You didn't really want to know that, did you?

There was no way she was serious.

“Please tell me you’ve never actually seen someone post a pic of their baby’s turd, and that it was just a joke on ‘Friends with Kids,'” I typed on a friend’s Facebook post last week. “PLEASE TELL ME THAT. ”

She didn’t. She couldn’t. A Facebook friend had indeed shared photographic evidence of baby’s digestion on the site, she said. And she’d about had it.

One out of five Americans unfriend contacts on social networks over excessively political posts, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. But how many drop friends when their posts become excessively … Mom?

I still can’t believe it, big belly and all, but in about 13 weeks the M word will apply to 5-foot-2, could-still-get-a-Happy-Meal little me. I’m beyond excited, but when it comes to what I share, I’m self-conscious and cautious, which is weird. Pics of my belly go out only to a small group of family and friends. No one’s heard about our stumbles through childbirth class, our tough decision to switch to a midwife or our ever more creative search for a boy’s name Jason will actually love — with available URL, of course.

And when I do post about how I miss sushi, how baby’s kicks feel AMAZING or how grateful I am to my mom and mom-in-law for the work they put into the shower last week, I stare at the words for a minute or more before I hit publish.

Is it too much? Is it too weird? I don’t want to worry about it. I SHOULDN’T worry about it.

But this is more-dogs-than-kids Seattle. This is a demographic giving birth in their mid-30s, if at all. These are friends who ask, only half joking, “You’re not going to become a mommy blogger, are you?” If I broadcast ALL the ways my life is changing, will it change more than I want, sooner than I’d like?

These aren’t easy questions. But Facebook, bless its addictive little heart, is making sure I ask them early and often.

Over the past several weeks, my feed has gone from a news/geek summary from mostly Seattle friends to a nursery of baby updates from wherever Facebook can find them. That loud, skittery girl from my sociology seminar. An ex’s sister who just had twins. If a newborn was praised, coddled or photographed in some dusty corner of my social network, it is the first thing I see when I open Facebook in the morning. Along with “Aw!” inducing confessions like this: “I don’t want to be THAT kind of parent, but I can’t help it. [So-and-so] is the cutest baby ever!”

Do they really need so many bibs? (Photo: María Guzmán)

I click them, “like” them, show them to Jason and wonder if WE should do a newborn photo shoot before I shake my head and realize what’s happened.

As a machine, Facebook is just doing its job, reading my interests and serving content to match. As a force of our new social nature, though, I can’t help but think it’s nudging me to share this part of my life as openly as I’ve shared others. That it’s proving there are people in my network who can relate — there’s one! And there, another, closer than you thought! That it’s reconfiguring my community as I reconfigure my life. With my complete, if conflicted, cooperation.

There are places I know I won’t go, just ’cause it’s not me. I’m not making my baby’s picture my avatar. I’m not starting a Twitter account for the fetus. I doubt I’d drown friends in the hundreds of baby pictures I’m sure Jason and I will be drowning in ourselves and — ew! — I can’t imagine what demon could possess me to admire, let alone post a picture of, baby’s first turd.

Before I was pregnant, baby posts felt cute and adorable and loving, if distant. I’d sense their joy, smile and move on.

Now that I’m counting every stroller, toddler and bulbous belly that passes me by, they’re reassuring (and terrifying) sneak peeks at the biggest single change in my life, and a new role that — hehe — scares the crap out of me.

So by the time baby arrives, figuring out how much or little to share had better be quick.

I’m pretty sure it’ll be the least of my worries.

Comments

  • Kristin

    Totally a valid concern and question. My daughter is now 2 1/2 and I have the same concerns still. Mine mainly stem from me not wanting to determine her online identity for her before she has a say in the matter, but there are a lot of reasons to think critically about all this. :)

  • http://twitter.com/dananderson Dan Anderson

    First time parents have all sorts of anxiety and questions that you’d never expect. Sharing your random baby moments might annoy those without kids. But those with children will likely not only sympathize with you, but also remind you that you’re not alone. When my infant son had a particularly bad diaper incident, I tweeted about it and received several “it happens to us all” tweets in return from other dads. It made me feel better and it was nice to know that other parents were dealing with the same sort of thing.

    Congratulations on your upcoming addition to the family!

  • Dave

    Congratulations to you and I wouldn’t worry too much about it, at least on Facebook. You have some connection to the people on Facebook. Most people without kids or those with older kids will just ignore your posts, a few will hide your posts if they get irritating or two frequent, some will say thank goodness it is not them. Your new and existing Mom friends will provide support and grandparents will be fascinated by it all.  Grandparents will likely post many irritating and sometimes embarrassing things in response to your posts, and you’ll find you have at least one cousin or family member with no sense of judgment in online posting onto your posts.

    On Twitter, new Mom’s who put everything on Twitter just seem odd to me given that it is less private for all concerned.  Mommy blogging always seems less obnoxious than endless posts to me because someone needs to affirmatively decide to go to a blog. It isn’t like you are bugging them.

  • Maria Guzman

    “Now that I’m coutning every stroller, toddler and bulbous belly that passes me by, they’re reassuring (and terrifying) sneak peeks at the biggest single change in my life, and a new role that — hehe — scares the crap out of me.”

    Yep, you are doing just that:  Baby!… Belly!… Baby!…Stroller!  and it is so sweet :)

  • http://twitter.com/lilsheba Rebecca Nelson

    Three comments/observations/whatevers:

    1. That first poop IS pretty amazing. (As is the first poop after a large amount of blueberries, but that’s for later.) In fact, the whole thing is just one big, gross amazing miracle. And you’ll want to share some of it with your social media circles, and that’s okay. Keep a “do unto others” tack to your tweets and I think you’ll be just fine.

    2. Both my kids (4 years old and 6 months old) are on twitter. For the oldest, it was a way we could keep track of his growing vocabulary (and now the ridiculous things he says). And for the youngest, it was a chance to be super geeky right off the bat with a “Hello World!” tweet (https://twitter.com/#!/OskarNelson/statuses/123210347434881024). If nothing else, you need to snag that handle and domain name and whatever else for when they’re older! bubbaguzman.com won’t be available forever!

    3. There is one type of Mommy Blog I have yet to see, and, honestly, I think you’re just the lady to do it: How do today’s wired moms do the work thing? I happen to be one of those myself (SAHM with a neighborhood news site) and I would LOVE to read about other people like me are dealing with writing online and kids around and surviving it all. What works? What doesn’t? I think there’s a need for this, especially locally. The Geek Wire Mom column that’s not about apps for preschoolers, but how Mom stays plugged into her profession.

    And a P.S. I LOVE that you’ve already decided to not make your baby your profile pic. That is my biggest pet peeve. Mamas: YOU ARE NOT YOUR BABY.

    • http://geekwire.com Todd Bishop

      +1 on your P.S.

      One of my biggest pet peeves, for moms and dads.

      • http://twitter.com/lilsheba Rebecca Nelson

        I have two friends on facebook who are using the SAME shot of their son as their respective profile pics. Going on a year now (with those SAME pics STILL), and I’ve given up telling them apart.

        • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

          Wow.

    • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

      1. Noted. I get the sense that a lot of things I think are undeniably gross gain a certain beauty in the world of baby. Guess I’ll have to see for myself. 

      2. Already got the domain name for the baby if it’s a girl! Should get the Twitter, too, though — thanks for the reminder. ;) If it’s a boy, well, we’d better figure that one out fast…

      3. Good idea! I’ll see how it goes for me and whether I have any good advice to share. For all I know I’ll trip all over myself trying to regain the work/life balance I’ve spent, oh, the better part of the last decade trying to establish. There’s good lessons in that too, I guess. I’ll keep this in mind …

      As to your P.S., yeah, I’m just not a fan of putting up a profile pic that isn’t actually me. Even when there are campaigns out there to replace your photo with something else for a while, I hesitate. 

      • http://twitter.com/lilsheba Rebecca Nelson

        1. Newborns are a tough crowd, too. The “fourth trimester.” After that you start to like them. ;)

        2. bubbaguzman.com *is* available, btw.

        3. I think it’s less “finding the balance” and more “just trying not to fall in,” especially at first. Being open and flexible is the ticket, I’ve found.

        P.S. Same. Except for that one time I was Cheetara. Can’t remember what for, though.

    • http://twitter.com/cedarthvader Cedar Burnett

      I’m not a fan of the making your profile pic your baby either. Not cool. And I join your interest in a wired mom blog. I’m a freelancer/SAHM. Maybe we should start a new collective blog on that topic? 

    • http://whatnowexactly.com/ Jen Zug

      I love your idea #3! Love love love!

      • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

        @65c27755d6c7bf67bbfe9433fa24d0ab:disqus @twitter-17446058:disqus @twitter-19132769:disqus This makes me wonder – would you three be up for meeting up? I’d love to learn more about how you all balance work and kids, and we can talk more about this idea of a blog focused on tips for good balance, or “not falling in” ;)

        • http://whatnowexactly.com/ Jen Zug

          Absolutely!

  • Joe the coder

    Kids are wonderful.  I had two and even the nasty blowouts were ok.  I don’t mind people adoring their kids but I really wish they would moderate their gushing.  

    You know what I mean.  Pre-internet/social media, they were the ones that every time you saw them they would go on and on about little jimmy this or little tiffany that.  To the point where you would avoid them – problem solved. On facebook, they are even worse because there is no social restraint and short of unfriending them, you see every gushing post.  I’m not saying don’t post about your kids but just moderate it.  I have “friends” that post like 20 times a day and every single one is about their kid. I don’t even read them anymore.  You can only take so much blather about child perfection.   Just be aware of how one dimensional it is and you’ll be ok. Also, it’s ok to post about how tired you are or how you miss the taste of beer or what ever.

    • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

      You got right to one of my worries. My life, the people I’ve talked to, what we’ve talked about, it’s reached equilibrium in a lot of ways. When my life gets a big dose of baby, I know I won’t necessarily want to reshape my social circles to reflect that. In other words, I won’t want to push everyone away with too much talk about things to which they can’t relate, or have little to say to beyond, “Oh, cute!” I tend to be pretty sensitive to those kinds of conversation dynamics in person-to-person conversation; you can usually tell by someone’s body language that if she asks when the baby’s due, it’s really just a formality and she’s happy to move on to another topic. On social media it’s less clear. You post on and on about baby and don’t realize that a couple friends you treasure are starting to zone out. Not saying any of this is easy to figure out. It’s all just swimming around in my head, churned even more by these uber-thoughtful comments. Thanks for yours :)

      • Joe the coder

        The fact that you are thinking about means you’ll be ok.

      • http://twitter.com/amymstewart amymstewart

        you can just join babycenter.com

  • http://twitter.com/darrah_parker Darrah Parker

    I have an almost 6-month old baby girl and am guilty of many of the things you listed. I worry that I’m annoying my FB friends, but I also know that FB is the only way some of my friends and family members who live far away will see photos of the baby. I annoy myself sometimes as I hit “post” and sometimes delete baby-related posts, but I also don’t think you need to apologize for the life you are living.

    We had a hard time getting pregnant. So when we finally did, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. Of course, I didn’t. But once we were in the clear and knew the baby was healthy, I wanted to share that joy. I’ve shared the hard parts of early motherhood on my blog, along with the adorable baby pics. I think it’s important to be show both sides. It’s hard and beautiful and exhausting all at the same time.

    I like Rebecca’s idea of writing about raising a child while working from home. I’m a photographer (specializing in babies and families…ha!) but spend a lot of time at home, torn between baby feedings and blog posts and photo editing. Most days, I consider it a success if I brush my teeth or get out of my pj’s. It’s the reality of working from home and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

    All I can say is do what YOU are comfortable with. Share what you want to share and keep some things to yourself. The people who know and love you will not blink an eye when you post a photo of your sweet baby. Baby poop on the other hand…

    • http://twitter.com/lilsheba Rebecca Nelson

       But if anyone could make baby poop look good in a photo, it’d be you, Darrah. :)

    • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

      “I also dont think you need to apologize for the life you are living.”

      I hear that. And I hear you on wanting to share both sides of something, of thinking that that’s important. Too often I think social sharing reduces to a thick soup of predictable positivity, leaving out the truth ’cause it’s not pretty. I honor people who can up the quote-unquote negative sides of something without being depressing. This is life, after all. It’s not all sunshine (especially not here), so why pretend?

      I’ll do what feels right. It’s served me well so far. I think the reason I felt conflicted enough to write this column was because in all kinds of ways I’m in transition. Social sharing is about social identity and that’s a sticky topic. Thank goodness pregnancy lasts nine months; I have time to get used to this, sort out the changes in my head, get at least a little bit prepared, so I can be well equipped to figure out what kind of mom I want to be and do the best I can by myself, my husband and of course our kid. 

      Always good to hear from moms who are there and are enjoying it. This is going to be fun.

  • Reebecki

    I asked myself all of these questions and more before having my baby. And honestly I’ve probably overshared at times but I do draw the line at posting a photo of her poop! I barely look at it myself and that is just because I’m the one changing her. I have talked about my breast feeding woes in detail and have learned so much from my twitter/FB community about babies. Your life changes in so many ways when you have a baby and some are wonderful and some are not. I must recommend PEPS! You must join a group. So so so helpful!

    PS You are going to need more bibs. That’s not enough.

    • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

      Yeah, I’ve definitely seen firsthand how sharing worries and questions can bring a lot of answers, and reassurance. It’s pretty great that we have all these ways to stay connected and just reach out when we need it. It means a whole new kind of social etiquette, thus this column, but yeah. Can’t complain too much about what’s possible!

      And oh — this photo was majorly cropped. I think I’m up to at least 10 bibs form the shower. Is that still not enough? Guess we’ll learn…

    • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

      And yes – I’ve heard a lot about PEPS. We don’t know lots of couples with kids so joining a group should be pretty helpful …

  • http://twitter.com/EricBurgess Eric Burgess

    Monica, you’re just in a time right now where all of your friends are starting to have kids. You’ll have one soon too and then you’ll probably be an over-sharer! :D

    Side note (and shameless plug): I’m a new’ish dad, I’ve got a blog and I sell iDad shirts that I make. Check them out here: 
    http://fashiondad.com/2011/09/idad-t-shirts-available-now/

    • http://WiredPen.com/ kegill

      Eric, I didn’t know! ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=40300031 Adam Phillabaum

    My wife and I have just had our first baby 25 days ago… and we are definitely holding back on posting every picture, but we still publish a healthy amount. One of my thoughts is that Facebook is smart enough to show the picture to the right people… but have no idea how to verify that, other than every picture still gets a healthy amount of “likes.”

    I’ve also thought about creating a “if you’re interested in our daughter and want to get inundated with baby stuff” group… and letting people join/leave that group without full hiding or unfriending me. I haven’t implemented this yet, so I have no idea if it would be successful.

  • Sarah

    Great post, I’m glad your’e thinking about all of this! And thanks for sharing. I’d repsond with a warning to be careful about some of these judgments, because things are going to change. I think you were pretty careful about how you worded things overall, but it’s worth considering. I’m a new mama (still feels weird to say). I’ve got a 10 month old and the thoughts that occupy my brain now revolve around all the judgments out there about parenting. I’m sure you’ve noticed in pregnancy that people have ideas about how/when/why you should do things. Sometimes helpful, other times hurtful and overall shitty. 
    Being a parent is just so darn hard and the first thing you’ll learn is that your intentions for things will not always play out as you want. I loved the idea of cloth diapering (hey, I am a Seattlelite after all) but in reality, it was a total bummer for me. I can give a million more examples like this, but the point is, it’s hard to be a parent and we are all doing our best. So these days I ponder all of the judgments and where they stem from; other parents insecurities about what they did/didn’t do? People who are not parents and just don’t get it? Whatever it is, it’s not helpful. I feel bummed for the parents who read this post and have avatar pics of their kids. Who cares? It’s not a big deal. To me, these sorta judgments or pet peeves, whatever you wanna call ‘em, are just the sort of things that should be kept personal, and not so much the turds :) The turd thing might be going too far, but maybe it was just supposed to be a joke. 
    Really, you’ll see how hard it is and perhaps you’ll long for a space where peeps can breastfeed or not, go back to work or stay at home, have a baby avatar or not, without all the judgments. Besides, the whole point of social networking is to network with the people you WANT to network with, right? If somethin’s buggy, just un-follow it. 
    Take care, have fun and CONGRATS!

    • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

      Well said, and you’re so right. If someone shares something I wouldn’t, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have shared it. People will undoubtedly snicker here and there about one or another habit that annoys them, but if we all strive to stay unoffensive, we’ll stop being original. Really, we’ll stop being ourselves.

      • Sarah

        Exactly! I think about the originality of a message a lot! To me, the stuff that sticks is 100% honest and usually funny because of it. He’s not for everyone, but Louis CK talking about kids is a total inspiration. 

  • http://twitter.com/jclaussftw Jason Gerard Clauss

    Posting a photo of your baby’s turd is obnoxious from anyone’s point of view. Do you really think your kid’s going to be happy that there’s a pic of their excrement floating around the web? Some parents are complete idiots. And then there are the ones who don’t realize their baby is, well, ugly. They seem blinded to that fact. Fortunately all my friends who have been reproducing lately have been making cute babies and not posting excessive details so I don’t have to feel that awkwardness and unfriend them.

  • Rob Belcher

    LOL. What great timing. Our first was born last week. I actually now see a use for “Circles”… Parents and siblings and close friends DO want to see photos etc, but certainly 95% of your 2,000 friends, do NOT. 

    • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

      Congratulations!!! Right now I have a “list” of family and close friends with whom I share a few pregnancy details I’m not yet sure I want to share with everyone. It’s the first time I’ve ever used that list regularly, which is why all this feels so new … 

  • http://www.jrotech.com/ Jeff Rodenburg

    Monica – first, congrats. Having a baby is the ultimate product release. :-)

    My biggest observation is that for nearly all parents I’ve known, they held concerns on just about everything imaginable before the baby arrived. And, almost like clockwork, all those concerns faded away after the baby arrived. It’s a bit alarming to see just how often the “I’ll never do this” comments from pre-baby lead to parents doing EXACTLY that post-baby.

    And, a lot of it plays itself out on Facebook as well — I see it in status updates and pictures and what not. Does any of it seem over the top? Most definitely. Do I understand where that’s coming from? Absolutely.

    My primary concern about over-sharing details of children through social media are based on security — location-based checkins, pictures and details about private lives, etc. Stranger danger doesn’t apply only at the playground.

    • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

      Yup, I hear that. 

      Re: baby as the ultimate product release, what’s most crazy to me about it from that perspective is how little control you have over the production of that baby. These days we know a lot about what’s going on in that baby factory, but we didn’t always. And it doesn’t matter. The product gets designed, manufactured and packaged for release without our needing to follow any part of the process. The most powerful thing in the world — a human being — produced without much conscious help from humankind — after that first step, of course ;)

  • http://WiredPen.com/ kegill

    Monica, my dear, you’ll do fine! 

  • http://whatnowexactly.com/ Jen Zug

    I share about my kids, but in the context of (what I hope) is a well-rounded presence online. I share a little about work and industry stuff, AND I share a little about my home life, which includes the kids. It’s my “slice of life” view of tweeting & blogging. 

    My life is rich with layers and nuance, and I’ve never been very good at being all about work or all about the kids online. So with me, you get a little of everything.

    That being said, I can’t say that I’ve ever shared a poop photo! :)

  • http://twitter.com/amymstewart amymstewart

    YOU ARE HAVING A BABY?!?!?!? I didn’t know! Congratulations, Monica!!!

  • https://me.yahoo.com/teresagranderson#a27dc Teresa

    My toddlers favorite iPad app is called Baby Tap & Learn. They can play for awhile and really learn. http://itunes.apple.com/app/baby-tap-learn/id520540178?mt=8

  • sara

    Re:  all the pictures – I share occasional photos on Facebook, but put the bulk of them on flickr (for friends/family only, no cross-posting to Facebook/Twitter etc).  I put links on Facebook to new albums for a while, but the in-laws seem to have it down now.  That way the most dedicated relatives can see ALL of the photos that they want, but the general population is left undisturbed.

    There’s already a lot of people judging focused on parents/parenting.  Trying to please everyone is impossible; good friends will put up with you and laugh with you re:  new quirks/change in focus/occasional over-sharing.  That’s true with babies/kids as well as all sorts of other life changes, hobbies, political opinions, relationship-statuses etc. 

  • Andrea James

    If you post too much of anything on Facebook, you could be accused of caring too much what others think of you. … If you hold back on sharing information, so you only share what a general consensus of “friends” would find appropriate, then you are also caring too much about what others think of you. … Our saving graces in this paradox: 1) “Too much” is a subjective term. 2) The use of access permissions & selective lists

    :)

  • <3 Chill

    No one really cares what you’re doing on facebook as much as you do. Ease up. There are people who will love to see your baby photos, and if they don’t they shouldn’t be your friend. And stop being so self conscious! You have to show confidence to your child so that they don’t end up blogging their insecurities all over the internet. Giving birth to another human being is far more life inhancing than sitting at a coffee shop talking about Skinner’s latest cartoon, or how metallica ruined metal. And don’t let those Seattle hipsters tell you any differently!

  • hany pertiwi

    thanks for share ”

    Baby’s first turd and other unshareables: How Mom is too Mom?”

    from http://indonesiadalamtulisan.blogspot.com/2012/10/gambar-bayi-lucu.html

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