When I discovered, just days ago, that I am pregnant, I burst into tears. Pregnancy has a way of bringing emotions to the surface. And what a time for emotion! It is a momentous occasion no matter how young or old you are, a rite of passage like your first date, your first period, your first car —and even more so, because it is more powerful.

When I discovered, just days ago, that I am pregnant, I burst into tears. Pregnancy has a way of bringing emotions to the surface. And what a time for emotion! It is a momentous occasion no matter how young or old you are, a rite of passage like your first date, your first period, your first car — and even more so, because it is more powerful.

I knew I was pregnant before I had a pregnancy test. In fact I’ve known for some weeks, because my body felt strange. At one point as I was about to brush my teeth, I froze and put my hand on my belly, suddenly aware of a presence. Woah, I’m not alone!

I would never have thought I was ready to have a baby. I don’t even feel grown up. But for some reason, now that I know what pregnancy feels like, everything in me wants to celebrate. I’ve started wearing a little more glow makeup, dressing with a little more pizzazz, and of course eating better.

In some ways it is like being in love: my world is beginning to turn around another person-a very wee person, not even visible yet, but definitely there. My baby and I are in a mysterious, powerful union, as close as two people can be.

There are people who would say that I’m not ready for a baby: I’m too young, I should finish university, our apartment is too small, and how will we afford it?

I answer with a question: is anyone ever ready for a baby? Babies are a major intrusion, a new person in your life, a whole new relationship begun, and not to mention responsibility! Asking if you are ready for a baby is like asking if you are ready for love. When you fall in love, a new person enters your life, and a new relationship begins. It is unpredictable, wonderful. I don’t believe anybody is ever ready for having a baby.

It’s true that I am young, with a life full of potential, and I will probably be spending the next twenty years caring for my child. But I dare anyone to see this as a waste of life! A child, like a husband or lover, isn’t a dead-weight that drags you under. He or she is a bridge to another adventure. Life is better with two than with one. I am convinced of this when I see mothers, even mothers in difficult situations, enjoying their children, loving them. Their child loves them back, and a new life begins.

True, babies can come at a hard time. I haven’t finished school, for example, and now I have to put that off for a year or two. I know girls in much more difficult situations: girls who are still in high-school, with unsupportive boyfriends and disapproving parents. Oh yes, it can be TOUGH. But parents and boyfriends are often won over by a girl who is fearless to defend her rights, confident in her pregnancy, beautiful in her motherhood. A girl can give herself passionately to taking care of herself and her baby, even if only for the duration of the pregnancy. The last word is, everyone admires this. This is the spirit that separates the weak from the strong, the celebrated mother tiger or mother goddess in every woman!

Life plans can be altered by the arrival of babies, but they may not be so altered as you think. I plan to finish university by correspondence, for example. Few girls are without relatives or friends to draw upon for help with baby-sitting. People may be more generous than you think. And no one says you can’t travel with a baby! I know of a couple who have three little girls under the age of five, who are living on a boat and sailing in New Zealand. Babies and young children usually just want to be where their mom is, and are happiest when she is doing what makes her happy. On the extreme side, my cousin wrote her university exams with a baby on her knee!

Our society wants us to think that we have to wait for the perfect conditions to have a baby. Your own education has to be over and paid for, the house has to be bought, the double income has to roll in to support the expensive new nursery, baby equipment, designer clothes, summer camps, girl-guides, and baby’s future education. In other words, you have to have money and be advanced in years.

This isn’t quite true to life. Nurseries and summer camps don’t ensure a happy child, and age doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be a good mom. The only important thing about being a good mom is loving your baby.

It’s amazing how, with a little creativity, babies can fit right into normal life. My own apartment is too small for a baby. There’s hardly room for us, and certainly no room for a nursery, or even a crib. We might as well be living on a boat! But babies are flexible. Ours is going to sleep right between us in our bed at first (less steps for me when he or she wakes up at night!). Later, a little cot or basket can be fit in the space between the bed and the wall.

Expense is not really a valid worry in our comfortable society. We have an excess of possessions, an excess of food, and people are quite generous once you start looking for help. Mothers in desperate financial need can seek help from government and charitable organizations. Here are some tips: Nature provides food for free! Breastfeeding has been found to be the best start for a child’s life: health, emotions, and intelligence. It is full of vitamins, anti-bodies, and more perfect nutrition than the best formulas. It is food, medicine, and emotional comfort all in one. No getting up in the middle of the night to heat bottles, either. It strips weight off mom, and puts good muscle and bone-mass on the baby.

A few cloth diapers are a good investment, if you want to spare yourself the monthly expense of disposables (which are, however, more convenient). Clothes can be bought second-hand. There are consignment and thrift stores for kids’ clothing in most towns. Babies grow out of their clothes so fast, your second-hand finds usually still look new. And this advice is assuming you’re as poor as I am! If you’re doing better than I, then more power to you, for you can dress your baby really well! (I recommend Hanna Anderson, a fantastic Swedish designer, for her babies and kids clothes).

Pregnancy is a beautiful experience, even when it comes as unwelcome news. It might appear to you as a problem to be solved, an expense, an inconvenience, or an embarassment to be reckoned with. You have real feelings. You are faced with real challenges. But while it is challenging, I want to share, out of my own experience, that so are all the best things in life. It is also endlessly fulfilling.