Success story of a teenage mother in Australia
Pregnant at 16
Where do I start? To say that when I found out I was pregnant when I was 16 was the biggest shock of my life was an understatement! My friend was very supportive and came with me to the doctors to have the pregnancy confirmed. Then I then had to tell my mum! Once she got over the initial shock she was OK about it all and so began my journey into motherhood with my mum right behind me.
It was Australia 1981 and teenage pregnancies were still a taboo subject. My mum and I discussed options and we decided that I would keep the baby.
Life went on as normal and my mums' biggest issue was for me to stay at school for as long as I could. I was to start in Year 11 with one more year to go at high school. In Australia we go to high school until Year 12 or the year you turn 18. I made it to May 1982 before I had to leave school and think about the next phase of my life, becoming a mother.
In July 1982 I gave birth to my beautiful daughter. Who was born after 24 hours of labour that involved every pain killing drug imaginable. I had no idea what I was in for and once they gave me my daughter I burst into tears and declared that I had no idea what I was doing. At that point my mum's survival instincts kicked in and I never looked back.
Back to school
Once again my mum was keen to see me go back to school and at least finish Year 11. The first day of school was very scary but the school had been wonderful and they welcomed me back and I had a meeting with the Year 11 Coordinator who explained what they had put in place Needless to say I breezed through the last term and entered my final exams with loads of confidence. I managed to pass all of my subjects and in a couple of cases was an A student. My school and my friends were very supportive along with my mum and I could not have done it without them.
Once high school was finished my mum once again decided that I needed to do something with my life. I had decided that I could not go back and complete year 12 as I felt it would be way to difficult to commit to that much work and be a mum. In the end we decided to look at Diploma courses at the TAFE Colleges (Technical & Further Education) which at the time only required a successful completion of Year 11. I decided on a Diploma in Child Care. I applied, was accepted and spent the next 4 years studying part time with my mum taking care of my daughter on the days I was at college. By the time I had finished my Diploma, my daughter was starting school.
Moving forward to now....
Well... Here I am at 45 years old. I have 2 wonderful children. My daughter is now 29, married and has her own 2 year old child, which makes me a grandmother! My son is almost 18 and starting his own life. I have had a successful career in the early childhood field and have gained 3 Diploma's, 1 Advanced Diploma, and am a post graduate certificate in Pre and Post Natal Family Support. I have been responsible for running wonderful child care centres that offered wonderful programs for children that created wonderful outcomes for families. I now have a fantastic job where I help the not so lucky pregnant women in Melbourne, Australia. I make a difference in peoples health outcomes and believe it or not, one of my target groups in my work is the young mums.
Whilst I wouldn't change my life or the journey that I have taken and the many lessons I learn't and taught along the way, being a young mum is not something that young girls should aspire to. 'Accidents' and 'surprises' happen but please do not plan to be a young mum. It is a hard road and one that needs lots of support from people that are important to you. I couldn't have done it without the support and love of my mum. You also need to find a school that will support you. We have a few schools in Australia that have developed both curriculums and child care centres to encourage our young mums to stay at and return to high school.
The point to sharing my story is that just because you have a child when you are very young does not mean that you have to give up your dreams or your education. You just have to work a bit harder and a little longer to get there.
Never give up and believe in yourself.