During the beginning of my second trimester I received a small package in the mail from my mom. I immediately thought she was sending me something cute for the baby, as we had just had our first trimester screening, and were feeling more at ease that this little man was around to stay. When I opened the box, I saw a vintage cloth covered journal. The design was simple and timeless: navy blue with small flowers. She included a sweet note, like she always does, explaining that this was her pregnancy journal that she kept from when she found out she was having me, all the way up until I was about two years old.
Being pregnant and unsuspecting of this extremely emotional gift, I (of course) cried and then promptly called her to express my overwhelming gratitude that she would have created and documented such a thing. I sat down that evening and read it in its’ entirety. It was the most precious gift she could have ever given me and at the exact perfect time.
So what goes in a pregnancy journal? My mother’s tactic was a simple one that didn’t require writing everyday, just documenting key milestone appointments and checking-in every couple of weeks or so. It began with her writing how surprised she was to be pregnant again and the reactions of both my father and my brother. She then logged how she was feeling (not well) and how she was “eating like a horse!” I could relate in both departments and found a form of peace reading that her experience was similar to mine – minus the surprise pregnancy (hello IVF!).
She made note of key appointments, her weight gain and what she was feeling along the way, at one point describing me as a “very active baby”. She didn’t know the gender throughout the whole pregnancy, so I was referred to as simply “baby” until the day I was born.
She continued journaling after birth, documenting the first moment we met and the joy and excitement felt from family members visiting the hospital. She noted how lovely the staff was and the nice accommodations of the maternity wing. She wrote about my ease to latch-on while learning to breastfeed and how I seemed to be happiest in her arms.
The next few months that followed were perhaps the most interesting and beneficial to me, her now pregnant daughter, as she tracked my growth and milestones along the way. Baby’s sleeping patterns, baby’s feeding habits, baby rolls over, baby says her first word. All these little things act as natural gauges that I’ll forever have to compare to my own child’s growth and development.
As I aged, she continued writing. Sometimes her entries were months apart but even so, they were always full of detail and love. The little attributes I had as a one year old, I learned were not that far off from the human I am today. This realization was another gift in itself and a truly incredible indicator that the baby we are isn’t too far off from the person we become.
My mom chose to continue journaling throughout my childhood, so I will be anxious to read on as my own journey to motherhood progresses. Needless to say, I went out and bought my own pregnancy journal the week I received my mother’s, and am already enjoying the benefits that putting ink on paper brings.
Things to include in your pregnancy journal.
- How you’re feeling pre- and postnatal
- Weight gain
- Belly measurements
- First movements felt
- Doctor’s appointments and what tests were done
- Family member’s reactions to the news
- Birth, hospital and first moments experiencing your new little one
- Baby’s first weeks at home: sleeping, feeding, crying
- First year milestones: sitting up, rolling over, crawling, talking, walking
- Baby’s personality
- Products purchased (the useful and not)
- What you’ve learned
- What you did right
- What you would have done differently
Other ways to journal.
- Electronically – creating a baby journal online is a smart way to ensure the words will never be lost. Try creating a Google Docs folder or a user-friendly website (WordPress, Squarespace, Weebly, GoDaddy, Wix) where all posts and entries will be saved to the cloud.
- Email – a friend of mine told me that her and her husband created an email address for both of their girls and wrote emails to it throughout pregnancy (and beyond). They will give her the address when she turns 18. I LOVED this idea and thought it was a great way to keep all your child’s precious moments in one spot.
However you do, whatever you include, your baby will thank you someday when he or she is embarking on their own journey to parenthood.