Revisiting Your Family Tree
As soon as you're ready to spread the news to your extended family, it's time to start thinking about your baby's connections to everyone on the family tree. If you don't already have your family history documented, now is a terrific time to start. It can be as simple as entering birth, marriage, and death data into a genealogy software program and printing up the results — or it can be as detailed and visually interesting as a family history scrapbook, complete with photos, letters, and any other items of historical significance.
Recording your family history is not only an interesting way for you to pass some time in the early months of pregnancy; it's something that could also be of vital importance to your baby later in life. Keeping a “family archive” can be a meaningful way of sharing information with your child when he or she is older and becomes curious. As an added bonus, your child will be far ahead of the game for those family tree projects they'll face in elementary school — which, believe it or not, is just a few short years away from now!
Working on your family tree will not only provide you with important health information, it can also be a great way for you and your partner to learn even more about one another. You'll never have a better excuse to deep dive into each other's family history — and finally answer questions like, “Where'd you get those beautiful eyes?”
Keeping Your Family History Alive
Where do you begin when you want to start compiling your family history? The best place to start is with your oldest living relatives. Ask them for any details, anecdotes, or stories that might provide a good starting point for your family history research. In most cases, they'll be thrilled you asked, and more than happy to help with your project.
Once you have some preliminary information, you can get moving on rounding up the more archival items such as:
Letters from grandparents telling about their own childhoods, how they met, and what you and your husband were like as babies.
Pictures from everyone in the family, including group shots from family reunions.
Any mementos from great moments in the family history, including, for example, a baseball Grandpa caught at a major league baseball game or a celebrity photo autographed expressly for Grandma — or anything that other members in the family might like to preserve for future generations.
A family tree that shows where the family came from and how they got to where they are now (include tombstone rubbings, if you can get them).
Newspaper clippings relating to family “passages” — births, deaths, graduations, and so on.
Choosing a Display Method
After you've begun to collect some items of significance, you'll need to find a special place in which to keep these family memories archived for later reference. You may use a two-drawer file cabinet in the beginning, and then transfer the items to a more permanent scrapbook or memory box once you've determined how to best display all of the items. Or perhaps you'll want to scan in images of each item and burn them onto CDs for easy electronic reference. Whatever method you choose to display your family history, remember that this project is a work in progress — most likely, you'll be making updates or additions to your family history project for the rest of your life, passing it on to your children and hopefully on for generations to come.
Find Family Online
The National Archives is an excellent government resource for beginning genealogists, with military, immigration/ naturalization, land, and census records dating back as far as 1790. There's even helpful information on how to get started on your search, as well as links to other helpful sites.
There are many genealogy sites on the Web. Many are dedicated to specific surnames. Use a search engine and keywords like “Smith family genealogy” to find one that may contain items of significance to you and your family. If you can't find one that pertains to your family surname, or aren't sure how or where to look for more options, consider joining a genealogy group at your local library to learn how to locate all of the information you'll need.
Create a Family Medical History Record
Now is also a good time to take a good look at your family's medical history. Let your doctor know as soon as you can about any medical conditions that could be hereditary. Create a family medical record that you can update and use in the future as well. Having a good running record of medical conditions and treatment will help both your obstetrician and pediatrician stay informed — and increase the quality of care your family receives both now and in the future. For instance, a family history of food allergies or an allergic type illness such as hay fever, eczema, or asthma, is important to know about so that you can avoid common allergens while you're pregnant or breastfeeding.