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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

First-time mom plans to give birth live on the internet

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse

Lynsee, a 23-year-old teacher in Minneapolis, is expecting her first child any day now. And she's decided to share the whole experience, from the first labor pain to that final awesome push, with the internet.

Like many mommy bloggers have before, she’s been documenting every detail of her first pregnancy; unlike any of them, she’s been sharing the highs and lows with more than 900 Watch Lynsee Grow! readers at the Twin Cities’ Moms Like Me website, which will broadcast the birth from the hospital as it happens. Only Moms Like Me members will be able to leave comments during the event, though anyone with an internet connection will be able to watch the live feed.

“We wanted to document the pregnancy and create a one-of-a-kind memento for our baby to have forever,” Lynsee told the website's partner KARE-TV 11, which is also following her pregnancy (she requested that I not publish her last name, for privacy reasons). "You'll be at some of the doctor's appointments... You'll be there in the delivery room, tastefully, but you will be there.’’

Fresh off of the Balloon Boy saga, one may wonder whether Lynsee or her 24-year-old husband, Anders, is in it for fame or fortune -- or reality TV. But they're not. Though there are a few corporate sponsors on board and KARE-TV helped throw her a baby shower at the famed Mall of America, all gifts were donated to charity and Lynsee is not being compensated for her participation in the project, according to Twin Cities Moms Like Me site manager Cindy Chapman.

Moms Like Me representatives say that the goal of the project was to get more members to share and interact on the site. Many members are fans of A Baby Story on TLC, Chapman says, and she was hoping to take the concept a step further. "We have the perfect vehicle on the internet with taking the birth live -- something A Baby Story doesn’t do." She sent a private message out to the members of the Twin Cities' site, asking if there were any pregnant women who were interested in participating. Lynsee was one of about 12 who responded. “I emailed her right away and she filled me in on the project,” Lynsee told me. “I talked with my husband and we were excited about it!”

Of course, you can't log off when you're the one in labor. And you certainly can't script a birth. Viewers won’t see any graphic details -- an experienced camera crew will be at the helm, Chapman says, and a team of people will be monitoring the shoot as well as the online chat. Chapman, who will be at the hospital with Lynsee, says that there is a "massive crisis plan" in place.

In October, asked their members for their thoughts on the couple's decision to share their child's birth with the world. About 60 percent of moms said that they do not want anyone besides their significant other in the delivery room but, in another poll, the same percentage responded that they would be interested in watching a broadcast of a live birth. "You never know when you start projects like this, how they’re going to go,” Chapman says. "The response has been overwhelming, very supportive, very positive for Lynsee."

I’m sure that every parent reading this right now is having a mini-flashback to their first birth experience -- I know I am -- and wondering how they'd cope with having a camera crew in the room. But that’s not how Lynsee, a family and consumer science teacher, sees the project. “It’s so miraculous and special because each birth is different. If I were in a classroom, I would be teaching about childhood development, so I feel that I’m using myself as a textbook to teach others about pregnancy and delivery."

"I will also have all the support from the mom’s on the site while I’m having the baby. Just knowing they are there during labor means a lot to me," she adds. (You can read my entire interview with Lynsee here.)

As the big day approaches -- she’s due Nov. 19 -- Lynsee says she’s not having any second thoughts about broadcasting the labor and delivery live. “No – it’s the final part of the journey,” she says. “It’s the one big moment and the special part and it’s what I’m looking forward to sharing with everyone the most.”

Who was in the room when your child was born? And would you have let the internet watch?

Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at