I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to making the best out of an unexpected situation. We had no idea what we'd be getting into, though. In fact, I think it's safe to say there are things no one tells you about having a baby in your 20s that make this enormous life-change somewhat difficult to adjust to. But, at least in my experience, everything has a funny way of working itself out.
My partner and I weren't even together for two years when we became parents, but our daughter solidified our connection and, in so many ways, only made it stronger. When we initially met I had just divorced my former high school sweetheart and he'd just graduated from college. In other words, prior to my pregnancy neither one of us thought we were prepared to commit to something so serious, let alone parent anything more than my cats. But there she was, our daughter, and there we were, her mother and father. By the time I brought my daughter into the world, my life had already changed significantly.
After my daughter was born I battled postpartum depression (PPD) while simultaneously trying to learn how to be someone else's mother. In the process, I realized how important self-care truly is, and how my ability to care for my daughter is directly impacted by my ability to care for myself. By the time my daughter turned 1, my partner and I were almost married and all the things we thought were important before we became parents just, well, weren't anymore. Our priorities had shifted so we could give our daughter the best life possible and, as a result, we had changed. It wasn't easy, but if I could go back I'd do it all over again. So with that in mind, here are some other things no one told me about having a baby in my 20', in case you're about to experience young motherhood for yourself:
You'll Never Feel 100 Percent "Ready"
Before that pregnancy test turned positive, I didn't think I wanted to have children. At least, you know, not for a few more years. And as I took stock of my life I thought that I wasn't in an ideal situation to have children. I mean, I knew I'd have to sacrifice a lot to be a mother, I was in a fairly new relationship with the would-be father, and my future was still very much up in the air. Before that pregnancy test turned positive, I thought if you didn't feel like you were 100 percent ready, you weren't ready at all.
What I realized, however, is that you're never 100 percent ready. While no one can tell you whether or not continuing a pregnancy is the right choice for you, I can say that while I didn't feel completely prepared to be a parent, I knew I was ready to make that life choice for myself.
Babies Will Always Be Expensive
Your 20s are notorious. It's the time in your life when you're "supposed" to be trying to find yourself, "sow your wild oats," and make a multitude of bad life decisions before you, finally, settle down. But because I married right out of high school, I didn't really do any of the stereotypical things I was "supposed" to do in my 20s. Neither did my partner. We did have one 20s stereotype down, though: we were pretty damn broke.
I pawned my wedding ring to pay for diapers, took odd jobs whenever and wherever I could, and my partner had a commission position that involved working long hours for little pay. So life as a 20-something mother was difficult. But you know what? We got through it. And if I waited to have children until I felt like I was "financially stable," I'd still be waiting.
You Won't Care About The Same Things
Before I had a baby I loved going out with my friends. I'd stay up late, eat and drink as much as I wanted, and was pretty "meh" about making any major decisions about my life. My partner and I took exciting, last-minute weekend trips away, and generally did whatever the hell we wanted. It was glorious, sure, but none of it mattered once I looked my daughter in her bright, blue eyes. My world suddenly became all about the best way to get her to sleep, how much breast milk she should drink, and watching sleep at night.
Your priorities shift when you have children. It doesn't mean your life is over, it just means your life has new meaning.
Your Relationships Will Never Be The Same
Of course, it doesn't matter how old you are when and/or if you decide to have kids: your relationships will change. But when you're in your 20s, in my experience, you still have a rather large group of friends and acquaintances you probably see on a semi-regular basis. You haven't filtered out friends the way people in their 30s and 40s have, and, perhaps naively, you think those friends will be around after you have a kid.
In my experience, not all of them will. Some friends will be "bummed out" when you can't randomly hit the town on a Friday night or join them for a lazy Sunday brunch. But you know what? That's OK. We all take different paths in life, and eventually you'll find new friends who are walking the same walk you are.
Sometimes, You'll Miss Your Old Life
No one told me that not only would I have major FOMO (fear of missing out) after I became a mom. Yes, my priorities shifted. Yes, I was OK with that shift. No, I didn't regret being a mother at an arguably young age. But sometimes, yes sometimes, I did miss my old life. I did miss the freedom that comes with not having to pack an entire bag's worth of extra baby stuff before you walk out the door. I missed sleeping in on the weekends. Hell, I missed sleeping at all.
It's OK if you miss what used to be. That doesn't mean you hate your present, it just means you're acknowledging that things just aren't the same.
In the beginning, being a bonafide mom seemed nothing short of impossible. I had no idea what I was doing, no idea how to adjust to this new life so quickly, and no idea if I could be the mom my daughter needed me to be.
But, in the end, I also realized that I am far more capable than I thought I was. So are you.
Your Life Isn't Ruined
Having a baby in my 20's wasn't the end of my life as I knew it. Things were different, sure, but different doesn't automatically mean worse. Parenthood didn't mean the good times were over, or that I was done figuring out who I was, or that my relationship with those I cared about the most were destined to come to an end. In fact, being a young mother helped me evolve into a better woman, partner, friend, daughter, sister, parent, coworker... everything.
It wasn't the end at all. It was the beginning.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.