I have decided that I’m going to write a few blog posts over the next few months or so surrounding my pregnancy with Noah. I am an open book, however there are some things that I will always hold back. This however is not a story of shame as I thought in previous years, it is a story of determination to make something unexpected work, and to still thrive.
The stereotypes and misconceptions of teenage mothers is damaging. Being a parent is painfully hard at times, but with society wading in on your bodies, mothering and lifestyle it can be a very lonely and isolated place at times. I think I bossed those years as a teen mum. I felt like I dispelled some rumours and did well at raising my son. I had great friends, I laughed a lot, I went out a lot but I also cried a lot, swore a lot and wished for things to be different.
I was humiliated every time I got on the bus pregnant and my Oyster travel card would beep twice. Exposing that I had the under 18’s card. I avoided buses as much as possible, they were forever stripping me bare for an audience of strangers to judge and pity.
This particular post comes with a trigger warning, I do discuss abortion and miscarriage.
Pregnant at 16: Finding out
I had been to the GP for a hayfever prescription before. Perhaps maybe when I was young child for a cough. I hadn’t told any adult that I was sexually active, and here I was telling my GP that I had a positive pregnancy test. It was the first appointment I had ever made myself.
“You’re going to have to go along to the hospital and have a scan to confirm how far along you are”
Right. That’s fine. I have to know so that I can take the pills that will end all of this. Hopefully in a weeks time this will all be behind me.
No tears, no panic. This happens to so many young women, my parents never have to know, my Grandma never has to know.
As I sat in the waiting room of the hospital (on my own as I hadn’t told anyone yet) my Blackberry died. I couldn’t play brick breaker or scroll through BBM, so I had to sit up and look around the waiting room. There was a couple sitting opposite me, a mother in law and a child maybe about nine or ten. Coming out of the double doors was a young woman in a blue and white striped dress, with a huge bump.
“Oh! I didn’t know you had a scan today!’ the woman opposite me with the family entourage exclaimed to the stripey woman. Stripey woman said, ‘ah yes! I’m having growth scans, he’s a big un’ and stroked her stomach.
A short while later, the same woman who had spoken to stripey woman leant forward towards me. ‘Is this your first then?’, I was a bit flummoxed, I had forgotten I was pregnant and why I was there. ‘Oh yeah, it’s my first’, unsure whether she meant scan or pregnancy, but either way my answer would have been the same.
Seven years this couple had been trying for their second. A sibling for their eldest. She told me that she just knew this one had stuck. I didn’t know what stuck meant. At 16 I didn’t know that I had 3 holes instead of 2 down there, I also didn’t know that you had an ovulation window. I had never thought about it. Why would I?
I couldn’t bare to tell her after hearing about their baby, that I was there to find out how far along I was so that I didn’t have to continue with this. I told her we were all very excited for the impending arrival.
She squeezed my knee as she went in, and said, ‘good luck with it all. Being a mum is the best and hardest job in the world’.
When she walked back through the double doors later on, she was in tears. Her mother in law was in tears. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I hid my face and sat lower in my seat. Why couldn’t we have swapped? She deserved this foetus. I deserve not to have this foetus.
When they called me in, I didn’t have any idea about how much my life was going to change in that room. No idea whatsoever.
There were two women. One, a midwife, who stood in the corner and took my details – from what I remember, parts are muddled now – and another who I remember so clearly, sat on the stall and she was harsh and cold. “You are very young” she said as she rolled the probe over my belly. I hadn’t answered yet because very quickly she found what we were all in there to see. There it was, in full view. A kicking baby, sucking their thumb. I have never seen something so clear, I expected to see a little egg yolk thing, and that on the screen is a BABY.
“18 weeks and 5 days”
Okay. That’s further ahead than I thought. That’s still only a small foetus though. It’s okay.
“Is that big enough that you know whether it’s a boy or girl?” I asked, trying to gage just how much in the shit I was.
“That’s a boy baby”
I was expecting a yes or a no. Hoping for a no, to be honest. A resounding no, this foetus is far too small to tell.
A boy baby. A fucking boy. A baby boy. Real life. And my god, he was mesmerising. I could see his hands. HANDS.
I know I started to sob then. Really sob. Heavy tears, shaking shoulders. The midwife took me into a little room and held my hand.
“You can still have an abortion, but you are obviously further along than most are when they find out”
In her other hand she was holding the scan photos.
“I know I can. But I don’t know if I can now. It’s a boy and stuff. It was actually moving around and stuff”
I gestured for the photos in her other hand and she hesitated.
“Are you sure? I feel like this will change your mind if you have these”
Soon after, I left. I tapped my school child Oyster card on a bus and sat down, holding the scan pictures and some leaflets. Completely numb.
Myself aged 16 in South France, 5 months pregnant.