Sometimes, life doesn't go as planned.
When you're a pregnant, single 18-year-old girl who is also a freshman in college, “life-changing” doesn't even begin to describe the journey that's about to begin.
Meet Olivia Cichon (who is now 23 years old), and her daughter Sophia (4 years old).
Cichon was only 18 years old when she discovered her life would change drastically: She was pregnant.
Prior to learning the news when she was five weeks along, she and her boyfriend of five years had broken up.
So, you can only imagine how difficult it must have been for Cichon to tell her ex-boyfriend he was going to be a father:
He had just went away to school (also a freshman in college at the time), so when I told him, he cried. But as the months went on, he accepted the fact he was going to be a dad.
Telling the news to her parents was truly heartbreaking, and not any easier. It's definitely unexpected news for any girl to break to mom and dad:
They were both disappointed in me. My dad cried for months, and my mom was flipping out.... But that being said, my parents are two people that love my daughter the most now out of everybody.
One thing was certain, though. Cichon knew she wanted to keep the pregnancy.
I'm pro-choice, but keeping the pregnancy was my choice, and it was my ONLY choice. I never once debated terminating the pregnancy, even with people trying to persuade me to do so.
I couldn't imagine life without her.
When you become a mom at such a young age, none of your friends are going through the same stage of life.
It can be really difficult for other teens to have an understanding of what you're going through.
A couple of Cichon's friends were there for her and very supportive when they found out she was going to have a baby.
My friends were great! Until I had a newborn, and they realized that being a mom no longer meant I was "fun." I couldn't go out all the time, and if I did have the opportunity to go out, most of the time I was too exhausted to follow through with any plans. I lost all my friends, except for two girls who have been by my side through everything.
They've made my daughter a priority in their lives.
Sometimes, people truly surprise you and really rise to the occasion... and others, not so much.
My two best friends, Jessica and Mary, have supported me from the minute I called them sobbing after I took the pregnancy test.
Without their support, Sophia and I wouldn't have gotten to the place we are today.
In hindsight, she definitely understands how disappointed her parents were when they found out she was pregnant.
Now, being a parent is something that I understand. I wouldn't want my baby to have a baby that young.
Cichon's life has changed in so many ways. It made her grow up extremely fast, and she missed out on the last two years of being a teen and the beginning of her 20s.
She now misses out on many things that most 23-year-olds are enjoying.
My situation is different from a lot of single teen mothers. I have joint custody with her father, so she goes there every other weekend, which gives me the ability to go out like a "normal" 23-year-old on weekends that I don't have her. As much as I enjoy that time, I wouldn't trade my time with her for anything.
Life has taken a completely different path from what Cichon thought she would be taking right now.
I had to grow up A LOT quicker than other girls my age, and that's not a bad thing.
Being a teen mom IRL is nothing like the show.
For all of the "Teen Mom" fanatics out there, Cichon opened up about how unrealistic the show really is:
I've watched "Teen Mom" on MTV for years (even before I got pregnant), and as much as they show the struggles of "mom life," they don't portray it realistically.
Most single moms can't afford huge apartments, with brand new cars sitting in the driveways.
Cichon's life is currently all about "work, work, work and more work." She works 40-50 hours each week, and when she comes home, her day certainly isn't close to being over.
She doesn't chill out on the couch, kick her legs back and watch Netflix with a bottle of wine, but rather laundry, cleaning and doing dishes consume her.
There's a much higher demand for things to get done when you have someone who's solely dependent on you.
Being pregnant at 18 isn't something you're ever prepared for in life, and it doesn't come with a brand new Escalade with a satin bow, either.
It's not anything that can really be captured on a TV screen ; it's raw reality.
It's filled with worrying about "tic-tacs being put up someone's nose."
You're responsible for someone other than yourself, even though you're still a kid, too:
They say once you have a child, you have your heart walking around outside your body for the rest of your life -- and that's so true.
It's not like many young girls dream of putting off college plans, having a baby and becoming a single parent. It's scary and lonely.
After having Sophia, many of Cichon's friends were away at college, doing what college kids do best: joining sororities and sports teams, getting involved in clubs, making new friends and partying it up with roommates.
But it was a time for Cichon to prepare for childbirth and become responsible for her newborn baby girl.
I often wonder who I would have met in college if I were able to go, and what my life would be like now.
Hectic days, no sleep, changing diapers and late-night feedings was to become her new life.
I don't think any mom (whether you're young, old, having your first baby, or your fifth) could say they're "prepared" for the journey of motherhood. At the time, I felt as ready as I could have been.
The last five years have thrown things at me that I could of never been prepared for - both good and bad.
It's not just getting through the pregnancy and infant stage; a baby grows into a little girl.
Little girls, too, are a lot of work.
Cichon had much to say as far as daily struggles go:
There's never enough time in a day to get everything done. It's something I'm learning that it's OK to not be SuperMom... as long as I'm a good mom. It's easy to become the "eat your breakfast in the car mom," the "hurry, brush your teeth and get to bed mom," or the "give me 10 minutes to myself mom."
Sophia is absolutely the love of her mother's life, and even though she's not together with Sophia's father anymore, she says "he's become a great dad."
Some people are just better off not in each other's lives.
Becoming a mom changes a girl in so many ways, at any age.
Cichon has embraced motherhood like a boss. The road hasn't been easy, but Sophia is one beautiful little girl, and she is loved beyond words.
I'm glad my life is happening the way it is -- even if I'm living life a little backwards.