Choosing to be a parent at a young age might be the most difficult decision you have faced so far.
I was 21 years old when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter Annabella. My pregnancy was not planned (by me - God has a plan for Annabella's life). Being so young, barely getting by in college and still living with and depending on my parents, I did not want to be pregnant. I was ashamed of myself. I had no job and no idea how to take care of a baby. I was terrified to become a mother.
I thought that when I would get pregnant (someday far in the future), I would be happy. I would be married. We would have a Pinterest-worthy pregnancy announcement.
Instead I felt desperate and afraid and alone.
I didn't even schedule any prenatal appointments until I was over 12 weeks along. I just silently wished that my pregnancy wasn't real. I wished that the pregnancy symptoms weren't pregnancy symptoms but something else. I wished it would just disappear.
That's not how it works.
Though I was afraid, I eventually came to terms with the fact that I was pregnant. My mom found out (moms always find out) and soon we told the rest of my family and Jeremy's family.
I thought I was alone, but my entire family was there for me.
The months leading up to my daughter's birth were a bumpy ride, but everything worked out. No one was mad at me, my family didn't judge me like I thought they would, and I started to become more excited for the arrival of Annabella Grace, whose name means "loving grace," which is what Jeremy and I needed in those trying months.
Once I came to terms with the fact that there was indeed a baby growing inside of me, I had a peace in my heart that everything would be okay.
I decided that I was going to do my best to take care of my baby with whatever resources I had. I decided that I would strive everyday to be a good mother. I began to learn about pregnancy, newborns, child development, and much more. I started asking my mom, my older sisters, and my mother-in-law for advice. I am not a "perfect Pinterest mom" but I take care of my daughter and put her needs before mine.
I am not going to tell you that everything has been perfect and sparkly and happy all of the time. It has been rough. We have financial struggles, we have sleepless nights, we get frustrated, and we go through rough patches, but we come out stronger in the end.
If you are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, I want you to know that someday everything will be okay. Should you choose to continue with your pregnancy, there are resources out there for you and places that are more than willing to help you out. It's HARD, but it's worth it. If you choose to end your pregnancy early on, I hope that you will find peace in your decision. I hope that you will heal from your loss - because it is still a loss, and it is a huge decision. Parenthood is daunting and can be frightening at times, especially when you feel that you are not equipped to handle it.
But once you do have a child, it is time to be responsible. It's time to grow up. People always say, "Wait to have kids, because once you have them, you won't be able to travel, have fun, have quiet time, etc, etc." You can't spend your money on frivolous things anymore. You have to put the needs of that child before your own. You have to give up your body, your personal space, and your independence.
But it's not the end of the world.
Life with a child is difficult. Everything takes twice as long as it used to. But it is not impossible to have fun and go on adventures with your child. It takes more effort and planning, but the reward of seeing your little one with a smile on his or her face is far greater than the stress of the situation.
Find a support system, get help from your community, and keep moving forward. Don't give up on your dreams - they may have to be put on hold for a couple of years, and you may even find a new dream. I did! Having a daughter made me realize that I have the potential to make money doing the things I love from home.
There may be days when you feel like you can't go on - days when you feel like you made the wrong decision about becoming a parent. On those days, you have to push even harder and keep going. It's difficult, but you'll make it.
I am still learning how to be a good parent. I don't think you ever stop learning and growing as a parent, anyway. It may seem scary now, but it does get easier.
My husband and I always say that you're never really ready to be a parent - but you figure it out as you go along.