Wednesday, 11 July 2012

What Society Allows

I was happy.

After the thoughts of humiliation, taunting, name calling and more it was surprising how little crap I received. It felt like the aftermath of Armageddon - my planet hadn't been obliterated; there was just some clearing up to do from the meteorites. As the people in school flocked to me to ask if the rumours were true, I reviewed my situation:

 - Parents okay: check.
 - Support of friends: check.
 - Social services happy: check.
 - Healthy me and baby: check.

In fact, the few people who did have something to say about what they thought of me were quickly trodden down by tides of others telling them how brave I was and what respect I deserved and that they can keep their big mouth shut. I'm sure things were said behind my back, but who cares? At least they had the respect not to say it to my face.

So yes, I was doing really well. The thing I found hard was adjusting to the stares and whispers behind my back. 

On one occasion, a girl and her friend walked by me and I heard her whisper, 'That's the pregnant girl!' 
I had had enough.
'That girl's a genius,' I said loudly to my friend, 'Someone should give her a cookie for that intelligent observation!' The girl blushed and I continued on my way, satisfied.

There was one problem.

I wasn't supposed to be happy. Shameful, it was, to be pregnant at my age. Society said I should bow my head and walk along quietly in my disgrace. 

In my head I was brave and almost arrogant in the face of others; I would meet them in the eye and challenge their stares: Yes, and what? In reality I hung my head and avoided all glances... I learned slowly not to blush at every pious stare.

I wanted to be like any other mother in my pregnancy, proud and joyful. But society didn't allow it. Another teenage mother's blog I read* termed this, 'The Guilt of Joy'.

How appropriate.



Everyone hates being forced into something. It leaves you feeling angry, hurt, humiliated, out of control, empty, the lot. Now I know I'm sounding very dramatic, but it really was a big deal. I wasn't ready to tell people I was pregnant. It doesn't sound like a lot now, but ask any teenager you know and they'll tell you: letting it out in high school that you're pregnant is tough.

I had only told two of my bestest friends that I was pregnant. They knew it wasn't something you could blab to your other best friend (come on, everyone's done it). No, it wasn't them who let the news out. It was a girl who didn't even bother to come and ask me herself.

She must have seen my, um, enhanced belly and decided that she needed some new gossip, and didn't want to ask in case it wasn't true (well, it was, but that's not the point). So she told another girl, who told two other girls, who eventually decided it was time to stop this stupid gossip chain and ask me. What could I say? It was obvious enough that I was if you were looking. I could of course lie, but what was the point when everyone would know in a few weeks any way? So I told them, yes, I was, and could they keep it quiet just a liiiiiittle bit longer?

But I wasn't stupid. Who could really keep a secret like that anyway? It's like putting a kid (or some teenagers I know...) outside McDonalds with a tenner and telling them not to spend. The news was out. So I decided that I would have to let my other friends know before they heard it on the gossip train.

That night I lay in bed, contemplating what tomorrow would bring. Shame, disgrace, name-calling, so-called friends walking out on me, a false reputation... I wanted to sink into my bed and never come out again.

Hot tears threatened to break out as I walked in through the school gates. I wasn't ready for this, I didn't want to tell people! When the tears finally came through a crowd of people rushed towards me, which was exactly what I didn't want. In amongst them was my best friend, Jessica. She was one of the only people who, apart from family, knew about the baby.
She hugged me and said, 'Come on, come with me.' When other people tried to follow she told them to just leave us, and everyone left except her other best friend. 'Can you please just go?' she repeated, 'We'll be there in a minute!' Her friend backed off, looking worried.

'What's wrong?'
"I don't want to tell people!"
'You don't have to!'
"Yeah I do, cause blah and blah are nice yeah but they're kind of big-mouths and they're gonna tell people!"
'Oh.' She thought for a moment. 'What are you scared of?'
"What people will say. Losing friends. Being called a slut."
'But none of that matters Heather,' she told me, 'Because if people walk out on you then they never should have been there in the first place, and who cares what they say, so long as you know it's not true? We'll always still be here.'
"Okay," I said in a small and probably quite pathetic voice.
'So how are we going to do this?' she wondered.
"I guess we just go down there and tell them..."
'Okay!' and she marched down our little part of the playground and shouted, 'Heather's pregnant!'

The news was well and truly out.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Dread and Disappointment

Next on the list to tell was school... and my dad. Oh my goodness... dad. School could wait, um, forever, in my opinion but dad could not.

I was dreading it. Mum and I went over again and again different ways to tell him. I couldn't do it face to face. I didn't want to see him cry. By phone? No. By someone else? Who? And besides, that wasn't fair on them or dad. In the end I decided to write a letter and leave it somewhere he could find it.

My dad loves me like crazy. I am sure that he would fly to the moon just to get me some cheese if I asked for it. I knew he'd never get violent towards me - that wasn't what I was scared of. I didn't think he'd disown me... not much any way. In fact, I didn't really think that at all, but you hear so many stories about other teen mums being chucked out onto the streets and stuff, it was impossible to have no doubt. What I was scared of was the disappointment.

When the phone rang I dived under my covers and hid. My stepdad passed me the receiver and I whispered 'Hello?'  
He spoke, 'Heather?'
'Firstly, I still love you. Of course I am disappointed because it's not the life I imagined for you, but I'm still here for you. Were you scared of big scary dragon me?'
'A bit,' I sob-giggled, feeling like a little kid all over again.

Everything was going to be okay.

A Whole Bunch of Whys...

Hi everyone (:
I know my blog is sounding more like a story at the moment, but don't worry, I just want to get you all up to date with the events of here and now. Also, lots of my experiences I had while I was pregnant shaped the way I think and see life now, so I feel it's important for me to share. I hope you don't mind. This next entry is called 'A Whole Bunch of Whys...'


It was the question I had been dreading being asked: 'Why didn't you use protection?' When I shrugged and couldn't give an answer, the next inevitable 'why' came: 'Why did you do it in the first place?' That one was easy.
"Because I loved him," would come the quiet reply.

Please notice the use of the past tense in 'loved'. I have come to the conclusion that 'love' is a subjective term, subject to circumstance and the extreme levels of hormones rushing around the body. True love? Jury's still out on that one.

My mum was in one way the hardest, and another way the easiest person to tell. So many times when we'd be sitting quietly in the kitchen, drinking tea, or walking to the park in content silence I'd think, Now. Now is the time to tell her. But I just couldn't get the words out.

Every day I put on a front of normal, happy Heather. It was the summer holidays and I didn't have any obligations or demands that needed to be met. I should have been peaceful, but inside my emotions were in turmoil. I felt like the two masks of drama, glued together in expressions of delight and despair.

Little things began to slip through. 'Tummy ache?' Mum would ask, when she regularly came across me absent-mindedly rubbing my belly. I was getting plumper - normal clothes still fit but I felt frumpy and unattractive in them. I'd spend all night sitting crying in the bathroom, then get shouted at when someone found me asleep there in the morning.

It was 2am in the morning when mum found me sitting on the stairs, crying. 'Oh sweetie, what's wrong? You haven't been telling me something for weeks!' she said. I sobbed into her shoulder saying, 'I can't, I can't!'
'Why not?' she asked, perplexed. 
'You'd be mad at me!' I wailed, 'Really upset!'
At this moment my stepdad walked by. 'What's wrong with her?' he asked. Mum shrugged helplessly and shooed him away. Somehow we made it to the sofa and I told her, 'Remember how we went to the doctors because my period was never regular and she said don't worry? Well I was scared and I took a test and- and- and-' I broke down again.

Mum held me close and said nothing for a moment. Then she said quietly, 'I need to ask... is it-?'
'Yes,' I mumbled, 'yes, it's his'.

I still admire the way my family handled the situation. She got my permission to tell my stepdad, and instantly they sat down and started making plans, lists, figuring out dates and appointments. Eventually he thought to ask me, 'Well the main thing is, are you keeping it?'
I considered for a second. 'Yes, of course,' I decided.

And so it began.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

A Random Little Post - My First Night Alone

Hi everyone (:

Tonight is my first night without James in over a year (cause he was in my tummy) and it feels weird! He is with his paternal grandmother for the night, along with his grandpops, uncle, dad and a couple of his dad's friends. Slumber party, whoopee! :|

I'm enjoying the peace... but it was an absolutely gut-wrenching feeling leaving him in someone else's care for the night. I imagine it feels a bit like living next to an opera house then going deaf. The quiet is great but something is definitely missing.

So... I should be taking a long hot bubble bath, shaving my legs, filing my nail, doing my hair - all that kinda stuff that is a motherhood luxury. In truth I just want to sleep!

But then this voice called 'Responsibility' pipes up. It says, Heather, you have a messy room - now is your opportunity to go and tidy it!

Shut up, I told it. Night everyone!

That Blissful State Called Denial... Not.


That is the term that describes the state in which a woman is when her period does not come for 4 months - and she still refuses to bite the bullet and take a pregnancy test. Isn't it a great word? Six little letters that describe the sensation of a faint haze over everything you do that is caused by KNOWING, but refusing to acknowledge.

What was I afraid of, really? That the little old man in the shop would LOOK at me, and THINK SOMETHING BAD? Huh, well you'd better get used to that honey, an annoying little voice mutters in my head.  
Shut up, I tell it, it's not like I'm actually pregnant or anything

Sometimes, stubbornness and denial waltz hand-in-hand, just to give you a little bit of peace and quiet in which you can be right.

Have you ever heard the joke, 'Never trust a guy with a comb-over. If he can fool himself, he can fool you.'? Yes, I am so lame that I smile as a type it out. I had the biggest mental comb-over I have ever heard of. No period, small bump, sore boobs, the works - and yet I still didn't want to believe.

The weirdest thing ever triggered me to take a test. In fact, it was more an act of vanity then anything. That summer, I had decided to take up jogging. Yes, stupid I know, when I could potentially be pregnant, but that's how bad my comb-over was. As I started to jog, every step I took felt like I was Sisyphus pushing his boulder up a hill. 

I didn't want to be this unfit. I didn't think I was very fat. I couldn't be. There had to be a reason I was going so slow! ...I know! Wouldn't it be great to blame this heavy feeling on pregnancy? At least I wouldn't be fat! 

(Let me make something clear here. I don't judge other people by their weight. In fact, I'm not sure I even notice other's weight at all. But it was different when it came to my body. I was a shallow, image-obsessed teen back then. It didn't help that I was starting to notice my rounder face and tummy at the same time my boyfriend left me. It made me really, REALLY self-concious about my weight and I was blaming that on why he went.)

So I took a test. Actually, I took my mum's debit card (sorry mum) and then took a test, because I had no money of my own but I kinda needed to know. When I went into the chemist I skimmed my eyes skimmed over the tests as fast as I could without looking conspicuous. In fact, I grabbed something so fast I wasn't even sure I had the right thing. At the counter my eyes welled up with hot tears as the little old man politely averted his eyes from me and said, 'Thank you, come again'. I hurried out of the shop with a flush on my face.

Why, in pharmacies, do they put the condoms next to the counter? Is it so you can just quickly grab a pack as you pay for your other items, inconspicuous like? It seemed like a slap in the face, having them right there, with that little voice murmuring, you should having been buying THEM, not these. What a mess you've got yourself into.

Mum thought I was still out jogging, so I sat on the doorstep for another twenty minutes, reading through the instructions. I had 2 tests, just to be sure. One for today, one just in case it's positive to check tomorrow. Thinking about it now, I had no idea how I'd fooled myself that I could wait a whole evening to take the second test if the first one was positive. So I took both tests in one day, and both times got two little pink lines. As I stared at the second test, what I thought was the impossible suddenly became the probable.

I was pregnant.

Friday, 6 July 2012

The Pregnant Girl...

'Hi, do I know you from somewhere?'
"I was the pregnant girl at the Christmas party."
'Oh yeah! Now I remember you.'
Many conversations I have start along these lines.

Getting pregnant at 14 and having a baby at 15 gets you known, and not for all the right reasons. What it also brings, however, is a new start to your life full of love, laughter and baby slobber.

My name is Heather, and my beautiful son James is 6 months old. I can hear him now, squealing in protest as this annoying invisible force called Gravity thwarts his attempts to remain sitting upright. I'd better go rescue him or he'll fall off the sofa. Be right back.

We live with my mum's half of a patchwork jumble family in a little cul-de-sac in Harrow. This includes my stepdad, brother, half-brother, 2 half-sisters and furry beasts (i.e, cats) called Portia and Pandora.

Enough of the boring stuff. Why am I writing this? Even I'm not sure. There are plenty of other teenage mother blogs out there on the internet, so my idea isn't exactly original. In writing, I have all the wit of a toenail (there being the exception, HA HA).

Perhaps I am a bit different to other teenage mums. I had my child at an illegal age, I am still in highschool and I'm single. Perhaps I want to break the stereotype that all young mums are binge-fuelled, drug crazed, government money leeching losers. Perhaps I am hoping there is someone who will read this one day and just click, and be like, yep, that's me right there, I know her situation. I'm there too.

In the meantime, I'll write to you as often as I can to share with you my experiences as I grow and learn with my little boy. I hope I've caught your interest and you'll stay with me just long enough to read my next post. Bye!