When I first discovered I was pregnant, I didn’t know what I would do. I was still in school. My parents had recently separated. I had left home with my mum and the love of my life was threatening to leave me if I didn’t terminate the pregnancy.
First time away
At six weeks, I was sent to the Early Pregnancy Unit with a suspected ectopic pregnancy. The experience was very frightening. I secretly booked a taxi to take me from school to a neighbouring town, to the nearest maternity unit. Until that day, I had not travelled anywhere outside of my town by myself and suddenly I had to act like an adult in a very grown-up situation.
Working through the steps
While I was there, I met a Crisis Pregnancy Counsellor. It felt better to finally tell someone about the situation and the worries I had. The counsellor met me every week and helped me work through my anxiety about telling my family, my ex, school and the rest of my life. I didn’t think I could ever tell my family. I had always been “the good one”. We all had high hopes for me going to university, but I knew it was only a matter of time until I started showing.
Telling people the news
After 10 weeks, I told my mother, who reacted better than anticipated. Of course, she was very disappointed, angry and heartbroken but she swore she would be there for me, whatever I decided to do.
Telling my friends and teachers was a real test. Every day I faced whispering in the corridors, staring in the canteen and even sometimes blatant disregard from teachers and ex-friends. It was very hard to ignore it all. I really struggled with the decision to leave school or to stay, but I knew I would need my education for both our futures.
I had a baby boy in the summer after fifth year and I returned in September to start the Leaving Cert year. My mother was my rock; she looked after him during the school day for the first couple of months until I could enrol him into a crèche, nearby, when he was six months old.
Honestly, the first two years were extremely difficult. Juggling night feeds, doctor appointments, homework, exams and court procedures with my ex, left me exhausted. Sometimes I would stay up all night and still go to school the next day, but I refused to give up on my education.
I passed my Leaving Cert and eventually did get to attend university. All that work and determination finally paid off. I now have a four-year-old who is very excited about starting his own education. Now I even run my own organisation, which helps young people in difficult situations.
Looking back, I don’t forget that it was a struggle and I still remember the depths of despair I felt. But, now I know it is possible to get through it and be just as successful as anyone else. I beg any girl who finds herself in a similar situation, to not lose hope.
Advice to others
It will be a difficult journey for a while, but there is so much help there for you, if you ask for it. My number one piece of advice is: “No matter what, hold your head up, stay in school and work hard! I promise you’ll thank yourself for it in a couple of years.”