When people find out how old I am, their eyes usually bulge and their jaws drop. Not exaggerating.
I had Reagan in Utah where it is very common to see very young couples and families. In fact, in several of my classes at school you would see a young mom wheeling her stroller with her newborn into the lecture hall and it was totally normal. So nobody was really all that surprised to see two 24 year olds with their first baby out and about. But as we left the bubble that is Happy Valley, Utah, we quickly found ourselves to be the youngest parents of any new friends we made by about 5-10 years.
Jared and I were 22 when we got married and we both agreed we would wait several years (at least until we were done with school) before starting a family. About 10 months later, I had a huge change of heart and started pestering Jared to change that plan and start trying to have kids right then. He was definitely reluctant (and thought I’d lost my mind) but after reading that it takes normal, healthy couples anywhere from 6-12 months to conceive we decided to go ahead and start trying. Two weeks later we had a positive pregnancy test. We were somewhere between elated and terrified at receiving this news but figured everything was going to work out just fine–we had a savings, we both had good jobs, and I at least would be done with school and internships by then.
We were 24 when Reagan was born, and she was hands down the best thing to ever happen to our lives and our marriage. We had been such workaholics up until the day she was born that we hardly saw each other. Jared was in school full time and working 12 hour graveyard shifts at the hospital. I was working 80 hour weeks on an opposite schedule and we’d frequently pass each other in the hospital hallway as he was clocking out and I was clocking in, and that was the only time we saw each other all day. When Reagan was born, we were forced to slow down a little a make sure our schedules revolved around someone other than ourselves. We started spending more time together as a family, and my level of happiness shot way up.
We moved to San Antonio when Reagan was 5 months old after Jared graduated and I secured a part time job at a clinic. Jared quickly found a job that revolved around my hours so we wouldn’t have to put Reagan in daycare. That was about a year ago, and we’ve been so much better off since then. We work normal business hours, spend the whole weekend together, and are able to go to church every Sunday (which never happened with our old jobs). I know that if we hadn’t had Reagan when we did, we would probably still be working insane shifts with little to no interaction with each other and our relationship wouldn’t be where it is today.
That being said, most of the mom friends I’ve made since moving here are anywhere from 5-15 years older than me, have already purchased homes, have husbands with 401k plans, and generally seem to have their lives put together and figured out. Sometimes it’s easy to look at all that and compare it to our lives–living in an apartment, working jobs with no benefits, and Jared applying to grad school–and get envious of the stability that they have. That being said, I wouldn’t change our timing and decision to have kids early. We are both so much happier now than we were before Reagan, and I know that our happiness will increase even more when baby girl #2 is born. We both felt very strongly (after praying about it for weeks) that we were supposed to have another baby now, and even though our bank accounts are smaller, our budget is tighter, and we have to live in 1,000 square feet of confined space, we know this is the path we were supposed to take.
Being a young mom is wonderful, Reagan and I are so close and she has brought Jared and I closer as well. We’re stronger in our faith (having kids makes you hit your knees to pray A LOT), we’re humbler, and slower to criticize or judge. My pregnancies have been relatively easy, and my recoveries have been short because my body is healthy and able to bounce back quickly. I wouldn’t change the way we did things for the world, and while it’s hard at times and I think how different my life would be if we were still kid-less, I prefer this life over that one every single time.
Photos by my super talented Utah photographer friend Camilia Lund.