I'll never forget the moment the ultrasound technician looked at me and told me I was, in fact, pregnant. Not only was I overwhelmed with shock and excitement, it didn't take me too long to realize that I was also overwhelmed with fear. I was 27 years old and madly in love and financially stable for (arguably) the first time in my life, but I still experienced all the fears every new mom in her 20s has; fears that stem from self-doubt and drastic change and a need to do your absolute best for the new life you're now responsible for.
To be fair, I think most of the fears mothers in their 20s experience are fears every mother experiences, regardless of age. Procreation is a big damn deal, and age doesn't keep you from realizing the weight of your responsibilities. Whether you're a mom in your 20s or a mom in your 40s, a new mom or a seasoned mom working on her fourth kid, you're going to wonder if you can handle this new change and if you're ready and if things are going to work out as well as you're hoping. It's all normal, but the normalcy of the fears you experience don't keep you from also feeling stifled because of them. I spent so many moments almost paralyzed by my anxiety, worried that I couldn't handle parenthood. Thankfully, I had a great partner and friends and family members to remind me that being afraid is normal, and not indicitive of how I would be as a mother.
So, with that in mind, here are a few fears every new mom in her 20s probably faces, a time or two. Parenthood is just a mix of juxtaposing emotions, bombarding you constantly for at least 18 straight years, I'm sure of it. The best way to work through those emotions is to acknowledge they exist, starting with fear:
"My Social Life Is Over..."
It's no secret that procreating will require you to sacrifice certain things. Sleep, your time, your energy, your money; those will all be allocated to the tiny life you've brought into the world, which means time to go out or enjoy that wonderful Happy Hour or meet friends randomly will be limited if not, for at least a little while, non-existent.
When I was pregnant, I was so very afraid that I wouldn't be able to go out or have any "fun" or see my friends once my baby was born. For a few months, that was sort of true. I didn't go out and I didn't see my friends as often, but what I didn't realize until my son was born was that it was my choice. I wasn't sad that my social life had gone on hiatus; I wanted to be with my son. I didn't want to leave him, I wanted to curl up in our apartment with him and never leave, like a mom bird building a nest with her feathers.
"...And My Friends Won't Want To Hang Out With Me Again"
I was still myself after I had a baby, but I also changed. What mattered to me; What I wanted to talk about; What I wanted to do, those all shifted ever-so-slightly, and I was afraid that my friends wouldn't find me fun or exciting or worthwhile anymore. Of course, that wasn't true. While parenthood does have a great way of helping you weed out toxic friends, it also reminds you that your true friends love you for everything you are, especially when what you are includes "mom."
"I'm Not Grown Up Enough To Handle Motherhood"
Honestly, I think every new mother thinks this, regardless of age. I mean, you can be "ready," but you're never really ready. I was 27 when I had my son, and there were times when I felt like a 7 year old playing with her doll. Parenthood is scary and that kind of responsibility can fill damn near anyone with self-doubt.
"Did Choosing To Become A Mother Make Me A Bad Feminist?"
This new generation of millennial mothers are more culturally aware and socially conscious than ever before (arguably). Millennial mother are parenting differently, and don't consider the choice to procreate an affront to the ideals of feminism. Still, there's definitely some room to doubt your choice and whether or not you're becoming a mother because you absolutely want to be, or because you're fulfilling a roll society has arbitrarily decided all women should fill. I don't think that looking inward and evaluating exactly why you want to be a parent is a bad thing (like, ever) and if feminism assists you in that self-examination, I say all the better.
"How Will Motherhood Impact My Career Or School?"
It's pretty normal to worry that motherhood will derail your career goals, mostly because our patriarchal society has convinced everyone that a mother has to sacrifice absolutely everything in order to be a good mother. Yeah, not true. I was so afraid that becoming a mom would kill my career dreams, but it turns out that my career skyrocketed after I had my son. He was a great motivation; He gave me new focus; He was just another part of my life that I could have either used as an excuse, or used as a reason to work harder. I worked harder.
"Because I'm A Mom, Will I Be Missing Out On Something?"
FOMO is real, people, and honestly I don't think it matters if you're a mother or not; chances are, in this social media age, you're going to feel it a time or two. When you're a new mother, a few months postpartum and in the throes of diaper changing and breastfeeding (or bottle feeding) and still attempting to adjust to your new life, seeing your friends post pictures of themselves traveling or going to festivals or just being "free," will give you some feelings. Those feelings are normal and you're not a bad mother for feeling bummed that you can't be in two places at once.
"What If I Lose Friends/Family Members Because They Don't Agree With My Choice?"
Motherhood did cause me to lose some friends, but not the friends I was deathly afraid to lose. Honestly, it was the friends who already had kids (and had very strong opinions on how people should raise their kids) that ended up exiting stage right from my life. My non-mom friends were more supportive than ever, and while I do have other friends with children who don't push their parenting ideals on me, it was my kid-free friends that showed up and solidified themselves as the most important people in my life.
Honestly, people come and go, and just because someone is no longer your friend or family member after you've had a baby, doesn't mean that your relationship was meaningless. It just means that the time they had in your life, is over.
"What If I Don't Like The Way My Body Changes?"
This worry isn't age-specific, and it definitely isn't indicitive of a woman's self-assurance or body positivity or vanity. I mean, your body goes through so many changes when you're pregnant (and after you're pregnant) that your vessel can feel so very foreign to you. I was afraid, especially as my pregnancy progressed, that I would never feel comfortable in my skin ever again. I had experienced so many changes and I felt so awkward but, like parenthood, I settled into myself and have learned to love my new body.
"Will I Ever Be Able To Do Something For Myself Again?"
Our society keeps telling new mothers (and women, in general) that they have to sacrifice everything and put themselves last if they're going to be valuable to their children (or loved ones). Yeah, that's not true. I was pretty terrified that I'd never be able to do anything for myself again once I had a baby, but I actually learned how to put myself first in a way I had never done before after my son was born. I realized that I couldn't take care of someone else until I took care of myself, first.
"What If I'm Not A Good Mom?"
Every mother has this fear, but it's a fear based out of love and selflessness. We're afraid we'll fail because we love our kid so much. We're afraid we'll fail because we want to do our very best. I mean, that's a pretty incredible feeling, to love someone so much, even if evokes immense fear.
The good news is, and what I have learned as a parent, is that if you're afraid you won't be a good mom, you're going to be a fantastic mom.