Welcome back to week #19 of the #YoungMumsProject. This week we are joined by the lovely Charlie Gray.
Q1. Can you describe your personal experience of life as a young mum?
I was 20 when I fell pregnant and I’m now 23. I have always been ‘old before my time’ and so even before I fell pregnant I was an ‘old 20’ however I couldn’t ever imagine how much having a child would catapult me into adult life and making such huge grown up decisions. Having a child at a young age meant I endured/endure a lot of scrutiny but any and every negative people have to throw at me I always have a positive to overturn it with. People seem to think it’s one or the other in life with a child and it’s simply not the case.
Q2. How did you feel when you found out you were pregnant?
Emotionally I was happy but terrified. Physically I was so poorly, I had sickness, intense cravings, stretching pains from the outset and recurrent kidney infections and kidney stones! It wasn’t all roses for me!
Q3. Do you feel like life has been harder because you had children at a young age?
Not at all, it’s definitely hard to have a baby but I honestly think we would’ve had the same challenges whatever my age. I haven’t had issues having a baby around GCSE’s as I’m not THAT young so nothing age related has hindered me. Infact, it’s made me more determined to remain in work and education whilst having a baby just to prove the neighsayers wrong!
Q4. Did you ever feel judged by anyone? If so, how did you deal with it?
100% people will always have something negative to say, I would always ask them what age they think is optimum? I have a job, I have money, I don’t live with my parents, I’m in a loving relationship, I’m happy… could you please tell me what more I would have in 10 years that I won’t have now? People would say it’s more about ‘living more of your life’ but there’s nothing I wanted to do pre baby that I couldn’t do now, I’m not the kind of person that would want to go out on the town every week or travel the world solo (I would like to travel but as a family) So I think I would just ask THEM, the negatives, WHY? Why do they think now is not the right time for ME to have a baby? I always tried to remember aswell that it wasn’t them that was pregnant, it was me, and my life.
Q5. Do you think there are any advantages to being a younger mum?
I definitely think it’s nice that I’m younger and able to run around with him, I have ‘longer’ with him (obviously no one knows how long we have here but generally speaking) we also have the luxury to take time completing our family. Having said that, I think there’s advantages to any age, I don’t want to spend my post moaning about the people who say I was too young hen say people can be too old ?
Q6. What are the best and worst things about being a young mum?
Best thing is for sure that this was MY PLAN- i have always wanted to be a younger mum as my mum was- I knew I wanted a few children and I didn’t want it to be a rush to pop one out after the other. Another good thing was I managed to whittle out the fake friends by having a baby, I would’ve potentially stayed friends with toxic people for another 5 years or so and what a waste of time that is!
Worst thing is only other people’s opinions!
Q7. How do you think we can challenge the stigma that surrounds young mums?
The only way to challenge it is in the proof and in the numbers- it seems in 2015 the conception rate of women under 25 fell quite dramatically and in 2017 conception under 18, however, abortion rates in women under 18 increased (this is in Hampshire) why is this? That young women are more likely to terminate a pregnancy now than 5 years ago? Is this because of the stigma? If so, there needs to be more support in place. Which I think comes back to challenging this stigma, having some support for young mothers and families. Especially, more emotional support not so much financial. My opinions on things like this really vary and I’d be here all day if I really got in to it but it’s definitely something worth doing some more research in to because really there’s no support system. The truth of it is that the stigma links back to the older generations or people who have been brought up by that generation that believe in marriage, mortgage, babies and eventually that generation will die out so the number of people who believe that will diminish.
Q8. What are the main issues that young mums have to deal with, and how do you think they could be better supported?
This kind of links with my previous answer, if you are lucky enough to have a very supportive family you’re lucky but I think this is a millennial age and we ARE getting there, there’s more programmes in place for first time buyers of homes such as the 5% help to buy scheme, catered to first time and younger buyers so they have a chance to buy their family home earlier so they can adhere to ‘marriage mortgage babies’ there are open university courses so parents can continue to study from home towards a degree and look after their baby too. So I truly think the main issue is STILL other people, notice how the only negatives I can think of is OTHER. PEOPLE??
Q9. Do you think that the support for young mums has improved over time?
Q10. If you were approached by a young mum asking for advice, what advice would you give them and why?
I would say- here, come and be my friend I’ll look after you! My advice would be to just DO YOU!! Forget what everyone else says and don’t let it get to you, just do your damn best as thats all your baby needs. Finally- SPEAK UP! If you need help ASK, no one is going to expect you to have it all under control and know what you’re doing straight away- whether you’re 18 or 40!