To the 18 year old girl I used to know

Dear 18 year old girl I used to know,

     Honey, I know if you’re reading this your world probably feels a little upside down right now. It doesn’t seem like it at the moment, but IT WILL BE OKAY. I know because I’ve been there. I remember it so vividly. Every feeling, every emotion, every “what if” question racing through your mind right now.  I remember seeing that second pink line – it was SO faint, it just couldn’t possibly be accurate, right? The anxiety you felt while waiting for the results, when you saw the second line and your stomach dropped to your ankles and suddenly nothing in life made sense? I have been there. Tonight is the night you will change forever. Something that is usually so exciting for most people – feels utterly terrifying to you. Unfortunately, you’re going to feel this way for a while, you’re going to wake up and it’s going to hit you all over again – “it wasn’t a dream. I really am pregnant”. 

That little pink line just opened a new chapter for you, hell it opened a whole new book. I know you are going to take three or four more tests and see a doctor before you’ll believe it, but once you do, please find comfort in knowing – it’s going to be alright. The “how could this happen to ME?” confusion, and the “what the hell happens next?”. The feeling of shame, embarrassment, and having absolutely no clue what to do. “What’s right? What’s wrong? What are my parents going to say? What will my grandparents say? What will my friends say?” I’m not entirely sure what I would even call that particular cocktail of emotions but I remember it all too well.

It’s been almost two weeks now. You have your appointment today, and I know you’re terrified. After this appointment, there will be no room for denial anymore. You’re going to hear that little heartbeat & it’s going to feel so surreal. You’re going to leave there with the intentions of talking to your boyfriend about what happens next. You’re not going to be prepared for his reaction. Let me let you in on a little secret, he’s just as terrified as you are but not nearly as strong. You have to make this decision on your own. This isn’t like choosing what you want for dinner, you can’t just say “I don’t know” and hope the person driving the car ends up exactly where you were secretly hoping they would. This is going to be life changing; but you can do it.

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Now, that doesn’t mean it will be easy. In fact, it will be incredibly hard. Everything in your life is going to change. You’re going to be different from everyone you know. You’ll be trading late night parties for evenings planning your future followed by early bed times. Some of your friends are getting ready to start their first day of college while you’re getting ready to find out the sex of your baby. You’re going to trade education, parties, and friends for days filled of working, evenings filled with shopping for a crib & diapers, and weekends filled with parenting classes. You’ll be forced to grow up much faster than most of your friends, and it will change your relationships with them (and in some cases, even end them). Your family is going to need time to process and accept the news. This isn’t what they planned for you. This isn’t how they raised you. They had dreams for you to go to college, travel the world, and then someday.. a much later day.. find a wonderful man and have a beautiful baby or two. In their eyes, you just flushed their dreams, and your future – down the drain. The next few months are going to feel unbelievably lonely.

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It’s been 5 months now. You’re starting to show, you can feel your son kick, & it’s hard to get comfortable at night. You’ll start to accept you’re going to do this alone. You’re going to wonder what’s wrong with you, you’ll think about all the decisions that led you to this point in your life so far, and you’ll try so hard to envision what life is going to look like in a few short months. Some days it’ll be easy to stay focused and positive … and other days you’ll get yourself worked up thinking about silly things like what it’s going to be like to get an epidural and IV. Stiff upper lip my dear, your first baby shower is just around the corner.  Your co workers and friends will be there to support you & it’s going to be a good time. Don’t let the “daddy’s little allstar” outfits get to you – no one means any harm, it’s just what the stores sell. Don’t stress so much, it’s all going to be okay. 

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You’re seven months pregnant now. Your doctor just told you to watch the weight gain & you’ve had to replace your entire wardrobe. When you go in public you feel like the whole world is staring at you. Well, the WHOLE world isn’t staring – I can promise you that… but unfortunately, some people will stare. They are going to silently judge you, and honestly, sometimes they won’t be so silent about their judgements. Sometimes you will want to scream, and other times you are going to get back in your car with tears running down your face feeling unworthy. Unworthy of love, unworthy of a second chance at success & unworthy of being a mother.  You’ll believe the things people say to you because you already had those fears (even if you refused to admit them out loud) and now hearing the words solidifies your own insecurities. Don’t let these lies you tell yourself consume you. The truth is, you may not have been raised to become a teenage mother but you were raised to work your ass off & conquer anything you tackle. You’re not another statistic and you will beat the odds. You aren’t bound to a stereotype. Maybe you used protection, or maybe it was a heat-of-the-moment lapse of judgment. It’s okay. This does not define you. Age does not define you. A number does not define how good of a parent you can be so DON’T let it.

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Here’s a little piece of advice – don’t watch that ridiculous show “Teen Mom”. I can tell you first hand, being a teen mom is anything but the glamorous life MTV makes it appear to be. Juggling a career & a baby is no walk in the park. It’s financially, emotionally, and physically hard.  You’re going to make countless mistakes, and sometimes you might fall apart. That’s okay. You are going to pick yourself back up again and again. It’s going to be difficult to figure out yourself and be successful all while that beautiful little boy is looking up to you, counting on you. While he is growing, you will grow too.  You’re going to overcome fears and gain confidence you never thought possible. You are going to have your share of heartache, and life won’t always be kind to you, but you’re going to end up with a life more amazing than you ever could have imagined. 

You’re eight months pregnant now. Your doctor thinks the baby will be here any day, there’s no way you’re going to make it to your due date. The crib is put together & you’re full swing involved in those parenting classes. You’re amazed by the kindness of your cousin for stepping up so you don’t have to feel so alone at those doctor appointments, and you aren’t feeling so lost in what to expect for the delivery. Remember, I told you – things would get better. 

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Your family is coming together and throwing you a baby shower, you’re going to get everything you need to get started! You’re going to start feeling less alone and start to see ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. When everyone asks if you’re getting excited – just smile and say yes. That’s what you’re supposed to say anyway. We can keep it between you and me that you’re actually feeling nothing but fear right now. I know when you are at work and haven’t felt him kick in a little bit or when you lay down at night and he stops kicking – you’re probably going to go into complete panic mode. Stay off of Google, and chill out. He’s going to be just fine, in fact he’s going to be perfect. 

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Well, here we are. Your due date is in two days & you’ve been walking laps around the back porch with your mom all weekend. I know you can’t help but think “do I really want to hurry this delivery? I don’t know if I’m ready for this ” but trust me, once he is here – life will only get better. 

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Those two days flew by, and now it’s your due date! So much for coming early huh? Those stomach pains you’re feeling are actually contractions. When you get to the hospital they’re going to send you back home and advise you to come back later in the evening. Save yourself the trip and stay home. Your water will break and you’ll be back in the car in a couple of hours anyway. The IV is going to suck so make sure you make it clear how nauseous you are, all I’ll say about that is – trust me – it’s important.  You’ll sleep for most of the day until it’s time for the epidural & then you’ll sleep some more. Keep counting your blessings, you’ll be one of the lucky few with a relaxing labor story to tell. When it’s time for delivery, they’re going to use forceps but don’t worry, it’ll be over before you know it. They will hand your beautiful baby to you (even if you’re a little shaky – they’ll tell you it’s normal). You’re going to look down at all 8 lbs. 15 oz. and 20 inches of pure perfection in your arms – and all of those fears you had will suddenly seem so far away. You did it mama! Congratulations! 

It’s time to close this chapter of your story and begin your journey into motherhood.  Something tells me you’re going to be just fine. 😉❤

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