One of my most favorite pictures of Ray with Emma when she was not even a month old. Already you can see the bond between father and daughter. His love radiates from him as he feeds his daughter, which also provides a wonderful bonding experience between father and child.
I do not believe you get the title Mom or Dad once the baby is born, but once the strip on the test turns its beautiful color letting you know you are now living and breathing choices that impact the miracle that grows inside of you. From the very beginning of my pregnancy with my daughter Emma I considered myself a Mom. We researched topics, safety, and how to help bring our baby into the world healthy and strong. We read books, I watched what a ate, what medications I took, and exercised. Ray went to every single appointment and even had a few extras to do all we could took to help keep our growing child healthy and safe until we could hold her in our arms instead of me just holding her in my womb.
Some of the things that we did as a couple to celebrate my pregnancies, to increase the bond between myself and my child, to increase the bond between father and child, and to increase the bond between myself and my husband are as follows:
I kept a Belly Book for Emma and I am now currently keeping one for Abigail. In this book I write about my pregnancy each week. I also take pictures of the baby bump, record information about doctor appointments, and Ray writes his thoughts and reflections in them as well. This provides a wonderful story through our experience being pregnant with our girls that they will get to read when they are older.
I also started the Baby Book before I give birth. There are pages for information about the pregnancy, doctor appointments, and areas for pictures. This also provides the girls with a keepsake as well as a document that we will continue to use as they get older, usually ending at age five when they start school.
As you are reading you can see that we love to document and share our experiences, love, and excitement for our daughters with our friends and family. This has also been a way that we have celebrated our pregnancies and parenthood together. Through the use of this website we are also going to be creating a book for each one of the girls that documents their pregnancy up until their 1st birthday. This will give them stories, more details, pictures, and comments other people have left for them.
Facebook has also been a tool that we have used to share, celebrate, and post images about our girls with friends and family. We plan on printing those posts and placing them in the baby books for the girls to read when they are older.
Writing Letters is a wonderful way to share a memory with your child. Ray and I both wrote letters to Emma and we will write a letter to Abigail. In the letters we expressed our thoughts and feelings about expecting them, how much we planned for them, loved them, and wanted them before we even knew God had blessed us with them. These letters help to express our love and desire to be parents.
Painting your belly during the pregnancy to celebrate different holidays or special events is a cute way to bond with your husband and bring your pregnancy into the celebration. While pregnant with Emma Ray painted the American flag on my belly to celebrate the 4th of July. For our pregnancy with Abigail we will do something for Easter and even have Emma help paint the baby bump.
Pregnancy pictures are another way to create a special memory of being pregnant and it helps to convey in images all the emotions you can't really express because they are so many and so rich sometimes they just can get past your lips. Ray and I took pictures in our 3rd trimester with Emma and plan on taking those same type of pictures during our 3rd trimester with Abigail.
If you love scrapbooking, that is another way that you can create memories and celebrate your pregnancy and motherhood. You can get as fancy and detailed as my mother-in-law or you can make them simple but memorable.
For each pregnancy Ray created a unique way to announce that we were pregnant, and those we saved as keepsakes for both girls and it helped him to establish that bond as the proud Dad announcing to the world that his child was on the way. When we found out the gender of our girls he did something unique to announce their gender as well.
We also did a belly cast when I was pregnant with Emma and will do the same for our pregnancy with Abigail. This was a wonderful bonding experience between Ray and myself. It will be fun to add Emma to our experience doing Abigail's this time. We will eventually use them for some decorative art once we get them 100% finished, painted, polished, and ready to be hung.
There are other things we did during holidays to give gifts from the kids to each other. An example of this can be seen during my recent birthday celebration. Ray gave me gifts from himself, Emma, and Abigail. This helps us bring Abigail into the family and celebrate our pregnancy at the same time during special events in our life. We did the same thing when we were pregnant with Emma. An example of doing this when we were pregnant with Emma was celebrating Mothers Day and Fathers Day even though she had not been born yet. I believe this is 100% appropriate due to the fact that I believe I am a Mom once the strip turns it's beautiful color, not once I deliver my daughter.
Other examples are having special dinners, talking about your child with your partner, making special purchases to help commemorate this awesome moment in your lives, selecting baby shower themes, decorating the nursery, and selecting the coming home outfits, as well as planning your child's baptism before they even arrive.
I hope that every person embraces and celebrates their pregnancies, motherhood, and fatherhood as much as possible in every way.