I was the first in my group of friends to have a baby. I was just 25 when my boyfriend and I found out we were expecting, and though I wasn’t too young to have a child—and my boyfriend and I had been in a healthy relationship for almost five years—I was still a lot younger than I planned to be when starting a family. The original plan was to spend my 20s building my career before having babies in my 30s. In reality, I was 26 when my daughter was born. Her dad and I then got married the following year.
Eight years later, we’re now a busy and happy family of four. Going through the emotions of an unexpected pregnancy and adjusting to life with a newborn for the first time are now distant memories. But the experience of going through this life shift before anyone in my social group did is part of what shaped me into the mom I am today. Here is what I learned by being the first of my friends to have a baby:
You’ll know quickly if you picked the right friend group
My friends all accommodated my pregnancy right away—one even double checking to make sure all the cheeses on the platter at a Bachelor viewing party were safe for me to eat. After my daughter was born, they made a concerted effort to make plans that worked with my new schedule or would come visit me at my apartment. No one in the group lived the kind of social life you usually had when raising young kids, but they often altered our friend activities to make sure I was included.
These women now all have kids of their own, and they’ve become the best group of mom friends. I knew by how supportive they were of me that we’d stay friends when they were in the parenthood season of life, too. It proved that we have similar interests and shared values of rallying behind one another.
Even if you picked the right friend group, it will still be a difficult transition
Adjusting to life with a newborn, without anyone in my nearby social group going through the same thing, was very difficult—even though I had the most supportive group of friends. It was a tough mix of emotions to love my new baby and miss my old life. My “old life” was still very recent, so I could easily remember what it was like to do things on a whim, and I deeply missed it. Though my friends accommodated me well, they could still live in a carefree and spontaneous way. It was hard to see them living their young, fun, 20-something lives while I was home learning about breastfeeding and adjusting to sleepless nights—without being able to go to my usual circle of support for advice on these things.
You’ll lean on new people for advice and develop closer relationships with them
Since I couldn’t rely on my usual support system as much, I had to turn to other people that could relate to my experiences. It ended up being a blessing in disguise because I was able to develop deeper relationships with other important people in my life—especially my own mother.
We had a lot of long, memorable conversations about her pregnancies, deliveries, and newborn experiences learning how to care for me and my siblings. I also bonded more with extended family—having reassuring and supportive conversations with aunts and cousins about their experiences with motherhood. It was a great reminder of how many people are in my support system. I also had to rely on other sources of information like parenting books, blogs, and articles.
And one day, you’ll be the source of wisdom for your friends when they have children
My local friends now all have young children of their own and I’ve been a source of parenting advice. It makes experiencing the tough adjustment more worth it to know that I can use my lessons learned to help others through their parenting questions and struggles. I could be a shoulder to lean on for the heavy stuff like what to expect postpartum and an experienced advice-giver for baby registry must-haves. One of the most satisfying things is to let someone know when an expensive hyped-up item doesn’t do things any better than the affordable basic option.
Every postpartum journey has its challenges whether you’re the first friend to have a baby or the last. My experience being the first certainly was hard—and a little lonely—but also encouraging to see how well my support system rallied around me.