on being a young mother

Of all the Momversation episodes, I identified so much with the one that asked, “Do You Judge Young Mothers?”

More futile physical positions to induce labor

I was only 22 when I found out I was pregnant, when my life entered warp-speed and hasn’t let up since. Mike and I found out we were expecting on September 7 and were married a week later, rather than in the spring as we had tentatively planned. I was still finishing up a few classes and working part-time, and everywhere I went, I felt like I was floating between two worlds I did not identify with. I did not know any other women like me, young mothers-to-be who were college-educated, in the early stages of marriage and careers. There were the other college students, women who were already planning which hostels they were going to stay in Europe or when they were going to take the GRE test for grad school. Then there were the pregnant women at the doctor’s office or in the breastfeeding class, most of them in their 30s, their bellies big with babies they had planned on having for years.

I wanted to find someone like me. A 22-year-old pregnant woman, too old to be considered a teen mom, too young to be considered anything else. “No Man Is An Island” should have this addendum: “UNLESS SHE’S PREGGERS AND HER BABY IS THRASHING AROUND DURING ADVANCED CREATIVE WRITING 484.”

I wasn’t seen until I was well into the first trimester and it was the first opening the doctor’s office had. I was seen by a woman whom I could tell wanted to discuss how poorly prepared I was for young motherhood. Her string of questions were like pop quizzes designed to show that I was wrong, wrong, wrong. I ate cottage cheese and she shrieked, “That’s not enough calcium!” She also asked if I ate queso, like she had just looked at my Spanish maiden name and figured me out and instead of asking, “Now what the flying hell does that mean? What’s wrong with queso?!” I said no, because I was 22 and I didn’t know I could have an opinion.

Then after she was done grilling me, she smeared cold gel on my stomach and I got to hear Nathan’s heart for the first time. I wish I had a recording of that rhythm, the swoosh-swoosh-swoosh that filled my ears and the beat assuring me that whatever my life was transforming into was the right path.

Also early into the pregnancy, I had breakfast with some of my former co-workers and told them that I was having a baby. One of them started ranting, “WHAT ABOUT GRAD SCHOOL? WHAT ABOUT YOUR CAREER?” Another one went on about how if she ever found out she was pregnant, she would throw herself down the stairs. No one said congratulations or asked me the requisite inquiries about baby names or gender preferences. JUST SELF-INDUCED ABORTION TALK. I left that breakfast, rubbing my stomach and the baby inside, determined that no one was going to tell me if I should be a mother or not.

Mommy magic

The only real judgment I experienced was from people outside my family. My family and in-laws were absolutely elated to hear the news. They sent me maternity clothes and ginger candy for the nausea. My sisters-in-law swooned over the little baby we were having and how *finally* their older brother was going to be a father.

I don’t have any regrets for having a child when I did. Every decision until now has brought me Nathan and if I had waited, I would not have had the child I know as mine. I have this little boy who hurts his finger and then runs across the entire room just so I can kiss it. I have a son who points up to the sky and tells me, “It’s pretty!” I have a son who barrels into me when I pick him up from daycare, who yells, “MOM!” before I’m even in the door. If given a choice to have this exhausting and exhilarating little son now or in ten years, I will always say now, now, now.

kiss

kiss

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Comments

  1. This is so lovely, Mona. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now but this prompted me to make my first comment πŸ™‚

  2. so sweet, mona!

  3. Love that orange handbag! You look so stylish!

  4. I cannot believe that you got so much grief! In my circle of friends, MOST of them were in their early twenties when they started having babies. I was the old fart at 27…

  5. I was a college-educated, pregnant at 22 woman/girl too. Of course, that kid will be 15 in a month, while yours is still a toddler, so I now sometimes DO think later, later, later. πŸ˜‰ But then I remind myself that I’ll be done with it when my friends are just starting to go through it. Wait, no I won’t; I have a toddler, too. Well, at least I’ll be more experienced at it.

  6. 1. Love your purse.

    2. I got pregnant for the first time at 24, and a lot of my friends were, like, “I am not even getting married until I’m AT LEAST 30.” Without saying anything mean about how their plans turned out, I will say I’ve never regretted my way of doing it—even though in our community, most of the other moms are about 10 years older than me.

  7. Oh, that’s horrible that your co-workers went on that way. Shame on them! (Been reading this blog for a while now…but don’t usually comment.)

  8. Boy, can I relate! I got pregnant unexpectedly when I was 20, only a couple of months after I got married. And we got the same reaction you did. School, career, financial security…the whole deal. Even from my mother. It took awhile for her to get used to the idea that she was going to be a grandmother right after her 40th birthday.
    Sometimes I think things would have been a little easier if we had waited but then who knows if I would have had my Bubba Dude. He is the best surprise I have ever received.
    Kudos to you, young mom!

  9. I usually don’t comment, but this hit close to home-
    My soulmate and I made a baby (out of wedlock) almost three months after my 19th birthday. I went through the same thing… although most people didn’t have the moxie to say something to my face, the looks I got towards my huge belly were enough. Being the youngest I’d known to have a child, my friends weren’t and still really aren’t too interested… but I too would never take it back, and look forward to being young (39) when my daughter is 20 and moving on with her own life!
    Your family is gorgeous, and Nathan should be proud to have such a dedicated mama!

  10. It makes me sad that your friends were so unsupportive, but it makes you all that more awesome for going your own way.

  11. I was 22 when we got pregnant with Katelyn. I was 23 when I gave birth to her just a year before you gave birth to Nathan. I think I started reading your blog just after you and Mike were married. I almost feel like I was there with you, except I wasn’t. I would have liked to have been though. You were in the land of My Life Is For Me. Remember that back home, it’s more like the land of My Life Is For Family.

    This is such a beautiful post, Mona!

  12. OK seriously? People are so rude. What you say when ANYONE tells you that they’re pregnant?

    CONGRATULATIONS.

    It’s just one word, it’s not hard.

    And Mona, you rock. I’m glad that you didn’t let those words ruin what is clearly a wonderful life.

  13. You look fierce in that preggo photo! Way to go!

    Looking at it from the other side (I’m 38) I wish I had started younger.

  14. Happy Early Mother’s Day Mona!

    screw the judgeMental. there’s a why there’s MENTAL in that word. you have an adorable child and you are doing a great job being a mother.

  15. You are doing wonderful Mona. Dont let anyone tell you differently. You go girl. Yes, your son Nathan Rocks!

  16. Bobbster says:

    Mo – so cute – so is that handbag!

  17. It’s really sickening that people can be so insensitive. Especially women. But you and I both know it has more to do with the DVS.

    DRY VAGINA SYNDROME!!

  18. Shirley Eugist says:

    If I chime in with an alternative perspective, offering thoughts on *why* your coworkers may have had those reactions, am I going to wake up to a mob with torches and pitchforks? : \

  19. i can totally identify with this… great post mona!

  20. Such a sweet post. & I love your handbag, too!

  21. I was 22 when my daughter was born. I was still working on my undergrad degree and living close to campus. I remember feeling like a freak show going to the grocery store with all the cute college kids stocking up on ramen noodles and beer for the weekend. It was a really awkward time. Walking around campus, going to class, studying late at the library; I totally felt out of place. That was 10 years ago – I’m still married, I finished my graduate degree and had twins since then. It’s worked out wonderfully and I wouldn’t change a single thing.

  22. Bossy was a young mother too. In fact, strangers used to see Bossy with a kid and ask Bossy how long she has worked for the family.

  23. First, I love the self-portrait with the baby! Wow do the two of you look alike. πŸ™‚

    Second, I’m sorry that people were so obnoxious and rude. You know that it wasn’t about you, right? Pregnancy brings out all of people’s “issues” and they feel free to say things they would never dream of saying otherwise.

    Personally, I can’t imagine having had a baby at 22. But as a 39 year old with an 8 month old, I CAN imagine that the sleep deprivation would have been easier to handle when I was younger.

    Good luck to you and your adorable little one.

  24. I can relate… only I got pregnant a little earlier. I had to deal with a lot of judgmental people. *faves this post*

  25. You are beautiful! God’s timing is perfect, and I admire your ability to live within His will, throwing aside the viewpoints of others. You rock! πŸ™‚

  26. Found you when I searched for young mothers around the world to see what counted elsewhere. Exciting to your country and mine included young parents around the same age and in the same way. Broken down into teenage mothers and “young” mothers, when I was 20 my son was born nearly six years ago here in Sweden and got exactly the same reaction as you. Fun to read, have a great day!

    If my words or my grammar is wrong, it’s because I’m Swedish.

  27. I know this is a really old post, but I relate, I really get it, and it felt nice to read. I was 22 when I found out I was pregnant with Clark, 23 when he was born. Now I’m 27 with three kids and I still don’t really fit in anywhere, exactly, which is probably why I blog.
    erin from swonderland recently posted..ANGELPACK GIVEAWAY! hooray hooray!

  28. So I only just found your blog and clicking around brought me here but OH MY GOD this was me! My husband and I had been together (we married later) for three years when I got pregnant at 20 and people my own age treated me like it was a horrific contagious disease. I too raced to finish my degree before going into labor (made it, whew). I remember being in the bookstore, stuck between “Keeping Your Pregnant Teen In School” and “Safe Pregnancy After 35” and wondering what the hell I was supposed to read. Even now that my son is 3 and we’re expecting another (we still get crazy reactions: “you did it AGAIN? ON PURPOSE?”) I can relate to this post. So great to feel like I’m not alone out here!
    June recently posted..Last Night I Dreamt I Went to Manderley Again…

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