It goes without saying that, if you’re under 20 and you’ve announced that you’re having a baby to the world, for the most part, people will often give you a concerned look and ask “should I say congratulations?”. Although these conversations can be humorous, it is still considered very taboo when young people decide to move forward into parenthood before what most people would consider “they’re ready”.
I remember very specifically the Thursday morning I drove to the doctors looking for answers as to why I was experiencing extreme cramping for the last 4 days. I felt nervous, mostly because I had no idea what could be wrong, but I also felt like I just knew. In fact I even texted my mum saying that I had felt more nervous than your routine check up. Of course when you have a gut feeling, you have a gut feeling. 20 minutes later I was very nervously discussing with my doctor how on earth I was going to tell my family that I was pregnant.
It’s really quite sad that the first thing that comes to a young girls mind when she finds out that she’s pregnant is “what is everyone going to say/think?”. The mechanisms of society have almost trained people to look at young pregnancy as ‘they weren’t careful enough’ and ‘they’re going to miss out on a lot of things normal young people get to experience’. And it goes without saying that everyone has probably thought this at least once or twice. When in reality it should be nothing but thoughts of love sent their way.
The first few days can be shocking and hard, mostly because it’s so difficult to imagine how drastically your life is going to change as of a few days ago. I often found myself thinking I could have done more to stop myself from being in this situation, and worried an awful lot more than I should have about what everyone else in my life was going to think. The best advice I can offer in this difficult time, to anyone experiencing it, is to go straight to your partner and family, as soon as you can. I told my boyfriend as soon as I arrived home from the doctors, and my mum and dad that very same day. I couldn’t imagine going through the emotional rollercoaster I went through in those first 24 hours without the support and love I received from those people.
Give yourself time, I can’t express how important this was for me. Sit down and cry if you need to, laugh, yell… do everything you need to do to get a grip on reality. You’ll find that once you’ve given yourself this time, things don’t seem as upside-down as they did when you first found out. For us it was a beautiful transition between the shock of the news and the pure love and happiness of the future that awaits us. We went for a walk along the waters edge at the beach near our house together, and instead of asking all the hard questions we made a promise to grace ourselves with all of the beautiful reasons that this little one was going to change our life. This positivity really helped us when it came to telling other members of our family later on in the pregnancy, and since then, have only had love and support sent our way.
Above all else I found that during this time, it is the perfect time to be selfish (in the most positive way possible) and to truly think about what is best for you. Not what is best for your parents, grandparents, friends, friends of friends… you get the picture. Ultimately you get to decide what you want to do with your life, and you are the only one that can make that a beautiful positive picture or a negative one. The peanut gallery will always be there, though will very likely say nothing negative to your face, it is your thoughts of what their opinions are that have power over you. You can chose to spend most days thinking that people are disappointed in you, or are judging you, but you can also chose to focus on only the positive things to lift you up and become a better person from the experience whether you decide to continue with the pregnancy or not. Pregnancy is natural and beautiful, no matter what age you are and most importantly it is always your choice, in every single essence of the word.