Natasha fell pregnant at 14-years-old and has shared her experience of being pregnant at 14, including the prejudice she faced.
Telling my mother that I was pregnant at the age of 14 years old, I thought was going to be the hardest part. I thought once I told her everything then everybody else will be a breeze as their opinion or effect on my life would be irrelevant. I was very wrong.
I knew teenage pregnancy was not a new phenomenon, I was not the first and most certainly was not the last. So why was our health service and education system so unprepared?
Once my pregnancy was confirmed by a doctor, a scan appointment was booked, and we went straight into school to see the school nurse. She listened to what my mother had to say, gave me the eye rolls, the shaking of the head.
She heard my mother say ‘Natasha wants to keep this baby and I believe she is capable and I will back any decision she makes’. Because my mum is pretty amazing. At the end of their conversation she handed me a massive pile of print outs for me to read through, I said thank you. I soon realised this catalogue of information was solely describing abortion and adoption. Nothing on keeping my child. Sorry had we not just expressed what my chosen option was? Did we not just sit there and pour our hearts out about where my baby was going to sleep, how I will stay in school for as long as physically possible, and which teachers need informing of my condition? I never went back to see that school nurse for the rest of my pregnancy, no matter how ill or tired I felt.
About 2 weeks later I went for my dating scan. I had not long had my 15th birthday. I was really excited and was very naïve and unprepared for the amount of information I was about to be bombarded with. Every single member of staff we saw spoke directly to my mother not me.
‘Can you tell Natasha she needs to have a full bladder so to drink some water before she goes in?’ My mum looks at me, as I’m stood right next to her, and replies ‘I’m guessing you heard that’ with a smirk on her face, in agreement with me that was getting a bit ridiculous now.
In the scan room I found out I was 14 weeks pregnant, we were very quick in there, I was not shown my placenta or the various parts of the baby. She even asked my mum if it was OK for me to see the screen. She was shocked to see me and my mum smiling, even more shocked when we asked for multiple photos to be printed for various family members.
We went straight from the scan room to a side room where a consultant was sat with loads of forms. It was an abortion consultation. It had been automatically booked alongside my scan. My mother was fuming and set everyone straight, after holding in her frustrations for so long. We both realised at that point that nobody was willing this pregnancy to be successful, nobody else was willing for me to become a mother.
Luckily for me, my pregnancy was smooth sailing, and I didn’t need to see health professionals any more than any other pregnant lady. My mother was basically my midwife. She prepared me for labour and life with a new born. I realise how very privileged I am to have a parent to support me through this process, she was an excellent mother soon to be grandmother. I stayed in school until I was about 30 weeks pregnant. I was bullied both verbally and physically.
One student was pushing another student purposely into me on the stairway.
I got no sympathy from my year heads. I went on maternity leave and had to constantly ring in and nag to get work sent home. It was my GCSE year and even though I had great attendance all that year, even though all my teachers saw me sitting there every day struggling and waddling around, they all assumed I was no longer interested.
I returned to school 6 weeks after giving birth to my beautiful baby girl, who I called Skye Rose. My mum thought this was too soon but I needed to get my face back into the classroom. I needed to remind my teachers I still exist and I intend on sitting my exams, as it had come to my attention some teachers had decided not to put my details forward to the exam board.
I will always remember walking into school that first day. Making eye contact with those who had bullied me. I sat my exams, I went to school every day, came home and was handed my baby. Stayed up all night juggling coursework and night feeds. Got up next morning and went back to school. That was my cycle until I finished secondary school.
My mum turned into some kind of military general. She gave me the right balance of care and support, along with the independence and push to be a mother myself. It was my situation, my choice to do this, yes, it is hard, but I knew I was not going to get an easy ride.
I passed all my GCSEs with the grades I was expected to get. I passed at the same level as most of my peers and was able to start college. I got to plan and achieve just like everyone else, except I got to do it all with my little best friend by my side. The education system was ready to give up on me, when it came to maternity staff I did not receive the same care that I have received since, having further children later on.
Age isn’t what gives you the skills and capability to be a mother. It is built into us, and a 15 year old will look down at her new born baby the same way any other mother does.
Read more young parent stories like Natasha’s, here.