July 25, 2009

I Brought My Baby To BlogHer

Here's a fun photo from the FABULOUS BowlHer event last night.

Beth, Sarah & Asher, Me & Ivy, Amy


I'm working on sharing my thoughts and feelings about bringing a baby to BlogHer. I admit I am torn, trying to be considerate for the women without children, the Moms that left their babies at
home to come to a conference in peace (only to see and hear other babies here), and those that chose childcare. And I'm thinking about the baby... and what it means for the little one. Is this experience fair to her? Is it selfish of me? Is BlogHer, and all that comes with it, really a place for babies? Let me think on it.


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42 comments:

  1. I've enjoyed keeping up with all the Blogher happenings via the Twitter stream.

    I enjoyed your take on it.

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  2. Looks like a fun time. Did Ivy and Asher bowl?

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  3. I think Asher is touching the sling, but it totally looks like he's copping a feel on you. GO ASHER.

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  4. You all look so cute! I'll be interested to hear your conclusions about babies at Blogher. :)

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  5. i think its great you brought your baby, family comes first. I was told that people with kids got excluded from a lot of things though. like the nikon party

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  6. I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on bringing a baby to BlogHer. I've been hoping someone would write about it.

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  7. I'm interested to hear your thoughts on it. Great picture :)

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  8. I've had to bring a baby to other conferences (not blog related) & I've left the kids when they were a little older (no longer nursing), it's always a balance no matter what you choose.

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  9. I'm glad you're going to write about it, Steph. As a mom who's been to BlogHer without kids twice and with kids once, I don't see why it would infringe on anyone else's enjoyment or rights, so long as the mom was conscientious about it. If your baby is screaming or fussing, absolutely you should go somewhere where you won't bother others...otherwise...how is a baby different from any other human?

    When I go somewhere without my kids, I can relax whether or not there are other people's children in the room, because I'm off-duty. I don't even have to think about them if I don't want to. It's not like the mere presence of babies makes an event less fun or adult-oriented. It would be different if we were talking about toddlers and children running around, but infants?

    This is one of those instances where I think babywearing makes a huge difference. As you know, I wore Clara to several parties Thursday and pretty much all day Friday and I felt like she was totally unobtrusive. Finally, by Friday evening my shoulders were tired out, and I made a quick stop by two of the parties with her in a small umbrella stroller. Very different. I felt more obtrusive wheeling her in and out of the parties, and she got fussy--I think she was really excited at first, and then worked herself up into being upset, and couldn't hide her face or lean into me and zonk out like she had in the sling. I don't think I'd do it that way again. All that said, it was an easy enough matter to just leave when she had had enough. I know for certain she didn't disturb anyone with her very slight and brief fussing before I whisked her away.

    Regarding your second point: is it fair to a baby to have them at BlogHer? Again, I don't see why it's a problem as long as the parent is conscientious. Sure, it was noisy--so are family weddings, reunions, zoos, playgrounds and dozens of other places people bring children all the time. It's not like a single weekend of slightly skewed nap times or later bedtimes is going to have a lasting effect. BlogHer was a once-in-a-lifetime disruption to Clara's schedule. She weathered it well, and as soon as she was getting rough around the edges, we called it quits.
    The fact is that BlogHer is open to moms with babies and I'm glad of that. Not everyone can afford (or wants to hire) a stranger to babysit in a new city, and for a variety of reasons it's not always possible to leave a baby at home, either.

    There's a pervasive attitude in this culture that kids and adults should always be separated into their own activities, and that "adult" events and kids -- even little babies -- just don't mix. To me, a baby is just another human, and as long as the parents are careful to make sure they aren't disruptive or overwhelmed, it's fine to have them at nearly anything. In fact, you could argue that it's the baby's right (not the mother's necessarily) to be accepted in the world as another human being.

    I know some people simply don't want to see babies while they're out, but I just don't get it. I encountered far worse public behavior from jerk adults this weekend than I witnessed from a single baby.

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  10. As you know this issue is very personal to me right now. I wouldn't have come to BlogHer without bringing Jude since he's only 11 weeks old. I admit I made some mistakes & false assumptions but I hate the feeling of being judged by the one group (women & moms) who I had thought would be supportive and understanding.

    As a new mom who is working incredibly hard to strike a balance between family & personal time I'm particularly sensitive to accusations of being a bad parent because I brought my baby to events this weekend. I'm far from perfect but I'm trying my best & wish we could all give each other the benefit of the doubt.

    Everywhere I went baby Jude brought smiles and laughter, and yet... I get online and find what people really think about seeing me push my (almost always sleeping) baby around in a stroller and am hurt. Do I let that dictate my choice at the next women's event I attend? Like you, I just don't know.

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  11. personally, as a mother-woman who promotes the reunification of child in society, I'm all for it. Children belong IN society, NOT in childcare. In my culture, (Lakota) we did not have childcare, they were simply a part of everyday life. As a result they learned how to behave accordingly.
    great question. Let me know what you think of this.

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  12. I wrote my comment before reading this other's comments. Now I will be addressing this exact issue on my blog. It will be far to broad to cover in a comment.
    Remember, you are the mom, you have final say, because you are guided by your heart. That is the bottom line.
    Be gentle with you, and remember you are your baby's advocate and you know best. I think you are doing, and did great!
    hugs, Mary

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  13. Oooo, I can't wait to hear what you have to say about babies at BlogHer. Personally, I never went anywhere (for more than 2 hours) without my nursing babies... so, after all the snooping around comments and posts and tweets this weekend, I'm wondering... is it worth it? Would I even enjoy BlogHer?

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  14. gretchen from lifenutJuly 26, 2009 9:31 AM

    I am not going to Women of Faith or my church's women's retreat this fall because of Archie. I know I will miss out on the fun and the feeling of getting away. The weekends in hotels with friends and good food and music and learning...I love it all. Who doesn't?

    I know how it feels to think the world is passing me by, but I'll catch up on the next trip around the sun.

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  15. I've never been to Blogher, but I took my 10 week old to Blissdom. In that situation, i felt like it was hardest on me having to juggle baby gear and naps, etc., but that the overall reception of me and my baby was good. In a setting like Blogher, I haven't gotten that sense from many people. I've got theories in my head as to why that is, but since I wasn't there and can't be sure of anything, I'll just let you do the mulling. Looking forward to hearing...

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  16. I think Meagan Francis says it well. And to chime in as someone who was at BlogHer without kids (I would not inflict my 6-yr old lightsaber/ninja-obsessed son on you all in that environment), I was not disturbed by the babies in the least. If anything, seeing you with your babies made me simulataneously homesick for my family AND for the days when my son was small enough to cuddle in a sling! I would assume a mom would leave a conference room or event if her baby got distressed or fussy, as much for herself and the baby as for the other participants. It seems pretty clear to me there's an implicit understanding participants are coming to BlogHer with babies; companies sponsoring adjacent events should respect this. You can't create a gathering that rides the coattails of BlogHer and expect to play by different rules.

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  17. Hi - I wanted to weigh in on this discussion as well as I just returned from BlogHer. I am also a Mom (I have a 2 year old) and went solo.

    I can't imagine why anyone thought it was a problem having babies at BlogHer -- and there were a lot of babies. Almost every session I attended had a Mom with a little one on her and if the baby began to fuss, the Mom immediately left the room. The Moms were incredibly respectful and it never felt intrusive. (Maybe a little distracting because I couldn't stop staring at all the cuteness but that's my own issue.) ;-) I also attended parties where babywearing Moms were present and all I could think is "good for them" as I'm not sure I could ever pull it off so gracefully!

    If a Mom chooses to attend BlogHer solo to have a break isn't it also a Mom's right to bring her baby with her as long as we're all respectful of each other?

    Regarding fairness to the baby, I can't imagine it's EVER a bad thing to have a baby close to his/her Mom, especially at such a young age.

    Speaking for myself and a few of colleagues I attended with (also Moms traveling solo) I know that it was never an issue.

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  18. I look forward to reading what you have to say. I have wondered what I would do in this situation.

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  19. I can't wait to hear what you say and I think it is everyone's choice whether there baby came or not but no ones right to judge because what is right for one mom might not be right for another

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  20. Steph, you got me thinking about this, so I wrote about it too: http://thehappiestmom.com/?p=799

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  21. I love that picture of you all. I have a feeling it's nice to have some peace and quiet finally.

    Although, I don't know how quiet a house full of boys is... LOL...

    I'm looking forward to your thoughts on bringing baby or not.

    Nell

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  22. Well however your thoughts go, you look great wearing her!

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  23. I think this is a matter of personal preference. I have taken a baby to Blissdom, but I had my hubs along and he kept the baby in the room when I felt it was too loud or I was just in need of a break. I admire you for being able to take her and care for her the whole time and still enjoy yourself. KUDOS to you!

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  24. I know I'm going to be the dissenting opinion here, but it's just due to the fact that I am very easily distracted. It's possibly a little bit of ADD, in all seriousness. I usually don't find it rude when people bring their babies with them, heck, I bring mine everywhere, it's just very hard for me to pay attention to a speaker when there is a non-sleeping baby near.

    I have a 7 month old that I had to start putting in the nursery last month for this very reason. I knew she wanted to be playing and moving and exploring. Sitting, even in a sling, for just that one hour during service, was not possible for her. I can't imagine it being all day long for several days in a row.

    Of course, I've never been to Blogher and I don't really know the culture of it as far as how it runs and so on. So, it may just be different than anything I've experienced and that might just fit right in there. I'm just saying, I'm easily distracted and if I'm trying to pay attention and it was something I'd paid a significant amount of money to be able to pay attention to, I might personally wish for just grown up time.

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  25. I'm not being smart ass when I say, "What's the big deal?" When you put 1500 people, most of them women, in the same place, there are bound to be people from different backgrounds, different parenting styles and with different opinions on just about anything. I think your main consideration when thinking about bringing a baby (or not) should be on whether you will get the most out of the conference. Some babies would be harder to wear/bring than others, and as a mom, you probably know that about your baby, and plan as best you can. But, there are screaming, tired babies in the plane, in the grocery store and anywhere else, and I'm sure no mother planned that. But, life happens, and I've seen a lot of adult fits this past weekend, so bad behavior is pretty common even in adults.

    Why can't we offer assitance to other women in this situation and not judge her decisions? Amazing. I would hope that we could be even MORE tolerant of babies, whether or not we are mom bloggers. After all this is about pro-woman on some level? It's really easy to get our feelings hurt, though, and I'm NOT discounting your experience, just commenting. I would hope that any attendee got their money's worth out of the conference, baby or no baby, home or attached to the breast. I do think marketers should be a lot more specific in their invitations, and that given all the drama this year, that moms ask more questions when the marketing people are clueless about what to ask.

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  26. I adored seeing Ivy and all the babies at the conference.

    I was there for NikonBabyGate and I'm sad that it became such a big deal. It wasn't Esther's fault that people took her hashtag as a super serious thing.

    The bar was actually the only place all weekend that I felt as SUPER INAPPROPRIATE for babies, just due to super drunk people and super loud volume and things getting spilled, etc. Plus that particular infant was in a baby carrier which can be a little scarier if drunkazoids are out and about.

    For what it's worth, I didn't have a baby with me and the entire experience was still conflicting and stressful and overwhelming.

    Blah.

    Loves you.

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  27. It is amazing to me that anyone would NOT be okay with babies at the conference. I wasn't there, and won't ever be attending one, but my goodness, really? Women actually were upset by the presence of children?

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  28. Steph: I was kinda reading the tweets today and read Megan's post. I'm sad. It just makes me feel yucky inside that people are freaked about kids. It's all coupled with the whole "mommyblogging" thing and I hate it. Why can't people just do what they wanna do? All these bloggers that are so pc and open-minded don't want babies at a WOMEN'S CONFERENCE?

    Sorry to start a rant. Put it out of your mind. I'm sure Ivy was a super-star! ;)

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  29. I feel like I must have been at a different conference. When adult women are pushing and shoving for swag, how is it that bringing well behaved children is the controversy?

    It saddens me so much that you would remotely second guess your decision because of others. Ivy was delightful and as soon as any of the babies I saw at BlogHer became even slightly fussy, mothers immediately removed them.

    Maybe Blissdom will be the conference of choice for mothers because they aren't welcome anywhere else, but that is very sad since the point of BlogHer is to be pro-women. I plan on bringing my infant to Blissdom this year and can't imagine the same thing happening.

    Please Steph, Esther, Meagan and anyone else being made to feel badly: I really feel like this is yet another case where the minority is just being heard the loudest. I think the supporters of bringing infants are far greater in number.

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  30. I will be very interested to hear your thoughts. With BlogHer heading to NYC next year I want to go but I may have to bring my youngest. We will see.

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  31. As long as I've been blogging, every year there is at least one, if not more, major controversies related to BlogHer. I find it fascinating, and in most cases very reactionary. Like the whole nikonhatesbabies bit this weekend. I wasn't at the party, so I'm not going to even think I know the entire story, but from what I have pieced together it sounds like it was a horrible misunderstanding that was taken far too seriously by attendees of BlogHer that were NOT at the party and did not know the full story. What a shame that this has led to other mothers with babies not feeling that they were welcome. (Not to mention that future sponsors may not want to touch BlogHer with a ten foot pole after things like this happen - but that is definitely secondary in my mind to how it made some moms feel.)

    Personally, I thought it was great to see so many moms with their babies. Yes, it made me miss mine even more. Or maybe I should say I was reminded of my kids more often. I doubt I could have missed them more. But it was also great to have some much needed time away.

    As a former infertility blogger, I imagine there were women that were less than thrilled to see babies because frankly, it is always hard for them to see babies when they want their own so much and are going through hell trying to have them. BUT, I don't think that means other women with babies should have to hide. Unfortunately, its something that those of us going through IF have to deal with, even though it sucks!

    Since I'm throwing out my personal opinions right and left here, I'll also say that I would be very unlikely to take a baby to a loud, crowded party. But, I'm also unlikely to take myself to one, which I clearly proved this weekend when I hid in my room both Friday and Saturday night. So what I would do personally, really only reflects on what I would do and NO ONE else.

    I think this is my very long winded way of saying that I'm very sorry you didn't feel welcome by some people. It sounds like until the end both you and Ivy had fun, and isn't that what is important?

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  32. I am so sorry, Steph, that you are now feeling like you need to rethink your decision to bring Ivy to the conference. I loved seeing people with their babies. Ivy was delightful and adorable.

    Some people don't like kids. Some people don't like others kids. Some people cannot handle when things are different from what they expected. Those are not necessarily things you need to take on yourself.

    To address the person who said that babies can be very distracting, that is true. They can be. However, IMO BlogHer as a whole was a very distracting environment. In most of the sessions I was in there were women coming in late and leaving early. There were people on laptops and phones. There were people talking. There were lots of distractions. That is just a part of the experience. Lets not narrow all this down to one small percentage of people who made a choice and say that THEY caused a problem. That simply isn't true.

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  33. I took my 8 month old to a women's retreat. I went hoping to something out of it, knowing I wouldn't experience it 100% like I would if I had left him at home (which wasn't an acceptable option at this time).

    I ended getting some good inspiration. I missed some good stuff and there were moments of frustration.

    But I was willing to go along with the experience and wouldn't have done it any different. There will be many years I will take off and leave the kids at home. They are ahead of me. :)

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  34. If its a place where you can take your kids with you I would take him. I don't see why not at the end of the day, with so many women around, I am sure the baby nois won;t be heard so much :P. Seriously though, if you wish to relax without kids taht is ok and I don't think that other kids will really bug you. If you prefer to have your kid along its a choice and being conscentious would only make you a better person.
    If people were rude to you or said that you shouldn't have, than I think they are wrong.

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  35. i have a 5 week old and am going to be in a wedding in a few months. the bride and maid of honor told me that in no uncertain terms was i to bring the baby to the shower and wedding. when i read that you would have cried had you been turned away from that party because you had a baby, i completely understood how you felt. ever since i was told i have to leave him, i have been so heartbroken in anticipation of leaving him. sure, its with hubby, and it'll only be for a few hours, but he'll get his first bottle and i know as soon as my breasts feel full, i'll just burst into tears.

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  36. It looks like they had a lot of fun! And it probably just depends on the baby and the parent. I know that if I get to go next year, Ben will be too big for me to think about taking him and still enjoying myself as well, so that probably is the big deciding factor: will you both enjoy it?

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  37. IMHO, it isn't your responsibility to *prevent* other people from feeling guilty about their own choices. If it is a baby friendly conference, taking an under one year old should not be a problem if you are considerate and realistic.

    I have taken happy babes in arms to just about everything, from classes to conferences to weddings.I have taken toddlers who I knew would be quiet and still to adult events. And I have left toddlers and big kids home if I knew they couldn't cope or would be unhappy.

    If I have chosen to not have my baby with me, I do not feel guilty if I see other mothers with babies.

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  38. BlogHer too, it was fun but sometimes uncomfortable. Especially when she squeaked and I saw heads snap around to glare at me. But for the most part there were so many women thrilled to see a baby for a few minutes.

    Saw you there but I wasn't brve enough to come say hi. LOL

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  39. Please don't let the critical comments get you down, Steph. As the poster parent for baby wearing, you wouldn't be authentic if you DIDN'T bring Ivy along!

    I wonder if some of the critical comments boil down to the nursing vs. formula mom tension. Most moms bringing babies for an out-of-town conference are likely breastfeeding.

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  40. I definitely loved seeing Ivy and the other little ones being worn. I do admit some of the strollers were a little bulky for the crowded sessions and when I saw babies awake and crying past midnight I questioned why any mom would subject them to the throngs of swag-obsessed drunken women. I barely wanted to be awake at a couple of those parties! But only once did I think a baby was disruptive, in a panel when the mom chose to stay even though the crying got a bit loud. And, honestly, even then it wasn't half as annoying as the showboating bloggers who tried to interject their blog names into their questions as much as possible...

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  41. Ivy was adorable. Her little waves and kisses brightened my groggy morning.

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  42. I'm glad you posted this. I think in the daytime/early evening? It was fine. I think it was nice for moms to meet others and their babies. However, I was uncomfortable seeing a husband and wife at a party with their 11 week old at 11pm-midnight at a very, very crowded party.
    1. 11 weeks old needs to establish sleep patterns
    2. they both didn't need to be there--take turns
    3. extremely crowded rooms = higher chance for someone to bump, sneeze, cough, touch and pass on crap to the kid.

    Sorry but my son acquired RSV at 6 weeks ok and wound up in the hospital for a week (not the usual 2 day stint). It was not something I would EVER want to relive. Now he has to watch getting sick because a cold goes right to his lungs and it's 2 weeks of nebs, steroids, and worrying if he can breathe and another ER trip.

    For me, seeing that 11 week old was a nightmare. The baby was adorable as ever but I was overly worried for her and found the parents to be selfish.

    If you can't put your child's basic needs first (sleeping is one of them), leave him/her at home or switch off with your partner who is with you.

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