West Valley Medical Center - January 03, 2017

Okay, I don't know a better way to broach this subject than to just throw it like a grenade and run for cover, so here it is" I don't know if I'm going to share my baby's picture with you.

I know, I know... I'm a total hypocrite. I write a very public blog about my vaginal bacteria that's shared with strangers all over Idaho and beyond. But... that's different. For a couple of (what I feel are) perfectly legitimate reasons.

First off, I want you to close your eyes. Now imagine you've just graduated from college and you're sitting in your first big job interview. You're wearing your best suit (which fits really badly because you borrowed it from your roommate), your palms are sweating. The interviewer clears their throat and flips open the file they've compiled on you - there's your resume and portfolio and... a picture of you as a toddler, naked, smeared in poop.

It's not a joke. One of my jobs here at West Valley is to educate our staff on responsible social media usage and online privacy. And one of the first things out of my mouth during these chats is, "The internet is never private." It doesn't matter how secure and locked down you think your Facebook page is, once you've posted a picture/video/late-night rant, it's out there forever. It can be shared. It can be copied and pasted and saved on anyone's hard drive. According to this New York Times article, it can be used by Brazilian teenagers for an online game or someone looking to catfish their friends and family into thinking they're pregnant. Welcome to 2017, folks!

Those are rare occurrences, of course, but it's still a good practice to not post anything online that you wouldn't want to be held accountable for later. That's not to say I've never had poster's regret (this election cycle brought out the best in all of us, eh?), but I figure I'm a grown adult - if something bites me in the butt down the road, it's my own fault and I'll face the consequences.

And there's the crux of this whole situation: I'm an adult. It's my reputation at stake. I'm the one who will deal with the future ramifications of discussing my bowel habits online with total strangers. My child doesn't have the luxury of consent. In the Internet age, kids have a digital legacy of photos and videos before they've taken their first step. On top of that, well-meaning parents share their child's full name, location and birth date (key pieces of information for scammers and identity thieves) with their Facebook "friend" without thinking twice. I try to imagine what it would be like now, at 31 years old, having all this information about me out there in the world that I had no say in sharing and can never take back. Not fun.

And you know, as long as I'm being honest, I kind of think our culture is too picture obsessed anyway. Every moment and feeling and detail has to be documented for... what, exactly? It's not for the memories. Studies show that when we photograph or record something, our memory of that moment is actually worse than if we'd just... lived it. It makes those thousands of photos on my phone that I'll probably just delete in few months to free up storage space seem really silly. I'm sure I'll be like any new mom and want to record every yawn and giggle for posterity, but the more I think about it, the more I think I'll save pictures for the big moments. I want to be present in my baby's life, not behind a lens.

I've talked to Cam about this and he totally gets where I'm coming from. But... where does that leave us? Do we never post a single picture or detail about our baby ever? Do we tell friends and family they're never allowed to either? That seems extreme. Do we create a private, "friends only" Facebook album specifically for baby photos? Or an online gallery using a password-protected sharing site, like Photobucket? More practical, but those don't address the friends-and-family angle. Or do we just throw caution to the wind, post whatever we feel like, let others do the same, and hope for the best?

I'm sure you know me well enough by now to know I don't have the answers to life's great questions. These are just the things I ponder while doing jumping jacks to shake the baby out of my birth canal.