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Are there histograms on the columns from where clause, for instance createdate?
Yes there is 'Height-balanced' histogram on it.
Well, binds and histograms don’t mix well, particularly in 10g. This link contains wealth of information about this behavior:
Out of the two options, I would choose option 1. Option 2 might be cumbersome to implement in production.
If you can change the code, you might consider using “pseudo-hints” to have a different execution plan for a wide-range between clause and a narrow-range between clause.
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I think your best option is to lock-in the plan using a stored outline (hints might work, too, but single hint may not be enough -- what about join order and join method?), http://www.oracle-base.com/articles/misc/outlines.php