.: American Baby April 2005 :.

On playing mom: Faking it was much easier. I got to give the baby back to its rightful owner and go home for a good night's sleep. Before you have a baby, friends tell you to 'sleep now,' and you laugh because you don't think that all those stories could be true. But they are.

Real-life monsters: I was worried - I wasn't sure I had the maternal instinct. But the minute my son came out, he was my favorite person on earth. I was crazily in tune with him, and I knew we were going to be fine.

On conception: I had a few fibroids removed, and they left me with a Grand Canyon of scar tissue in my uterus. The doctors weren't sure I'd be able to reproduce. I was prepared for a rough road, and then out of nowhere we conceived.

The pregnant body: The extra weight was a shocker. I'm only 5'2 and I gained 40 pounds. And unfortunately, I was photographed the entire time.

Finding out the sex: I can't understand people who don't find out the minute they can. Both my husband and I wanted a boy. I wasn't sure what I'd do with a daughter. What if she asked for a Barbie? I would have been like, "Honey, we don't support Barbie because she isn't an accurate representation of a woman's body."

Choosing the name: I printed a list of Irish names from the Internet and my husband, Dave, saw 'Finley' on the list. I really liked it but didn't want to scare Dave off with my enthusiasm. So I used a little reverse psychology and let him think it was his idea.

The big day: Because of my earlier sugery, I had a scheduled c-section. The day before, I read that only 10% of women's waters break at home. I thought it was interesting because water breaking is always what you see in movies-we'd even done it on my show. Then I swear I stood up and my water was all over the floor. I panicked.

What she wishes she had known: I was unprepared for the c-section. I was asleep for fibroid surgery, but you have to be awake for a c-section, and the doctors were silent through a lot of it. I also experienced horrible shakes. The more I tried to stop, the worse it got, and that freaked Dave out. Friends who had c-sections told me it was a piece of cake. They were lying! The end result was worth it, but it was painful and trying.

Sanity savers: Swaddling blankets. Dr. Brown's bottles. Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium Swing, which rocks from side to side, knocks Finley out almost instantly. [My costar] Rose [McGowan] got me a Graco Pack N Play, and Finley easily spent the first three months in it. It was the only place we could get him to sleep.

Sleep-or the lack of: I think letting babies cry it out is barbaric. Why would parenting stop when it's dark outside? You can't expect a baby to know that he's supposed to sleep just because we want to go to bed.

Advice for new moms: You need to be emotionally ready for a baby, and the best way to do that is to clean skeletons from your own closet. Deal with the baggage of your childhood or you'll just pass it on to your kid. Also, there's nothing like a baby to point out the differences between you and your husband, so discuss big issues beforehand, like breastfeeding, discipline, religion, and school. It helps you become a united front. And, oh yeah, sleep now.