kids to pieces, we have a sense of humor about life in general, and none of us have any idea how and when we became grown-ups who have been left responsible for small children. It’s troubling, to say the least.

Before we get started, I wanted to introduce you to my moms, with some of their stats (age, age of kids, years married, plans for more kids), so you know who the players are.

ME, DAWN: Age thirty-five. “I have one daughter, age eighteen months, and another child is due in 2013. I’ve been with my partner, Becky, for five years. I work from home part-time most of the time (except when I’m on deadline for a parenting book) and will probably continue to do so until my kids are in school (or until I start writing my next book about dealing with a newborn and the terrible twos at the same time).”

CHIPPER JEN*: Age thirty-five. “I have a son who is four and a daughter who is two. I’ve been married five years to a guy I’ve known since high school. I’m a stay-at-home mom who is never home (I keep the kids very busy). I work two nights a week bartending so I can have adult conversation, but I actually end up taking care of drunks whose behavior is worse than my children’s. My husband works a lot and is always amazed at how the birthday parties, holidays, and family functions just ‘happen’! No, I’m not having any more kids!”

AMY L: Age thirty-five. “I have two daughters, a four-year-old and one-year-old. I’ve been married for ten years. I’m a teacher and I work full-time so I don’t kill myself or my kids, although juggling both is hard. I love being a mom, but at my first appointment with my second pregnancy I made sure to ask about options for future sterilization. (My husband took the plunge and got snipped nine days after the baby was born. PHEW.)”

AMY W: Age thirty-six. “I almost have three kids (all boys): seven, three, and one due in March 2013. We’ve been married for nine years. We were married for one year before we got pregnant with the first baby. I’m a stay-at-home mom, but I do work part-time (eight to twelve hours a week) when my husband can be with the kids. Not sure if this baby will be the last one. I’ll let you know in two years.”

CARRIE: Age thirty-three. “I’ve been married for five years. I have two kids, ages two and a half and five months, both boys. We waited three years before kids, and I stayed home for one year with the first, then worked full-time for a year. Now I am home again. I continue to do contract work and serve on a nonprofit board. I’m not sure what the future holds, work-wise, but no more babies. Our family is complete.”

DANA: Age thirty-three. “I have two kids (a two-and-a-half-year-old girl and four-month-old boy). I’ve been married for seven years. I work full-time and I’m not sure yet if we are done having kids. We’ll see!”

ERIKA: Age thirty-four. “I have one kid, age twenty-one months, and one on the way. I’ve been married three and a half years. We started trying right away. We got pregnant immediately, but miscarried the first time. I work full-time, but from home most of the time (though the kid is still in daycare full-time). I went back to work the first time after four and a half months, but only part-time at first, and had the baby in daycare only part-time as well. I plan to do the same with the second kid if possible (financially). We have no plans for more kids after these two.”

JENINE: Age thirty-five. “I have two kids, a four-year-old girl and a one-and-a-half-year-old boy. I’ve been married six years, together eleven! My husband has made sure that we are done with kids (with my permission, he did it as soon as I said it was okay). I’ve been home for four years and will be for another one or two years until the little one is in preschool.”

JILL: Age forty-one. “I have two kids (Noah and TJ, twins, six and a half years old). I’ve been married for thirteen years, and I just returned to work after taking a six-year break to be at home with my kids. No more kids are planned although I’d love more.”

KAREN: Age thirty-nine. “I’m a single mom with full custody. My daughter, Mikayla, is three. I work sixty hours or so a week and travel probably one week every two months. Probably no more kids because of medical reasons.”

MELANIE: Age thirty-seven. “I have one son who is nearly three. I was married four and a half years before our unplanned and loving boy arrived. I went back to work full-time after six weeks, then took another six weeks off when my son was six months old. I’m undecided about more children, for many reasons, but finances and house size are two factors.”

MICHELLE: Age thirty-one. “I have one boy who’s almost two, and another boy who’s due in 2013. I’ve been married for six years, together for twelve. I’m currently working four days a week, but would love to be a stay-at-home mom.”

MONICA: Age thirty-five. “I have four kids. Sam is seven, Cali is six (those two are nineteen months apart). Four years later came Hailey, who is two; eighteen and a half months later came Jackson, who is seven months old. Sam was nine months old when BJ and I got married. I got pregnant one month later with my second. Neither of my first children were planned, but in the end it’s been ‘the plan’ all along.”

SALPY: Age thirty-seven. “I have four kids: ages eight, six, two and a half, and three months. I’ve been married for thirteen years. I worked as a teacher before having kids, then decided to stay home with them. Not planning on having any more kids.”

SARAH B: Age thirty-four. “I have two boys (Andrew is three years old, and Owen is three months old). My other ‘kids’ are Audrey (fourteen, cat), Rudy (thirteen, cat), and Jack (six, dog). We will not be having any more! I’ve been married for six years, and we were together fifteen years before kids. I am returning to work when Owen is four and a half months. The first month I will be part-time and then full-time after that.”

SARAH G: Age thirty-three. “I have two boys, ages nine and six and a half, and a little girl who is two and a half. I’ve been married twelve and a half years. I was a stay-at-home mom for the first four and a half years, until the economy took a dump. Now I work full-time. We are not planning on having any more kids. We also have one dog, one cat, and four fish tanks. Super moms CAN do it all (with the help of housekeepers, gardeners, full-time nannies, and carpools). It literally takes a village to raise my family!!!” Another note I received from Sarah: “Some entertaining postscript for your book. Man gets vasectomy on Monday. Woman takes positive pregnancy test on Saturday. Yup, I’m pregnant with our fourth child. Still in shock.”

SOMMER: Age thirty-four. “I have one baby who is fifteen months old. I’ve been married two years, six months before we had the baby. I’m a stay-at-home everything.”

THERE ARE A few other moms who pop up throughout the book, women who gave me their take on my various subjects along the way, but the moms above are those whose names you are going to see the most on the following pages. I hope all our stories can help guide you a bit through your first year of motherhood.

* For those of you who read my first book, The Nonrunner’s Marathon Guide for Women, you’ll remember my friend Chipper Jen. I call her Chipper Jen because she is chipper as all hell about everything in life, whether it be running 26.2 miles or birthin’ babies. She had two children by the time my first came along, so she became my go-to for frantic “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing” text messages all hours of the day and night during my baby’s first year. She was always quick with a response and calming words. I hope you all have a Chipper Jen in your life, but if you don’t, she has plenty to share in the coming pages.



(you were such a wimp)


“I can’t sleep because there is a baby on my bladder.”


“I can’t sleep because there is a baby on my boob.”


“All my clothes consist of 95 percent elastic.”


“All my clothes consist of 95 percent spit-up.”


“I look adorably nine months pregnant.”


“I look not so adorably five months pregnant (for a year).”



Now that you have a new baby, you won’t be sleeping for a very long time.


Now that you have a baby, you can go on all those roller coasters you weren’t allowed on while pregnant. Yay?

FOR THE FIRST twenty weeks of my pregnancy I felt like I was going to puke twenty-four hours a day. I had to force food down and take deep, concentrated breaths between each bite to make sure it stayed down. After that five-month adventure, things got easier, although I was absolutely exhausted all the time, as if my body had been rung out of all its energy. Then, in my third trimester the baby started her regular gymnastics practices on my bladder and ribs concurrently. Toward the very end, sitting was quite uncomfortable, as was sleeping, standing, and keeping a full bladder for more than three minutes at a time.

Like many pregnant women, I was ready for my baby to make her appearance outside of my body after her forty weeks inside my body. Then, after she was outside of my body for a few weeks, I thought to myself, Holy shitballs, pregnancy was so easy compared to this!

So here’s the thing. If you haven’t yet popped your baby out, you need to maximize every second of pre-poppage that you can. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

First, go take an uncomfortable nap. In a little while you will be longing for sleep of any kind, uncomfortable or otherwise. After your nap, go out to dinner. Order an appetizer and a dessert. Tell the waiter to take his or her time, no rush. Then go to a movie. Sure, you will probably sleep through most of it and have heartburn the rest of the time, but be strong! While you are out and about you will notice people being extra kind and attentive toward you because you are pregnant. You’ve probably noticed that for a while. Milk it. In a very short time you will go back to being treated like everyone else, which is ironic, because that’s when you’ll actually need the most help.

When you get home, don’t go to bed. Instead, curl up on your couch and flip through the channels. Watch whatever you want, for as long as you want. Again, you will probably fall asleep, but that is fine. The general rule is always: If you want to fall asleep the last few weeks of pregnancy, fall asleep. Wherever, whenever—just sleep.

Eventually drag your fat butt to bed and curl up for a slumber that will only be interrupted by the need to pee. Sleep in as late as you want, and then sleep later than that. Hell, don’t even get out of bed all day if you don’t want to. Order delivery, watch crappy TV, spend hours on the phone talking about nothing with friends and family.

All the while be sure to realize that no matter how bloated and stiff and sore and exhausted you may feel now, this is the best you are going to feel in a very, very long time.







         To a Group of Mothers: “Here is every single detail.”

         To an Expectant Mother: “Yep, just fell right out.”

         To a Teenage Girl: “It was so much worse than I was expecting.”

         To Your Child (in fifteen years): “Here is every single detail, with extra emphasis on the pain part.”

         To a Man: “The stork brought me a baby.”



         Dilation (especially when paired with “Cervix”)

         Mucus Plug


         Placenta (Side note: If someone does not know what a placenta is, do not enlighten them; let them hold on to their innocence—and their appetite.)

HERE’S THE THING. Childbirth is gnarly. There are lots of things happening before, during, and after the process that would be blurred out on television because they are downright traumatizing. And you know that phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words”? Well, words are pretty powerful as well, and only a couple (especially when the couple are “mucus” and “plug”) are worth a visual image that will stay permanently seared on a person’s brain. So please proceed accordingly when sharing your own tales of birthing.

When you are telling your birth story, please, for the love of all things holy and pure, take your audience into consideration before going too deep with the details. Unless you are sitting in a room full of new mothers and midwives, perhaps leave out the part about the placenta. In fact, anything involving blood and/or tearing can be completely skipped during most retellings.

And say it with me now: “I, (your name here), will not post any birth story details on Facebook that may cause eye and/or brain damage to my poor unsuspecting cyberfriends, many of whom haven’t seen me in years and don’t really need to know any details AT ALL about my whooha.”

I will give you an example of how to proceed correctly. First, I will start with my birth story.

I woke up around 3:00 AM with what I thought were perhaps contractions. My due date wasn’t for another week, so I wasn’t sure it was really happening. Not wanting to get too excited or wake my partner from a peaceful slumber for what could have turned out to be gas, I counted the minutes between each contraction and after about an hour concluded that things were really happening.

I rolled over and woke up my partner. “I think it’s Baby Day.”

She instantly popped out of bed and started packing our (already packed) hospital bag. Somehow the only way to control her nervousness was by overpreparing for our hospital stay. The dogs were quite annoyed at the early-morning distractions.

I just lay in the bed and contracted periodically. We grabbed a pen and paper and started marking down how far apart the contractions were and how long they were lasting. This was a great job for Becky because it gave her something to do after nothing else would fit in the bag.

We had been told we needed to wait until “5-1-1” before going to the hospital: contractions five minutes apart, lasting one minute, for one hour. More than anything we did NOT want to be the people who got to the hospital early and were sent home because the baby was nowhere near being ready. The hospital was a good half-hour drive away, and we wanted to make that trek only once.

The contractions continued pretty steadily for a few hours. At about 6:00 AM, I called my parents to let them know we were moving forward. “It’s Baby Day!” They were very excited, but my mother also cautioned, “This could be false labor, so don’t get too worked up just yet.” Thanks, Mom.

I texted my friends to let them know what was going on. Chipper Jen also warned that it could be false labor.

Around 7:00 AM, my contractions leveled off. They were no longer consistent and I was not amused. I was sitting on the damn birthing ball in the living room, ready for this show to get on the road, and the show had all but stopped. Since I had been up for too many hours already, I decided I was done with this nonsense and was going back to bed.

Becky was excited that she had more time to finish up some last-minute projects she had planned for the week before the due date. She called her brother over to the house, and they began doing random home-improvement projects to the baby’s room. Which seems like a fantastic way to deal with a possible childbirth happening in the next room.

When I woke up from my nap around 10:00 AM, I didn’t even bother to time the contractions I was having. I was still pissed at the false alarm from earlier and was convinced that I was just having a bunch of false labor pains. Jen and my mom tried to comfort me via phone and text messaging, letting me know my body would get there when it was ready. They believed I was having contractions, but it was widely believed (by myself as well) that my extremely low tolerance for pain was making me a bit dramatic and this was all just a false alarm.

Then things got a little more serious. I got up and went to the bathroom and found what I had to assume was the mucus plug, because it definitely lived up to its very descriptive name. I got back into bed and texted Jen, who told me you can lose your mucus plug days or weeks before you actually deliver. So I tried to go back to sleep.


On Sale
Nov 9, 2021
Page Count
288 pages
Seal Press

Dawn Dais

About the Author

Dawn Dais is the author of The Sh!t No One Tells You… series, The Nonrunner's Marathon Guide for Women, and more. She has been featured by countless TV and print media sources. She lives in Roseville, California, with her two kids, one dog, four chickens, two cats, and the occasional mouse brought into the home by said cats. She is tired. 

Learn more about this author