A young couple in my neighbourhood are expecting their first child. The father declared that they’re all ready and have everything prepared.
Listening to him, I couldn’t help but remember my own preparations prior to having Kieran. We got a cot, because I’d declared I wouldn’t co-sleep. We got a Moses basket for our room, again because I wasn’t going to co-sleep. We got a huge pram so he could have a bassinet downstairs, as well. We got a breastfeeding pillow because I’d thought such things were needed. We borrowed a breast pump, because I’d thought to use bottles at least some of the time. I imagined I’d put him to sleep at set times, and he’d be okay with that. We were prepared, or so we thought.
Then Kieran arrived, and I realised I’d forgotten to consult someone about all these plans: my son! He wouldn’t sleep unless on my chest, so the Moses basket became a cat bed. Same with the unwieldy pram. The cot was barely used. In all my preparations, I’d neglected to consider that I wasn’t having some generic baby who would conform to my expectations, but a person with his own preferences. He certainly taught me a lot!
One would think that after that experience, I’d have learnt my lesson not to make assumptions about a baby’s preferences. Then Charlotte came to teach me again. With her I’d assumed that, like Kieran, she would be happy to fall asleep anywhere as long as she was on me. She corrected me on that, for she wanted to be in bed by 20.00, next to me but not touching me. Then came Leo, who taught me that I couldn’t assume he’d like to be worn just because his siblings did (he needs to be held a lot, but only tolerates being worn for short times, and then only if he’s tired or feeling unwell). One of these days I’ll remember not to assume anything, for each baby is a unique person.