The Therapy Fund | Vol. 8

My blood came to a boil earlier this week thanks to an email from the lovely folks at BabyCenter.com.

This all started innocently enough. I was having one of those preemie mom days. You know the one – where you are full of a bit of self pity and pride. I opened my email to see one of those automatic “Your baby this week” emails that the BabyCenter sends out based on your baby’s birthday. I have been getting these for months, and they never really bothered me until this day. Reading all about by 21 month old baby made me mad. Yes, Sam is 21 months, but we all know due to his prematurity he is really 17 months developmentally.

Being a usability designer, I decided to write to BabyCenter and ask if they had ever considered including something on their site to allow parents to indicate if a baby was premature or not. Here is the note I sent to the folks at BabyCenter:
Sam the Anti-Preemie: Email to BabyCenterI think this was a pretty clear and reasonable, if not a helpful request/suggestion.

Then, on July 10, almost two weeks after I sent my note in, I got this email from BabyCenter:
Sam the Anti-Preemie: BabyCenter Response

On the surface, there is nothing offensive in what was written.  But, the more times I read this email, the angrier I got.  For one thing, does the person writing this think that a preemie parent doesn’t know about corrected and adjusted age?  Really?  Plus, in my email, I clearly state how important listing the actual birthday is to me.  The suggestion she sent totally disregarded what I had said. What I took away from this response was that a preemie parent doesn’t matter.

Can you imagine someone telling a term parent to just list a different birthday for their child?  A baby’s birthday is pretty sacred.

In my opinion, BabyCenter could make some minor changes to their site and resolve this issue.  On the “My Family” page, add a check-box next to birthday that says “Premature Birth” and then have an entry field that says “Adjust content by XX weeks”.  Simple.  I get to list my baby’s birthday accurately and you get to send me relevant content and ads.

Instead, BabyCenter thumbed their nose at me.  I wonder if they have read the WHO report “Born Too Soon” (click here to download the PDF) that came out earlier this year.  If they had, maybe they would realize that 1 in 8 babies born in the US are preemies.  That is a pretty big audience you are thumbing your nose at.

I don’t know about you, but I have unsubscribed to all BabyCenter emails, newsletters, etc.  I say shame on them for not taking this community seriously.

 

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Comments

  1. How incredibly frustrating.

    I’m no computer expert but if an organization can pass themselves off as a parenting authority they would be able to get someone to write a little peice of code that can compensate for the corrected age and send that info in the email automatically and without having to disregard your child’s birthday!

    My wife and I had a somewhat similar experience when we went to Babies-R-Us to register for all the supplies we would need for the baby. Only our baby had already been born. It really amazes me when groups of parenting “experts” seem so ignorant to the fact that so many parents must experience the NICU.

    Great post. Found myself nodding in agreement while I read this.

    • melragent says:

      Thanks Eric. I am really hoping to get BabyCenter’s attention and possible help improve things for the next preemie family. I actually got a twitter response today from BabyCenter… so maybe, just maybe them pissing me off will turn into something!

  2. Maria Moceri says:

    Wow… I completely agree…. i have often felt the same way, i too have unsubscribed from baby center… they do not in any way take into consideration preemies…. Every month i would get the updates i got more and more upset, disappointed, and heart broken. My daughter Scarlett was born at 24 weeks.. we spent 157 days in the Nicu, actually 3 different Nicu’s… her birth was anything but normal or average and i find myself getting enraged with other parents who would say “oh she looks small” or would give a “look” when i told them how old she was and clearly not doing things a term baby at the same age would do. There is such a disregard for micro preemies… no our daughter was not just a preemie… i know any preemie is tough but i would often feel secretly insulted when a woman standing next to me would say, “oh i had a preemie too… she was 32 weeks” REally? Come on….

    • melragent says:

      Maria:

      I am so sorry that the BabyCenter emails would upset you further. For people that have never experienced a preemie, there is just such a general lack of understanding and empathy. The littlest thing can really hurt and bring up so much of the trauma we, as preemie parents, try to bury. I am very hopeful that if enough preemie parents complain, maybe BabyCenter will make a change and spare new preemie families from the pain we have had to go through.

      I also just wanted to say wow. 157 days in the NICU. I can’t imagine what that was like for you. A 24-weeker is hard, I know. I am glad you are free of the NICU, and that you have a strong preemie at home with you. I wish you and your family all the best, and am very please to have “met” you!

      Melissa

  3. I am a mom of a 26 weeker. I have similar feelings about baby center and similar websites that pretend to understand prematurity. My baby was in the NICU for three months. When I was pregnant, I some how ended up on the mailing list of those baby magazines that come free every month. In each issue there was a full twelve page spread detailing the specific month of my pregnancy. It was an incredibly painful reminder of the pregnancy I was supposed to have.

    • Thank you so much for commenting. I went back into my email records with BabyCenter… and realize they NEVER actually responded or got back to me like they said they would. I think I need to reach out to them again. I find it shameful that they don’t see the importance of this issue and how painful it can be to parents.

  4. They also lack an option for marking a child as deceased. I didn’t write them but now I wonder if their response would be to simply remove the child’s information.

  5. I have had three micro premies. People can not have empathy for something they have never gone through so stop expecting people to understand your pain. I do not think baby centre was trying to be rude. And I do not think it really matters in the scheme of things. Be happy your baby is alive. People often forget that mothers and babies die everyday in childbirth.

    Consider yourself lucky becasue there is always someone else who has a sadder story and has gone through far worse…so please…stop nit picking about things that dont matter. If it offends you, maybe you need to look in the mirror and find the true root of your problem. Its not baby centre or babies r us you are upset at…its your situation. Life is hard, but at least you are among the living.

    • melragent says:

      Hilde:

      After reading your note, I went back and reread what I had written. I am sorry if you felt I was “nit picking”. Being a web usability designer, issues like this bother me more than they most other people. I stand by my sentiments. I also agree that BabyCenter should also consider adding something to allow parents of children who have not made it to indicate their passing. It would not be a huge change on their part, and would really go to show that they are the goto site for ALL parents – not just some.

      Yes, there is always someone out there who has it worse than me, but that in no way diminishes my experiences, or the experiences of any other parent. What I went through was the worst I have experienced, and therefore it matters.

      I am glad that this is something that doesn’t bother you. In some ways I envy that. I however will continue to advocate for those people that it does bother, myself included.

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