Teen Parenting - Part 1

By Amy MacDonald

I had recently left high school and I felt lost and lacked future direction in my life. I was doing the things your parents or support people warn you against, no thought for consequences of my risk taking behaviour. I was 16 years old when I found out I was 6 weeks pregnant, I remember the day clearly. I was excited, scared and happy all at the same time. I grew up in a family with a single father and had a limited relationship with my mother, so I felt this was my opportunity in life to create the family unit I never had as a child. My baby’s father was 3 years older than me and he too was excited, supportive and hopeful for our future as a little family.

My pregnancy was easy, no morning sickness, no stretch marks, I remember the hardest part of being pregnant was telling my Dad. When I finally got the courage to tell him, he was shocked but extremely supportive. My family and my partner’s family embraced this new life we were creating and celebrated new beginnings. My pregnancy brought a sense of hope for the future and excitement for all those close to me.

Throughout my pregnancy, the only fear I had was whether or not my baby would be cute. I was terrified to have an ugly baby. I didn’t give much thought to what I needed to provide this unborn child with for a good chance at life. Never considered finances, emotions, stability, socialisation or the many other things children need to thrive. I never considered what I would need to give up to raise my baby or how I would need to change and grow as a person. I thought life was going to be the same just with a baby.

I gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl 12 days after my 17th birthday, she was absolutely perfect in every way. Big brown eyes, curly brown hair, beautiful olive skin and the fattest little cheeks. She had an equally perfect temperament right from birth, she really was such an easy baby. She slept through the night from 6 weeks old, she never cried much and was so content. But I was still lost and very broken, I had postnatal depression and anxiety and I just had no idea how to be a mum. I loved her so much but I was terrified I would lose her.

I spent the first 6 months of my daughter’s life reliving my childhood traumas unconsciously and they were impacting my ability to enjoy the life I had created. Fears of abandonment, fears of abuse, fears of not being good enough, how was I to be a mother when I had never witnessed a good one. I never told anyone how I was feeling or what I was thinking out of fear they would judge me, and to be honest at 17 years old I don’t think I had the words.

I did everything I could to prove to the world I was a good mum, I cooked meals, kept a tidy home and my baby had beautiful clothes and was always presentable. But inside I had lost my identity. Who was I other than my baby's mum and my partner’s girlfriend? Who was Amy and where had she gone? I was caught between two different worlds. One world was being a teenager, carefree, spontaneous and adventurous. The other world being a parent, responsible, stable and selfless.

To be continued...

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