Baby Delivery Goes Viral

How technology is changing delivery news

Have you ever wondered what happened when your mother went into labor? There were no cell phones, no BlackBerrys, certainly no Twitter, no Facebook. Hell, our parents had rotary phones. So when your mom went into labor and was rushing to the hospital, her friends and siblings probably had no idea. Maybe that was a good thing. But for those info-obsessed technogeeks who love late-breaking news, I think there’s little more exciting than viral deliveries.

No. Don’t turn your head in horror—I’m not talking about live Webcasts in the delivery room. The first time I realized I was hooked on viral deliveries was three years ago when a friend was in labor.  She was being induced, and among our group of friends we’d all grown bored with her inability to suddenly go into labor at 3 AM. Why must she disappoint us so? So on that beautiful June day, she had her BlackBerry with her in the delivery room at Sibley Hospital—and the energy to respond to my inquiries.

When she e-mailed me, I’d immediately begin another e-mail chain with our posse. We were operating under the stealth guise of not inundating her with e-mails—instead we were drooling like starving wolves over our keyboards for any snippet of information we could get, from carefully timed check-ins and forward along to everyone else.

But we got a little more drama than we could handle. At first, the updates were coming in quite regularly from the mommy-to-be. Everything sounded good. Spirits were high. Everyone was healthy. But then came radio silence. This could mean only something horrible, unexpected, and scary. Mix in a lot of dramatics, a few pregnancy hormones from one friend, a day with too many work meetings, and you can only imagine the scenarios we e-mailed back and forth. We also jockeyed over who would have the most accurate guess on birth time and gender. After all, what’s labor without a little gambling?

Ultimately, we concluded that if our friend was too uncomfortable to look at her phone, wasn’t it her husband’s job to satisfy his curiosity? Why doesn’t he care to quell our fears when he’s in the delivery room? It’s not like he was doing anything.

In the end, we finally learned the news. We had to log quite a few overtime hours into our BlackBerrys. I can’t imagine what happened among our mothers’ friends when she was busy delivering a baby. Did their fingers hurt from rotary-dialing too much? I feel bad for our foremothers. They have no idea what they missed.

As for my friend, the baby was born healthy and strong. Those of us strapped in for the ride ended up getting the delivery time and gender wrong. We were so wrong about everything, but that didn’t make it any less fun.

Since that birth in 2007, Facebook and other social media have taken viral deliveries to a new level. Do you know anyone who doesn’t post the baby’s arrival and picture first on Facebook before even the friend group e-mail? Most bypass the friend-announcement e-mail altogether now. I haven’t seen anyone tweeting her labor status, but anything is possible.

The truth is we’re all addicts. We’re addicted to up-to-the-minute, late-breaking cable news, celebrity dirt, friends’ precise locations, late-breaking friend gossip delivered via text, and Facebook status updates. Delivery news is the next—and inevitable—frontier.

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