‘SHE’S 21 AND PREGNANT. DO NOT ASSOCIATE.’ We lost friends. We stopped getting invites.’: Young mother swears every sacrifice was worth it, ‘We gained so much more than we lost’

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“I’m 22 years old and this — Tyler and I in sweats, Ella freshly bathed, the three of us brushing our teeth, getting ready for bed so we can snuggle in and watch Moana for the third time today — is what I call a fun Saturday night. We are absolutely content with a night in. We love it! There is nothing more important or perfect than this stage of life for us, the family life. But let me tell you, it wasn’t easy to get to.

My boyfriend, Tyler, and I met in college. Our college years treated us well… maybe a little too well. We were huge partiers. We had this carefree lifestyle that wasn’t always smart or safe. A day in the life of Jessler (as Tyler’s mom likes to call us) most likely included waking up with a hangover and rolling into class just as it started; a post-class workout, followed by Chipotle or Wendy’s 4 for $4 and immediately accompanied by a nap; and then binge drinking into the early hours of the next day, only to go to bed and do it again. (Sorry Mom!)

We did whatever we wanted, when we wanted. If we wanted to travel, we went. It didn’t matter if it was 3:00 a.m. or if our funds were low. We would just pick up and go. Nomads with no intentions. We were in a constant state of moving, always one event after the next. Something new to try. We had a lifestyle that was absolutely careless.

We moved back home our junior year of college. We fumbled around life for a bit; the only thing we were sure of was each other. Tyler had just got his foot into the trade work world, and I was serving, deciding what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Fast forward a few months, Tyler and I get into stable jobs and we decide to get our first place together. It was located next to bars and was close to work. We were set… or so we thought. Eight days after moving in, we found out we were pregnant. We knew we had to do an immediate 180. Our lifestyle was no match for a baby.

We have a slew of people in our lives who don’t even understand all the changes we had to make to accommodate raising a child. And on the other hand, I get a ton of people who tell me we are ‘family goals’ and ‘such good parents.’ And that means the world to us, because becoming parents was the hardest thing either of us ever had to do. It was not as easy as rolling over and saying, ‘Ok, time to be a completely different person!’ There were tears, there were fights, and there were some really, really low points.

It’s hard when you’re a young parent. One side of you desperately clings to the fun life you and your friends all share — it’s what you know. It’s what you have been anticipating for the future. Then, there’s the other side. The side you want to jump to, the side that houses more love than you can ever imagine, that lets you become a family, and grow as an individual and together as a couple. It is truly hard to make the leap. Some days you wake up, you look at Snapchat, and you watch all of the fun you’re missing out on. All the fun you used to be a part of. Then some days, it’s easy to see yourself leaving it all behind. Like when you hear your baby’s heartbeat flutter for the first time; you know you’ll do anything for that little person living inside you.

But some people don’t ever make the leap… and some make it halfheartedly. Other people fully commit to the leap. Tyler and I were all in. We knew we wanted not only to be parents, but GOOD parents. We knew we wanted to love our little girl unconditionally, to teach her, nourish her, and protect her. We knew in order to provide her with the life she deserved, we as individuals needed to change. We cut toxic habits, toxic people, and toxic places out of our life. We lost out on 21st birthdays and a whole lot of parties. We lost friends. We lost vacations we had planned. We stopped getting invited to events. At times we felt isolated. And if we did get invited somewhere, I felt like no one wanted to talk to us because they found it uncomfortable.

It was like I wore this big sign on my head that was endlessly screaming, ‘HEY, SHE’S 21 AND PREGNANT. DO NOT ASSOCIATE.’ No one understood what we were going through, so they didn’t say anything at all. It wasn’t easy as a couple to get through. Both of our lives had to change so much, and it was difficult to adjust to the other’s shift. But together we helped each other through.

What we gained couldn’t even begin to compare to what we lost. We gained SO much love. We grew individually and together. We became closer with God and closer with our own families. We weeded out the people who didn’t need to be in our lives, and left standing were the friends who truly cared for us. It’s honestly better that way; we don’t have time or the energy to entertain half effort relationships.

That’s the truth behind ‘family goals’ at a young age. If you want the family lifestyle, you have to be 100% committed to it, even if it means letting go of your old life. We went from being party bingers and borderline alcoholics who were just floating through life, to a set of amazing parents to a beautiful baby girl. And I say that with the utmost confidence. I believe it’s important to recognize your strengths, and Tyler and I’s number one strength is being a family unit. If we had a second chance, we would choose the same path in a heartbeat, because this is the best stage of our lives by far. We still enjoy a good night out with friends here and there, but I always cherish these kind of Saturday nights because we worked so hard to be here. Now I have to go, Moana’s calling.”

Courtesy Jessica Edmisten

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jessica Edmisten, 23, of Ohio. You can follow her journey on Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories from Jessica here: 

‘Had I just been a part of a cheating scandal? I wanted to vomit. I immediately called him out, probably sent him a million swear words.’: Woman shares ups and downs of their ‘non-fairy tale’ story

‘I had plans to graduate. We’d both just gotten good jobs. Why was this happening to us NOW?’: Young mom says age doesn’t matter, ‘We will always be exactly where we need to be’

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