I found out I was pregnant on my lunch break, in a supermarket bathroom. I tucked the test into my coat pocket and walked back to school for my next class totally numb. I kid you not, my next class was Biology, in which we debated the ethics of abortion. Usually, I love a good ethics debate, but I just sat there, pale, and shaking until I could leave.
My mum used to pick me and my sister up from school, as she coincidentally happened to drive past the high school as we came out, on her way home from work.
I got in the car, terrified. Utterly terrified.
I have an amazing relationship with my mum and I always have – she’s my best friend. There was no reason for me to be scared of telling her, but I was.
Sat down, she looked at me and said “Guess who’s having babies?!”
I felt my heart miss a beat. In my head, I was screaming, “ME!! I’M HAVING A BABY”
She meant my cat. My cat went into labour and was currently having kittens. Not how I took it!
I went to my room as soon as we got home, and watched my cat birth the last four of her six kittens, while contemplating the reality of my situation.
My mum came in at 2am after noticing my light was still on. She asked me what was wrong, telling me I looked glum.
I couldn’t tell her, I just couldn’t do it. So, since I wouldn’t be able to chicken out, I handed her the positive pregnancy test.
She cried. A lot. Mainly because she knew how hard it would be for me, she was born to a young mother (her mother had her older sister in her teens, then my mum in her early twenties). She sat down with me, and then I cried. She asked me what I wanted to do, and I said I didn’t know – although I couldn’t see myself having an abortion. She sat up all night with me, and talked through my options. She listened to what I was feeling and supported me.
The next day, she took me with her while she was doing the food shopping. I walked around in a daze and suddenly it became very clear to me that I was going to be keeping my baby. I looked at my mother and said, "I'm going to do this". She took me straight to the medicine section and picked me up some prenatal vitamins.
I was going to have a baby.
She looked at me and said, "This is your future now, and I'm going to do everything I can to help you. I love you." It was the most loved and supported I had ever felt - not because she'd not supported me before, but because she supported me wholeheartedly at the point in my life that I was feeling most scared and alone, putting aside her fears and emotions to make my burden easier to bear.
My mother is still my best friend, and now she is my five-year-old daughter's best friend too. She watched my daughter come into the world, was the second person to hold her. She helped me adapt to motherhood even when she became sick herself with chronic illness.
My mother's reaction to my pregnancy shaped our relationship. It also shaped who I am as a mother today, and certainly how I would react to difficult news from my own daughter.
So, if you're reading this and you have children who may one day come home to you and give you news like this, please know: If I had lost my mother because of my pregnancy, I don't know how I would have coped. Finding out you're going to become a teenage parent is to lose the kind of future you thought you were going to have. Luckily, I had my mother there to help me build a new future with my daughter.
Planning on giving birth? Monique Bowley and Bec Judd discuss everything you’ll need for the first three days with a newborn, on Hello Bump. Post continues after audio.
Of course, she does still take every opportunity to complain that I made her a grandmother too young.
"42 IS FAR TOO YOUNG TO BECOME A GRANDMOTHER, NATALIE!"
"WELL, YOU LIKE YOUR GRANDDAUGHTER, DON'T YOU?"
"OF COURSE I DO!"
"THEN I DON'T SEE WHY YOU'RE COMPLAINING!!"
Here are the answers to the questions I know you're wondering right now:
I have had a tremendous amount of support from family, friends and my educational institutions to gain the qualifications I need.
I have gained a place in University to study Genetics. I'm currently taking a year out before university to take a very exciting work opportunity that broadens my horizons now and post-graduation. Many of my friends have also delayed university for other reasons including work and travel opportunities, or went back later on to change their career paths so it's not unusual to start university in your early 20s like I will, or your 30s/40s!
A friend of mine once had a classmate aged 68, so it really never is too late.
My situation now
I rent my own place which I share with my daughter and our cats, and I am financially independent.
She is a superstar. And #ParentingGoals. I adore her.
I am not religious and I am Pro-Choice. I chose to keep my daughter and I am glad I could. Likewise, I am glad I had other options. A woman's reproductive health is between her and her doctor, not the general public or the government. I live in the UK, which is more liberal by far than our cousins across the pond. So while stigma against teenagers mothers is prevalent, it's nothing like stories I have heard - at least where I am.
I am not advocating for teenage pregnancy and never would. It is hard. It is certainly not something anyone should aspire towards. I believe that young women and men who find themselves in this situation should be supported and treated with respect, as everyone should.
If you have any other questions, I'm always happy to answer them, so pop me a message.
This article originally appeared on Quora and has been republished with permission.