We recently caught up with Romy, mum to Ava who is now 20 months who fell pregnant at the age of 18. We chatted about her experience including the highs and lows of being a young mum.
Hello Romy, I guess my first question must be what was your reaction when you found out you were pregnant at the age of 18? Was Ava planned or was it a complete shock?
It was a massive shock!! I was taking the pill, but I had recently had a sickness bug and guess I must have thrown-up my pill. Being so young, it was something I never thought would happen to me.
I remember looking at the two lines on the stick thinking it’s not real! I went through a rollercoaster of emotions, panic laughter to worry crying. At that age, I used to always worry about what people would think or say about me, so I was obviously concerned about what others were going to say about me falling pregnant.
Although it was a huge shock and she wasn’t planned at all, I cannot imagine my life without her.
Were you supported by your partner during the pregnancy? What about after Ava was born?
Sadly, I wasn’t supported. Our relationship was on the rocks before I fell pregnant, so adding a baby into the mix – it just failed! I think if the pregnancy had not happened, we would have naturally drifted apart. We barely had any contact during the pregnancy and what little we did have was not pleasant. I went to all the appointments with my mum and she and my dad were my birthing partners. I used to have this overwhelming jealousy of seeing women turning up with their supportive partners and coming out of scans amazed by what they saw and it’s something I don’t think I’ll ever get over.
As for after Ava was born, the atmosphere between us was still hostile and the anger/hurt towards him was still there but he came and saw her. The more time we spent together, the more we gravitated towards each other and although things may still be far from ideal I will work at them as trying to keep my little family together is important to me.
What would you say has been the hardest part of being a mum so far? Is there anything that you thought ‘I wish they had told me that….?’
No-one can tell you that post-natal depression can hit because not everyone suffers with it. No-one can prepare you for that. I think this is something I would consider being the hardest part of being a mum so far. I wasn’t prepared for it, I thought I was doing well, I would take Ava out and meet friends but then it just hit me like a tonne of bricks. I was battling with myself and the thoughts in my head and even now nearly two years on I still go through waves of feeling like this.
Nothing also prepares you for the feeling of losing your independence, it’s hard having someone that is dependent on your 24/7 but I know that comes hand in hand with motherhood.
Did you have a lot of support from your family during the pregnancy and now that Ava is here?
I really could go on and on about this as I have received the most amazing support from my family. If it wasn’t for them I honestly do not know where I would be. They looked after me and cared for me through my pregnancy. They embraced the role that the father should have and shared my excitement too. Both my parents were incredibly supportive and not once made me feel like a disappointment for being so young. Of course, they wish I had waited until I was older and in a better position financially etc, they have openly admitted that this isn’t what they wanted but their support has been amazing, and I will be eternally grateful for that. I still live with them now and I count myself very lucky that they are always there for me. This has also allowed Ava to have an amazing bond with my family.
Have you experienced any judgement during your motherhood journey by others as you were such a young mum? How did this make you feel?
I have experienced some nasty comments, mainly name calling. It really upset me at the time, but I’ve grown enough now to get over it. People do have perceptions of young mums and unfortunately, do not stop to think about how the person feels when they make their nasty comments. People really do not think before they open their mouths sometimes!
The biggest judgement I felt was that I was still at college at the time I fell pregnant, so of course, everyone found out. Naturally, it seemed to be the talk of the college (shock horror a teenager had sex, fell pregnant and became another statistic – yawn!). It made me feel very insecure – the whispers, the looks, these things made me feel ashamed.
You have started blogging about your experience of being a teenage mum, what made you want to do this? I love how you do not sugar-coat things and are refreshingly honest about your experiences. Did you find that given your age people tended to sugar-coat things more for you?
Firstly, thank you so much for that comment, it means a lot. I wanted to create a blog because I was sick of seeing people on Instagram with their seemingly perfect life when behind the screen, life isn’t like that! I feel almost free that I can write down my feelings after a bad day and it’s such a release. I also wanted to make something that was from a very young mum’s point of view, I know we are all going through motherhood, but the journey is so different for each individual. If I can make someone smile or help one person, it’s good enough for me.
I think when I was pregnant, people took my age into consideration and did tend to sugar coat a lot of things, which whilst I know they were protecting me left me with a completely different perception of motherhood. I wanted to ensure my blog was honest and showed motherhood from both angles – the highs and lows.
Here at Mummy Social, we believe mum friends are a vital part of motherhood. How did your friends react to you becoming a mum?
I completely agree, mummy friends are so important, we all need them in our lives!!! My mummy friends are some of the most special people in my life and they keep me going some days. I met them through becoming pregnant and going to baby groups. No-one will ever understand you more than your mummy friends – they just get it!
The friends I told at the time were so supportive and I couldn’t have asked for a better reaction. The friends I have now, whether they have babies or not, I consider my lifelong friends and they keep me sane!! When I announced I was pregnant, everyone was excited (after the shock), there were lots of ‘I can’t wait to come for a cuddle’ and ‘I’m broody’ but they only see the smiles and cute moments, not the sleepless nights, constant feeding, tantrums etc. When people don’t have children yet, it is difficult for them to understand that you can’t just drop everything to go away for the weekend or go on a night out etc. Sadly, I have lost a few friends along the way.
You can read Romy’s blog ‘Your Stereotypical Teen Mum’ here.
Interview by Danni, Mummy Social Team