Conversations with Teen Mums


Pregnant at 16

When I was little, whatever I needed, my mum always had it for me. I wouldn’t always get the best present but I always had what I needed. I guess no matter what, I had the better side of the poor side of life.

She wouldn’t let me see it but I could just tell when she was struggling and when she wasn’t. You know she always found a way to keep going and I guess watching her makes me want to keep going too.

Most of my younger years she actually didn’t have a job because there was no-one to look after me. I do remember a time where she did try to find work. But it just became too much for me cause I was bouncing to and from different houses so then she just gave up on work again. I guess seeing her always put me first, just stayed with me.

Everyone used to think I was the golden child. Like I swear I used to win like top academic awards like every year. It was a bit nerve racking cause I was stressed out about letting everyone down, you know, cause they think so much of me. But at the same time it just made me feel good that like I’m doing well and, you know, my mum’s work is paying off. I’m actually like going somewhere. She was just always expecting me to do well in school, try my hardest, which I did.

Not that many of my family members have succeeded at school. So I guess they see the potential in me, what I can do and what I can be. With my family stressing to me how much school is important and hearing and seeing what they’ve been through it’s always been in the back of my head that I have to make the most of every opportunity.

Intermediate was actually a bit life changing. Cause I got bullied in my first year. I think it was because I was starting to like become aware of what people think of you and whatnot. So there was a group of girls and they were pretty tightly knit. They were sort of like, ‘Do this or you’re not going to be our friend’. Like they’ll all want to go to the playground and I’ll want to go to the library. Or like they would be mocking someone and I would inside know it was wrong so I would say something like, ‘Ah, that’s not really funny, that’s kind of sad,’ and they’d take it offensively as if I’m taking their side.

It got to the point where I would just not want to do what they want to do and so they would pick on me because of that. It really hurt me cause I was still understanding who I was. I was like, ‘I’m just being myself. Why is that so bad?’ It was a bit of a battle through my whole Year 7 year. I was like so determined not to come back to school but eventually I had to come back.

To this day I still have this fear of what others think about me. Like I try to get over it but at the same time because of what I went through that fear is still there. It’s like constantly in the back of my head wondering what others are thinking about. It sort of damaged my ability to trust others as friends from then on.

In Year 8, I got moved to a different class. The accelerate class and whatnot. We’d actually get mocked for being accelerate but, you know, it was cool. That was probably one of my most favourite years of school. We were labeled the brainy class and they used to call us like ‘nerds’ and ‘geeks’, ‘know-it-alls’. They used to think that because we were labelled as brainy, we were cocky about it, but we weren’t. It was an accelerate class, it’s not like we’re geniuses or anything. That’s where I met some of my real good friends. They were just a lot more supportive and we had a lot more common interests.

In Year 9, my mum walked me to high school and she used to pick me up after school every day. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh’. In primary, she had walked me and dropped me off but then she stopped and I used to walk on my own to intermediate but when I went to high school something changed. I was 10 again. It almost felt like I wasn’t allowed to grow up, you know? I don’t know if it was cause she didn’t trust me or she was just worried what I might do even though it wasn’t expected of me and my personality. I was just walking to school, just trying not to be late.

I remember we talked about it and I used the example of if you’d be trying to hold a cat and the cat is just going to keep fighting and fighting no matter how hard you hold it. All you want to do is hold it but the cat is going to keep fighting and you just have to let go and wait for the cat to come to you. It literally wasn’t until then that she finally understood what she was doing.

I was worried that what happened in intermediate would follow me or people were going to find some new thing about me to hate, you know? In primary, I was the ‘golden one’. In intermediate, I was the ‘shy but good one’ and then going into high school, I became the ‘innocent one’ cause I didn’t like drinking and smoking and doing drugs and whatnot. Like I would do it if I wanted to, if I felt like it, but I wouldn’t do it even like 10% of the time. So that’s when I started getting the innocent image out of my group of friends.

My dad used to drink and so I was like, ‘Nah, I’m not going to turn out like that’. I did drink but it’s not something I’d do for fun. I just don’t like it because when I think about alcohol I also see my dad with it and everything that happened when I was younger. And it’s just really put me off.

We were actually together for a year and no-one had known except everyone at school. None of my family knew at all. At the end of that year my mum found out and she stopped me from seeing him. My dad was like, ‘You can’t see a boy, blah blah blah’, but it just basically carried on at school. Quite honestly looking back I felt really deeply sad that I was lying to my mum but at the same time because I was really young that relationship meant so much to me as well. So it kept going on but it still hurt me that I was lying to my mum of all people.

We hadn’t had sex for the whole first year because I told him I didn’t want to until I was ‘ready ready’. And then when we did I was like, ‘I’m not going to get pregnant cause I’m not one of those girls’. But at the same time I wasn’t using anything. I had gone in once before quite paranoid that I was pregnant but it came out false. Then I noticed that I hadn’t got my period for a month and I was wondering, ‘Hmm that’s strange’.

So I went to the male nurse and he was like, ‘Are you back again?’ Then he was doing my thing and I was waiting for the false so I could go eat lunch and he was like, ‘Can you just come in the other room for a second?’ And then he brought me to the other room and he sat me down and he said, ‘Okay, your test actually came out positive this time’. I was just knocked back. Like good thing I was sitting down, I might’ve just fallen over. Quite honestly the first thing I thought was, ‘How can I get rid of it?’ I was in shock disbelief, you know? I was absolutely terrified of what my mum was going to say. She didn’t even know I had a boyfriend. I was just so taken back.

I just wandered the school for the rest of lunch just going over in my head, ‘I’m pregnant, I’m pregnant. There’s something inside me’. My friends noticed and I just shrugged them off and was like, ‘I’m just tired’, and then after school I texted my partner to come pick me up. He was coming one way and I was coming the other way and I just started crying. He thought I was laughing from afar but then he got closer. I told my mum I was studying but I was going back to his house so I could tell him and I basically just looked at him and was like, ‘I’m pregnant’, and he was like, ‘Are you sure?’ I was like, ‘I’m pretty sure’, and I started crying again.

And then we just both sat there in shock, didn’t even say anything. We just had to stop and just take it in, you know? Didn’t even really know what to say especially for me cause I’d literally not wanted to have children. I was considering in my later stage in life still not having children. Watching my mum raise me on her own, I could see how much she struggled and I was like, ‘I don’t want to go through that’, you know? I was scared for my life. I wasn’t even sort of acknowledging the fact I was pregnant. I had this image that there’s a thing inside me. It’s not a baby, it’s not like a person, it’s not my child, it’s just a thing. I’m not pregnant. It’s just a thing.  And I was like so mad at myself because if I’d only used contraceptives this wouldn’t have happened.

My cousin, she ended up taking me to my appointment with the lady that sees you before you actually go through the process of abortion. The lady was like, ‘Why don’t you want to have a baby?’ and I was like, ‘I pretty much watched my mum struggle to raise me. I’m not ready to go through that. I’m not even out of high school. I don’t even have my levels yet. There’s no way I’m ready for this’.

When the lady was talking to me about a baby, like the consequences of having a baby, it wasn’t until then that I really started to imagine this thing inside me as a baby. A little baby. She had actually showed me photos of what it looks like as it grows and basically as she told me about the negatives of having a baby and about the struggles I was then starting to see the light. It wasn’t until then that I had decided to actually acknowledge myself as pregnant with a child.

I still kept how I felt and what I thought to myself cause I was afraid of like being judged on what I decide to do because either way I’m going to be affected. Everyone else had these opinions of what’s right, you know? What’s right by the bible. What’s right by life. And it was like, ‘I understand both of these but what youse don’t understand is how it’s going to affect me as a person’. That was really hard.

It was a day before my abortion. I was freaking out. I was just so worried about what’s going to happen. I went to school and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I was thinking, ‘I can’t go through with this. I can’t do it. I can’t do it. Or if I am going to do this, I need my mum. I need someone, anyone, because I’m not going to survive this alone’. And cause I was freaking out, I was getting all hyped inside. I was trying to prepare myself for telling my mum so I spilled it out to my friends. I just went, ‘You know, I’m pregnant. I got a baby inside me’. They were like, ‘Oh my gosh’, so then they were freaking out with me as well. Then they were like, ‘If, for some reason, your mum kicks you out, you can come to my place’. Cause I was literally thinking, ‘If she’s going to kick me out, I’m going to have nowhere to go’.

So I ended up going to watch the league game just to put it off. Then I asked my mum to pick me up cause it was really dark and really cold. So she picked me up, we got in the car, she started driving and I was like, ‘I got to tell you something’, and she was like, ‘Geez Kael, you’re not pregnant or something are you?’ I literally just looked at her. And she was like, ‘Oh my gosh, Kael. Oh my gosh’. She literally was getting all swervy. I was like, ‘Do you need to pull over?’

She started freaking out as I knew she would. She couldn’t think. She didn’t say anything. I could tell she was just in shock and then she was like, ‘Okay, we need to go somewhere, anywhere but home’. I don’t know if it was just cravings or just me but yeah, we ended up at KFC. We sat down at the table and just looked at each other, you know? She was just staring at me, like looking at me differently. And then she was like, ‘Okay, just start somewhere. Start explaining. I don’t care if it’s in the middle or at the end, just tell me what’s happened. Like, why are you pregnant? This baby doesn’t just come out of nowhere’. So I basically just told her the jist of it. ‘I had sex and I didn’t expect to have a baby but apparently I do have one’. And we just sat there like just wondering for a while because I was still deciding whether or not to keep it, and she was just getting over the fact that I’m actually pregnant.

And then I basically just told her, ‘I’m actually going to have an abortion tomorrow’. She said, ‘Do you want to have an abortion?’ I was like, ‘Honestly, I don’t know, which is why I came to you’. And then, even though she was still in shock, you know, still getting over it, she said whatever I decide to do, she’ll still support me. So if I like had chosen to go through with the abortion, she would’ve come with me, she would’ve supported me, would’ve been there all the way. And if I chose to keep the baby, which I did, then she would be there all of the time.

I was basically expecting her to actually like say, ‘Go through your abortion. It’s okay, do it’. But she just left it up to me. I was shocked at that. But at the same time it was comforting because I never actually really considered keeping the baby as an option until I realised that I’d have support. Just knowing that gave me hope, you know? Cause everything changes when you realise you’re not alone.

Although my partner had said he’d support me and whatnot, seeing how my dad left my mum it was automatically instilled in me that you can’t rely on your partner. It was really a big worry for me seeing how my mum struggled to raise me. That was always in the back of my head. I don’t want to struggle like that, you know?

And then I had decided to keep the baby, and she was actually happy. She was like, ‘We’re going to have a baby’. I was like, ‘Looks like it’.

My mum had always wanted me to be successful. She always wanted me to make something of myself. So it was like as if something died in her or something. I guess that hope that I would do something had died in her and she couldn’t see that in me anymore. All she could see is that I’m gonna struggle, it’s gonna be hard. Which of course it is. She didn’t see that innocence in me anymore, I guess. She’d finally realised that I’m growing up.

While I was pregnant, I started hanging out with my friends less. But at the same time it was getting really hard for me because having no-one to hang out with socially was kind of depressing. But I started to get really bad morning sickness, so I’d go to school late and people would look at me like, ‘Oh, there’s someone who fell pregnant and now she’s showing up late to class’. Little did they know I’d just finished vomiting five minutes ago. Even teachers would look at me differently. Like I used to be friends with the teachers but because I started to show up late, produce less schoolwork, and I couldn’t catch up as fast as the others, it strengthened their belief in that stereotype that once you get pregnant you get nowhere.

But it was just hard coping with those body changing experiences of like morning sickness, growing out of your uniform, getting sore feet, getting dizzy. I didn’t stop my schoolwork because I was giving up. I just physically couldn’t keep up. And I was getting looked at as if I was lazy or something, like I was just turning into a delinquent. Because of that it made it harder for me to face people at school because of the way they looked at me. So I just started going to school less. Plus my morning sickness was getting worse so I’d skip some days and go other days. And eventually I just stopped going because I couldn’t handle it anymore. People would call me from school, ‘Where are you? You haven’t been attending lately’. I used to avoid those calls.

I knew I wanted to come to the teen parent unit to finish off my schooling. I didn’t know what I wanted to do after I finished school so that was like a mystery as well. Basically all I really knew was that once I had my baby I was going to go to TPU and get my levels one, two, three. That’s all I had planned in stone.

His name is Chance and he’s one and a half. The love inside me that I feel for my son, it’s really overpowering. That first year was the hardest for me because we were both basically starting a new life. I guess we were strangers as well. You have to learn about each other as well as learn about the world. And learn about where you fit in. And how are you gonna make the world work to your advantage.

Sometimes I’ll wonder what it would be like if I didn’t have my son, but at the same time I think like in 10 years my son’s gonna be grown up and then I’ll be able to do what I want and I’ll have the maturity to understand what I want to do. Like I can do stuff now but in 10 years where’s it going to get me? If I choose to keep my head down now and get to where I wanna go, have my son grow up so he has that independence, then I’m basically free to do what I want with that maturity to just be able to experience the world.

I actually want to be an outdoor adventure instructor. That’s my goal. I always loved being outdoors, and it’s something I can do with my son as well. In my head, mother’s instinct, I already know he’s an outdoor boy.  It’s just going to be something both me and my son can do.