Back in my day

I had my youngest baby, Andrea, nearly 26 years ago. Listening to Megan talk about pregnancy, labor, and newborn care, it's clear there have been some important — and some not-so-important — changes in the whole process since back in my day.

Back sleeping: Back in my day, pregnant women generally slept on their back. Or at least I did. Apparently sleeping on one's back during pregnancy is a big no-no. Something about pressure on the spine, circulation problems, hemorrhoids and drops in blood pressure. Plain and simple, it's not good for Mom, it's not good for baby, say the experts.

Ultrasounds: Back in my day, parents-to-be didn't automatically receive baby-in-utero photos to show grandparents, friends, and strangers. Ultrasounds were typically only done in emergency situations, and you didn't get a souvenir photo after the process. Nowadays there are a series of ultrasounds and a series of pictures, starting with those in which the babies are unrecognizable blobs. Megan and Preston announced their first pregnancy to Jim and me with a framed photo of a Bubby blob. And the pregnancy yielding Baby Mac was announced to the family via a text message photo. (Although, the photo being of a blob and all, Jim actually thought it was a B&W photo of Megan's carved Jack-o-Lantern, not our second grandson.)

Sprinkles: Back in my day, new mothers were given a baby shower to honor Mom and outfit baby and nursery. With the first baby, that is. Second babies and second-time moms weren't celebrated in such a fashion. Consensus was that it just seemed wrong to solicit more gifts when Mom should have hand-me-downs from the first. Nowadays, second-time (and third- and more-time) moms still don't usually get repeat showers, but they do get "sprinkled." It's a lighter version of the full baby shower, I'm told, more of a sponge-bath o' love from the closest friends and family.

Strep B: Back in my day, mothers were tested for various things upon learning they were pregnant. I can't remember exactly what those things were (like I said, that was 26 years ago), but I'm pretty sure Strep B wasn't one of them. Apparently the Strep B test is a pretty important one nowadays, one given to every pregnant mom, one whose results may alter the delivery plan. Or it's supposed to. As long as you get to the hospital in time to get some antibiotics pumping intravenously as precautionary protection for the little one. Which, ahem, was supposed to happen with Megan and Mac but didn't because the newfangled procedure next on this list worked far quicker than expected. (Mac fortunately ended up okay and aced the tests that proved it.)

Induction: Back in my day, pitocin was the drug of choice for bringing on labor. I never had to be induced, but it was the go-to method of getting that baby outta there when needed. Apparently drugs aren't the only option anymore, there's also the option to insert a balloon — up "there" — to get things moving. Which just seems weird to me. But it clearly worked for getting Mac here ... again, far quicker than expected.

Swaddling: Back in my day, I learned rather quickly that swaddling a baby could save the day, as well as Mom and Dad's sanity. The technique made millionaires out of entrepreneurial folks who marketed swaddling blankets. Swaddling was in vogue for years and years, even through Bubby's birth and early months. I have pictures galore of the newborn bundle wrapped tight into a precious little Bubby burrito. I won't be doing that with Mac, though, and neither will Megan, as the experts now say swaddling is out and letting the baby's arms flop and fling to help them awaken themselves is in.

Push presents: Back in my day, moms pushed their way through labor and delivery and were rewarded for their hard work with a precious bundle to take home with them, to love and cherish forever. That's not how it works nowadays, at least in some circles. Yes, moms still get the precious bundle and the hope is that they'll love and cherish it forever, but they also get a special gift from Dad for the performance in pushing out the kid. It may be jewelry, a new bag, a fitness membership, but whatever it may be, Dad better have thought long and hard — and opened his wallet wide — to show his appreciation for the pain and pushing Mom endured in the name of growing the family tree.

Some of these changes make sense to me. There's certainly no harm done by not swaddling a baby, especially if it keeps the SIDS fears at bay. But push presents? That one leads me to wonder how many times moms will expect gifts throughout the years to make up for the pains of parenting. Because as those of us with adult children know, in hindsight, the pushing during delivery is by far one of the easier parts of parenting.

Today's question:

If you were to be given a gift for enduring a recent challenge, for what challenge would you like to be rewarded and what would be a fitting gift?