When I got pregnant with my oldest at 19, there was no MTV crew, Dr Drew, or thousands of dollars to support me. I was a college student whose only job was to go to class and make good grades. Then IT happened, the two lines appeared on the stick of horror and life got really real, really fast. Before I knew it, I was married, pregnant, and trying to figure out how to support a child when I was basically a child myself.
Lately, I’ve noticed quite a few teenage pregnancies in my home town. One hit pretty close to home and inspired me to reach out to a few of my friends who are young mothers like myself. We all agreed that things would’ve been a lot easier if we knew then what we know now. Together we came up with a list of things we wish we knew when we found out we were pregnant.
1. You are NOT alone.
It may seem as though you’re the only one going through this situation, but I promise you’re not. You aren’t the first girl to meet your baby early in life and you won’t be the last.
2. Your life is not over.
Who ever says having a baby means your life is over is an idiot. Things will be a lot harder for you, but not impossible. You can still finish school, get your degree, and pursue your dreams with a baby in hand.
3. It’s OK to struggle, but don’t settle.
Being a parent comes with a lot of different struggles. Whether it’s financial, emotional, or physical, it’s important to push through. When it’s all said and done, you’ll be proud of yourself for doing so.
4. It’s OK to admit you need help.
It really does take a village to raise a child. You don’t have to do everything by yourself. It’s ok to ask someone to watch your baby so you can take a nap. I promise we’ve all done it!
5. A baby will NOT make him stay
I made the mistake of thinking that I had to get married because I was pregnant. I tried to force something that wasn’t there for the sake of my children and all it did was hurt me in the end. While I do believe that a child does need both parents, I learned the hard way that a baby will not fix a broken relationship. It’s ok to let go.
6. Having a baby shows you who your real friends are.
Those 25 best friends you have right now will more than likely turn into two or five. Having a baby makes it difficult to go out and do whatever it is that teenagers and young adults do for fun. Your friends are not going to understand why you can’t just leave the house at 12 am, or why you’re too sleepy to go hang out during the day. It’s not their fault, it’s just hard to relate to something you haven’t experienced yet.
7. Don’t let outside opinions discourage you.
People are going to talk and there is nothing you can do about it. I’ll never forget the stares and whispers from family, friends, and people at church. People that have known me my whole life talked about me like I was nothing and I almost let it ruin me. It’s important that you don’t let what others say get to you. Being a mom is hard enough without holding on to all of the negative remarks that other people are going to make.
8. Trust your own instincts.
Everyone is going to have advice and opinions on what you should and shouldn’t do. Don’t second guess yourself! You’ll know what’s best for you and your baby.
9. Reacting to things with your emotions can hurt more than help.
While your child’s father may be the world’s biggest butthole, blasting him on social media isn’t going to help anything. Your child’s grandmother may be overbearing, but you don’t have to tell her that. I’ve done both of these things and learned the hard way that it does more harm than good. Being a mom means you have to set an example for someone else. It may feel good to tell someone how you really feel about them, but things are going to be hard enough without the added drama. Take a deep breath and revisit the situation when you’re calm.
10. You WILL be OK.
Bringing a baby into the world is scary, but there is no greater love than a mother and child. As long as you remember who you are and who you’re doing this for, everything will be fine.
Words of encouragement from a few of my friends:
“Everyone thinks that once you have children your life is over. Although your kids should come first, it’s important to still take time for yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t be the best you for your children.” – Tyler Smith
“I won’t sugarcoat this life, it’s HARD. From 3 AM feedings and diaper changes, to packing a bag to go to the emergency room because you don’t know how to break a fever, it’s HARD! There will be days that you cry for a break or just to take a nap. There will be days that your anxiety may get the best of you. No matter how tough it gets, please understand that there will be better days and it will get easier. You will learn things about yourself, you will see how strong you can be, and you will now know the definition of true love. Just remember, EVERYONE makes mistakes. It’s what you make of those mistakes that determines your destiny.” Marketta Hobbs
“Create a savings account! Don’t think a baby holds you back from chasing your goals. Go to school, get that degree, and trust that God will guide you through it all!” – Brittney Jenkins
“There is no manual for being a mom. It’s OK to let your baby cry, it’s OK to miss your pre-mommy days, and it’s OK to take time for yourself. Find a few good mom friends to lean on for support. – Aubrey Carthen.
“Don’t stop! Don’t stop chasing your dreams. The process may seem sluggish at first with a child, but the reward will be great in the end for the both of you. Be the example for your child and show them how to grind under pressure.” – Ashleigh Mitchell
I don’t want anyone to think that I am in any way promoting teen pregnancy because I’m not. I just know that in situations like this, young girls need to know that someone understands what they are going through. A few words of encouragement can go a long way.
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