It isn’t a secret that most people know I fell pregnant at just fifteen years old but I wanted to tell my story without editing or highlighting negative perspectives as many media posts have done recently. I want to be a positive influence for other teenage parents or maybe just inspire one person, one young mother to finish their education or dreams they held before falling pregnant. So here goes…
I had been dating my boyfriend for roughly three months before I realised that something was up. We weren’t exactly being safe and I had been under the impression that he couldn’t have children. I was a fifteen-year-old girl thinking that I was invincible and I was a little uneducated on the topic too. I was attending a catholic school and abstinence was talked about more than how to prevent a pregnancy but I wasn’t completely naive, I did have some knowledge and knew there were risks when you have sex. Sex wasn’t a topic that was discussed in my household openly, my parents were fairly strict and when they found out I had lost my virginity I was punished, so I didn’t feel that I could go to either of them for contraception or to even discuss the topic.
I was standing in Coles at the checkout in my private school uniform, back when self-serve wasn’t an option and handed the lady the pregnancy test and the few other items I was purchasing in hopes to disguise what I was buying. I was working at a small bakery at the time and used what little money I had to buy the test. I took the test home and hid it from my parents and my twin sister who I shared a bedroom with. It wasn’t until later that night after everyone was asleep that I thought about taking the test. I got up quietly not to wake my sister, went to the toilet and took the test. Only one line appeared and the test was negative. A rush of relief fell over me and I hid the test under my computer key board with the intention to bury it in the bin the next morning. The next morning I woke up and got dressed and ready to leave for another day of school but when I grabbed the pregnancy test I discovered there were now two lines. I suddenly realised I didn’t wait long enough for the test to turn positive. I crumpled to the floor in shock when my twin sister walked into our bedroom, she knew something was wrong immediately, so I showed her the test and she just said “What are you going to do?” I can’t even remember what I answered but I had no idea how I was going to tell my parents or my boyfriend. I texted two of my close friends to warn them I was pregnant and a complete mess but I put on a brave face for my mother and siblings as we drove to school. That day felt like it dragged on forever, my best friend and I skipped class together hiding in the toilets and around the school trying to figure out what I was going to do. I called my boyfriend from my mobile phone in the school bathrooms and told him the news, he was less than impressed to say the least but said we can talk more about it later.
Lunch time came around and I heard my name get called over the schools P.A. system demanding I go to go to the office immediately. I was told to sit and wait for the principle as she needed to talk to me. She was the first adult I told, I handed her the pregnancy test in tears and she said that everything was going to be okay but being a catholic school they do not support sex out of marriage or termination of pregnancy, I felt doomed either way. She took me to the counsellors office so that we could make a plan about how to tell my parents. I explained to the counsellor that we were going away for the weekend to watch AFL and I didn’t want to ruin a family trip, but she advised me not to leave it any longer. I now look back at my this and think how irrational that it was not telling my parents the most scariest thing I had ever experienced in fear of ruining a minor family trip. I think that it may have been the excuse I was using because I knew how disappointed they were going to be.
After we had eaten dinner that night and I was ready for bed I called my mum up to our bedroom. I told her to sit down on our fold-out couch and said I needed to talk to her about something serious. I came out with it and said “I’m pregnant.” I remember that look on her face and I’ll never forget it, she looked like she had seen a ghost, like all the blood had drained out of her face. She was in complete disbelief so I showed her the now three pregnancy tests I had taken that day. She still somehow did not believe me and said we would be going to the doctor in the morning to get another test done. She called my dad to our room and made me tell him, he didn’t say much and walked out but I could tell he was extremely angry and disappointed. I felt like I had let everyone down, I had disappointed everyone but I just really needed support because I was terrified.
Mum kept to her word and drove me to the doctors the very next day before school. I remember feeling humiliated as I sat before my childhood GP in my school uniform with my mum beside herself asking for a test. I am sure she wanted him to tell her that all three of the pregnancy tests I had done a day earlier were all wrong. She was scared for her baby, she didn’t see how this could all fit into the bright future she dreamed of for me. Being a mum now I can completely relate to how she must have been feeling and I don’t hold anything against her because I know she was just as scared as I was. She wanted me to finish my education, get a job, have a stable relationship, be financially and emotionally ready before I had a baby, and I was none of those things. The doctor turned to her and said “The three tests she has done are just as accurate as the one I can give her now, other than a blood test.” I know this is when my mum realised and stopped being in such denial but she still didn’t want the situation to be real. She made it very clear that I had options, including abortion and adoption but as soon as I saw those two lines I knew I was raising a baby no matter who supported me.
I called my boyfriend from our home phone that night after my parents had called his parents to let them know I was pregnant. He straight out said he wanted me to have an abortion and that having a baby would ruin his dreams and future. He wanted to join the army and if they knew that he was having sex with an underage girl he knew his chances would be diminished and they were. He was no longer welcome at cadets and never went back after news got out and it did, the whole of Hobart knew I was pregnant within a matter of days. I had older boys from different schools approach me in public asking if I really was pregnant and to tell them that it can’t be true. Which of course it was and I expressed that to them, looking back I feel proud of moments like this because I was always honest and no matter who told me that I was ruining my life or other people’s lives I always stayed true to myself. My boyfriend and I broke up after a week of fighting because we wanted different things and I knew then that I was doing this without him and I didn’t see him again until a day after our baby was born.
We still ended up on going on our family trip to watch AFL and although my family was trying to process what was happening we overall had a good time. Surprisingly by the end of the trip my dad (bless him) was trying to decide on what he would like to be called as a new grandfather. He was far too young to be called grandfather and we decided on ‘pappy’, my mum on the other hand was still in too much shock to be enjoying this new found role. She expressed to me that I could and should have an abortion. A close family friend also made that very clear. One day after school this family friend picked me up and took me over to her house, she made me a hot chocolate and told me to have a seat. For the next hour or two she explained to me that I should have an abortion, as she had made that choice as a teenager. I had to sit there and listen and nod and make her believe that I was at least considering it but deep down I never really did. I could not fathom having a termination, at just fifteen years old I just could not make that choice, so I chose to have my baby.
My mum took me to my first ultrasound to determine how far along I was and by this stage I was already eight weeks pregnant. Laying on the ultrasound table in my school uniform with tears streaming down my face I heard my baby’s heart beat for the first time. Soon after this appointment and the further along I became my mum started to realise everything was going to be okay. My school were overall supportive of my decision but had to ask the priest if I could stay and finish my education, to which he exclaimed “Why not!?” (he has since gone on to baptise both of my children). We made a plan together on how I could stay at school and graduate with the rest of my peers. After we had somewhat discussed what we would do my school got in touch with Brave Foundation and the CEO, Bernadette Black came and gave a speech on her personal journey of teenage pregnancy and finishing her education. All the girls from year seven to ten were in attendance at this speech and I felt every single one of them staring at me but I didn’t care because this is when I first realised that everything was going to be okay. To this day Bernadette and I remain friends and I continue to advocate and support Brave Foundation in any way that I can. I stayed in school full time until a few weeks before I was due which was around Easter break, we planned that I would have eight weeks off and come back to school.
My pregnancy felt like it went by so fast and exactly four days before my due date I started having lower back pain, sure enough this was the start of labour. We spent a few hours getting ready, packing and gathering my close friend and twin sister who would both be in the room along with my mother whilst I was giving birth. I went into the check-in room of the labour and delivery floor at the hospital, my contractions had become routine and I was admitted to hospital. At this stage I remember feeling nervous but mainly excited as I was so over being pregnant, I am a small person as it is so the baby was under my ribs causing me a fair amount of pain. The midwife checked to see how dilated I was, I was only two centimetres but she assured me that because I was so young and fit I’d probably have a baby within six hours or so but little did she know she was very wrong. I laboured for over 29 hours and it was a fairly traumatic experience. I had a fear of needles and blood (still kind of do) and did not want an epidural (now that I’ve had one with my second birth I don’t know what I was thinking!) I had two shots of pethidine which I needed the laughing gas for my fear was that bad (yes, I know I was in labour and I didn’t know the worst was yet to come). I also had the remifentanil in an IV line that I could push a button for relief whenever I contracted, which eased the pain. At the 24 hour mark the doctor decided it was time to break my waters and I screamed in fear the whole five minutes it took to break them. I can’t remember much of my birth, it seems to come in flash backs like a bad night out but eventually there she was, seven pounds and three ounces of absolute perfection. I didn’t end up holding her properly until about six hours after I had given birth due to needing surgery for stitches but when I did finally hold her it was more than I could ever imagine. I was so overwhelmed, in pain and completely exhausted, I hadn’t slept for a good two days but none of that mattered when I held her, it was all worth it. I had let Ruby’s father know that I had gone into labour and that he was welcome at the hospital regardless of the fact that he had not been present throughout the pregnancy. Both my mum and I tried to get in touch with him and his family but did not hear from him until two days later. When he arrived at the hospital he held Ruby and fell in love immediately, my mum asked him what it felt like and he responded “Indescribable, there are no words.” We attempted to patch up our relationship and parent together, we even lived together for a short period but it didn’t end up working out. We were both so young and couldn’t communicate well with each other, so we went out separate ways but he remains present in Ruby’s life to this very day, he sees her at least once a week for an overnight stay and always makes an effort. We are lucky that we have come so far in the past five years and are able to have a healthy co-parenting situation for her sake.
For me motherhood came naturally and that may seem weird for someone who is only sixteen years old, but it did. I felt complete, as if it was meant to be. I was lucky enough to be blessed with the ‘maternal instincts’ that people talk about so it should come at no surprise that I have since had another baby who is now two years old. So here I am with two babies, a husband and studying second year law full time. It is overwhelming to say the least and being a mother so young whilst trying to finish my education is not easy at the best of times but it is all worth it. My children keep me motivated and determined to finish my education so that they can have the best in life. I refuse to become another statistic, another teen mother who didn’t achieve what she wanted or finish her education because she fell pregnant so young and I know that with the support of those around me I will be able to achieve whatever I set my mind to.