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A lot is written on teen pregnancy but not a lot is written on women who become mothers in their early 20s. When all of your friends are out drinking and having a traditional college experience while you're at home pumping and trying to get your midterm completed before nap time is over, the fear of missing out is strong.
I became a mom at 21. It was a year that most of my peers were excited to start (legally) bar hopping, finishing up college, and trying to navigate the grown-up world. I was about to become responsible for another human life.
To say that I was scared would be the understatement of the century. My boyfriend Lewis and I had been dating for less than a year and were just beginning to test the waters of living together in a house with his fraternity brothers (i.e., not a place for a baby). We fought like cats and dogs 60% of the time and were just really starting to get to know one another.
I was a junior in college and had big plans for my future that did not include a baby. I was supposed to move to New York for Law School and live out the Carrie Bradshaw-esque dreams that I'd had for myself since I was 15. I was supposed to be looking into the LSAT, not cribs and strollers. How was I supposed to go to class pregnant? How would I graduate on time? How in the world would I be able to tell my Mom?
I told Lewis in the parking lot of the Walgreens where he worked and immediately began to sob. He was silent for a couple of minutes and then he turned to me and said “It’s okay, we’ll get through this and make it work.” For some reason seeing how absolutely calm he was made me feel better. If he thought we could do it, then we could do it.
I am not going to say that the next nine months were easy by any means. We had to make a lot of big decisions and sacrifices. I decided that I was going to have to take at least 16 credits for the next two semesters so I could graduate on time and Lewis made a big sacrifice and stopped going to school so that he could work full time and support us while I finished school. His parents graciously offered to let us move in with them so we could get on our feet and have access to free babysitting. All the while Lewis and I were going through the normal growing pains of any young couple and most of the time we failed miserably.
Mikaela Louise was born six weeks early on October 22nd. The night that she was born, I completed my Astronomy midterm. Mikaela had to stay in the NICU for 12 long, hard days, but luckily for us, the hospital was across the street from school.
Once we took Mikaela home, things did start to get a little better. Lewis and I were united in the love for our little baby and she made two stubborn people realize that we had to come together to make this thing work. After a lot of hard work, I graduated on time with baby Mikaela there to watch me. Lewis and I moved to North Carolina that next Monday and have been working our way to happiness one day at a time. Lewis went back to school and graduated this past May and we had another little girl last year, Benna.
There are times when I am fearful that I have missed out on something. That I missed a part of my youth that I won't ever be able to get back. There are times when I feel like I am never going to have true friends because no one my age can relate to my experiences. There are times that I am afraid that I am not doing this mom and wife thing right.
But there are also times when I feel like the universe has blessed me beyond measure. I might be a young mom, but I am the mom to the world’s best girls. I might be a young wife, but I have the world’s kindest husband and our relationship is built upon a foundation of true love and hard work. I might have missed out on some things, but I am learning to trust the path that has been set for my life.