An Open Letter To The Young Mom-To-Be
Dear young mom-to-be,
You are probably feeling a little scared, and a lot overwhelmed. Everyone has their fears about becoming a mom, but in a world where women are expected to have a career first and a family second, being a young mom presents its own set of challenges. I bet you were planning to wait until you had a good job, until you had money and were financially and emotionally stable. Maybe your family expected you to wait until you were married, and perhaps that hasn’t happened. I bet you you cried over those two lines, and felt the worry set in as you clutched your stomach. You are probably wondering how you will ever get the money together to give your baby a good start in life. How will you finish your education and get a good career?
I have been in your shoes. I wondered how I was going to make this work, and whether or not there would be enough food for us tomorrow, or the next day. But let me tell you something;
There is never a right time to have a baby
Of course, perhaps there could’ve been a better time. But there really isn’t a perfect time to have a baby. Everyone has their own obstacles in life, and everyone has fears about becoming a mom. I’m not a particularly religious person and I don’t often attend church. But when I was first pregnant I went to a service on Christmas Day. That one service spoke to me deeply and I will never forget it. The sermon was about how God chose Mary to be the mother of his only son. She wasn’t married, and she didn’t have any money. In fact, she was poor by anyone’s standards, and didn’t know how she would provide for this baby. But God himself chose her. He didn’t choose someone who had an amazing career, who was married and had their shit together. He chose Mary. I knew that this was a message that I was supposed to hear. Whether it was a message from God, or just a coincidence, I knew that I was supposed to have this baby and I would find a way to make this work. But it hasn’t been easy.
People will make comments
You will probably feel like a walking billboard as your belly starts to grow, and people will make uninvited comments.
‘Was it planned?‘ Complete strangers will ask.
‘Are you going to stay in school?’
‘Did your fiancé propose before or after you fell pregnant?’ ‘After’ ‘Ohhh I see….’
‘Are you going to get married before the baby comes?’
Don’t get me wrong, my friends and family were all so supportive after the initial shock set in, but it was the looks and comments from strangers that surprised me. I was 21 and granted, I probably looked younger. But I could always feel the stares and disapproving looks from strangers.
Although it’s hard, try not to take these comments personally. Most of the time, people are just curious and don’t mean any harm. Pregnancy will pass so enjoy this season while you can.
Believe it or not, your baby doesn’t need a Bugaboo
You have probably wondered how you will ever afford all the stuff that a new baby needs. If you’ve been on Pinterest lately, you have most likely pined over all the expensive prams, beautiful nursery decor or the latest baby gadgets. But I can assure you, your baby doesn’t need a Bugaboo.
As long as your baby is warm, fed, dry, and loved, they have all they need. My husband and I spent about 300 AUD in total on all our baby gear. We found things second hand, and accepted generous gifts from our family and friends. Other ways you can save money is by investing in cloth diapers and by trying to breastfeed. But you will find all the things you need, I promise.
Oh and those beautiful nurseries you see all over Instagram? Guess what, your baby won’t notice! All they are going to care about is getting fed, held and changed. My daughter slept in our room for….ok she still sleeps in our room most of the time. You get the point! While those things may be pretty, they are not necessary and you don’t need to spend money on them!
Your body will change, and it will be hard
I know it’s hard to hear, but not everyone snaps back like the models on Instagram. Maybe your body won’t change too much, but maybe it will. There might be stretch marks, loose skin, saggy boobs, weight gain…..These are all especially hard to deal with when you’re a young woman. The physical transition from maidenhood to motherhood is largely unaccepted in our society, even more so for young women.
There is no one piece of advice I can give you for how to deal with your new body. What it has done is amazing and you should be proud of that, but it will still be difficult to cope with. Surround yourself with real women who have real, healthy bodies. Social media is not real life, and everyone has their own insecurities. Time will heal and you’ll feel back to normal (well, your new normal) before you know it.
You DON’T need to get married before the baby arrives
I know that you might be feeling pressured right now to tie the knot with your partner. Perhaps your family has told you that it’s necessary, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not. If it’s what you truly want, then go right ahead. But DON’T let anyone or anything pressure you into getting married. Getting married is your choice and yours alone. Don’t get married just because you are having a baby, and listen to your heart.
You CAN finish your education
I know countless women who have completed their education with kids, even going back to University and going as far as getting a master’s degree and even a Ph.D. But that’s not to say that it won’t be hard, it will. It will be really, really hard! There will be times when you think you can’t do it, and you might feel like giving up. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and to admit when you’re struggling. Take advantage of every service that your school offers, and pace yourself!
People will want to try and scare you
‘You’d better take advantage of sleep before the baby arrives’
‘You’ll definitely need an epidural’
‘Childbirth is the worst pain you’ll ever feel!’
‘Make sure to spend time with your partner now, when the baby arrives you won’t get any time together!’
Ok you get the point….I could write a whole article on silly things people say to expectant mothers. Mothers of every age are given uninvited advice, but being young will give people an extra sense of authority to provide unsolicited advice. You need to take it with a grain of salt and don’t listen to everything. Yeah some people’s labour is difficult, but most people have pretty uneventful births. You might get less time with your partner, but having a baby also might strengthen your bond. And sure, you might be sleep deprived for the first few months, but you will be the happiest, most fulfilled, vomit-covered, shit-stained, sleep-deprived woman you have ever been!
You might lose some friends
This is something that might be hard to deal with. Initially, your friends will love the novelty of having a little baby to cuddle and play with. But eventually, as the day-to-day reality of being a young mom sets in, some will drift away.
The reality is that you can’t do everything that you used to. You can’t make it to last minute, spontaneous get togethers. You can’t go on trips away. You won’t have much money and the money you do have, you’ll probably want to spend on your family. Of course, you need to make time to look after yourself and do ‘young person’ things, but life will be different.
The good news is that you will find out who your real friends are, and you will make new ones! I promise…
Things might not go as planned
Maybe you will have to take more time off from school than you wanted. Perhaps you’ll have to go back to work sooner than you expected. Maybe you planned to breastfeed, but your baby won’t latch. Or you thought that they would be sleeping through the night after a few months, and they don’t. Maybe you planned to be a stay at home mom, and you hate it! There is so much that can go differently than you expected, but just remember that it’s ok. You’ve already come this far, and you’ve got this. And finally….
You were made for this
Despite all the looks, comments and unwanted advice. Your body is MADE to have babies in your late teens and 20’s. This is nothing against moms who choose to have babies in their 30’s or later. But just trust your body and what it is capable of at this time. Once the baby comes and you settle into motherhood, you will know that you were made for this.
Don’t be afraid to seek support and don’t be scared to ask for help!
You’ve got this mama 🙂
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