I have a sneaking suspicion that becoming a mother was somehow easier about 100 years ago, than it is today. Let me explain.
100 years ago, a woman got pregnant and had a baby. Usually at home. Attended by a midwife or a woman friend. Without drugs or other interventions. It really was that simple -- because there were no other alternatives. Today, we women of the 21st century have what has been termed "choices in childbirth." And, as we all know, choices create sides, which create debates, which create Guilt, which is apparently every modern mother's middle name (or so says Rosemary, a dear friend of my mother's).
So here are some of the "choices in childbirth" that mothers today are faced with. Hospital, birthing center, or (gasp) home-birth? Doctor, midwife, or both? Who else is present at the birth (husband, other family members, friends, etc.)? Lamaze, Bradley, or other childbirth method? Medicated or natural? Who catches the baby? Who cuts the cord? And the list goes on. . .
After the baby is born, there are even more decisions to make. I guess I should call these "choices after childbirth." Rooming-in or baby in the nursery? Feeding on demand or sticking to a feeding schedule? Breast, bottle, or a little of both? Disposable diapers or cloth? If baby is a boy, to circumcise or not to circumcise? Crib-sleep or co-sleep? "Attachment parenting" or "baby-wise" rigidity?
And this is not even to mention the monumental decision regarding baby's name. One website I was on this morning had over 11,000 names in its database. But, if you find out the sex of the baby beforehand (yet another decision to make), you can pretty much cut that number in half. Great -- only 5,500 names to choose from -- that helps a lot!
And don't even get me started on all the decisions about baby's room and baby's gear. Honestly, how much stuff does one little person require? I was asked to make a wish list for a baby shower that's being given for me this weekend. It was almost 2 pages long by the time I was finished! And even after you determine that you need something such as a stroller or a car seat, you have about a billion different makes and models to choose between, each with its own pros and cons. How does anyone manage to survive becoming a parent in our modern world and stay sane at the same time? Or is "sane parent" something of an oxymoron? In about 7 weeks, I guess I will find out for myself!
In the meantime, I am seriously considering taking the advice of a friend (thanks, Lj), and burning every single book I own on birth and parenting that was written by someone with a lot of initials after their name.