Acacia: Finding hope at 22

young mom story

Name:

Acacia Remmer

I got pregnant at:

20 years old.

I am now:

22 years old.

My initial reaction was:

fear.

People in my life reacted:

with discouragement.

My biggest challenge has been:

leaving my daughter's abusive father and standing my ground against the stigmas and stereotypes.

My biggest accomplishment has been:

going back to school.

I love being a young mom because:

It connects me with my truest self.

I struggle with:

loneliness, utter exhaustion, and comparison.

I wish all young moms knew:

there is absolutely nothing we can't do.

Acacia has more of her story to share with us:

"When I got pregnant, I was still young enough to cling steadfastly to the idea of a fairytale ending. Even though my ex was emotionally and physically abusive, I'd been fed the same story as so many other young women: that it was my job and DUTY to nurture and support him through "difficult times." That it was wrong to walk away.

By the time I chose to have my daughter, I had no hope of leaving and had resigned myself to making the most of the situation I was in. Thankfully I did leave, even though it meant walking right out of the cultural narrative and into a swamp of stigmas and stereotypes. I was the "bitter jealous bitch" when I finally went to the police to protect ourselves from him.

The thing that bothers me is when people say, "Wow, I never thought you were the kind of person who...(was abused/would get pregnant, etc.)." Ummm, the kind of person? Of course I am. The people who get pregnant, who can have X, Y, and Z happen to them, tend to have some things in common: They breathe air, they are made of flesh, they are human. Because these thing could happen to any of us, to all of us. And the suggestion that there is a demographic, a "type," is damaging and fear-based.

So that's the dark part. But there is hope. I am now studying at University, and I recently began my honors thesis in environmental biology. I'll be applying to a Master's program in the next few weeks and I'm aiming for a PhD. My daughter, now almost 2, and I live in family housing through the university. I have so much hope for the life that we are building. We are happy, we are strong and we are amazing. There is no stereotype, no label, that could possibly contain us. I know I'm not the only single, scientist young mum out there."


Thank you so much Acacia, this is an incredible and important perspective. I wish you all the best! You sound like one strong, smart mama.

Do YOU have a story to share? Add your voice.

Meet Ben: The Child of a Young Mom

Meet Ben.

He was conceived when his mother was only 24 years old. She had recently graduated with an Early Education degree and originally planned on working as an elementary school teacher, but at the time, she was working part-time at a preschool. Her salary wasn't very much, and she ended up putting her career on hold to be a full-time mom.

But Ben wouldn't know that. He always has food and a roof and plenty of love. He has more than enough toys. He's quite happy. In fact, he loves spending every single day with his beautiful Mommy. He'd tell you he's a lucky boy.

His Mommy and Daddy aren't married, and aren't planning to anytime soon. Certain people in their lives are upset about that. "Think about Ben! Poor Ben!" they say.

But Ben doesn't know the difference. He's never asked for legal proof of his parent's love. All he knows is a Mommy and a Daddy who live together. He'd tell you he loves them more than anyone in the world. He'd tell you he's a lucky boy.

Ben is a loving, silly, well-adjusted, smart little boy.

And despite his parent's age, career status, and marital situation, he's doing just fine.

Yes, he's doing just fine.

They're all doing just fine.

(P.S. Ben is my nephew; his mom is my sister. And I love them dearly.)

Hayley's Advice to Student Moms: "I Brought My Baby to Class!"

When Hayley posted in our Early Mama FB group saying, "I decided to take [my baby] to classes with me," comments ranged from "Wow! Amazing! YOU ROCK!" to "I've been thinking about doing the same, how did you do it?!"

So I figured I'd ask Hayley a few more questions, for any other student mamas in need of some inspiration.

1. How did you approach your professors about bringing your brand-new baby to class? Were any professors resistant?

I was extremely lucky in that Creighton University is a smaller school, so I knew most of my professors from various classes or activities and all of them were extremely accommodating and supportive. I know that I would not have been successful without them. I emailed them a few weeks before the semester started. I told them when Jude was due and that I was going to be taking a short time off. When it came to bringing up the subject of taking Jude to class with me, I never really asked permission. I just explained that in order to be a good student and mother I had decided I needed to bring Jude to class with me. I offered to meet with them ahead of time to discuss any issues and said that if it became a distraction to either them or my classmates at some point during the semester, that I would make other arrangements. Creighton University doesn’t have a specific policy on babies in class so it really is up to individual professors, and they were all open and supportive.

2. A lot of student parents might worry about what their classmates might think. What was your experience with this?

My first few days bringing Jude to class were scary and nerve-wracking. I felt extremely self-conscious, knowing that all eyes were on me in every class. I was very nervous of what others thought. Every peep he would make my classmates would turn, and because Creighton has small class sizes, usually my professor would be interrupted as well. To be honest, in the beginning, there was lots of crying after getting home from a day of class. I felt really overwhelmed, but eventually it became more natural, I gained more confidence, felt more comfortable, and somewhere along the way it became our new norm. It became normal for everyone else around me too, classmates and professors weren’t bothered by a small baby noise now and then, and generally ignored us and that made it easier.

I wore him in a baby carrier during lectures. It was where he was happiest and most content and allowed me to have my hands free for note taking. Some days he just needed to be held. On those days, I relied on recorded lectures or notes from friends. I also nursed him in class. I never encountered any adverse reactions to nursing in public, and I am super grateful for that because it was my go to way to comfort him when he got fussy and that way I didn’t have to fret over scheduling feedings just right or missing class to feed him elsewhere. I always sat near a door to get in and out easily in case he wouldn’t settle and if possible at the back of the classroom so that I could stand and bounce him if I needed. Every class zapped my energy, between caring for him and listening to lessons, but we did it, and it worked. As he got out of the newborn stage and was awake for longer stretches and more interactive, it did become harder. He was about 3 months when I graduated, so I can’t comment on what it would be like to take an older baby to class.

3. What advice do you have for new moms in college, who might worry about balancing it all?

It's hard, and it's okay that it's hard. It's okay to recognize your own limitations and to adjust to those. The idea of "doing it all" or "having it all" is a myth. I didn't understand that at first, so I struggled most with guilt. Jude and I never got to have maternity leave. His first months earth side weren't cushy, dreamy, or quiet. I was plagued with "what ifs" and wishes for a different life. I whisked him from one loud place to another, I was less than calm most of the time, and my attention was divided. I am sure many mothers struggle with guilt, about anything and everything when it comes to their babies, but I grieved for the easier, beautiful, and soft transition I couldn't give Jude. I would feel so sad, and sometimes angry, and I feel that many student moms can understand the feeling and get caught in it.

But I had to let go of that. I instead focused on the unique beauty of our own situation and bonded strongly to Jude despite everything I was juggling. Guilt can rob you of happiness, time, and success, so you have to learn to let go. My last semester of college was by far the hardest thing I have ever done, but walking across the stage in my graduation gown with my degree in hand, I knew I wouldn't have it any other way.

Congratulations Hayley, and good luck on applying to medical school! Thank you for providing such an insightful and inspirational message to the other early mamas out there.

Check out more advice from former student moms:

Kayla: "Try to create a schedule that is babysitter friendly."

Victoria: "Find a support team!"

Chaunie: "I think one of the biggest challenges is simply feeling accepted."

If you have a story to share, please send me an email!

Your Voice Matters

Your story matters. Your challenges and experiences matter. The things you've learned, they matter.

They matter to all of the other younger mamas out there feeling alone, in need of inspiration. We all just want to be heard, to be validated. To know that someone else "gets" it and maybe, just maybe, things will be okay. Maybe, just maybe, things are already okay.

When Sarah shared her story about being pregnant in college, someone out there saw their own storyline on the screen and nodded along. It was "a breath of fresh air," as one commenter said.

"My biggest recommendation for young women who are pregnant in college, whether through choice or whether they are devastated at those little lines, is find your community, your tribe, your people who will be your safe place. For me, it was my church and those few professors who were willing to ask me how I was doing that week. It might be your girlfriends or your family or your husband's or boyfriend's family, but those people who support you are worth more than any financial aid."  — Sarah

When Krishann shared her story about finishing her degree as a single mom in college, and how she eventually met a new man and complete her family, someone out there said, "That could be me. If she can do it, I can do it."

"When my daughter was two she would go to her Nana (my mom) and say that her father (biological) didn’t like her and ask her why. She didn’t understand why her friends’ daddies would come to the class events and pick them up. She felt like something was wrong with her and would talk as if it was her fault. My heart hurt so badly for my child and I struggled with how to help her understand that it wasn’t about her. I felt like her little heart was concerned about things that it never should have been concerned about. I would beat myself up because I felt like it was my fault. I felt like she was suffering because of the choices I made. She didn’t pick her father; I did. I was the one who kept trying to fix a relationship that couldn’t be fixed.

Leaving her father was difficult, only because I was afraid that she would grow up without a father and I didn’t want that for her. I had to learn that being with someone doesn’t guarantee that they will be there for their child, and that taking care of myself and my happiness was one of the best things that I could have ever done for her."  — Krishann

When Gemma opened up about her miscarriage (as did Amber), someone out there read her words and cried, feeling the pain in her own heart.

"I was stunned and heartbroken by the number of women who reached out to me privately to let me know they too had known this grief. Many of them were young. Some weren’t mothers yet, only for that brief and fleeting time they held new life inside of them. It does happen to the girl who gets pregnant without even trying. It happens to all kinds of women.

I soon found out, through this private outreach of love and support, why young mothers or young would-have-been mothers don’t speak out about their miscarriages. Because when you are young and unexpectedly pregnant and the unthinkable happens, you aren’t always met with gasps of horror, you’re met with sighs of relief."   — Gemma

And how about when Darlene told us about studying abroad with her toddler? Young moms sat behind their screen and thought, "DUDE. HOW COOL. Can I do that?! I just might do that!" Or when Jessica told us the story about knowing her frat-living boyfriend for only 6 months before getting pregnant, and they're now married and growing a family.

YOUR STORIES MATTER.

So go ahead and tell us yours with this new feature: Add your voice.

Someone out there needs to hear it.


15 Young Moms to Follow On Instagram

youngmomsinstagram

We're all guilty of scrolling through our feeds and timelines, unintentionally comparing our lives to the 20-something friends posting vacation selfies and wild parties ("Is that how I'm supposed to be living?"), or to the glossy-mag moms who look, dress, and act nothing like you do ("Am I a real mom?").

Sometimes it helps to find other women living a similar lifestyle — to feel normal. To feel less alone.

So I started a #followfriday feature on the @earlymama Instagram, to help fill your feed with moms who are more like you — inspiring, cool, stylish, happy. Women who balance school/work/motherhood/relationships/new adulthood before the age of 30.  Moms who make young motherhood look good.

Here's are 15 must-follow young moms on Instagram:

 

Katie Michelle @katie_did_what

katiedidwhat
katie did what

Katie — a 26-year-old new mom in California — is our most recent #followfriday, and I started following her during her pregnancy. Since then she's posted the most AH-DORABLE photos of her young family, and she also has a separate Instagram account for anyone looking for some fitness motivation after baby (@katiedidwhat_tiu).

Instagram: @katie_did_what

Blog: Katie Did What

Follow her for: Baby photos, cool "young mom" fashion/beauty, and fitness motivation.

 

Lacy Stroessner @lacystroess

lacy stroessner
youngmom

Over the past few years, Lacy has become one of my most favorite "early mama" blogging buddies (in addition to her own blog, she writes for Disney Baby and mom.me). With three gorgeous little girls and a picturesque farm-life feed, she brings the 20-something rural stay-at-home mom gig to life.

Instagram: @lacystroess

Blog: Living On Love

Follow her for: SAHM camaraderie, AMAZING recipes + craft ideas, and the cutest sisterly love.

(Also check out her essay on Early Mama: Wanting and Choosing Young Motherhood)

 

Victoria Hemeyer @victoriahemeyer

A popular young mama on Instagram, her mountain-living life is candid and genuine and bursting with love. She's posted about balancing coursework and finals with motherhood, but her feed is mostly adoration for her little boy. She just might make you feel more hopeful and valid as a young mom.

Instagram: @victoriahemeyer

Etsy shop: ShopMountainMade

Follow her for: "Early Mama" mountain living, mom-and-son love, and fitness inspiration.

 

Chaunie Brusie @cmbrusie

youngmomblog
chauniebrusie

Chaunie is another personal "blogging buddy" of mine, and a fellow young-mom supporter through her blogs, book, and speaking engagements. After thinking her life just might be over from an unplanned pregnancy in college, she's gone on to prove that young motherhood was the very best thing to happen for her life and career.

Instagram: @cmbrusie

Blog: Tiny Blue Lines

Follow her for: Big family inspiration (she has four kids in her 20s!), the squishiest baby photos, and young mom support.

Also read:

 

Melissa Schartz @Kourtney_Shotz

lovelikejohnnyandjune

I started reading Melissa's blog back when she was just a "young wife," and I've loved watching her embrace young motherhood as well. I especially love that she keeps it real on her Instagram feed, like this recent caption:

Motherhood today was: the hot mess express. The emotional roller coaster. The epic postpartum hair regrowth debacle. The two doctor visits in one day kind of day. It was a ROUGH one. BUT we made it, well technically we’re still trying, but we’re hopeful and we’re still grateful. After all, can a day full of snuggles really be that bad of a day?? #theanswerisno #poorbaby #sickbaby #henryharper #henrygram
— @kourtney_shotz

Instagram: @kourtney_shotz

Blog: Love Like Johnny and June

Follow her for: "Young mom" fashion and baby products, fitness progress, and the sa-weetest little toddler boy.

 

Becka Lorene @beckalorene

beckalorene

Another gorgeous 20-something mom I stumbled on, Becka will inspire you to grab some lipstick and put yourself together for crying out loud. No frumpy mom here.

Instagram: @beckalorene

Follow her for: Proof that young motherhood can look stylish and fun. (Also? That boy! Edible!)

 

Sydney Poulton @sydneyliann

sydneyliann
sydneypoulton

Sydney is a wildly popular fashion blogger, and following her Instagram feed will make you understand why. She recently had her second baby, which calls for even more achingly adorable shots.

Instagram: @sydneyliann

Blog: The Daybook

Follow her for: The sweetest photos of a young family, probably ever. And her young-mom pregnancy/mom style is off the charts.

 

Victoria Garcia @victoriagarcia77

youngmomblog
collegemom

I recently featured Victoria's advice to student moms on Early Mama, and her Instagram is worth a "follow" too.

Instagram: @victoriagarcia77

Follow her for: A relatable Colorado-based, post-grad young mom starting her career and enjoying her small family.

 

Krishann Briscoe @hismrshermr

I just adore Krishann. I've gotten to know her well over the last few years, and she's a complete inspiration — especially for single young moms who wonder if they'll ever find a companion. (Krishann did.) She's embraced her "early mama" life with grace and love, and her Instagram feed is a representation of that.

Instagram: @hismrshermr

Blog: His Mrs. Her Mr.

Follow her for: A down-to-earth look at a real "early mama" life.

(Also read my Q+A with Krishann: Formerly Single Mom Finds Happiness)

 

Christina Childress @christinalikesbirds

You might remember Christina as the young mom who had (surprise!) triplets right out of college. In addition to being a Texas-based MOM OF TRIPLETS, she's also a graphic designer and an incredible photographer (see her Web site below). She actually designed the logo/graphics here on Early Mama!

Instagram: @christinalikesbirds

Web site: Christina Childress Photography

Follow her for: Incredible photos and a peek inside a young family with the CUTEST triplets.

 

Kristel Acevedo @kristelace

This Miami-based 20-something mama is making a name for herself as a blogger, and you can find her writing/'gramming about her two kids, her "early" marriage, and her faith.

Instagram: @kristelace

Blog: Glowing Light

Follow her for: Beautiful family photos and Christian connection.

 

Heather Scot Nelson @QuirkyFeather

Another Instagram find, Heather is certainly quirky...and fun and happy and absolutely gorgeous. (Seriously, THAT HAIR.) Ever since I started following her, my feed has been a little sunnier.

Instagram: @QuirkyFeather

Blog: Quirky Feather

Follow her for: Smiles, giggles, and serious fashion/beauty coveting.

 

@RadandRebellious

radandrebellious
radclothes

If this single 20-something mama doesn't embody everything "rad," then no one does. Look at her! She's young and hot and just WAIT until you see how stylish her little man always looks.

The second photo is actually a photo from her clothing line, Rad and Rebellious Apparel, because clearly this mama has a duty to make the rest of our kids as rad as hers.

Instagram: @RadandRebellious, @RadandRebellious_ and @radandrebelliousapparel

Blog: Rad and Rebellious

Store: Rad and Rebellious

Follow her for: Undeniable proof that you don't have to lose your style or personality just because you're now a mom.

 

Lauren Hartmann @thelittlethingswedo

laurenhartmann

Lauren — blogger and stylist — married her college sweetheart and started a family in her mid 20s over in the Pacific Northwest. As if her feed wasn't adorable enough with little fashion maven Fern, she's recently welcomed baby Clive to the mix. Her feed and blog is, without a doubt, one of my faves, and I know you'll love her too. She's real, honest, and completely lovely.

Instagram: @thelittlethingswedo

Blog: The Little Things We Do

Follow her for: Toddler and baby style, mama style, and an enviable Oregon backdrop.

 

Brandy @heartandhabit

Brandy — a Toronto-based mom of two — started a family in her mid-20s, launched a successful blog, and is now an apparel designer with the sweetest clothing collaborations. Besides her two stylish and loving kids, she posts photos about her yoga practice and her totally-in-love marriage.

Instagram: @heartandhabit

Blog: Heart and Habit

Follow her for: Heart-melting sibling affection, yoga inspiration, and gorgeous photos around Toronto. And fashion! Accessible, effortless, adorable fashion.

(Also read my Q+A with Brandy for more.)


I know there are dozens, hundreds, thousands of inspiring early mamas out there. Comment below with your faves, and be sure to include your own Instagram link so we can follow each other!

Follow @earlymama for more #followfriday picks, and don't forget to search/tag with #earlymama.

Victoria's Advice to Student Moms

"Early Mama" Victoria graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver this past Spring with a degree in Broadcasting. It took her six years (three of which were spent balancing being a mom and employee, as well), but she did it. She walked across that stage as her little boy looked up to her and cheered. She accepted her diploma with more pride and accomplishment than most of the other graduates could comprehend.

That's because she did what so many say is impossible. She completed all of the assignments and projects and testing, while also tending to fevers and boo-boos and toddlerhood, while also making money for her grown-up family. She had Big Girl responsibilities, and she rose to the challenge.

In fact, she credits her son for inspiring and motivating her to finish her degree.

Her cap reads: "My son inspired me, mom & hubby supported me, TOGETHER we all made this dream a reality!"

For the other student mamas out there, here's some advice from Victoria:

"I’m not going to sugar-coat it, going to college when you’re a mom is quite possibly the hardest thing you’ll ever do. However, it can be done! And I am living proof of that.
I will make this short and sweet. Please, please for the love of granola bars find yourself a support team. A reliable one. A consistent one. A team that will be there with you ‘till you walk across that stage. It can be done without a team, but that would pretty much be equivalent to torture. Um, no thanks.

For me, my team was my mother and my husband. They made a commitment to help me with my son so I could go to school full time and focus on graduating. After getting pregnant, it only took three years for me to get my degree. They were by far the most challenging and brutal three years of my life, but I came out a completely changed woman. I am stronger and much more confident in my ability to deal with adversity, but I do recognize that there is no way in hell I would have been able to do this alone. Find yourself a team to cheer you on along with way, a team who will be there for you when you’re  emotionally, physically and mentally checked out. Find yourself a team who will never let you quit. I thought of quitting a billion times, and that’s where my mother and husband would step in. And today, thanks to all of us, I have a degree hanging on my wall."
— Victoria Garcia

If you have advice or a story to share about being a student mama, please email me or show us a photo of you in your cap + gown on our Facebook page. Because WE CAN DO HARD THINGS.

Looking for more tips on balancing college and motherhood?