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Meredith Leigh Knight Columnist

Published Friday, January 25, 2013

You've come a long way, baby

Being pregnant has come a long way since I was expecting my first child some, gulp, 22 years ago. These days being pregnant is en vogue. Hollywood deserves part of the credit as celebrities proudly display their “baby bumps.” (I despise that expression, by the way).

Today, pregnant women have never looked so good. In fact, thanks to retailers such as Target and Old Navy, every pregnant woman can look like a movie star. They have access to stylish dresses, designer shirts and even super cute blue jeans, all for a reasonable price. What a far cry from the homemade orange jumper I used to wear, not because I liked looking like a pumpkin, but because it was comfortable (i.e., it fit); and, oh yes, it was free, a hand-me-down from my cousin.

Back then, maternity clothes were at a premium. There wasn’t even a Motherhood store in those days. Fortunately, I had a resourceful mom who would scour the thrift shops for bargains for me. I remember one outfit distinctly. It was a pair of pink maternity overalls with what looked like a large bib to cover my stomach. I wore it with fake pearls and white cowgirl boots. It was the late 1980s, after all.

Another advantage today’s women have is special parking for expecting moms. I have never once in my life had special parking, especially when I was pregnant, and hoofing it around my college campus trying to make it to class on time. But, around town, realistically, that was just fine. Someone told me walking would make labor easier, so I walked miles and miles and miles and miles.

Two weeks past my due date, after a full day of labor, I was rushed into the operating room for an emergency C-section. I can recall my doctor asking, “Are you the pregnant woman I’ve seen walking all over town?”

“Yes,” I said, as I counted backwards from 10. “I couldn’t get special parking.”

Today, pregnant women have better ultrasounds than we did, too. With the modern 3-D ultrasounds, you can tell what the baby looks like before he leaves the womb.

“Look, honey, he looks just like Uncle Bill,” says today’s mom as the baby waves.

I’m sorry, that is just creepy.

For my first ultrasound, I had to drink eight full glasses of water and hold it. I had tears when I saw the black grainy photos of my baby, tears from a bladder that was about to burst, not from joy.

“Do you want to know if it’s a boy or girl?” the technician asked.

“Yes,” I managed to say.

“Well, you have a 50/50 chance that it’s a girl!”

“Fantastic! Wait a minute! Isn’t that what I had to begin with?” I yelled on my way to the bathroom.

There was one big advantage back then, though, and it certainly wasn’t the baby equipment. I can recall lifting my sleeping baby from the car seat to the carrier to the stroller to the swing. I quickly learned that putting the baby into her car seat was the most difficult task. I would bump my head every time. I really needed a police officer to push it down like you see on “COPS.”

No, the big advantage was the hospital stay. I spent an entire week with the first, two days with the second (eight years later), and with the third? Let’s just say I had him at 4:27 a.m., and right after my breakfast of watery eggs, they told me I could go home. My reply?

“Can I please stay until lunch?”

The women of my grandmother’s era had the right idea when it came to birthing babies – a full week or two in the hospital, and once at home, they were treated like royalty and not allowed to get out of bed.

I have photos of my grandmother propped up on an array of pillows looking like the Queen of Sheba. My dad was about one month old at the time. The day I brought my third child home I washed sheets and cooked homemade potato salad. Two days later, I was running a car pool, and a week later, I was at Wal-mart. I’m sure today’s women are doing close to the same.

I guess there’s a trade-off to snazzy clothes, convenient parking and cool gadgets after all.

So, which generation would you choose?

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