Today you saw the baby for the first time via ultrasound. You were overwhelmed at the visible proof of a small life growing inside you. Two days ago, the baby kicked so hard you yelped out loud in the middle of a meeting. And then there was yesterday, when you reached your breaking point: If one more well-meaning elderly woman approached you to rub your tummy at the grocery store, you were going to throw the nearest canned good at her head.
Writing down this incredible time in your life creates a memory capsule for you when first kicks and odd cravings are a thing of the past, for pregnant friends as they experience their own version of the journey you are now taking, and for your unborn children when they become old enough to marvel at what you are now going through.
Additionally, a pregnancy journal allows you to maintain a space that is by, about, and for you. Sometimes it seems as if your friends, family, and co-workers have lost sight of who you are. You are no longer Sally the good listener, Sally the creative problem-solver, Sally the interesting and unique individual. You have become Sally the baby machine. Through daily journaling, you can reconnect with all parts of yourself—not just vital baby-related statistics, but also thoughts, emotions, fears, and expectations about your relation to the child soon to be born.
If you’ve never kept a journal, getting started can be daunting. Try establishing regular journal topics from the very beginning—items that can be noted consistently throughout your pregnancy. Here’s a good list to get you started:
- The date
- Your weight
- What you’re craving
- How you’re feeling physically and emotionally
- Dreams you’ve had
- Current events that are interesting and noteworthy
- Thoughts/feelings you’ve had about the baby
Including these topics will document your changes over the course of your pregnancy and provide a point of departure for more in-depth journaling.
After filling in the regular topics for a day, hone in on one that holds particular meaning for you at the moment. Just spent four hours poring over names? Put your fingers on the keyboard or on the pen. The easiest way to get flowing is to free write, or write whatever words come into your head. Start with a list of your top name choices and go wherever your mind takes you. Make a wish, write a question, record a dream. Toss aside the rules you learned about punctuation and style, and let the words fall where they may. The goal is to get it all out of you and onto the page, not to write an essay that would impress your tenth grade English teacher. By free writing, you’ll capture your pure thoughts and emotions, uncensored and true.
Mark the Milestones
Milestones also serve as excellent motivators for writing. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Doctor appointments: note what you and your doctor discussed that day.
- Childbirth classes: Describe the quirky couple next to you that had you and your husband in stitches.
- Note when you start to show and relate the emotions you felt as people began to react to you as a visibly pregnant woman.
- Write a letter to your unborn child telling her how excited you are about your life together.
These memories will prove priceless when you look back on them and will help you better cherish each moment as you live it.
Make It a Daily Ritual
To ensure journaling success, make writing a daily or biweekly ritual. Try eating your breakfast bagel at the computer or take some time at your lunch break. Find a space in which you feel completely relaxed and a time that you know you can devote to a few moments of memory making. Once you’ve established a routine, keeping the journal will become a natural part of your life.
Today you can enjoy the opportunity journaling affords for personal reflection and reaffirmation of individuality. Years from now, you and your family will cherish the memories of an exciting time marked by growth and discovery.