Thursday, 12 April 2012

Teen Mum

I've never really talked about being a teen mother before. If I'm honest it never bothered me too much. When I was 17 I never noticed girls the same age or younger with bumps, I never judged and as far as I know when I was that teen with a bump I too was never judged. I'm sure people had their opinions but they were never voiced to me.In fact I think I've always judged myself more.

My daughter was not a mistake. Of course at 17 she was most certainly not planned but to label her a mistake not only makes me feel awful but could you imagine what it would do to her? However she was not much of a surprise either! I had only been with my partner for 3 months when I found out I was expecting a baby at 17 years of age. There was no question in my mind what had to be done for me and I was lucky that I had Other Half who was happy to support me even though he himself was scared witless.
I met my midwife at 5 weeks pregnant. I didn't really know what to think let alone feel. My midwife was okay, I wasn't overly fond of her but then again I'm not overly fond of any health care professional! As my pregnancy went on I hardly saw my midwife at all which was very strange considering i was first time mother. I was still painfully shy when I was 17 and so was not keen to voice my concerns, to ask for help. I suffered morning sickness for 4 months constantly which was vile and based on my second pregnancy where much the same happened if I were to be confident enough to ask for help I would've been prescribed some anti-sickness tablets.

Eventually my aunt, a midwife of over 30 years, took over my care.
Over this time there were the difficulties many people, especially teens, experience when finding out they're pregnant. I had just left my course at college and was meant to be going onto a National Diploma course. I cancelled my place as there was no way I would be able to keep up after I gave birth. There was also the housing issue. My family had a 3 bed house where I shared with my sister and my partners family also had a 3 bed where he had his own room. I spent more time at his place and eventually we made the decision to live over there.

Other Half was still in college studying for his sports diploma and I had just heard that job centre would support us, this was before everything changed with regards to the benefit system. At the time however this was a great relief for us. We had no luck whatsoever in regards to the council housing. The only way to get on the ever growing list was to claim both our parents were having to make us homeless. I was not prepared to lie so I could be chucked into some B&B and then end up on some unsavoury council estate.

After I had Little Miss we stayed at my Mums. It wasn't great though and this is when I started to go down hill. My Mum last cared for a baby when my sister (16 at the time) was born so she had lost the confidence she once had. I felt no one could really help me. No one prepared me for how sore and uncomfortable I would be after the birth. I had a 3rd degree tear, I couldn't pee without screaming and I was too tired for words. I think I should write a very open and honest account of what some mothers' experience post birth!

After some time we went back to my in laws as my partner was due to go back to college. This is where I deteriorated further. I felt I was too young to care for my baby, she didn't sleep well, I didn't have a clue what I was doing. I never changed a nappy unless I was alone for fear of getting something wrong, being laughed at, even judged possibly. In my mind it was something that was going to happen.
The atmosphere began to deteriorate. I'm still not sure till this day what happened. There was a lot of people in a nice but small house and my mental health had definitely contributed to the meltdown, albeit very silently.

One day I packed all our stuff and placed it on the dining room table, hugged my partner, strapped my baby into her carseat in the back of my Aunts car and went home. It wasn't the highlight of my years that's for sure and in particular it could even be perceived as cruel but I was slowly braking down inside and I don't believe I had any grasp on how i behaved/came across. I wasn't the only one in the wrong over this time though.
Things over time didn't get much brighter when living with my parents. Other Half was travelling a very long way everyday to keep up with college, there were arguments between us, between my family and between his family. To say the first 2 years of my daughters life was great would be a huge lie! I missed a lot through the stress, the depression, anxiety, insecurities and I wish I could take it back. I'm not even sure how I'd go back and change things because what happened seemed pretty inevitable when looking back.

It does get better! We eventually got our first flat, Other Half went on job seekers after a rather unfortunate event and we didn't get off job seekers for 18months. We moved house again but that experience was damp, cold and we lived below a rude young male who played loud music, smoked drugs and threw beer cans out of the window. He even had friends who were threatening to Other Half. We ran from there after only a couple of months, I was heavily pregnant and my anxiety had once again reached an uncomfortable peak. Now the home we live in is lovely. The neighbours are nice (what you see of them!) we have a garden, and we can stay here for a fair while.

I think a lot of teenage parents experience this problem. They fall pregnant (like any first time parent) not really knowing what on earth happens next. The added problem is that we are often not in jobs, we are not living in our own accommodation. We then have to rely on the kindness of our families to accommodate us and a baby which can bring much hardship to a family. Babies are loud and sometimes inconsolable. I know my brother, for example struggled having us sleeping (or not in Little Miss's case) in the room next to his. Often a house can feel too small for everyone and relationships can brake down.I firmly believe this is what happened several times along my first years as a new mother.

I am grateful to anyone who supported me along the way especially in times of difficulty. I think looking back there were times where people could have been more open and honest (myself included) and I also think other times some people could have been more patient.
 This is how I became a mother. I don't recommend it to anyone but there are plenty of young parents out there who do an amazing job of raising their children and there are some who don't do such a good job and the same can be said of parents who are older.

I don't feel happy when a young person I know or know of says they are pregnant. They may be very happy (after all i was 21, one child born, engaged and living in my own house when I had my second so still very young!) but I feel a bit sad for them. I don't have an education, I study from home but that is really hard work especially when you have poorly or teething babies and you're running on almost empty.
After all is said and done though, I feel I'm not doing a bad job at this mother lark and I know of a lot of young parents who also deserve a pat on the back. Especially if they've not had the best start (or the start they dreamed of) with their precious bundle.


Cupcake Mumma

2 comments:

  1. I had Jared at 18, just before I turned 19, and I felt all of the emotions you have wrote about here, he's 13 months now and they have been a rollercoaster ride and I love him to bits and I'm coping much better now and everyone tells me i'm a really good Mum but at first I had doubts and would cry because even though he was my world and I never regretted having him, I wish I wasn't so young. My partner finds it hard with work and college on top too as he's got Aspergers Syndrome which means he can't cope as well with everyday situations, but he is a brilliant Dad when it comes down to it.

    The one thing that differs between us is that I have felt immensely judged as a young Mum, but only because I moved in with my Partner and his family in a really nice, "posh" area, Bebington, where all of the Mum's at the baby clinic are married, in their 30's with great jobs and posh cars, I wasn't used to this because back home in Liverpool teenage Mums are the norm and I feel no one bats an eyelid, which I actually think is wrong. I know I do my best as a Mum, I love my baby, i'm actually happy now (we have had council housing problems too), but I would never recommend being a young parent to anyone, and if my little sister turned up pregnant when she was 18, it may be hypocritical but i'd be so dissapointed, because I'd expect her to learn from Mine and Our Mum's mistake (mum was 17 when she had me).

    Good post though! xx

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts Ashleigh. I'm sorry you've had to experience the judgment that comes with being a younger parent. I am indeed one of the lucky ones as most of the people i know have had a negative experience as well.
      I feel same about my sister too, she is also now 18 and think i would offer as much support as possible so she could continue with her studies etc whether thats right or wrong i don't know but that's what i feel i'd do. I don't think that's hypocritical of you at all :-)
      Thanks xxx

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