Reese Witherspoon opens up about being 'terrified' when she was pregnant at 22

The "Big Little Lies" star reflected about her fear of how she would balance motherhood and her burgeoning career as a young actress.
/ Source: TODAY

Reese Witherspoon was not yet an A-list actress and media mogul when she got pregnant with her first child, so she was admittedly "terrified" of how she was going to juggle motherhood and her burgeoning career.

Witherspoon, 44, reflected on Drew Barrymore's new talk show on her fear at the time about how she would handle being a young mother when she was expecting daughter Ava Phillippe, now 21, with ex-husband Ryan Phillippe.

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"To be completely candid, I was terrified, too," she said on the show. "I got pregnant when I was 22 years old, and I didn't know how to balance work and motherhood. You just do it, you know?"

Witherspoon's career had started to take off in 1999 from roles in movies like "Election" and "Cruel Intentions," but she was not yet one of Hollywood's most sought-after talents and the head of a production company like she is now.

"I didn't know if I was going to have steady work, too," she said. "I wasn't a popular - like, I made movies, but I hadn't established myself as someone who could demand that it shoot close to my kid's school. I didn't have any real power or leverage within my industry, so I think I was just like every other mom trying to figure it out, and dad and partner and grandparent who's raising a child."

Reese Witherspoon said she was "terrified" when she was pregnant with daughter Ava as a 22-year-old actress. Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images

Witherspoon is now a mom to Ava and son Deacon, 16, with Phillippe, as well as 7-year-old son Tennessee with husband Jim Toth.

The "Little Fires Everywhere" star recalled how much her life changed when she had Ava.

"There's a lot of, first of all, compromise," she said. "You take the food out of your mouth, the clothes off your back, the sleep out of your life, but every bit of that sacrifice is truly worth it because you feel like, that's what me wake up on a Sunday, it's not movies or my job, it's my kids."

Witherspoon shared a similar sentiment last year in a candid video on her Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine YouTube page.

"Your entire life will change," she said. "Everything you believe, every piece of food you eat, every piece of independence you have. You can't go out without thinking of another person. You can't look at your groceries without thinking of another person. You don't think about whether you're cold or hot, you think about your kid and whether they're cold or hot. You don't sleep anymore."

The "Big Little Lies" star believes it all worked out for the best.

"I find having little kids is more physical and it's just really hard on your body. So I am glad that I had kids kind of young," she said. "I had one at 23, one at 27 and then again at 37. And, oh, my God, having a baby at 37 was so much harder. This is just me being real. Everybody's life experience, you have to do when it's right for you."