5 Ways to Enjoy and Document Your Pregnancy

Pregnancy photo shoot

Pregnancy, especially your first pregnancy, is such an amazing time. To see your body transform can be shocking and exciting. You will want to remember how you looked, how you felt, and what you dreamed about your new little one on the way.

Before you begin your documentation project, think it through. That doesn’t take a long time. Just consider your goal.

  • Is what you are doing all about expression of the moment, or are you creating a keepsake? If you are just expressing yourself in the moment of all of that beautiful pregnancy energy, go for it! No limits.
  • If you are creating a keepsake, who will keep it? Is it for you or for your baby?

I don’t want to discourage you from documenting your pregnancy—not at all. I just want you to think now about how you you will use this later because that might help you create even better documentation while you still have a lot of choices.

#1 Baby Bump Photos

Photos showing your physical transformation are The Classic pregnancy documentation. If you’ve ever seen a pregnancy board on Pinterest, you’ve probably seen a photo montage showing belly growth. I love these because they grab the visual person and tell them exactly what you want them to know—I’m growing!

HOW: Keep the background the same and mark where you stand so your body is the only thing that changes. Or, add a chalkboard, t-shirt or some other prop that changes with you to show the number of weeks. It is also fun to put your collection of photos together as a video.

#2 Professional Photo Shoot

Your family is about to change a lot, whether you are going from just you to parent and child, a couple to a three-person family, or a family with children to a family with another child. A professional photographer can capture the essence of who you are now just before your baby arrives on the scene.

HOW: Decide whether the photos will be of just you or of the whole family. Will they be in color or do you like striking black and white photos? Set your appointment before your 37th week of pregnancy. You want to show the biggest belly possible, but you don’t want to schedule so late that you miss your pregnancy altogether if the baby comes early. If that does happen, though, you now have a photo shoot with your new family. You make the best of it!

#3 Belly Cast

A belly cast is made by covering your belly with a layer of plastic wrap then dipping gauze in plaster and covering your belly (or belly and breasts) layer by layer to create a lasting, 3D keepsake of your shape. Once the plaster dries, you can paint your belly cast. I loved doing this with both of my babies, but now I wonder what to do with it. How will you use the cast? It will become more stuff you have to haul around with you.

HOW: As with the photo shoot, you want to document the biggest belly possible without missing your pregnancy entirely. Aim for 37-38 weeks. Depending whether you mind sharing your naked self with friends, this can be a fun project to do with a group of girlfriends, or just do this as a couple. It does help to have at least one other person present.

#4 Journal

First ask who you are writing for. If you are writing only for yourself, let it all pour out. If you are writing for your baby, at what age? What would your child want to know about the pregnancy? For example, I used to play footsie with my first baby. She would press her foot against the edge of my ribs, and I would touch back. Push, touch, push, touch. That play was so precious to me, and I love to tell her about it now. That kind of story could be appropriate for a child of any age. Another thing my kids remain interested in are the names I considered for each of them. For them, these are potential lives they didn’t live—lives that have names. They are fascinated by naming ideas, and you future children might be as well. It’s all about how much you want to share when, so keep your audience in mind when you write your pregnancy journal.

The Pregnancy Journal

HOW: A paper pregnancy journal is easy to use and easy to keep for the future. It’s also private. You might want to keep a public pregnancy journal as a blog or a microblog (like Tumblr). Decide who you are journalling for and choose the format that will reach your intended audience.

#5 Make a Recording

Recording your voice for your future child is another way to document the sensory experience of pregnancy. Your voice recording could be another way to create a journal, or you could make it different. Sing songs, record yourself reading a (soon-to-be) favorite story, or record an older sibling talking to the baby. My almost-three-year old made talking to the baby bump part of her nightly routine. She would tell the baby what she did that day. She would read (or recite) stories. She would talk about what fun they would have once the baby was born. I didn’t record that; now, I wish I had.

HOW: Most phones can record voice, but remember to download and backup your recording so it isn’t one of those bits of data forgotten when you switch phones. Do a test in different rooms to find the best quality. For example, a bedroom will probably absorb sound while an office might echo. You could make these recordings video rather than just audio.

Document your pregnancy. This is such a time between times, a time of great energy. Don’t get so caught up in the documentation, though, that you miss the experience of every moment. Have fun, and ride that wave.

Image ©  | Dreamstime.com

Save Green: DIY Projects & Crafts

Creative Winter ProjectsYesterday, I read Blog to Inspire entrant Jill Amery’s great ideas for low-cost or no-cost not-quite-structured play. It takes such a light parenting touch like this to balance the child’s desire for guidance with their need to explore their own ideas.

During the summer, my kids spend a lot of time outside. There is really very little need for me to be involved to nudge them toward activity at all because they have created their own elaborate structure (a media empire with various programs and activities—definitely worth describing in detail). Now that we have our months-long blanket of snow, they still go outside, but they are spending more time indoors because it’s so cold.

Inside we have a lot of board games and puzzle games. My son likes to work through the projects with his electronic snap board (a kids’ intro to DIY electronics), and he’s been inventing a lot of Rube Goldberg machines on paper. My daughter is knitting, and she does clay sculpting. They have a lot of unstructured space to create. Sometimes, though, I see them itching to find something to get their hands on, but they aren’t sure what to do.

Rather than organize the activities myself, I like to scatter interesting possibilities around and see what they pick up for themselves.

After we had checked them out of the library several times, I finally bought The Dangerous Book for Boys and The Daring Book for Girls. Both books have a lot of different kinds of activities, ideas, and projects. These have been the I’m-bored go-to books for a while.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve picked up the magazine ReadyMade several times and found myself reading every word. So, it’s one of the few magazines I subscribe to now. I share some of the projects with my kids, but they are less interested in home improvement than I might hope. I also read Artigianati online and sometimes find projects to share with the family, but these both are more my speed than the rest of the family’s. I particularly like Artigianati because it isn’t just about crafts and filling shelves with the stuff of some restless creativity. It is about how people apply their skills through creativity. They cheer a kind of creativity I can feel good about.

So, I looked around for kid-friendly project ideas. I like LooLeDo.com. I’ve been following them since the site went live a couple of months ago. It is based on the Look, Learn & Do books. They have crafts and science projects that are appropriate for younger children.

I have a couple of older explorer children, though. So, my big plan has been a subscription to Make. This is backyard engineering that is part hacker, part Radio Shacker, part steam punk, usually useful, and mostly crazy. We first met Make through Make TV. Anything that can move kids away from just “that’s cool” to “how can I do that” or, better yet, “how can I make my own ideas work in the real world” is fine by me. We still watch those cool shows about DIY engineering, like Planet Mechanics, but now that I’m building up a stack of Make zines that I can leave in strategic places, I see more of the active spark. Since a new issue arrived this week, my son has been contemplating how to get the materials to make a traditional cigar box guitar to play in his neighborhood garage band. Next step: go to Maker Faire.

I’ve invested in some of these ideas, but most of them can be accessed online. Projects that get finished in our house tend to be internally driven, so I would suggest that you perhaps help children gain skills in a structured way but step back often enough that they can explore their questions and ideas through those skills.

Winter has always been the time when people sit down to fix, repair, write, tell stories, and pull it all together before the year and the door open up again.

Today is day #18 of my new Save Green Habit: run the stairs every day.

I keep wondering how much there is to say about running up and down stairs. Answer: not much. But, the point was to ask whether I could integrate this easy, low-tech, low-cost fitness routine into every day. Yes, it works. It takes more discipline than I want to have, but I just do it.

Image © David Hughes | Dreamstime.com