In 2009, MTV stumbled onto a phenomenon. 16 & Pregnant introduced the world to expectant teens, including Amber Portwood, Maci Bookout, Catelynn Lowell and Farrah Abraham. By December of that year, the quartet was given their own show. Teen Mom debuted to an audience of 2.1 million, who watched as Lowell, now 27, and boyfriend Tyler Baltierra dealt with the aftermath of placing their daughter, Carly, up for adoption; Bookout, 27, battled with then-fiancé Ryan Edwards (father of her 10-year-old son, Bentley), who’s been in and out of jail and rehab; and Portwood, 28, struggled with bipolar disorder while trying to parent daughter Leah, now 10, with then-fiancé Gary Shirley.

It’s been a long, hard road for these women, and in the new issue of Us Weekly, they’re looking back on their journey. Lowell and Baltierra are married parents of two girls, Novalee, 4, and Vaeda, 3 months; Bookout is happily hitched to Taylor McKinney and they share Jayde, 4, and Maverick, 2; and Bookout’s found happiness with Andrew Glennon and their 12-month-old son, James.

In 2018, Abraham exited the series after seasons of drama with the cast. Shortly after, Bristol Palin and Cheyenne Floyd joined; the Challenge vet, 26, who shares 2-year-old daughter Ryder with ex-boyfriend Cory Wharton, remains on the show while Palin, 28, quit after just one season.

However, that doesn’t mean the My Teenage Dream Ended author, 27, would return. “I really have enjoyed my time away. I think time away helps everyone grow,” she tells Us of her time on the show. “If I ever came back to the show, I’m happy that I had time to go away, grow and bring something fresh to the show.”

When the women booked Teen Mom in 2009, they all thought they knew it all. “I did know it all,” jokes Bookout. She also knows they had a lot to learn – and they’ve done it together. Portwood can’t help but shout out her costars: “They became entrepreneurs and, like, super moms. It’s just so amazing to watch people that you love turn into these beautiful women, because we were kids. Now we’re women and it’s so empowering to watch.”

Here, the cast members look back on their long, strange trip.

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