Updated: Jan 16, 2020
For most mothers-to-be finding out they are pregnant is joyous and exciting news but when your young, dumb and broke it is terrifying. When I first discovered I was pregnant I had not long turned 20, I was living in a shared-house with my boyfriend and to top it all off I had lost my job two weeks prior to finding out the news. I felt an overwhelming sense of fear wash over me but I knew in my heart that I couldn't abort our baby, I just needed time to get over the initial-shock and come up with a plan. Thankfully, my partner Ash (who is now the most amazing dad to our two children) was much braver than me and while I was busy having a mental breakdown he was busy finding us someone proper to live and finding himself regular work (at the time he had just been moving from bar job to bar job) to be able to provide for me and our baby. Sadly tho I know this isn't the case for all mothers and I cannot even imagen trying to cope on my own, single mothers are god-dam incredible.
Announcing the big news
There's always been a stereotype when it comes to young mothers that they are irresponsible and bad mothers, I was terrified of being judged by other people for having my child at a young age. This fear of judgment turned something that should be a joyous occasion into a nerve-wracking one when I announced the news to my friends and family the majority of them congratulated me but others made comments like 'oh no, what are you going to do?', 'you're actually keeping it?' and 'why weren't you on the pill?!' which hurt. It's no wonder so many young mums suffer from mental health problems, is it?
Young mums mental health
There are so many young mums with postnatal depression. Symptoms of depression among young mums are also more likely to persist well after the birth of their child and young mums also face an increased risk of post-traumatic stress disorder yet they are less likely to seek support for their mental health for fear of their parenting skills being negatively evaluated according to The Mental Health Foundation. I wasn't offered any help when I first became pregnant with my son, after having a traumatic birth or after losing my daughter's twin (even tho I told them that I was suffering from anxiety ever since having my son). I wasn't offered any mental health support AT ALL until I actively went out and got it.
I will never forget when I went for my first ultrasound scan, I was extremely nervous as I walked into the sonogram waiting room and quickly scanned the room to try and spot someone who looked as young as me but there was no one. I stuck out like a saw thumb, we both did. Everyone looked like they where in their 30's, late 20's at a push. Both me and my partner felt out of place and uncomfortable, I kept my head down the whole time that I waited, trying to hide the tears in my eyes as I imagined all the things I thought people would be thinking about me 'she looks far too young to be having a baby', 'is she lost?', 'I wonder how old she is'. Thinking back to that time now I bet nobody even thought twice about me, they were probably all too busy thinking about their lovely babies to be but at the time It felt as if the whole room was staring at me.
As time went on I became more confident thanks to the support of close friends and family members (there is nothing more powerful than support from the people who matter most to you) but I was unable to shift that little judgemental voice in my head and its something I have to battle with every single day. There is no quick-fix when it comes to mental health, we all know that.
The impossible task of finding 'mum-friends'
I didn't have any friends that had children because of how young I was which was hard because both I and my partner changed so dramatically after having our baby boy which unfortunately led to us both losing friends. We went from being fun, sociable and carefree 20 years old's, to sensible, baby obsessed adults whose idea of a good time was a night of uninterrupted sleep so its no wonder we lost friends. Thankfully, we both have a few close friends left that always make the effort to spend time with us and our children, they understand that our priorities have changed and these are the friends that will stay with us forever and we will always cherish them.
There is a children's center near to where I live that held baby groups mon-fri every day so in an attempt to make some mum friends I started to go every week. For the first few months, I failed to meet anyone who look even remotely close to my age which left me feeling a little disheartened but I did meet lots of lovely ladies that I got along with but because of the age gap there was always that little voice in the back of my head that kept saying 'they are probably all trying to work out how young I am'. One day I attended one of the classes and saw a woman who looked around the same age as me, I thought 'FINALLY!' and immediately introduced myself. We became friends very quickly and also made friends with another lady and we would enjoy meeting up at the baby group every week but unfortunately, it was short-lived as they both returned to work and I became pregnant with my daughter Riley which left me feeling very de-motivated to socialize, plus the weather turned miserable as we entered winter. Over time we, unfortunately, lost touch. All I want is a mum friend who I can relax around judgment-free to have a gossip, giggle and gin with, is that too much to ask for? That's why I am starting a group called 'The Young Mums Club' for mums like us to make friends, support one another and share their experiences being young mums In a safe and judgment-free space. Let's build this community together, JOIN HERE.
That all being said I am really glad that I had my babies at the age I did, I didn't know it before but my babies were what I missing in my life and as soon as I had my firstborn George I felt complete. I will be in their lives for longer, I will be able to see my grandchildren grow up and maybe even great-grandchildren, and while my friends are in their 40's running around after their kids exhausted I will be free to spend my time however I like (hopefully lying on a lilo in a pool somewhere hot with a cocktail in my hand).
If you're a young mum (mums under the age of 25) and have been struggling please seek help, you don't have to suffer in silence.
Help for young mothers: