I was only a few months into being 18 when I found out I was pregnant.
My mom had moved states away, the father wanted nothing to do with us, and I had just dropped out of my senior year of high school. I cramped and bled from the stress; I was told I could lose my baby if I didn’t start calming myself down and eating.
I look back and remember how I felt during this time in my life, and while I’ve had various support systems throughout this entire journey, I can recall many times when I felt completely alone and lost.
I think about the young women who have yet to reach the peak of their womanly awesomeness, who find themselves growing a tiny human, about to climb the mountain of motherhood. And I wish to offer something that I did not have among my many blessings: advice from experience.
So, I asked a group of men and women—who have been there—what they wish to offer someone that is stepping into this territory. What they said comforted my inner new mom. I was surprised to finally connect to women who knew. They just knew.
Whether you are (becoming) a young mom, are part of a support system for one, or are a seasoned veteran like myself, I hope you find a sense of understanding and community among our words:
>> Get on any assistance you can.
>> Ask for help when you need it. Don’t let your ego get in the way when you need assistance.
>> The last thing she needs right now is a lecture! What she needs is a hug, and for you to tell her it’s going to be okay. I got pregnant at 17, and the things I was told still haunt me. Why would they say those things? I was already pregnant. Scolding me changes nothing. I was afraid and needed support.
>> I’ve been there: family, love, and support will help.
>> My mom said, “You wanted this baby, you take care of it.” While she was there for me if I needed her, she made it clear that she was only a backup. And I’m thankful that she did. It kept me on track.
>> Never be too proud to ask for help.
>> Having a baby young doesn’t stop your life from progressing to greatness.
>> Do whatever makes you happy, and do not let other people’s opinions get to you. I know it is so hard to do that when you’re sad and alone, but it will all be okay.
>> You need your self-esteem and confidence.
>> Breathe. Don’t ever give up on yourself; your dreams are still achievable.
>> The best advice I can give though, is don’t listen to negative people. Take the best qualities of people and build yourself on them and let the negative sh*t stay in your past.
>> Always keep your head up.
>> Love yourself.
>> Friends will come and go; you will have a few that stick around for the long haul—don’t let them go. They will be your saving grace!
>> All of my friends were busy dating, drinking, and getting into trouble. I had sleepless nights for different reasons. My friends were going off to university and experiencing life on their own while I was getting sticky kisses and macaroni necklaces. I went to school and got my cosmetology license and wouldn’t trade my life for the world. Those who stopped talking to me are now asking me for parenting advice, and those are the kids you babysit for! So, now, we are the role models! Funny how life happens.
>> It took me six years to get my GED. But I did it! I was parenting alone at the time. I started college, but I couldn’t keep up. I was working full-time and had two young children and no help. But, I can revisit that now that they’re older.
>> Continue your education to better yourself and your child.
>> I was a young adult mom, no one thought I could do it. If you are already in this situation, find the resources to get through school the best you can.
>> Keep going to school and don’t quit, even when it seems impossible. You need school to support yourself and that babe.
>> You will literally never sleep, and the first year is the hardest.
>> It won’t be easy, but make the best of it.
>> Just go with your gut. Everyone’s going to shove their advice down your throat and try to make you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing.
>> There will times when both of you are crying—it’s normal.
>> Having babies early is amazing. They grow up to be your best friend.
>> I am thankful I never married the father. I didn’t think about the kind of person I was creating a human with. Nor did I predict it.
>> Not to sound like a b*tch but think twice before you put the father on the birth certificate.
>> My advice would be is that it’s okay not to be perfect. You’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to mess your child up a little, but how you do it and how you handle it is what counts. Are you trying to better yourself for your child? Are you trying to notice your mistakes and work on them? Remember that it’s okay to want a break once in a while and to get upset. Don’t be so hard on yourself and love that baby of yours.
>> It doesn’t matter if you become a parent—young or old, none of us are perfect parents and we all make mistakes. As long as you live your life trying to make the world a better place for your child than it was when you got here, you will do great.
On Looking Back
>> It’s not the end of your life, but a new beginning that you weren’t expecting.
>> I remember thinking about how I wish I’d done all of that adulthood learning before I dragged kids along with me.
>> I missed out on some things, but got to experience so many more things being a young mom.
>> There is a lot I wish I would have done differently.
>> I was just out of high school and all the struggles I faced were 100 percent worth it—every single one.
>> I definitely considered abortion. I had a lot of reasons to. But, I’m so glad I didn’t. I couldn’t imagine life without her. Sometimes, I think I needed her more than she needed me. She made me the person I am today.
>> Being a teen mom is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me, and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. Signed, a teen mom six months away from her master’s degree.
Above all else, listen to your heart. Do what is best for you and your baby because this fork in the road leads to the rest of your lives.
Steps one and two of survival: Find support and give yourself love. I know this is scary, but you’ll find your way.
Take it from us, we’ve been there.