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I’m not one to issue advice, especially when no one’s asking. I am especially hesitant to offer advice to a person when they are pregnant, but I do have something I need to say.

If you are pregnant, I want you to take the picture.

No matter how far into your pregnancy you may be, take a picture. The photo doesn’t have to be special or particularly flattering. Take a selfie or splurge for the pricey maternity photo session. Get dressed up or stay in your pajamas. I don’t care–I just want you to take the picture. I want you to load up your phone with photos of you and your baby bump.

Why do I care so much if you take the pictures? Because I didn’t and I desperately wish I did.

The entire time I was pregnant with my daughter Dorothy, I took one photo of myself. We were on our way to a friend’s surprise party and we stopped by our hotel room to change. Standing in the bathroom, I glanced in the mirror and noticed that my bump was starting to show. It was the first time I really looked pregnant and I thought maybe I should take a picture. 

In front of that bathroom mirror, positioning my phone just so, I started feeling silly. I thought to myself, What is the point? Who needs a photo of my pregnant belly? I knew I was pregnant, it wasn’t like I needed proof. I figured there would be time for more photos when the baby was born. I didn’t need photos of my pregnancy. I just needed photos of the baby. The baby was all that mattered.

So, I only took one photo. One bathroom selfie–out of focus and not all that special. I wasn’t even sure it was worth saving.

I assumed, as so many parents do, that once my baby was born there would be so much time and so many photos.

Then, time ran out. My daughter was stillborn. My pregnancy was over and that one photo was my only evidence that I had been pregnant at all. Two weeks after she died, I went through my phone and my husband’s searching desperately for any photo I could find of me and my precious baby bump.

Why didn’t I take more photos when I was pregnant?

I wish I had spent more time capturing some of the happiest moments of my life. I so desperately want to see photos of myself when I was pregnant with Dorothy. I want to see what I looked like when she was still alive. I want to remember the moments when pregnancy felt like a celebration because now I know it’s not just the baby that matters. My pregnancy mattered, too. I wish I had hundreds of photos of me when I was pregnant.

But I only have one photo. A single blurry selfie taken in the bathroom of a hotel room. A photo that doesn’t seem like much, but it is proof of everything I ever wanted. I’m so glad I took that photo, but I will always wish I had more. That is why I am giving this advice.

If you are pregnant, take photos of yourself.

I don’t care if you’re five minutes pregnant or you’re about to give birth. I just hope you take the picture. Take all the photos you can and not because time is precious or because you read my sad story.

Take the pictures because your pregnancy matters and it is a time worth remembering.

Originally published on the author’s blog

You may also like:

My Baby Was Stillborn, But Still Born

I Love Being Pregnant

A Letter to My Mama, From Your Baby in Heaven

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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Rachel Whalen

Rachel Whalen is a writer and Kindergarten teacher who lives and loves in Vermont. She is the mother of two daughters; Frances who is 14 months old and Dorothy who was stillborn two years ago. Her daughter's silent birth has inspired her to use her voice to share about grief, pregnancy loss, and parenting after loss. 

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