…And I Don’t Regret It At All
Growing up, my mum shielded me from the world around us. I grew up in a happy bubble surrounded by my siblings and loved ones.
I enjoyed school but was never one of the popular kids. I was sporty, loved cross county running, netball and was obsessed with New Kids on the Block. I was quite shy unless surrounded by my close circle of friends, only then would I come out of my shell and be the one who made everyone laugh.
I lived a minute’s walk away from school, you could see it from my bedroom window and this was about as far as I was able to go on my own. My mum was so protective of me, not that I minded at the time of course. I was happy in my own little world.
I was the good kid. I didn’t sit out in the park drinking cider like the others and I had no idea about sex other than what we were taught in school, so I never really fit in with the other children on my estate.
Instead, I daydreamed about how my life would be and like many young teens, I had ambition and a focus.
I had always loved to dance, it was my way to escape from the humdrum of my daily life. I would often take myself up to my room, listen to the latest chart music and make-up dance routines. I shared a room with my little sister and would often get caught out prancing around and singing into a hairbrush.
Along with dance I also had a passion and desire to work with children. I was the eldest of 3 and had always enjoyed babysitting for my mum and her friends and this is where I had decided to go with my career once I left school.
I loved College, it was a fun and totally new experience for me. This stage of education offered a little more freedom. It gave me a chance to meet others with the same passion and was a real eye-opener. But although the freedom was exciting, repeating my GCSE’s was not. I started skipping a few classes with friends and one day whilst returning to college I bumped into Adriano.
It wasn’t long before we started dating, I was 16 and Adriano had just turned 18. We got along so well, although we had almost nothing in common and came from totally different backgrounds, somehow, we just connected.
We spent so much time together, mostly around my home; but after a while my mum let me venture ‘out-out’. I had never really seen or been anywhere outside of our bubble and so most of the stuff we did together was all new to me. We took trips to the beach, shopping trips to London and went to movies with friends. It was a whole new world for me.
I was sixteen and madly in love. Adriano was the one I wanted to spend my life with and I knew it. I wanted to share in all the excitement of my future with him. We had BIG plans and often talked about what we wanted for our future.
For my 18th birthday Adriano took me off to Italy to visit his family. I couldn’t believe my mum had agreed for me to go, I had never been out of the county. The furthest I had ever being to visit family in Scotland and here I was jetting off to sunny Italy to celebrate my eighteenth.
After an amazing first holiday abroad, I had been feeling a little poorly, so I decided to go to the doctors, what she was about to say I wasn’t prepared for.
As the doctor said the words my heart started to beat out of my chest. I felt scared and very lonely and I was worried about what my parents would say. Hell, I was worried what Adriano would say.
I was Pregnant. Just turned 18 and pregnant.
I had no money, just a part-time job in the local chip shop that barely paid for me to get to and from work. I had dreams and goals, how on earth was I going to support a baby now?
I was convinced my mum was going to freak out. In my head, as the doctor was talking to me about options, all I could think was ‘I’m going to be grounded FOREVER, she had only let me go abroad on the condition we slept in different beds. Oh My God… I lied I told my mum and now she will know the truth.’
My brain continued to run away with itself…
‘I feel sick. I can’t tell them. I cannot tell my parents or Adriano. They will hate me it’s all my fault.’
For anyone, hearing the news of a pregnancy is scary, but for the 18-year-old girl with dreams and strict parents, I was a total wreck.
That night I sat with Adriano and I was surprised that he was ok with it. He calmed me and reassured me. We planned to go to the pregnancy clinic to do another test just to make sure.
I had decided not to tell my mum just yet, I needed to get used to the idea myself first so we decided we would wait. But just like always, life never works out exactly as you plan.
That night, my sister and I had an argument. She hit me in the back and I started to bleed.
I had to tell my mum. I had to go to the hospital and be checked out. I was crying uncontrollably and I couldn’t get the words out to explain why. Mum got increasingly worried and couldn’t figure out why I was so broken over an argument with my sister. Finally, the words came – “I’m pregnant.”
The world stood still. The silence lasted for what felt like forever and everything went into slow motion as my parents just stared at me in disbelief. All my emotions, my fears and my dread were flooding out and all my parents did was stare at me.
Then it came. My mum started to shout at me, to tell me how stupid I had been, how I was wasting my life. How this was going to be A BIG MISTAKE. My baby was a mistake.
After a night in the hospital, the bleeding stopped, and I was able to go home. Mum and I spoke for hours and finally, she hugged me and agreed to support and help me throughout the pregnancy.
Even to this day, I am not sure she realises how much I really needed that hug.
I started feeling a little more confident and told a few friends but it wasn’t long before they all disappeared. I suppose I was no fun anymore. They were all partying and enjoying nights out, how could I compete? Whilst they were all out and very rapidly disappearing from my life my mum soon became my new best friend.
As the time drew close to our baby’s due date so did the fear of giving birth. I started to suffer from panic attacks and depression but on the 1st of April 1996 after 24hrs in labour, our beautiful baby boy Nathan was born. I was a mum. A young mum, but a proud and happy mum all the same.
I had survived being pregnant, now I had to learn how to keep the little man I held in my arms loved, fed and alive.
I was happy and totally in love with my beautiful boy but again I felt so alone. This sh*t was scary. I was still a child myself with no life experience, how was I supposed to raise a kid?
I am so grateful for all the support my family gave us in those early days for the strength I was born with that helped me raise one of the kindest sweet and loving men I know.
Teen pregnancy is tough, but we survived.
Many reading this would wonder where I ended up. A single mother after teen pregnancy? On benefits and regretting my mistakes?
No, not all teen pregnancies end that way. I still pursued my dreams, backed by a loving family and the support of a man that stood by me to this very day. We are still married and together 25 years on and have 5 beautiful children. My family may have started sooner than I had planned but we never allowed societies expectations to dictate our path. I am a successful businesswoman with a fabulous and strong family.
So why am I telling my story?
Because it could also be yours, or that of your daughter.
Because being a teen mum should not determine your path in life. I was a teen mum and looking back now it was the best thing to ever happen to me. We have a strong and happy family and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.
(Note from The Editor: Serena’s story was first brought to light with us here at The Glass House when we were asked to read and review an anthology of stories about inspirational Mumpreneurs. Serena now runs a successful childcare business but also works alongside the Mums in Business Association as a network co-ordinatior, helping empower other mumpreneurs in the UK. To find out more about Serena and her business you can visit her author page here, or alternatively, check out her website or Instagram.
Serena is just one of 25 authors featured in the latest Amazon Bestseller – Mumpreneur on Fire 3 – a collection of awe-inspiring, gritty and at times often emotional stories from just some of the women who belong to The Mums in Business Association. The book puts the spotlight on 25 of their members and allows them to become the authors of this book by writing down their own journeys to success.)