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Bringing Up Baby in 2014

How is technological advancement affecting mothers and their newborns?

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While sorting through dusty old photographs at my parents’ house the other day, I came across a snapshot of me as a newborn. With big saucer eyes and a full head of dark hair, I was cute as a Portuguese muffin. There was just one tiny problem: my mother had been clearly trying to kill me.

The proof was in the Polaroid. She had plopped me down in the crib on my stomach and then covered my legs and back with a heavy tie-dye blanket made of fleece. As if that wasn’t awful enough, my dear mother made sure to throw a few stuffed animals onto the mattress for good measure. Somehow I survived infancy, though neither of us is quite sure how.

“But honey,” my mother said to me, in between sheepish giggles, “that was 33 years ago! Things were so different back then. Honestly – we didn’t know any better! We just did the best we could with what we had.”

After promising that I wasn’t in fact harboring any ill will against her and her 1980 naiveté, I hopped in my Passat and headed for home. Lost in my thoughts on the interstate, I couldn’t help but to think that life must have been a whole lot simpler back then. (You should know, dear reader, that my belly is currently the size of planet Earth. By the time this issue goes to press, I will have already given birth to my son.)

My son. When I say those two simple words aloud, the hairs on my forearms stand at attention. Even my follicles know that we’re about to be handed our biggest challenge yet; we’re about to be tasked with keeping a helpless, seven-pound ball of squirming, pink-tinged flesh alive.

And while my mother most certainly grappled with some of the same universal fears that I grapple with now – Will I have the energy to do this? Am I financially stable enough to support a child? – modern technology has provided me with a plethora of additional worry topics that would have never plagued mothers of decades ago.

Uber-popular pregnancy sites like babycenter.com are hotbeds of anguish. Even so, I can’t avert my eyes from the wreckage. I simply must know which foods and activities to eschew during pregnancy, I simply must! FYI, ingesting a turkey sandwich or a soft serve ice cream cone equals certain death for your unborn child; both should be avoided at all costs. And don’t you dare even think of playing a tennis match lest you trip over your own two feet while reaching to return a lob.

These days, the list of pregnancy no-nos is long and overwhelming, rivaled only by the contemporary baby registry list of pregnancy must-haves. After all, we have to keep up with the Joneses if our offspring are ever to have a chance at survival.

The latest hot gadget is Sproutling, a wearable baby monitor that predicts sleep patterns and optimal sleep conditions. You simply strap the $249 band around your infant’s ankle each night to receive messages sent to your smart phone telling you if your precious pink ball is sleeping soundly or if something is wrong. (You’d better pre-order yours soon, ladies; the price will jump to $299 next year.)

Technology and its consequent interconnectedness open our mascara-laden eyes to possibilities our mothers never even imagined. It’s a frightening, exhausting and over-stimulating world we live in... but I wouldn’t trade it for any other. There’s no place I’d rather be than right here, in the year 2014, purchasing crazy-expensive baby monitors and worrying myself sick over my son.