Blogging the Baby
Keeping an online journal during pregnancy and beyond
Why a Blog?
Lisa McCall of Audubon, Pennsylvania, admits she’s addicted—to online journaling, that is. McCall, the proud new mother of Angelina Faith, chronicled her pregnancy with Angelina beginning before she was even conceived. Her online journal, called A Princess and Her Pea, is a complete history of McCall’s efforts to have another child after a devastating miscarriage.
In the process, McCall has been able to keep her extended family informed of every little detail of her pregnancy, has made new friends from around the country, and is planning to keep the pregnancy/birth chronicle as a keepsake for Angelina. “The main reason [the online journal was started] was to have a place to chronicle every little tidbit of my pregnancy,” she says. “I wanted to remember it all. I am also a scrap booker, so once this pregnancy journal is finished, I will be printing it off and putting it into my baby’s scrapbook for her to look at when she gets older.”
A Brief History of Blogging
McCall is one of a growing group of online journal keepers, officially known as Web loggers, or “bloggers” for short. Bloggers chronicle the day’s events, both personal and not-so-personal, on websites that are updated frequently.
Although pregnancy bloggers, like McCall, are known primarily in the world of other pregnancy blog keepers, other bloggers have emerged on the national scene in political and journalistic circles. Remember Monica Lewinsky? She became a household name because of the efforts of a little-known blogger named Matt Drudge. They’re both well-known now. Blogs were also responsible for revealing Trent Lott’s past, resulting in his subsequent resignation as Senate Majority Leader. Even politicians, taking notice of the way Howard Dean was able to jump start his presidential campaign, have started using blogs as a way to get their message out—undiluted by media scrutiny.
But blogs are primarily used by people to keep a running commentary of their day-to-day lives. It’s a journal, yes, but one that isn’t hidden under the pillow or with a little lock on the pages. In fact, journal writers for sites such as BabyZone are merely writers of blogs that are supported by a particular website.
Venting and Kvetching
And most blogs do come off more diary-like than anything. McCall’s is filled with the minutiae of life as a pregnant woman, from the funny (her son’s reaction to finding out he was having a little sister) to the mundane (her blood pressure after each appointment). But while McCall sticks primarily to the subject of her pregnancy, others, like Anita Blanchard of Charlotte, North Carolina, use their blogs for a variety of subjects and often include information that has value to the readers, such as her reviews of birthing books, and a treatise on the squash vine borer, a garden pest.
Blanchard started her journal, And Baby Makes Seven, before she became pregnant. She called it “one family’s attempt to have it all,” and the intent was to chronicle the new life of a couple who found love a little later in life than perhaps is average. In addition to information about her pregnancy, there are sections on her dogs, her garden, and on remodeling her house.
A psychology professor, Blanchard has to do a lot of research-based writing for her job and enjoys the freedom of blogging. “I like to write and this is so much more fun than the other forms of writing I do,” says Blanchard. “When I started this blog, I knew we wanted to get pregnant within a year, and since we’re an older couple I thought it would be interesting to chronicle our attempts and perhaps to help others who are going through the process. Part of my motivation was that there is so much scary information about older mothers out there and much of it misleading statistics, I wanted to debunk some of that with my own reality.”
Like McCall, Blanchard also uses her online journal as a way to keep relatives and friends from around the country informed about what’s going on in their lives. The Blanchards have lived in a variety of cities, and this makes it much easier to keep in touch.
But there’s more to blogging than just letting Grandma see pictures of the latest ultrasound. Gayle Peterson is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development, and she says that blogging may be a way of helping the expectant mother cope with anxiety.”Pregnancy is a huge transformation, especially for a woman becoming a mother for the first time,” says Peterson. “Women have more anxiety in pregnancy because they’re taking on new tasks, and the best way to handle that is by expressing it. Expressing it to yourself is good, but expressing it to other people and having them say ‘I know what you mean’ is a very legitimate way of coping with the anxiety of this change.”
Peterson calls this a “support group” type of situation and says there’s probably a sense of safety in the anonymity of blogging. Blanchard agrees, especially in her case, where she’s older than the average pregnant woman in her town. “I hear from both men and women who are older and just having children,” says Blanchard. “There’s definitely a community of women of a certain age who are getting pregnant and have no one to talk to or to listen to them. If you can’t find them in your town, where everyone in your childbirth class is 15 years younger than you, where else do you look? Online, of course.”
In addition, as Peterson points out, the cost-benefit analysis of online journaling is heavily weighted toward the benefits. Blogs are generally free, you can make great friends, and, if you have an unusual medical situation, you can get support for that. “Overall, blogging just speaks to the fact that pregnancy and becoming a mother are very unsupported issues in our culture,” says Peterson. “The Internet gives you a little wider world.”
Start your pregnancy journal!
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