Welcome back to our second week of the #YoungMumsProject. This week we are joined by the lovely Emma from Even Angels Fall.
“I’m Emma-Louise, I write lifestyle and parenting blog Even Angels Fall and I’m a mum to 6 year old Cameron, 4 year old Carly and 7 month old Benjamin. Although I’m now the grand old age of 28, when I had my first two children I was considered a ‘young mum’ so this is a series which strikes a chord with me.”
Q1. Can you describe your personal experience of life as a young mum?
When I had my first child, I was just going into my last year of a four year university degree. I wasn’t with my son’s father and I had no idea how to be a good mum. I spent most of that first year winging it. I was fortunate to have a lot of help and support from my mum and my nan. My nan looked after my son whilst I was at lectures, bringing him to me in his buggy during breaks so that I could breastfeed him. I did my assignments in the dead of night whilst he slept and I just about managed to survive on a few hours sleep. I was so proud to graduate along with the rest of my year. I spent the following year taking time out to enjoy my little boy and, when he was one, I met my now ex husband and after a whirlwind relationship I found myself pregnant with my daughter. By the age of 23 I was a mum of two under three!
Q2. How did you feel when you found out you were pregnant?
With my first I think I was in shock. I was single and so not ready for a baby. I think it only properly sank in once I was in labour to be honest. I didn’t go to any antenatal classes as my (stupid) midwife told me it would upset me when I saw the other couples. I went into things having only a couple of episodes of one born every minute as a guide. With my daughter I knew what to expect from my first pregnancy.
Q3. Do you feel like life has been harder because you had children at a young age?
I definitely feel I had to grow up quicker than other people my age. When I was in my last year of uni with a newborn, I would listen to other students and wonder how they could possibly feel stressed out when I was juggling a baby alongside the degree. I’ve never felt I missed out much by having kids when I was young, but I do sometimes wish I had of appreciated the calmness of life before kids.
Q4. Did you ever feel judged by anyone? If so, how did you deal with it?
Second time round, when pregnant with my daughter, I felt more judged as I was walking around pushing a pushchair whilst heavily pregnant and I look even younger than I am. During my first pregnancy I don’t remember feeling judged apart from when I went into labour as I had to be induced and I felt very pushed around. Having said that, I had a similar experience when having my youngest recently, so maybe it was more to do with the induction process than anything else.
Q5. Do you think there are any advantages to being a younger mum?
I definitely think it’s easier to cope with things like sleep deprivation and running around after young children when you’re younger. I struggle enough as it is at 28 so I don’t like to think how I would manage later on in life. I also like that once the children are all at school, I’ll only be in my early thirties and I will have lots of time to build up a career. I may have done things in a different order to the ‘norm’ but it doesn’t matter in the long run.
Q6. What are the best and worst things about being a young mum?
The best thing has been being able to bring the kids along for the ride. Having my son there when I graduated from uni, having the older two there for my first wedding and having all three there soon when I get married for the second time. The worst thing has been the negative attitudes from some people. Having my first at 21 I didn’t feel I could attend teen parent groups but I also didn’t feel accepted in the general groups so I ended up not going. Making friends as a mum has been difficult and I do feel my age has been one of the factors against me.
Q7. How do you think we can challenge the stigma that surrounds young mums?
I think it’s important for young mums to keep talking. Sites like Mummy Social are brilliant at helping mums of any age, not just young ones, to forge friendships with other local mums and I fully support anything like this which helps mums feel less alone. I think it’s important for midwives to be coached in how to work with young parents, especially those on their own, as my first pregnancy was hard enough without being excluded from antenatal classes because of her bad judgement.
Q8. What are the main issues that young mums have to deal with, and how do you think they could be better supported?
I think people’s outdated attitudes are the main issue. It’s becoming more acceptable to have children before marriage these days, but there are still some people who look down on you for admitting you’ve done things ‘the wrong way round’.
Q9. Do you think that the support for young mums has improved over time?
I’m not sure, as I’ve grown out of the ‘young mum’ age group now I’ve had my third baby. I would like to hope that things are improving. I know that I try and be accommodating to young mums as I know how hard it can be. I think it’s something which will get better with time, especially as it is becoming more commonplace to start a family before getting married these days.
Q10. If you were approached by a young mum asking for advice, what advice would you give them and why?
I would tell them that when it comes to parenting to go with their instincts but not be afraid to ask for help when unsure. If you are worried, seek assistance, and always, always ask for help if you think you may be experiencing post natal depression. Lastly, you are incredible for bringing up a child, it’s one of the hardest things in the world but so rewarding.
If you would like to read more about Emma and her family, you can find her here.
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