Journal Prompts: What was lost?

In pregnancy, and after birth, to write, journal, sketch… whatever works to manifest the internal landscape externally in some way, it helps. I really believe that it does.

When you write, you think differently. You work privately, and in this you may express things you would not say out loud, and in ways that quiet reflection allows for: nuanced, editable, slowly…

This is the first in a series of prompts and exercises I have compiled to support such a process for anyone keen to take it on.

I start in an area that is enormous: the pregnant and post birth sense of self.

When we are pregnant, and after birth, things change. We change. First pregnancy, or fifth, the changes still come, the dynamics still shift, how we feel about ourselves undoubtedly shifts here too.

I love the idea of exploring concepts of who you are, now, what has changed, and how you feel about that change. 

I have created a journaling exercise around this concept.

You can do it once, or you can do it several times throughout your pregnancy and in the two or three years post birth.

At the bottom of this page you will find a downloadable template that you can print to write on, or you can simply create three columns on a journal page, or on a blank sheet of paper.

The Exercise

The Steps

I would recommend that, before you begin, you stretch, or do a short breath practice. This will aid you in coming to the exercise in way where you’re not overly angry, upset or anxious, which aids the ability to be reflective.

If you do not know any breath practices, a very simple one would be to sit comfortably, close your eyes, relax your face and shoulders, and then inhale through tight lips, pause, exhale nose and repeat for 2-3 minutes, aiming for around 5 seconds for the inhale and 5 seconds for the exhale.

Column one: what have you lost?

From there simply begin to write a list of the things that you feel you have lost in the process of becoming pregnant, or since becoming a mother. These things can be practical, physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological, entirely abstract… list them all out.

When you have your list, read it. Notice how it makes you feel. If it makes you upset, if your body feels tight and tense, stretch, breathe, until you feel ready to come back.

Column two: but what was gained?

The next column is to work on the mirror image of that list. In all you have lost, consider what was gained.

You may have lost white wine, but gained mental clarity in the mornings. You may have lost some sense of freedom, but gained in another way, some sense of security. Again, these ideas can be extremely practical and pragmatic, or you can be as abstract as you would like.

Column three: what do you want?

When you have both lists complete, take some time on the third column. You do not have to fill it out right away, you could come back to it in a few hours, days, weeks or months… do you want to reclaim the things you have lost? Or are you happy to allow them to go? Nourishing, instead, what was gained? Perhaps you will come to something between the two.

What can be interesting in working through this column, is to consider how many of the things in your ‘I have lost’ column are truly lost, and how many of them are simply societal expectations you feel placed upon you in pregnancy and/or as a mother. You do not, not always, have to blindly agree to these expectations. To reflect on that can be a valuable exercise in recognising your own autonomy, as well as on how, however challenging you find the internal and external experience of yourself right now, you have much to look forward to, and much to be grateful for.
If you do use this exercise, let me know, I would love to hear from you. I will add a new journal prompt to this website each week.

The Download

Click on the image to the left (desktop) or above (mobile) to download you copy of a template for this exercise.

On clicking the image, you will be redirected to the download. If you right click on that page, you will have options to save to your computer/phone and print.

If you need any help with that process just ask!

Entirely optional, of course. You could equally use any blank sheet of paper or a page in your journal. A pregnancy and postpartum journal, for you, not for your baby, is a wonderful thing to consider taking on.

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