How Parenting Has Changed Through the Years with Cheri Douglas

If you haven’t noticed yet, I decided to ask my own mom if I could interview her! It was so nice to just sit down and talk about all the things that has changed since she had us 4 girls but to my surprise – not much has! Sure, OB’s and pediatricians are more confident in how they teach young parents about raising babies, but the reasoning behind any big changes all had to do with the options available to her. It was cool to talk with her and see how different yet incredibly similar our lives were and are – we were different ages and different financial situations, but we still had the same fears and stresses of raising a baby. From what I observed from my talk with my mom, the biggest difference between her time as a young parent and mine, is the beast that is social media. The loaded choices brought by social media accounts and companies have a way of adding pressures that just simply did not exist back in the day. Is that a good thing or bad thing? Do the choices add unnecessary stressors in our lives or do they give us a chance to find what’s truly best for our families? Does the over sharing on our accounts create an atmosphere of competitiveness and judgement or does it allow us to bond and communicate with a group of women we may never have otherwise? I feel it can absolutely go both ways and you will feel both ways at some point – but is it worth it? I would love to hear what you think, but before you do I hope you enjoy this (kind of long) but fun, casual conversation between me and my Mom! 💛

A: ok so I just want you to talk about you and when you were having kids. How old were you when you had Sarai?

M: 23

A: WHOA man!

M: Maybe I was 24. 23 or 24.

A: That’s one of the topics I talked about in my last post, how the ages for women when having children has changed. I mean I had Savannah when I was 29 and I know a lot of people who are in the same boat as me.

M: yeah, I didn’t know I was pregnant with Sarai because I had such irregular periods

A: Yeah I remember you saying that! And I feel like that’s getting more common too! So you had Sarai at 23 – do you remember how old you where when you had each of us?

M: so I had Sarai and then while I was breastfeeding (which I did because we were poor), everyone told me “don’t worry about getting pregnant, you wont get pregnant if you’re breastfeeding” and then I got pregnant. While I was breastfeeding. And that’s how you all came along – not what I expected at.all.

A: HA! Really?? Did you have your period while you were?

M: Yes – but still! I wasn’t a nurse yet – I was naïve, I didn’t know. There wasn’t any literature on it back then and everyone told me not to worry about it.

A: Yeah, I know that’s still a thing today. But that actually brings up my next question – you did breastfeed! Was it normal or abnormal at that time to do that?

M: so I think it was probably both – I think breastfeeding was very much coming into its own as being a thing of what you do, but there wasn’t the shaming back then like there is now. Whatever you did, people were fine with.

A: REALLY?

M: Yeah – there wasn’t the shaming of doing a bottle or formula like there is now. I remember breastfeeding out in the open and I would go in the library and just feed with a cover on. It just wasn’t that big of a deal. There wasn’t the shaming in your choices – I don’t remember that at.all. It’s just whatever you did, was what you did.

A: So it was just basically a personal preference?

M: MmHmm, yeah. I think social media is the one that has made it the whole shaming thing that its become.

A: Yeah! In some ways I think its been really good because it’s given you a lot of information and kind of explains why breastfeeding is great, but it also doesn’t help the formula side at all.

M: No, not at all.

A: I had a lot of people ask me, “you’re breastfeeding, right??” And I was just like yeah – but only because it was free! Like, why wouldn’t I at least try if I can if its going to save us money? But if you cant breastfeed or just don’t want to, its such a big deal and you just can’t talk about it.

M: No and that’s just what women have done to other women – its like no, you have to do this or it’s not the right decision. 

A: For Sure!

M: But when we talk about social media and talking about all of the information and all of the choices, sometimes it too much. It’s like, you go to the grocery store and there are 14 different kinds of ranch dressing and you just sit there – I don’t know which one to get. But they are all minimally different, they’re all the same, but you get stressed out with all of the choices. So you know, does it really make a difference if this car seat is 2% better than this car seat? I think with so many choices it can really stress out new moms.

A: Oh for sure! Oh my goodness I can attest to that!

M: Where as before – this was all there was. Are things a lot safer now? Of course they are. But there was a lot less stress back then because you knew exactly what you were going to do and I think sometimes that translates to as kids get older and why now you see so many helicopter parents around.

A: oh 100%. That was one of the things I’ve continually read in blogs is that parents in my generation have a really hard time letting their kids make any mistakes or suffering in any way. Which I DEFINITELY feel – but I also thinks its because I don’t know anything different. Especially with COVID. I haven’t had a single day without being near her, I don’t even know what I’d do if anything bad happened to her.

M: and every parent feels that way. But the more you can let them experience life, the better they are. Cause you remember when you were young, you would be over at the neighbors and we wouldn’t know where you were – we were just like ok, see yuh!

A: Oh yeah it was a COMPLETELY different world it feels like.

M: But it helped you grow in the person you are today. 

A: Yeah that’s so true – it did. Ok next question – Growing up, did you want kids?

M: No..

A: HA what! So you and dad were the same?

M: Your dad and I both felt that way. We never actually really discussed it, but kids were definitely not in the plan. Especially your dad – your dad did not want kids. But I didn’t plan on kids either because it just wasn’t who I was. 

A: I mean when I think about what I was doing at 23 and NO WAY! Even when we got married when I was 27 in my mind I was like yeah, some day – but I can’t picture it happening. We’re you sad when you found out you were pregnant?

M: I wasn’t sad, I was so young it was like – what am I going to do now? And we were so poor – that made the biggest difference because we were really poor. So that was a really big adjustment.

A: man – and then to have 4?!

M: Yeah – Ashley was planned. I was working the maternity rotation and I remember thinking , yeah it would be nice to have another one. I can’t remember for you though.

A: was I a surprise? That’s usually how it works for the last one.

M: Yeah, I think you were. But after 3 you’re like eh, what’s one more?

A: I heard there’s such a big difference after having 1 that after that its just like – why not?

M: You’ll be more mellow with your next one. Like the diapers, you’ll get the cheaper diapers – these work just as fine. When you go to functions once COVID is over you’ll be like here, please hold my baby.

A: I can see that for sure. Ok next question – what did we sleep in? Did you have crib and bassinets and all of that?

M: Uhm I did have a bassinet and then you went into a crib – but we did have bumpers.

A: You had bumpers?? OHH SO SCARY!

M: It was very pretty and it was very in – and you also slept on your stomach because that’s what the doctor said to do.

A: That’s so crazy. Isn’t is crazy how in the span of a couple decades they’re like – oh no no, that WILL kill your baby.

M: I know, but that’s how healthcare is in general. 10 years ago they put a drug we used for nausea on a black box list that worked really well, but now this drug is back and everybody talks about how great it is and we’re just like yeah. It’s pretty good.

A: I always just thought it was something they just now really started to put some time and research in, that’s why things are changing so much.

M: They’ve been researching SIDS for yeeaars, its an on going thing. It’s a broad term and there can be things wrong with the baby that we don’t even know. But since no one is right there as its actually happening, its hard to know for sure. But before you guys were born, I was aware of SIDS.

A: Oh really? Were you terrified of it or just like oh I’m not really understanding what it is yet?

M: Probably. I was like ok, you know whatever. We didn’t have baby monitors back then so we were just like you are fine!

A: Oh yeah! So did we sleep in the same room as you or in our own

M: For a little bit – definitely when we were in the apartment we were in the same room but when we moved into the house you were in a different room – for sure.

A: I definitely understand that. I was all on board for having Savannah sleep in the same room with us until she was 1 but then it got to a point where I was like, I can’t do this anymore. No body is getting any sleep anymore!

M: Yeah, they start to sleep better when they are on their own too.

A: Ok last question – how long did you stay in the hospital for each birth and do you remember how much it cost?

M: No, I don’t remember how much it cost. But I gave birth and then left the next day. They also had rooming in then too.

A: oh they did?!

M: Yeah! But after the 2nd or 3rd child, I told them to take them back because I had to get my sleep! I had the kids at home to think about and it was too much stress!

A: yeah of course! I read that each hospital has specific rules for how long you can send them to the nursery while others don’t. I remember they had Savannah stay with us the whole time and they didn’t really give me any options or mention it. I mean with people coming and going all day long, it could’ve been nice to have had them take her for a couple of hours so I could get some sleep.

M: oh and you need it – you need to mentally and physically recuperate from what you just did. We always had the option on sending them to the nursery at night and I always said yes – take them.

A: I remember you told me to do that – I was too scared.

M: I know because they shame you into not wanting to ask.

A: Did you have an epidural for any of us? Was it an option?

M: Yeah it was but I had such quick deliveries that I didn’t have any for you guys. I do remember saying that I was going to do one with you but they told me it was going to take an hour for the doctor to get there so I was just like, oh whatever I’m just going ahead and doing it. So I did!

A: I sometimes think I would want to try it –

M: No. don’t. My labors were always really quick but even that last bit was always very intense and I would not recommend it. It’s not all its cracked up to be – why would you go through all of that pain if you don’t have to? And by in large, epidurals are very safe.

A: Can you think of anything majorly different that you want to talk about?

M: Uhm, I don’t know. I mean we just didn’t have that many options. But it goes back to all of the choices – are they actually better? Because babies are actually pretty resilient.