The Inquisitr has a fluff piece on “baby-nups,” written agreements on how to split babycare duties. Working out the division of labor before the baby arrives is supposed to provide clarity, communication, and presumably other good things beginning with c.

Let’s leave aside the awful, precious name “baby-nups.” Let’s even leave aside the fact that if two adults can’t work out a good division of responsibilities without creating a “contract,” they probably shouldn’t have procreated in the first place. Baby-nups (ugh, I hate typing that phrase) are still a terrible idea, because babies are not little machines. You have no idea what your baby’s health will be like, how good a sleeper he’ll be, what kind of feeding issues may arise, how fussy he may get. “You’ll take the early evening feedings and I’ll take feedings from midnight on” sounds fine, but what if the kid won’t take a bottle? What if you plan to breastfeed the kid, but you can’t? What if the child is in the NICU for a month? What if the father suddenly has to travel or work overtime? What if, what if, what if?

None of the “what ifs” should preclude parents from making a plan for after their child is born. Planning is a sensible thing to do. But any schemes involving a baby have to be loosely defined and flexible, because babies have a way of upending perfect, elaborate scenarios. Just as you can usually plan for how your birth will take place–hospital, birth center, home; epidural or not; cesarean or vaginal delivery–so you must recognize that your peaceful home birth might turn into an emergency cesarean, or that you won’t be getting your epidural because the kid decided that the freeway shoulder was an excellent place to make his debut into the outer world.

Parenthood is learning to recognize the limits to your control. Make plans, by all means, but also know that your plans may be utterly undone by circumstance. And for goodness’ sake, don’t befoul your plans by naming them anything as revoltingly precious as a “baby-nup.”


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