Before I fell pregnant I was a difficult teenager for my parents, I took out all of my anger on them, I was abusive and I used the as taxi drivers and hotel staff. I purposefully applied to Universities at the opposite end of the country to try and ‘get away’ from them. The thing is, my parents never really gave me any just cause for my actions, all they did was love and support me and for some reason, some reason that after much reflection, i’m still not entirely sure I can pinpoint… I took it upon myself to hate them for it. They did not deserve that and as an adult now I am thoroughly ashamed of the way I treated them.
When I fell pregnant I think partly it was the rebellious ‘icing on the cake’ for my parents. I had put them through so much but at least to some degree I would be leaving for university in a years time. I think that at that point if I hadn’t fallen pregnant and had gone to university our relationship would have suffered beyond repair. I can remember the exact moment I told my mum I was pregnant. I had found out the evening before at J’s house but hadn’t wanted to tell anyone until I was exactly sure about what we were going to do. My mum told me she wanted to have a serious conversation, sat me down and told me about some money that my parents had been saving for me to help pay for university… I just found it so overwhelming, all I could think was ‘but I’m not going to university’ I burst into tears and when my mum asked what was wrong I told her. Her reaction was justified I think, a mixture of horror, disappointment, panic and sadness. It was such a huge thing for us as a family to process.
From that moment on there was a dramatic shift in out relationship as mother/daughter. I had been telling my mum and myself that I didn’t need her. But I was wrong, I did need her and for the next 9 months I needed her unconditional love and support more than I’d ever needed it before. She defended me against J’s parents horrible accusations, she reassured me that I could do it, that I would be a good mother and that everything would be okay. She new exactly what to say when I burst into tears seeing couples with babies, knowing that my son would not have that nuclear family, that he would be missing out.
It was difficult for my mum, she saw many teenagers fall pregnant and had actively warned me and my sister against it, and suddenly it was her daughter. She had to tell her colleagues, co-workers, friends, family that her 17 year old daughter was pregnant and face their judgement on her parenting skills. My mums friends told her that ‘It would be the making of me’, most people knew someone who had had a baby or young or who had a baby young themselves and provided her with faith in me and a future for both me and baby.
A teen pregnancy is one of those events in life that filter out all the unhelpful, unsupportive people from your close circles, but it doesn’t filter out the judgement from the wider community. I think my pregnancy had more of an impact on my parents status within the community than it did on mine. We lived in a relatively small community of people, and rumours circulated, you could here the whispers, see the disapproving looks at my bump… But it was my mum that held the shield between me and them in order to protect me, so that I could concentrate on what really mattered.
My mum was my only birth partner, she, for the most part, remained calm and managed to put up with me hurling abuse at her during contractions, and after I gave birth she went home, slammed up and went to my cousins graduation ceremony. A truly remarkable feat after such an emotional and eventful 48 hours! my mum and her friends provided me with such reassurance. when A was 3 days old one of my mums friends came to visit and what she said has always stayed with me and has provided me with a great source of comfort; she said ‘Hannah, that baby will want for nothing, its surrounded by people who love him so much, you will be absolutely fine, we have such faith in you and him for the future’ It was also rather amusing to see many families in the community change from shunned disapproval to excitement and adoration of the newborn baby at number 98. When he was born we were constantly visited and showered with gifts from people who had been gossiping unhelpfully during my pregnancy.
Before I fell pregnant I didn’t understand why my mum did some of the things she did, why she felt offended or upset by my actions, but now I do. My pregnancy was a journey for both me and my mother a for the first time she wasn’t my superior, we were both equally mothers. Our relationship now is one less based on the fact that she’s ‘my mum’ and my superior and more based in our mutual strength, values and determination. I enjoy having an adult and equal relationship with my mother and seeing her love my son unconditionally is such a blessing.