Jenna-Leanne fell pregnant during her GCSEs at 15 and gave birth to her first child at 16. She wants to help other young parents by sharing her experience and to challenge and change the stigma that comes alongside being a young parent.
In 2008, a week before I sat my GCSEs, I turned to my partner of 4 years and classmate from school and said I felt ‘different’ and not my normal myself.
I remember that week was a whirlwind as my first exam was approaching and leavers parties were being held over that summer which I was looking forward too.
We knew there was a possibility of being pregnant so took a test. I was 15 at the time.
I kept it to myself until the day of my first exam, almost 2 weeks later, where I suddenly had this overwhelming nausea. People thought it was the fear of the test and nerves kicking in. I asked for a bucket to be placed under my exam desk. Mid exam it all came up… the vomit and the truth.
I remember telling both sets of parent – overall disappointment. Both me and my partner were brought up by Christian parents in an affluent area, only a street apart. Our parents thought that they would be judged too.
A lot of the people I told weren’t congratulating me and questioning my decision to keep the baby. Personally, I was ecstatic. I was quite blind to the fact my entire life was about to change.
Parties I soon began to realise weren’t my scene anymore as it was no longer acceptable to dance till last midnight and sit and hold my friends hair back after a heavy night. I felt like people stuck around because they were intrigued more than supportive. Nobody could fathom a child wanting to raise a child.
I had inappropriate questions and one liners from immature boys asking why I haven’t thought about throwing myself down the stairs yet and what makes me think I can raise a child who was most likely going to be taken from me. Their comments had no substance or effect as I was actually really excited. The excitement erased all the fear.
My 16th birthday I sat throwing up into a bucket. I don’t remember all that much of it. From there forward I finished my exams and true to form the bucket was firmly placed under the table. I was sat trying to suck in any fresh air I could find through a gap in a partially opened window.
I uploaded my 12-week scan onto social media and waited for the uproar. There was support to my face but that didn’t remain true behind my back. In fact, some people didn’t believe it until my son was actually born.
I wanted to go to college. I knew it was going to be difficult as my first year was likely to be whilst I was heavily pregnant.
I attended a local sixth form where I walked a mile each way to and from, bump in tow. On a main road, in view of everyone during the morning rush hour traffic. I heard lots of tutting through opened car windows and shakes of heads. Mainly glares of shocked looking residence and motorists.
I remember sitting in the canteen one day at college and having a plastic bottle thrown at me and names being called across from immature boys. Luckily I had good guy friends that ‘protected’ me.
I was asked on a daily how I felt by other girls who were fishing for inside information on the infamous pregnant girl in the first year.
A lot of people seemed to think that because I was young my child would be born to fail. I wasn’t going to be able to cope. They thought I didn’t know how to look after myself let alone a baby. I wouldn’t pass any exams whilst my mind was preoccupied.
Teachers made comments. Not just the students. I remember one in particular ringing my mum because she didn’t feel it was right for me to be in college whilst my life was spiralling down the pan. She thought it was too much stress for me. She said I was somewhat distracted.
Luckily that wasn’t the case for all of the staff and I had a lovely tutor who let me go home before any of the other students to avoid the rush of the corridors. She brought me in a comfy chair specifically for me so I could work in comfort. Nothing ever seemed too much. I passed all my exams with distinctions.
Personally, I feel that both adults and children of my age weren’t able to process the fact that I could be happy with my decision to have a baby at 16. There was a lot of doubt.
My advice to any young girl who is pregnant at 16 that is having any negative comments or the traditional stigma stuck onto them from friends, family or strangers is to stand strong in your decision with a smile on your face. Don’t retaliate with words, just retaliate with a can-do attitude.
Show these doubters that you can do your best and only your child can judge you. If you and your child are happy, ultimately what else matters? Who else’s opinion matters really than that of your own child?
You are allowed to be happy. You are allowed to still win at life!
Click here for more vlogs by other young mums, who are now over 25 years-old and have lots of advice to share!