Last week I was reading some essays written by a woman that had her first child in 2002 when she was 46 years old. I, on the other hand had my first child in 1973 when I was 21 years old. AND...it seems a whole lot of things have changed. Doing the math, that mom is 5 whole years younger than me and for that, I might be a tad envious. She probably was thinking how much better she was prepared by waiting longer to have her child. No doubt she was. However, I see advantages to having children younger even if technology and the medical community didn't offer me all the advantages that are available today.
Just for starters, back then I got top billing. At no point did husbands in the early 1970s say, "WE are pregnant!" No, back in the old days, the person who had possession of the occupied uterus was the pregnant one and the other person was included as a secondary participant. OK, we might of said, "WE are expecting" as both of us were anticipating the arrival of a baby but we didn't say that we were both pregnant.
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Now for all of you dads out there that think I am being exclusionary, I am merely pointing out the word usage here. I am not underestimating your contribution to the end result: the baby. Yeah, you did your part but I am still thinking that the women do the heavy lifting part of this scenario.
Now I know some of your have acted appropriately empathetic while we vomited every morning, saw our body balloon into an odd configuration that eclipsed our feet, and required us to pee every 10 minutes but I do draw the line when men equate passing a kidney stone as probably the same type of pain as childbirth. Let me just say that unless that kidney stone was 8 and a half pounds you are full of s***.
As I was saying...Even leading up to the baby's arrival, things have changed. It used to be that the mommy-to-be had a couple of baby showers given by her friends and/or family. Typically, these consisted of all girls chatting over white sheet cake about baby names, nursery decor and how sore their nipples were. Lots of giggling over guessing if the baby would be a boy or a girl. (NOTE: Yes, back then we didn't get 3D pictures of our babies so we could see them sucking their thumbs and seeing their cute little faces.)
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Fast forward to today...Couples baby showers evidently are a thing. I actually haven't attended a coed baby shower so I am not sure how successful these are but I think I like the idea of the men having to play those stupid games. Why should women-kind be the only one subjected to this type of punishment?
If it's any consolation, it is my understanding that adult beverages do get served at couples baby showers. Of course this would have to be the case. I can't imagine that grown up couples that have put aside an evening out for a celebration would be on board to not have access to a drink or two... or ten?
Of course, the pregnant couple is abstaining from drinking. Don't even think about it dad...if you are saying "WE are pregnant" then WE are both on the wagon, aren't we? But be aware.... You will be really be wanting some booze when the subject turns to "mucus plugs". Don't say I didn't warn you.
Another noticeable difference between then and now is the delivery room. Well, hell what am I saying? Today there aren't delivery rooms.... there are birthing suites.
I know this is going to sound like the maternity equivalent of me saying I walked 10 miles uphill in the snow to school...but back in the 70's, women in labor were placed in a curtained area similar to how most of today's outpatient surgery centers are set up. Labor was done in partitioned off areas and at the appropriate time we were wheeled to the delivery room. (NOTE: If you have had a colonoscopy anytime lately you might be familiar with a curtain between you and the next person getting "prepped". While it's all very clinical and impersonal, the job gets done.)
I don't remember if there was a TV in the corner but I was being thoroughly entertained by the lady on the other side of the curtain that was morphing between comments about how she was dying and how her husband would never get the opportunity to get near her again. As I recall, his comments and "toneage" implied that he was OK with that.
Fast forward to today. So compared to the old method of a separate labor area, then onto the delivery room, and then finally a hospital room, today there is a "birthing suite" that is a one stop shop. When my daughter had her babies, I got to visit her suite. Turns out that having babies can be a very spa like experience...well except for the labor pains part of it, I suppose. Moms have a room with a big flat screen TV, a recliner, Jacuzzi tub and a fold out sofa for the co-participants that want to sleep over. While the decor still is pretty "hospital chic" in style it is private and mommy and daddy can have the whole dang family involved if they choose to. I think everyone except the family dog is welcome and I wouldn't guarantee that Fido wouldn't be allowed under certain situations.
I personally was fine at not having a private suite but upon the occasion of my first baby hospital stay, I was disappointed that once I departed the delivery room, the private maternity rooms were all occupied. Yes, thoroughly bummed out as we had great insurance that was more than happy to accommodate me with a private room only to find out that August is a super busy month and that I would have a room mate. My room mate, however, provided me with tons of entertainment. She regularly called the "possible" 3 "daddies" and went on and on about how much the baby looked like each of them. Two of the daddies came visiting and to her immeasurable relief (I am guessing)...not at the same time. I might add that I sensed that at least those two dads weren't as happy as one might expect about being a new daddy.
One more notable difference is the level of "full disclosure" on the part of moms today. I have talked to a fair amount of women that allowed photography during the birth of their children. I imagine all of that "memorabilia" made it's way to someones clever little scrapbook. I am rather curious who gets the pleasure of seeing the pictures. Is this something that comes out at Thanksgiving dinner?
Back in the day, I considered myself a "giver" to let the doctor and my husband be in the room. Had I thought my husband was capable of delivering our daughter, I wouldn't have allowed the doctor as much access as he had to my lady parts. As for photos...no way in hell. I am fairly safe in saying that from a photographic perspective, that definitely isn't my best angle.
Sooo...as for the lady that waited for her career and life to settle nicely into place for her and her hubby before having a baby at 46 and me being young and fairly naive at 21...I am thinking that I like my choice better. Sure that woman that wrote the article is 5 years younger than me but she has a 14 year old to deal with. I get to send my grandchildren back to their house at the end of the day.