In addition to considering which people you want in the delivery room, women giving birth today also need to contend with what technology to bring to the stirrups. I'm not talking about sonograms or epidural pumps. There are Twitter, Facebook, and blogging to consider. There are cell phones, computers, Blackberries, iPhones, cameras and Flip videos to trot out. People are livestreaming their birth experience!
Technology has literally become like an extra occupant in the room, and it's one that people endlessly debate. Does Tweeting updates take you out of the moment and and make you miss the beauty of the birth? Can it actually be dangerous to have someone more concerned with catching the best shot than if they're standing in a safe place for the delivery? Will you regret not having more of the experience recorded in the future when you miss so much in the moment (I don't know about you, but I barely remember anything from that day except for tiny moments)? Plus, what about the friends and family who are scattered around the country or world who want to feel connected to the moment?
It's a lot to balance.
There are two kinds of technology -- one that allows you to record the moment for those within the experience and one that allows you to broadcast out. I wonder if it breaks down comfort-level-wise with those who would rather have the birth be an intimate moment between the parents (who might be more likely to want a camera or video recording for their own use) and those who would allow others in the delivery room (who might be more amenable to Tweeting or blogging the birth or sticking up a video on YouTube of their C-section).
The wife of Evan Williams, the CEO of Twitter, tweeted her child's birth last summer, from the water breaking to putting on the first diaper. The LA Times sarcastically announced, "What a special, private moment. She only has 16,449 followers."
Though it makes perfect sense that -- as an extension to the creation of that technology -- she's going to partake in it herself. Some might say that Twitter affords people more privacy than bringing family members to the hospital. After all, those 16,449 people only know what she chooses to share, and none are close enough to the experience to feel the full weight of the emotions surrounding a birth. It's the best of both worlds -- giving people a window in rather than leaving the door wide open.
Kimora Lee Simmons also tweeted her birth last summer and came up against the same judgment on Yahoo's Shine:
I know everyone has their own way of dealing with the stress of labor and delivery, and perhaps posting updates on Twitter is one of those ways. Or maybe we're losing our ability to live privately and in the moment –– even during something magical like childbirth –– without technology glued to our fingertips?
It's a pretty harsh assessment of technology, and one that sees the usage of Twitter (or for that matter, Facebook or blogging) as a black-and-white, either/or situation. Either you're in the moment or you're out of the moment, and if you're using Twitter, some people might see you as mentally/emotionally out of the moment.
But what do those people think about those who make a phone call alerting people that the baby is on his/her way? Are those people also not living in the moment and riding the magical experience of childbirth? After all, telephones focus people outward.
Back in 2006, Josh Bancroft announced that he was going to live-blog the birth of his child and immediately followed with an explanation: "Rachel kind of freaked out when I showed her this, so I had to explain that I wasn’t going to give a minute by minute account. Just lots of updates over the next half day or so. Hope no one had expectations otherwise."
But that's nothing to live-streaming the birth of your child and the first days following the birth. Lynsee, the woman who live-streamed her birth, also allowed those at home to chat with her while she was in the delivery room. My fears with that had nothing to do with the usage of technology and more with the fact that births don't always go according to plan and how she would look back at the experience if the worst did happen. I'd love to hear from Lynsee now, months after the experience, about how she felt in the moment; if she has any regrets about having a camera in the room 24 hours a day for several days.
On the other end are people who might like technology, but want to keep the entire birth experience to themselves. Any what-to-bring-to-the-hospital list worth its salt reminds you to pack a camera, and now, in the age of Flip videos, pack one of those, too (and the Truthful Mom points out not to forget the batteries and chargers).
The reality is that not all hospitals will allow you to bring a video camera into the delivery room or operating room (in the case of a C-section). Depending on your hospital, including whether it has WiFi capabilities or a policy on what technology can be there for the moment, you may have the decision made for you in terms of how much you share.
Back when I gave birth to the twins, Twitter and Facebook status updates weren't an option (were they an option in 2004? If they were, I certainly didn't know about them). We didn't have a blog, so no blog updates from the delivery room. We owned a video camera, but we didn't take it out during the birth. We had just gotten our first digital camera, so we have a handful of pictures from the day.
But life is different now. I do blog and I tweet and I update my Facebook status regularly. Would I live-stream the birth or post video? Probably not, because I'm fairly circumspect about keeping the kids themselves offline. But would I be tweeting (scratch that, would Josh be tweeting) or blogging? Absolutely. It's as much about multitasking as anything else. It's answering questions, giving information, and recording the moment for posterity all at the same time.
Going under the assumption that all options are on the table, what would you bring with you to the delivery room if you were giving birth tomorrow OR what did you bring technology-wise to your birth?
And just as important, how do you feel about various technologies in the delivery room and the idea of tweeting or live-streaming a birth?
More from parenting