I was 16, in Year 10 attending a Catholic school. My then boyfriend Dave and I decided to take ‘the next step’. Even though we practised safe sex, the condom broke!
The day I found out I was pregnant, Dave and I were working at Wendy’s. I vividly recall how one minute I was sitting in the public toilets looking at the white stick and seeing the two blue lines appear – signifying a positive pregnancy test. The next minute Dave and I were serving ice cream with lollies and handing them to kids– it was so surreal!
The best way to describe it is “I wanted yesterday back.”
I knew I had to tell my Mum and Dad and Dave’s parents. I was so scared. They’d be so disappointed and ashamed of me!
I was a ‘good girl, from a good Catholic family.’ This sort of thing didn’t happen to ‘good girls’!
My father literally screamed out in the middle of the main road ‘My 16-year-old daughter has had sex and now she is pregnant!’ and my mum, although supportive, became very sick from shock. At the time Dave’s Mum said I would never get an education and never have a career. Her words stayed with me for a good nine years of my life, it was hard to hear that as a 16-year-old pregnant girl. I understand now, that she was concerned for her son and didn’t know that someone in this situation could have a good future.
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At the same time, I was so ashamed of myself. I felt like everyone would be thinking awful things about me, impure things about me. I didn’t want people to label me with awful names, (you know the ones I mean!) That was not me; it never would be.
I felt like I had no-where and no-one to turn to until I saw my Year 10 Co-ordinator – I was scared he would react like everyone else. But he didn’t. The words he said changed my life. “Bernadette, the journey might be different now but the destination can stay the same.”
I would not be the person I am today without this conversation. I somehow knew that I was going to be ok and have this baby.
I didn’t stay at school for very long after falling pregnant because I had pretty severe morning sickness, so I finished about six weeks short of the end of Year 10. I was around ten weeks pregnant.
Mum made an appointment for me to see an obstetrician. It was the same obstetrician who delivered me! His first words were “It’s a bloody shame, but you’ve made the right decision.” He told me about a Young Mums Group that the Mercy Hospital for Women (in Melbourne) ran.
As my pregnancy progressed and I’d safely passed the first trimester I decided to attend the Young Mums group. I asked the nurse if she knew of any books or stories about teenage Mums who had finished their education. The nurse said there weren’t any.