Opinion: Having a baby in 2012

Robert Thomas Young

Robert Thomas Young

is a senior philosophy major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]

My wife and I are expecting our first child in three weeks! I’ve been talking with my grandma, my mom and my sister recently, and I’ve taken notice to some of the differences in having and raising a baby over the years.

For instance, all three women laughed when I told them I needed to buy a bottle sterilizer. “What the hell is that?” my sister said, noting that a pot of boiling water was still the norm in 2002 when my 8-year-old niece was a newborn. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

My grandmother had all four children with nearly nothing in terms of what we consider medical technology today. All children were born with no option for pain medication, and she used cloth diapers [then, the norm] for all of them but her last. Simply birthing her kids in the hospital opposed to the house was considered a luxury in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

My grandmother had no parenting magazines or websites to lean on — only advice from family and neighbors. She didn’t know how to make my dad [her oldest child] stop crying, so she fed him every time he started. She realized she had to stop feeding him so much when he weighed 40 pounds at six months!

In terms of safety, seat belts, let alone car seats, were nonexistent, and there were no childproof socket protectors. Kids back then were lucky to get a room that wasn’t painted in lead paint or insulated with asbestos. Trial and error worked fine for learning that the stove is hot and the electrical socket shocks you.

When it came to discipline, spanking was the norm in my grandma’s era. Time-outs were still only a reference to sporting events, and there were no video games to take away back then. Life and having a baby was dramatically different.

Today, we have locking car seats installed by the fire and police departments. There are BPA-free bottles, organic baby food, ergonomic pacifiers, musical vibrating cribs, swaddles and my favorite — the diaper genie. There is no fighting it; having a baby in 2012 is way easier than at any point in human history.

My grandmother didn’t know the sex of any of her children until the day they were born. We knew that we were having a baby girl after a few months into pregnancy. We even have ultrasound pictures of her that outline her face. My wife was taking prenatal vitamins before she got pregnant; whereas, my grandmother just had to try to eat healthier.

We’ve read multiple baby books, sat through a birthing seminar and taken two child psychology courses together. There is no doubt that we have it made compared to men and women 50 years ago, who were largely dependent on family customs.

When I start to think about how different having a baby and raising a child is today, it always makes me think of how it will only be a blink of an eye before my grandkids tell me how terrible and backward times were when we had children in the early part of the 21st century, before genetic counseling, nano-medicines and robotic surgeons make our “modern” medicine look as archaic and antiquated as bloodletting or lobotomies.