I began my pregnancy journal as a series of letters to my unborn child. Cute idea. I thought I would give it to her as a gift when she grew older. I dutifully wrote, "Dear Baby" on top of the first page, and the second, but not on the third, and not on any of the pages that followed. What happened to my great idea of writing to my daughter?
I quickly discovered I had more to say about my pregnancy than I could tell a baby. The feelings of love and satisfaction I wanted to share with my child ran along side other feelings, such as worries about being a good mother, about having enough love, about taking good enough care of myself. Since I had no where else I could put these feelings, they cropped up in my journal. And I am glad they did. Writing about my fears and doubts helped me deal with them. I became a healthier pregnant woman and a stronger new mother because I wrote through both the sunny and dark moments of my pregnancy. Now, I want to help other pregnant women do the same.
If you are pregnant, you are entering a period of tremendous change, perhaps the most significant transformation a human being can make. Becoming a mother for the first time, or the fifth, takes important psychological, intellectual, physical, and spiritual work. Ultimately, you will birth not only a child, but also a new mother or mother again.
Writing can help you make sense of these important transitions. Journaling is not a self-indulgent act you need to do under the covers at night, flashlight in hand; rather it is a learning adventure that can guide you to better understanding of yourself as a mother. This kind of education strengthens you, and through you, also helps your baby, your family, and your community.
As you might prepare your body for birth by taking a prenatal exercise class, consider also preparing your mind by keeping a journal. Keeping a pregnancy journal can help you:
- Document your journey through the stages of pregnancy
- Clarify your reactions to the changes in your body, identity, roles, and relationships
- Explore expectations of new motherhood or your life with an additional child
- Record your dreams for your child
- Provide release for your emotional life
- Explore how your past has shaped you into the mother you are or will be
- Develop or clarify a parenting philosophy
- Clarify your responses to different experts on pregnancy and child rearing you read
Prepare for labor and delivery
Here are some ideas to help you get started:
- Find a comfortable place to write, either on-line, in a paper journal, on scraps of scattered paper, or in a password protected computer file
- Pick up your pen or type away when you get home from work, upon awakening in the morning, just before going to sleep, or while waiting for an appointment. Pregnancy can be a time to scale down physical activity, so scale up intellectual activity. Use the journal as part of your quiet time
- Remember that it doesn't need to be perfect or even "good." Just write!
- To help you get over a writing block, pick one of the following questions, put on top of a new page, and start writing an answer:
What is your mothering history? Have you always known you would be a mother or that you would want this number of children? What experience with children did you have before you became pregnant for the first time? What experience did you have with other nurturing relationships, such as with pets, friends, elderly people, gardens, and others? How do you feel these prepared you for motherhood?
What is the history of this pregnancy? Was this pregnancy planned? Or was it a surprise? When did you first find out you were pregnant? Tell the story.
When did you first make the commitment to this pregnancy? When you decided to stop birth control? When you sought infertility treatment? When you chose a sperm donor? When you saw the pregnancy test results? When you felt the first movement in your womb or saw the first sonogram? What was a key moment when you first KNEW you were going to do this thing we call mothering?
Is part of you still having trouble committing to this pregnancy? What is your greatest fear? What is your greatest challenge? What is your greatest strength? What is your biggest help? What will it take for you to feel more comfortable with this pregnancy?