When Sara Hinds, 25, A middle-school teacher from Lexington, Ky., got pregnant, she told her blog before she told friends and family. "I thought it would be more fun to announce my pregnancy that way," Hinds says. "I put a link on my family blog to an image of a stork with the words 'We're expecting!', which then linked to my new baby blog. It was a lot easier than making tons of phone calls and having to decide who to call first."
A flurry of congratulatory e-cards followed--many from people Hinds has never met. In fact, since she and her husband Shawn created their weblog (or blog, for short) back in November 2000 (the URL was printed on their wedding invitations), the online journal has attracted ever increasing attention from strangers.
Their site, Our Life in Words, and its offspring Honeybunches, the baby journal Hinds herself launched in 2002, attract about 50 hits a day, 80% from people Hinds doesn't know. "At first I thought it was strange that people I didn't know were following my pregnancy," Hinds recalls. "But I realized this was an opportunity to guide people through the process." One couple from Australia e-mailed to say how rewarding it was to be with someone throughout her entire pregnancy. A woman from the Northeast posted a note about how Hinds helped her and her husband understand what to expect. A woman from Florida related her struggles with infertility. On Aug. 13, 2002, when Caitlin Hinds was born, the baby blog got more than 200 hits. "Blogging gives me a way to get my thoughts out, release my frustration or just show off how proud I am of my little girl," Hinds explains. "I often bond more with moms online than I do with moms right here in Lexington."
Blogging isn't just for techies, teens and presidential candidates. More parents, especially mothers, are entering the blogosphere, transforming the way moms commiserate and families communicate. And communicate they do. Mommy blogs often take navel gazing to new and uninhibited depths, recording every aspect of parenthood, from the pregnancy blood test through the umbilical-cord clipping to the latest triumph in toilet training--complete with photographs, video clips and message boards.
But why blog about it at all? Parents have traditionally been content to record the wonders and worries of child rearing in private conversations, baby books and diaries. Experts who study the effects of the Internet on society say parents create blogs not simply because the tools are easy and available but also because their blogs are a response to sociological and psychological shifts. In a harried society in which people can barely return calls on their cell phones, blogging offers a quick way to feel connected to a community. "Pregnancy, childbirth and parenting are times of great personal change and uncertainty, and that enhances our desire to reach out," says Mary Chayko, author of Connecting: How We Form Social Bonds and Communities in the Internet Age (SUNY Press; 2002). "Blogging helps parents connect in a convenient, efficient and stress-free way without the time and obligation of a face-to-face meeting."