Having your first baby can be the most rewarding, yet daunting experience of a woman’s life. Many women focus on learning as much as they can about pregnancy and the birthing process, but bringing your new baby home from the hospital and the adjustments that follow can be just as life-changing.

No matter how many books you read, blogs you follow, or videos you watch, nothing can truly prepare you for being a first-time mom. It’s scary and exciting and even if you are that mom who has prepared as much as humanly possible, there are still plenty of unknowns as you bring baby home. Each new mother’s experience is as unique as the life she has brought into the world. These are the stories of three Yakima moms.

Before Katelyn Crutcher got pregnant with her son Axle, she had enjoyed travel, parties and clubs, but becoming a mom gave her something entirely new to focus on — and worry about.

“The drive home was the most terrifying drive of my life,” she said. Hospital personnel made sure she had a proper car seat and that baby Axle was restrained properly. But she wasn’t taking any chances.

“Needless to say, I rode in the backseat the whole eight blocks home,” she smiled. Crutcher had always heard about how exhausting becoming a mother would be, and much like everybody else, she thought it was due to baby waking up all night, but that wasn’t the case for her. “The following two weeks were a blur of diaper explosions, breastfeeding problems, couch sleeping and the most gruesome exhaustion you can think of,” she said.

“Everyone tells you that you will never sleep again, but nobody tells you it’s because you will forever lie awake wondering if your child is still breathing.” Crutcher thought that if her new baby was a good sleeper, then everything would be great and she would sleep all the time. And it did turn out that Axle was a fantastic sleeper, but that also meant Crutcher never slept a wink. “I sat up on my couch holding my son every night for two weeks with a built-up fort around me, so my arms weren’t going anywhere, and neither was he.”

Darla LaFramboise has four children and she lucked out with her first child, Ethan, who was the easiest. “I was 21, almost 22 when I had him, and I remember always thinking he was just the most perfect baby the whole time,” she said. To prepare herself, LaFramboise consumed every piece of information she could find. “As a new mom, I went to the library and got every book I could possibly read,” she said. “I watched informational videos, and I even watched TLC’s ‘Bringing Home Baby.’”

The experience she had was different, and better than those she had studied. “He was honestly the perfect first baby experience. He was always happy and he never cried,” she said. “It was never an experience that I was wanting to pull my hair out, so it made me feel like if I had another it would be easy.” The birth of her second child, Ryker, was a different story, as was the birth of her twins, Aurora and Desdan, a few years later.

“I later learned that amazing first-time experience was specific to him. For my second, labor was terrible. Once he was home, he cried all the time, every hour on the hour. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong,” she said. “Then a few years later, coming home with twins was a total circus, and a whole new level of exhaustion. None of those compared to my first.”

McKenzie Frank had years of experience with infants from babysitting, which made her feel very prepared for the birth of her first son Cole. “I had downloaded the app ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ but I never read anything about raising a baby,” she said. “I had babysat and nannied prior to my pregnancy, so I wasn’t nervous at all about caring for a baby.” But things didn’t go exactly as she had planned.

“I was a week late and was induced on July 25,” she said. “I had written July 25 in his baby book, but was in labor for 18 slow hours. I didn’t think it would be that slow! And it ended up that he was born on July 26.” Things got smoother once she brought her baby home, and she was completely smitten. “I remember when we put him in the car to come home I was thinking ‘I can’t believe we get to take him home,’” she said. “I just remember how it was so new and exciting. I just held him and stared at him all the time!”

Three first-time moms with three different stories, and all of them ended up dealing with something they didn’t expect while they were expecting!