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:
I think this was a pretty clear and reasonable, if not a helpful request/suggestion.
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.