My friend, Nat, and I were recently talking about all the well-intentioned advice you receive when you become a parent (about co-sleeping, bedsharing, cry-it-out, nursing, baby-led weaning, baby wearing, modes of discipline, etc.), and how many times it's conflicting or just plain invasive. The truth is, as a mommy-to-be you can plot and plan and watch all the documentaries and read all the articles and books you can get your hands on, but that all may go out the window once you meet your baby.
Why? Because your baby is YOUR baby. Not the baby of the person who wrote that book. Not the baby of your friend whose kid cried it out one time before sleeping 12 hours a night every night. You may have one idea in your head about the kind of baby you'll have and the kind of mom you'll be, and you could both turn out to be something different entirely. Your child might have special needs or be extra sensitive to stimuli. You may find it much more difficult to be so matter-of-fact with discipline with your flesh and blood than when you were just imagining it, or you may discover some extra patience and gentleness you didn't know you had. Breastfeeding may not work out, or your child may want to nurse longer than you had planned. Your child may love their crib and sleep well right from the get, or you may have a crier on your hands who needs lots of direct contact to regulate.
I definitely had my ideas about what I wanted my birthing and parenting experiences to be like. I pictured myself as a mother, and read up on attachment parenting and breastfeeding. But there are no guarantees. In all my imagining, I never once thought of my baby being colicky. I didn't know I would end up ditching the crib and bedsharing for the first year. I would have never guessed I would be so patient, get so little sleep, or still be nursing at 18 months. Those choices came after I met Eveleigh and got to know her and discovered first-hand what worked (for her and for me) and what didn't.
So to all you new moms and moms-to-be, I would say this: take everyone's advice with a grain of salt. Plan ahead and educate yourself, but know there are always bumps in the road. And realize that your baby will have a big personality and you may have to wait and see who they are before you decide how to best parent them.