This week we are joined by the amazing Fern over at Mum Conventional.
“I’m Fern from the blog Mumconventional. I am 21 years old from the North East of England and I live with my fiancé, Anthony, our 1 year old son, Oscar, and our cat, Luna.”
My pregnancy was planned, and so far I can safely say I have not enjoyed every moment of parenthood, and I was very unprepared for what was to come.
I was 19 when I found out I was pregnant with Oscar, and it was a very emotional and stressful day, but that was because he was actually my third pregnancy. The first baby I had fallen pregnant with, I lost at 11 weeks (although the baby had actually died at 7 weeks), and the second was a chemical pregnancy which I was equally as devastated about. At this point I was hell bent on having a baby, especially because of the comments people seemed to think were appropriate to make… “It is for the best”…“You will be able to live your life now”… all of which were totally unacceptable in every way. Except for the stress, we were absolutely overjoyed when the third set of two lines popped up. In fact, I think I may have taken around 10 tests that day.
Personally, I don’t feel like having a baby at this age has been hard for me, although I do now wish I had gone to university first. I found out I was pregnant with my first baby the week before I was due to start my nursing degree, and I had to cancel my place because of it. After I found out that I’d had a miscarriage, I was so depressed that I was in no state to fight for my place so decided to take a “gap year” and defer my course. As life goes, I happened to fall pregnant again exactly a year later with Oscar, so I had to cancel my place for good. I am envious of people who sort out their career first… they are obviously a lot more sensible than me. I am confident that I can return to it later though, as I still have plenty of time left.
I was judged by so many people when I announced my pregnancy for the third time. Sadly, a lot of my family members were very unsupportive, despite knowing the loss of my first baby had left a huge hole in my heart. I dealt with it, perhaps the wrong way, by completely shutting them out. I have also had a few funny looks when walking through town as a lot of people think I am younger than I am, although I won’t complain about that when I am older I suppose.
There are a lot of advantages of being a young mum, in my opinion. One, for example, is that I feel like I will have so much more time to enjoy my family. That is not in any way throwing shade at older mums out there, I do feel like people should have a baby whenever they bloody well please – 15 or 50! I just feel like, especially with me, I am very family orientated and always have been. My mam had me and my brother at my age, and my grandparents are only in their 60’s so we have had so many memories with them together as a big family. I feel so privileged to be able to say that. I hope that I can do the same with my grandchildren eventually (if I get some – fingers crossed!)
The worst thing about being a young mum is that 95% of your friends do not have children, and are usually doing things that aren’t suitable for a new born. You will never catch a group of 20 year olds purposely planning a night out in a child friendly bar, I’m telling you that now. It means that you start getting accidentally uninvited to things that you would’ve loved to attend, and it makes you feel slightly shitty when you’re inside at 2am with a child attached to your boob while your friends are having fun elsewhere. I get you would have probably said no anyway, but an invite would be nice! Another negative is that everyone assumes you will have so much energy being young, and not a lot of people will offer to help. If you have 2 hours sleep, you’re gonna be pretty knackered, so support from other people is very much appreciated.
The whole reason I started my blog was to challenge the stigma surrounding young mums. I felt a lot of people assumed I would not be working, wouldn’t be with Anthony, would have fallen pregnant accidentally and would palm Oscar off on anyone to have a night out. I remember announcing my pregnancy on Facebook, and someone asking if it was because I was desperately trying to get a council house, despite me already happily living with Anthony in a private rented flat. I took such offence to this comment, that I ended up going on a huge rant and blocking that person, who is still blocked to this day.
I feel like these stereotypes are so unfair, and even if you do tick all of those boxes, I can almost guarantee there are plenty of mothers, all different ages, who will fit into all of them too. It doesn’t make you a bad mum at all, as long as your baby is loved, fed and cared for. I’d love to tell people where they can shove their assumptions, sometimes, but I try to be as respectful as I can be because I realise that these people are just ignorant and do not have a clue what it is actually like.
The main issue I have personally had to deal with as a young mum, is how judgemental some health professionals can be towards young parents. I was actually snorted at and told to ‘give my head a wobble’ by a health visitor, when I suggested that I would rather give my son a bottle of milk and cuddle him to sleep before bed than let him cry. Her attitude was absolutely disgusting towards me, and I know the NHS is an incredibly strained service, but she wasn’t the first health visitor to treat me this way. In fact, she was the third. Most health professionals couldn’t hold back their utter disbelief when I mentioned that Oscar was actually planned, following the inevitable ‘abortion’ conversation that they felt the need to have with me.
I have to wonder whether they offer the abortion leaflet to women in their thirties on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, because of this, I didn’t feel any professional support at all, besides my community midwife, who I absolutely adored. I wish I could say different, but hopefully by speaking out on platforms like this, we will eventually make a change.
My advice to any young mums out there, is to do exactly what you feel is best for your child without listening to everyone else. I would try not to rely too much on the opinions of health visitors, unless of course it is something that is affecting the health of your child. Speak up if you feel like you need support, and don’t listen to any negativity from people who have never been in your position, because most of them just want to see you fail. Lastly, surround yourself with people you love, and enjoy every second with your baby. No matter how old you are, and how crap it can be sometimes, one day you will look back and realise what an incredible job you have done.
If you would like to read more about Fern and her family, you can find her here.
You can also find her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
If you would like to get involved with the #YoungMumsProject and write a Guest Post for us please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
YOU CAN READ MORE POSTS FROM THE #YOUNGMUMSPROJECT HERE.