Updated: Sep 4
Katie gave birth to her little boy Benjamin when she was 19 years old, in the middle of the COVID pandemic. She shares her struggles in learning she was pregnant, including feeling alone and neglected by her family during such a vulnerable time in her life.
What’s your name and who’s in your family? My name is Katie, I have a precious little boy Benjamin who is 14 months old and two angel babies Atali and Aldora. We live in Queensland, Australia.
How did you feel learning you were pregnant? Truthfully, I was terrified. I was on my own – my family didn't want me and getting pregnant was not supposed to happen yet, I had so many plans for the future. I hated it and really struggled to accept my pregnancy – I never really did accept it until my baby was born.
What concerns/thoughts/feelings came up for you? I felt abandoned and rejected by my family. I felt alone and scared and I feared my baby might feel the same. I wanted an abortion because I believed that in having one, my family would want me again.
How old were you when you fell pregnant? Were you at school/working/studying? I was 18 and studying youth work and fashion design. I also worked with horses.
Did you feel supported during pregnancy by your family/partner/medical team? I didn't feel very supported by anyone really – I felt judged and very alone. My partner whom I married due to being pregnant was great in the beginning but then COVID happened and I was left alone in Brisbane while my husband was stuck five hours away. My family were eight hours away and not talking to me either. The medical staff were rough and not very friendly either.
How old were you when you gave birth? I was 19 years old.
What was your birth experience like? It was the hardest yet best thing I have ever achieved, especially on my own. My husband was good support, bub was almost three weeks late and they tried three stretch and sweeps to help initiate labour, which was dreadful, and then decided to induce me. I was terrified of the idea of giving birth, but not for the normal fears of it being painful, but because I was scared of embarrassing things happening to me. When my waters broke I cried and was apologising to the midwife for making a mess and went and tried to clean it up (the midwife said afterwards it was the sweetest thing they had heard all day haha).
After getting in the shower to clean myself up the contractions started and I noticed these ones weren’t too bad (prior to this I was doing some drawing and didn't even realise I was having contractions, so when I did finally notice them, I was already 8cm dilated!) I was in active labour for 1.5 hours from the time my water broke, but I didn't really feel the contractions until 40 minutes before bub was born. While I was in the shower the contractions started to get more intense, then I felt like I needed to go to the toilet and I was terrified and embarrassed by the thought of needing to go! But it happened and the midwife just cleaned it up and said that it was a good thing as it means baby is doing what it needs to, and it actually happens to many women without them even realising.
After that, I was so tired and wanted to sleep so I asked for an epidural, as I just wanted something that would stop the pain. But the midwife checked me and I was 9.5cm so there was no way I was going to get that nap. After the midwife told me, I was very calm and patient – she was surprised I didn't scream or go crazy at her! They then moved me back to the shower and within a minute they could see the head, but couldn’t find bubs heartbeat, so they asked me to go back to the bed. After 5 minutes of pushing, my beautiful almost 10 pound Benjamin was born. It was the most beautiful, special, exhausting moment of my life – and in just three seconds, he pooped on me! Haha. I did tear but I chose not to have stitches as it wasn’t too bad, but it hurt to go to the toilet.
What do you think could have made you feel more supported during pregnancy and childbirth? Not being alone – knowing I had friends and family that I could enjoy life with. Not having COVID in the world too.
What were the first few weeks of motherhood like for you? Do you feel that you had a healthy support network? It was hard but really good too. I loved being a mama but really struggled with people’s opinions of me. I didn’t feel I had a healthy support network around me. I also felt desperate to lose weight after my pregnancy. Sadly, I just ended up taking longer to heal. Going to the toilet for the first time after giving birth was also the worst ever, I hated that.
What concerns/thoughts/feelings came up for you? Did you have strategies in place to manage stress and anxiety? I was scared that I wasn’t good enough to be his mama. I didn't have any strategies to help me actually and I regret not having things in place as my postpartum depression was bad too.
How did you find transitioning into parenthood? It was pretty normal for me because I have twelve siblings, so it felt natural.
What challenges did you face in the first year of motherhood? I found out I was pregnant again when Benjamin was 4 months old. At nine weeks I miscarried – we had a really hard time with that. Then, when Benjamin was 6 months old I became a single mum. Less than a week after my husband and I separated, I found out I was nine weeks pregnant and then about two weeks later, lost our third baby. It broke me. I didn't even get a chance for my pregnancy to soak in and then I miscarried again.
What do you love most about being a mum? Watching my baby grow, seeing his smiles and feeling his hugs and kisses, holding him close when he’s asleep and telling him how much I love him. Watching him learn new things, say new words – like when he says “shoes” it just melts my heart. Seeing his excitement when his grandad comes to see him and his reaction when I pick him up from splash or his babysitter.
What life lessons have you learned? Be yourself and be the best version of yourself you can be. You are not your mother, you are your baby’s mother, so do what you think is best. Learn to soak up the moments, they go by fast.
What do you wish people could understand more about being a young mother? It’s not easy but it is also so special – it’s like creating a little best friend and partner in crime.
What’s helped you the most in becoming a mum? I don’t actually know yet, my baby is now 14 months old and every day it brings new challenges… but coffee definitely helps! haha.
Thank you so much Katie for your vulnerability in sharing your story.
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