When Amy Taylor became pregnant at just 17, she faced unfriendly stares, rumours at school and heartburn during her exams...
"When I first found out I was pregnant, I was scared and wanted to cry. I was shocked because I wasn’t expecting it to happen to me. The first few weeks were very hard and although my mum and dad were upset, they were still very supportive. In fact, they were just amazing.
I was on my own from the beginning of the pregnancy, as Lexie’s dad didn’t want to know.
It was daunting going to antenatal appointments and scans on my own and seeing couples in the waiting room, although I had my mum with me most of the time. Some of my friends already had babies but they were still with their partners, which did get to me sometimes.
There were moments – such as when I felt my baby kicking – when I wished Lexie’s dad was with me. I was tearful at times, but then a lot of women feel like that when they’re pregnant.
I think I coped all right, as I’m quite an independent person, but it has also made me a lot stronger.
When I told my mum and dad I was pregnant, they blocked it out at first. Nothing was really said until I went for my first scan. My mum came with me and together we saw the baby on the screen. After that, it was different and they began to feel happier about it.
I told my friends I was pregnant as soon as I found out, and they were great. But I didn’t actually tell the school. I was in my last year at a Catholic school and I didn’t want everything to blow up just before my exams. My teachers kept asking me if I was pregnant, because stories were going round about me. But I carried on denying it, even though I suspected they knew, because I only had five months left to go before I finished.
I thought I managed to cover up my bump successfully at school, but looking back at the photos I’m not sure how convincing I was. The uniform allowed girls to wear trousers, so I opted for them and I wore my brother’s school shirts, as they were baggier. I was six months pregnant when I took my GCSEs and I felt huge. The weather was very hot and I could hardly sit at the exam table, plus I was still trying to hide my bump from the teachers – it was hard.
At around six months I had bad heartburn and my ribs ached from the baby’s kicking. I also found it very difficult to sleep. At the time I was revising for my exams and couldn’t concentrate. I wanted a job looking after children, and I didn’t need any qualifications to do that, but I still wanted to get good grades in my GCSEs. In the end, I didn’t do very well and was very disappointed with my results.
When I was pregnant, I hated going into town and seeing people stare at me and my bump. It was obvious they were thinking I was too young to have a baby, and it made me feel very small. But I don’t worry about the looks now when I’m pushing Lexi around in her buggy. I get snide comments sometimes, but I just think, ‘I don’t care, because just look at the beautiful little girl I’ve got.’
My advice to anyone going through pregnancy as a single mum is, although it’s hard, there are so many people out there to help you. My mum helped me get in touch with a woman at Connexions [a confidential advice service for young people], who came to the house to visit me. She gave me advice about benefits, housing, and what would happen if the school found out. She was great.
I was lucky my midwife was lovely, too. I didn’t want to go to the antenatal classes, so she came round to my house and told me what I’d have learnt in the classes.
My midwife told me that when labour started, I should try to stay at home – where
I’d be much more comfortable –until I was in too much pain to cope with it. I managed to do this and stayed at home from the time my contractions started at 5pm until about 5pm the next day. By then, I was 5cm dilated.
My mum and dad came with me when I went to the hospital, and then mum stayed with me when Lexie was born. I had her at 10.32pm. Mum and I both cried our eyes out.
Mum and dad are brilliant at babysitting, although their advice does get a bit much sometimes! In the beginning, when Lexie was tiny, it was helpful having someone there to show me what to do. But once you get the gist of it, you just want to do it your own way.
I worried about money when I was pregnant, even though I was living with my parents. But now I’ve got a job as a nursery nurse three days a week, so I think we’re going to be okay.
Lexie’s dad did start to see her every Saturday – he does try. But I think he expects me to arrange it all, which makes things a bit difficult. I’d love him to see Lexie regularly. I just hope that he’ll become more attached to her as she gets older.
It was really scary being pregnant and not having someone to share it with, but lots of my family and friends stood by me. I read everything I could on babies beforehand, which helped. My advice to anyone in my position is, confide in people and they’ll be understanding. Plus, there’s lots of help out there."
Cravings: One week it would be chocolate toffees and the next, pickled onions.
Best bit: I just loved having a bump and knowing there was a baby in there.
Worst bit: People looking at me like I was dirt, because I was a young mum-to-be. Plus, not doing the usual things teenage girls do, such as socialising with friends and going to parties.
Scary moment: When I didn’t feel any kicks for a couple of days and then had to go into hospital to be monitored – luckily everything was okay.
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