April 08, 2020

Does anyone else have boxes of old journals and photograph albums from their parents, or even grandparents stashed away in their home?

The storage cupboard at the top of the house is a bit of a mess.  It’s one of those spaces that you keep meaning to sort out, but never quite get around to it.  Mostly because it would be quite the epic undertaking, but also because it doesn’t actually ‘need’ doing.  

My much more pressing (and never-ending) to-do list always takes precedence.

Tucked away on the highest shelf - one I can’t reach without a chair or ladder - is a box of treasures with no intrinsic value at all.  It contains a large collection of albums, journals, books and keepsakes that I’ve collected and then stashed away over half a lifetime.

Recipe books, journals, photographs from the days when we printed everything because you had to.

Keepsakes from special occasions and holidays and school certificates.  Books I won in competitions, bookmarks, keyrings and ornaments.  All marking the days, the things and the people I want to remember.  All important to me.

Some of them mine, some of them given to me.  All of them priceless and utterly irreplaceable. 

None of us stored our photos on our hard drives or in the cloud 20 years ago.

So, I’ve pushed my box of treasures right to the back of a very high shelf, well out of the way of inquiring minds, prying hands and sticky little fingers.

Inside the box, among many other things, is a soft, pastel coloured book.

The kind with a cover made from cotton, with an embossed picture of a baby sitting on the floor, pointing up at a flock of birds.

The book documents my own Mother’s pregnancy with me. Carefully written with black ink and handwritten script.  Tiny, neat letters.

Precious memories.  Moments of quiet reflection.  A gift that money simply can’t buy.

Letters to my baby.  Letters to me.


So why keep a pregnancy diary?

I’ve kept diaries on and off since I was small, but it’s not something I’ve ever really stuck to without good reason.

Pregnancy, easy or hard, is a good reason.

Regardless of whether it’s your first or fifth baby, it’s a pretty life-changing experience.  Every pregnancy is different and although it can feel like the weeks are dragging on forever, there’s always usually something to report.

It’s regularly broken up by blood tests, scans and appointments, which are all perfect prompts for when you’re totally stuck for what to write.

Pregnancy journals are a really lovely thing to look back on yourself, particularly after a few years have passed, when your life has changed significantly.

They also make wonderful gifts for when your child is fully grown – saved for years and gifted maybe when they’ve left home or become a parent themselves.    

Bite-size captions detailing personal feelings and significant milestones.  Snapshots of a time gone by. 

What to write?

I’ve loved the whole idea of Letters to My Baby and Letters to my child forever.

It’s such a simple concept.  Letters to other people are one of the easiest things I find to write.  Totally defying my usual writers' block.  

I guess it’s because I wrote so many letters as a child.

Dear Diary,

Today I went to our doctor’s surgery to collect my maternity pack ………………………

(that kind of thing).

And whilst I love my own baby book, personally, I find baby books and journals that have a strict format pretty hard to work with. 

I much prefer having a blank journal that I can fill in myself with things that are relevant to me and my own experiences.

My own Mother was obviously the same – There are lots of lovely entries, but there are quite a few blank spaces too.

Everyone’s different!

But a book filled with blank pages, presents another problem – that it’s can be really hard to think of what to write.

So I wrote a set of prompts.

35 Pregnancy Diary prompts that you might find useful if you decide to create your very own baby book.

Not all of them will be relevant, but I hope they’ll be useful to you too.

 

Letters to my baby – 35 Journal prompts

Below are 35 letter prompts for you to write to your baby.  I could have included so many more, so if you find yourself totally stuck for something to write, feel free to ask.

I’ve tried to include the most common stand out moments, but remember to add to your own – you’re sure to have plenty.

And try to include some of the more mundane moments in between.  They really will help to prompt your future memory.

It might be a good idea to stick other significant pregnancy keepsakes into your journal alongside your written entries. 

Things like actual baby scan photos, lists of baby names and details of your baby shower (and baby sprinkle if you’ve had one).

Then they’re all in one place and less likely to go awry:

To my Dearest Little One ………… Now let us begin. …………..

  1. A little bit about me / us (I lived... I worked... I liked to wear...

   daily routine... I liked to do, watch, read, listen to...).....

  1. A little bit about the year you were born (world events, local events

     the people in power, the music in the charts).....

  1. Your brothers, sisters, other family members, pets .....
  2. I found out I was expecting you (when and where) .....
  3. I felt ....
  4. I told .....first
  5. Your nick-name is .....
  6. The name of my midwife and hospital was .....
  7. During these early months I felt .....
  8. I first heard your heartbeat .....
  9. I first saw you (ultrasound) .....
  10. I saw you next (ultrasound) .....
  11. I told everyone else about you - who, when and how .....
  12. They reacted by saying and doing .....
  13. I found out you were a ..... / I chose not to find out because .....(ultrasound) .....
  14. I first felt you move .....
  15. . ..... first felt you move (your Daddy, Grandma, Grandpa, my friend).....
  16. During these middle months I felt .....
  17. You really started to wriggle when .....
  18. The first thing I bought you was .....
  19. I started to crave .....
  20. I prepared for your arrival by (Decorating your room, buying sleep-suits,

       Grobags, monitors, toys)..... 

  1. You received some very special gifts from .....
  2. I had a baby shower and ..... came
  3. You inherited ..... From .....
  4. My list of baby names included .....
  5. The funny and strange things people have said to me .....
  6. During these later months I felt .....
  7. Counting kicks .....
  8. I finished working .....
  9. I started nesting when and how .....

32.. My hospital checklist ..... 

  1. My favourite cherished memory .....
  2. My wishes at this exact moment in time.....
  3. The final countdown (I put my hospital bag by the door / I felt...) .....

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