Monday, June 7, 2010

Happy Mother's Day to Meeee!

Okay, so it's almost a month late, and I don't know why I didn't post this sooner, probably because, well, although ya'll probably dont' think so, I don't like to brag.

But here goes.

I was on the front-freakin' page of the paper on my first Mother's Day!!!!

Okay, so now that I got that off my chest... well, mostly.

Yup, on Mother's Day I was on the front page of our local news paper, right under the story on the oil spill! Yup, I'm big fat news!

Here's the picture....

Yup, that's me and Gabriel, front and center!

Here's the article:

It took Melissa DiStefano 29 hours to give birth to her son. It was painful. It was frustrating. And thanks to Twitter, her friends and family lived through it all.

"I tweeted through my entire delivery," said DiStefano, who had to have a C-section after her contractions stopped. "I wrote things like 'These contractions suck.' 'Looks like I have to push.' 'We're going to be here awhile.' It was extremely painful, but doing that really became my focus. I only put the phone down during the actual surgery."

DiStefano, 35, has always been plugged into technology, and now she and other moms in the digital age are using it as a major tool in motherhood.

She even set up a Facebook page for the 4-month-old, where she and her husband regularly update his status. Gabriel has 119 friends, eight videos and tons of photos.

From gadgets to new media, mothers today embrace technology as a way to be informed and stay connected. Children's precious moments aren't just captured, but uploaded, posted and texted.

Instead of sneaking a peek in a diary, just check a Facebook wall or recent history on the computer to see what kids are up to. Forget about music boxes and CDs, just turn on Pandora.

DiStefano's smartphone and Flip video camera are just as much a part of her mommy life as bottles and diapers.

She uploads cute and funny videos of her son Gabriel to YouTube and shares photos with friends and family through Facebook, Flickr and Picasa. She uses her phone to send picture messages of Gabriel to her sister  and her mother in South Florida. With her webcam, DiStefano also uses Skype so the family can talk to each other and see the baby.

"When there's so much distance, it's hard to feel connected, so with all the technology it's so much easier for family and friends to feel like they're a part of his everyday life," said DiStefano, owner of wedding planning business MasterPiece Weddings.

Being a working mom of a young child, Newberry resident Maria Rizzo loves that she can check on her baby with a few clicks of a mouse.

The entire time her son Anthony, 2, has been at Kidsworks preschool, she's been able to log onto a password-protected website and watch him via live Internet webcams set up throughout the facility. The preschool started using the system in 2000.

"It wouldn't have been a deal breaker if they didn't have it, but it's definitely a good selling point, especially for new mothers," said Rizzo, 37. "I had a hard time going back to work and it was really helpful to be able to see him. It makes a big difference."

Larkin Kieffer said being a parent today means you have to really stay engaged and connected. Her cell phone is a big part of being a Mom to her 11-year-old son Noah.

If she's running late or sending someone else to pick him up, she taps out a quick text message. She said he has to send her a text every time he leaves or arrives somewhere. It may seem like a chore to him, she said, but for her, "it's total peace of mind."

"I never want it to be that he can't tell me something important," said Kieffer, who got her son a cell phone last year. "I'd rather know he can get in touch with me and, technologically, I'm only a second away ... It actually makes me worry less."

Marcheta Cole Keefer, communications/tourism marketing manager for VisitGainesville, isn't a super tech mom. Her children, Christian, 10, and Katie, 9, don't have cell phones and she encourages them to use dictionaries and encyclopedias rather than Google or Wikipedia.

But when it comes to school, she has enjoyed the benefits of technology. She receives a weekly newsletter from her son's teacher about the upcoming week's classwork and homework assignments.

"I just think that's great. I travel a lot, so wherever I am, I can find out that information and know what's going on with him at school," said Keefer, 48. "It's been very reassuring and helpful."

Although most mothers praise the joys of technology, Rizzo said it does have some drawbacks. During her pregnancy and after she gave birth, she found herself obsessively researching online about newborns and child rearing.

"It was really hard to have so much information at my fingertips. There was so much information and everybody has a different opinion about everything. There's blogs, forums ... and sometimes it can feel overwhelming.... I just finally decided not to consult the Internet and rely on myself and trust my instincts."

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