It's been a few years since I've enjoyed marking the 20-25 (or even 26-30) age bracket on forms. However, looking back on those years it's easy to remember that I never lacked for advice from those who thought they knew better. However well-meaning, I'm happy I moved out of state for my relationship, instead of enduring an unfulfilling long distance relationship. I'm glad I stopped working jobs I wasn't happy in and, instead, pursued my passion full-time. And some pieces of advice I'm so glad I ignored happened when I got pregnant in my early 20s, because opinions. Turns out, everyone has them.
When I got pregnant with my oldest (she's 10 now), I was 24 going on 16. I was technically an adult, in a relationship with her father, but in no way at a mature place to raise a baby. My finances were a mess and, honestly, the pregnancy was a shock and surprise (especially since I'd been on birth control). However, once the news settled and I was able to accept my new reality, that pregnancy was one of the best things to ever happen to me.
The thing about being pregnant in your 20s is that everyone has an opinion and some of them are downright offensive. It's a good thing I'm rebellious and more than hesitant to just blindly follow someone else's suggestions, or life would've been pretty miserable back then. So, with that in mind, here are some of the well-meaning blurbs I'm so glad I ignored when carrying my first child.
"You're Too Young"
Now that I'm in my 30s, I'm thrilled I had babies in my 20s. While it's a personal choice for every woman, I can't imagine waiting until now to start a family. I had so much more energy back then, so it exhausts me just thinking of the whole newborn situation.
"You'll Have To Give Up Your Career"
Some women choose to forgo their career to be full-time stay-at-home moms and, hey, that's great! I did it for awhile, too, but in the back of my mind always knew what I needed to do for myself: pursue a career that fulfilled me just as much as motherhood.
I had to put a temporary pause on pursuing my career as aggressively as I had been prior to pregnancy, because of health issues, but once I overcame them and had my baby I got back to it with more determination than ever. If I'd have listened to opinions about my purpose after pregnancy, I wouldn't be where I am.
"Say Goodbye To Your Social Life"
How about goodbye to you? In all fairness, there was a short period of time, as I dealt with the adjustment of a new baby and postpartum depression (PPD), where I became asocial. Priorities shifted, yes, but at some point I drifted into a similar version of pre-baby me.
"You'll Have To Get Maternity Clothes"
Do I though? I resisted, at least initially, because maybe it made it all too real. And honestly, I liked my normal clothes. I wore those things until it was just too uncomfortable. I ignored the advice to buy maternity gear early on because it was my pregnancy, my terms.
"You Can't Afford A Baby Now"
Can anyone afford a baby, really? After 2 kids and 10 years, the answer is still no. There's no right time to have children, I think. It happens and then you make yourself ready.
"It'll Ruin Your Relationship"
Maybe, at times, parenting has gotten in the way of my husband and I being partners. However, at the end of the day we're actually closer because of this shared journey. Growing up through our 20s together, as parents, definitely strengthened our bond.
"You Should Get Married Now"
Listen, having a baby doesn't necessarily mean wedding bells. I'd already been married and divorced right out of high school, and my first pregnant wasn't exactly planned. However, we committed to stay together to raise our daughter and eventually did, in fact, get married. It just wasn't imperative. Lots of couples co-parent happily (better than a lot of married couples, actually) without exchanging formal vows.
"Better Have Another One Now So They're Close In Age"
*Bites tongue until it bleeds*
"You'll Have To Sacrifice Everything"
I've sacrificed a lot for my kids and I agree, to a certain extent, that being a mother requires a significant amount sacrifice. Its' not all about me anymore.
However (and this is huge), I also recognize the world doesn't revolve around my children (and shouldn't). My relationship, career, family, and a slew of other things are also important. While my children generally come first, sometimes sacrifice for their benefit comes in the form of doing something for me first.
"No More Traveling"
I traveled more in my 20s after kids than ever before so, again, bye!
"If You'd Have Waited, You'd Be More Patient"
I was born impatient. Pregnancy didn't change that, nor did becoming a mother. While I do take an extra breath (or seven) to try to be more aware, there's no age I could've gotten pregnant and miraculously become a patient woman. I'm just, well, not. If anything, having kids emphasizes my lack of patience.
"You'll Be The Only One"
I was among the first of my group of friends to have a baby in my early 20s. While they partied late on the weekends, I became more of a homebody. As time passed, a few of them had babies, too, so really I was the only one for a short(ish) amount of time. I liked the solo attention, actually.
"Breastfeeding Will Be Easy At Your Age"
Don't even get me started. No matter how old (or young), breastfeeding is challenging for some. When I was pregnant and had a baby in my early 20s it was hard, and when I became pregnant in my late 20s it was, wait for it, also hard.
"Labor And Delivery Will Be Easy At Your Age"
Again, that's a false. A solid no. So much nope.
"If You Choose A Medicated Delivery, Your Baby Will Have Health Problems"
I wish people would stop judging parents for any damn reason, honestly. Whether it's an unmedicated or medicated delivery, does it matter? As long as the baby comes out healthy — as both of mine did — mind your business.
"Don't Sleep Too Much"
I slept in and I took naps. Had I listened to the advice not to, my health problems might've been much worse.
"Don't Give Into All Your Cravings"
Don't tell a pregnant woman how to live. If I, a vegetarian at the time, wanted a hamburger, well so be it.
"You're Supposed To Have A Traditional Baby Shower"
I'm not required to have anything traditional, if at all. I get that some conservative, traditional family members might want to go through the usual motions, but if it's not conducive to my interests I'm going to pass (and did, once).
"Get Used To Being Home"
Again, being pregnant in your early 20s doesn't mean you're dead. I still went out when I felt good enough to do so, and I'm glad I did because after the baby came I wouldn't feel like leaving home for a while.
"Don't Ignore Your Partner's Needs"
I didn't ignore this advice, per say, but I damn sure didn't need anyone saying it to me.
"Stop Having Sex"
Let's take a moment to laugh together, shall we? Without pregnancy sex, I would've been ignoring my partner's (and my) needs. But again, please step out of my yard and tend to your own.
"Better Start Saving For College Now"
I didn't save for my child's future educational pursuits, only because having a baby is expensive by itself. We got it figured out, though, but thanks.
"Keep The Baby In Your Room Or Co-Sleep"
I did what was best for me, my partner, and my baby. You're welcome to do the same.
"Try To Lose The Pregnancy Weight Quickly"
With PPD, there were times I could barely function. Weight was the last thing on my mind. It took awhile, but I did get my mind, and body, healthy again. I just did it on my own schedule.
"You Should Get Rid Of Your Cats"
If I'd have taken this well-meaning advice, I'd have lived in heartbreak. I've always been a cat person and my cats are family. To simply "get rid of them" isn't something I was willing to do, and I'm glad I didn't because my daughter has grown into an animal lover, too.
"Better Buy A House"
My partner and I weren't married at the time, finances were shaky at best, and we were busy planning a life for our baby. Buying a house was down on the list with losing weight. It just wasn't that important.
"Forget Going Back To College"
I didn't personally buck this statement but growing up with a divorced mother, I saw how possible it'd have been. She worked full-time, raised two kids, and graduated college with honors. I have zero doubt, if I enrolled in school again, I'd slay. Believe that.
"Time To Invest In A Minivan"
Not then, not now. No.
"You Really Shouldn't Eat Or Do [Insert Physical Activity Here]"
I listened to all the advice I was given back then, only because I knew it all came from a good place. Then I did what I wanted. Because, my body, my life.
"You Should've Waited"
Actually, no. I'm really pleased that I experienced my first pregnancy in my early 20s. It was a time when I hadn't much thought of settling down or becoming a mother and, still, I did it and it's been an amazing time. I don't regret a single decision I did or didn't make.
I get that people give advice based on their own experiences with the hope it might help someone like me but, unless I've asked, it's best to keep it to yourself. Much like every woman who's pregnant the first time (or any time, for that matter), let me figure it out. Isn't that mostly what motherhood is, anyway?