Our stories; my story

Thanks to all who’ve completed the teen pregnancy survey - I will add more of your stories in due course.

I’ve been rereading my book a bit lately (it’s not a good idea, I’m too much of a grammar Nazi and cringe and my language of just 3 years ago) and it’s hit me again – that feeling of Meant To Be.

My son sleeps in the next room – 16 years old and surely too big for that bed. I hear him breathing and remember listening to that same breath when he was a baby – waiting for the rise and fall, muscles tensed to jump up and check if the next breath didn’t come fast enough. Hours spent just staring, holding him long after he’d gone to sleep, fighting the temptation to wake him again to see him smile. Just like labour, the hard stuff  – the vomit, the money worries, the teething and the lack of sleep, fades in your memory, gets hazy.

I loved him so.

People said I wouldn’t. That I couldn’t.

I didn’t screw him up.

People said I would. That I surely must.

I worried, I took daily vom-inducing rides on the Mother Guilt Rollercoaster, I feared that simply by being his mother I’d doomed him somehow. Everybody says you do, if you’re like me.

Just like that first night I told my parents I was pregnant at 14, when my nails dug into my palms and they bled, unfelt – I lived so many years tense. Not good enough. Never good enough. It took so long to build up a decent supply of skunky Screw You pheromone in my system which I could dispense to judgemental or ignorant nosy parkers. Way too long.

And yet. Look. Just look at him.

Look what we’ve done, together.

Meant to be.

 G’night me boy, you make me proud.

I hope that you can say the same about me.

*****

Please help

Been thinking of big things.

Wanting to make a difference.

Not sure where to start. But start, I shall.

Doing an interview on young moms with Great Expectations on ETV next month. I googled teen pregnancy in South Africa – and all I got was page after page of academic study and report.

I had to search for hours before I found the tiniest scrap of practical, helpful advice for the pregnant teen that didn’t come down to “Haven’t you heard of contraception?” Most of the advice I did find was from religious organisations of one kind or another – who are doing excellent work, no doubt – but can’t help but wonder if they do perhaps have an agenda of their own to push. 

Fine, so you can argue that the disadvantaged girls who need the help and advice the most have no access to a website such as this – or any other. Maybe not. But I must start somewhere, and this is all I know how to do, for now.

I’m in the process of collecting information about organisations throughout the country who can help – what to do, where to go, who to speak to in those early weeks when everything is a blur.

It happens enough – we’re bombarded daily with reports on the shocking teen pregnancy stats – but who’s really doing anything about it? Plenty of organisations working on prevention – which is great. But who’s talking to the girls already pregnant, already mothers?

Are we abandoning them? They’ll always be there. They could be your daughter.

They need help, and their children need help. There were people who helped me when I was 14 and pregnant. So I’m going to try.

Part of this process is collecting stories from those who’ve been through it, no matter the circumstances or outcome of their situation. If you’re interested in telling your story to be shared here, please click on the survey link here.

Confidential and anonymous of course – I won’t share anything without your permission.

Please help?

Thank you