Baby Cries, Mom Stresses Out

Motherhood is a joyous messy struggle, and it's not easy. Just ask any mother who has listened to a Barney song 151 times or pulled bubble gum off the cat. CBS News Correspondent Tracy Smith kicks off a three-part series on The Early Show about the stresses of motherhood.

According to the Geneva Conventions, sleep deprivation is an acceptable form of torture. Whoever came up with that must have been a mother, because during the first few months of an infant's life, mama is generally operating on her very last nerve.

It's hard to imagine the tempest in Joseph Jr.'s tiny body, but in the six weeks since he was born, Heather Mikucki, first-time mom, has had quite a lesson in shock and awe.

Her dream of being a mother was nothing like the one she is experiencing.

She says, "I think that if any of us thought it was going to be like this, we might have a smaller population."

Mikucki's life has changed dramatically overnight. Her hormones are raging, and Joseph Jr., adorable No. 1 son, is a 24-hour baby.

She notes, "He was up at 2 in the morning; 4 in the morning; 6 in the morning; 8 in the morning; and I don't know why."

According to nearly every study, the biggest stressor for new moms is lack of sleep, making the first few months shaky and surreal.

Jessica Shapley, director of, explains, "The sleep deprivation clouds everything. Your sadness is sadder. Your confusion is more confusing. Your fears are scary."

Mikucki says, "You're not asleep; you're not awake; you're too tired to function, but you're not tired enough to go to sleep right away, and you're constantly in the in-between."

Add to that the sound of a baby crying, between one and six hours every day, on average about 4,000 times before the age of 2.

Mikucki says, "We would sit there and go, 'What is the matter? Just tell me! Why can't you tell me? Can't tell me, I can't help you.'"

Shapley notes, "When given the chance to sleep or rest, do it. Leave the dishes in the sink; leave the paperwork on the table. You need to recharge; you won't have it in you for the next three hours."

Experts say it is imperative for new mothers to get some help to preserve some semblance of physical and mental health.