The truth of motherhood – A tale of two mothers

Before being a mother I was an impressionable, strong willed, determined, eager for freedom 16 year old. I was obsessed with keeping fit and would work out and run daily. I always thought that there must be more to life than what everyone was telling me life was about. I went to 6th form with the aim of being a travel rep I thought I’d have a few years in the 18-30 world then move over to the high end luxury travel scene. I had a boyfriend who was 5 years older than me but really showed no interested in being with me although would say nice things when we were together then would belittle me in front of our friends. Not really knowing what a good relationship was but knowing that this was not what I wanted I decided I was going to break up with him but in some kind of twisted plot twist it turned out I was pregnant.

During our relationship I got kicked out of the house for being too rude, disrespectful and generally rebellious. All my stuff was packed into boxes and I was told to leave. This may have been a bluff but I jumped at it as I was not happy at home and definitely felt like I was in the way and not a priority. I left without any of my stuff because what’s the point of being homeless with lots of boxes of toot. That night I stayed at a friend’s house I can’t remember the exact details but I did a pregnancy test it was positive. I called my boyfriend to discuss options but for me there was only one option because at the time I didn’t believe in abortions (this is something I truly do believe in now) he made it clear that “No baby of his is being aborted and we will raise this baby together”. This statement made me rethink dumping him and after a conversation with my mum who said to stay with him that is what I did. I ended up back home after a week away from home sleeping at various friends houses. I didn’t tell my parents I was pregnant I’m not sure what my plan was but my mum found my library books all about pregnancy and raising a baby under my pillow. I’m not sure why she was looking there as I made my own bed but that detail didn’t cross my mind at the time. I was about 16 weeks pregnant when I went to the doctor, I think my passion for fitness and the fact that the pill had messed up my periods even though I had been taking them consistently with the help of the alarm on my Nokia. It was as if as soon as I had confirmation and I was aware of the pregnancy the bump appeared.

During my pregnancy my boyfriend was saying the right things but actions were not backing them up. He would lie and say he had to work but I’d see him with his mates walking to the pub. While in my final trimester he was imprisoned for a catalogue of offences but still I stood by him visiting him, writing him on a regular sending picture and whatever else I was able to. It wasn’t until my daughter was born and I had that shift in focus that I was thinking more and more about my future and it really wasn’t fair to my child to be bringing her to the prison. There were other in mates I knew there who had been in and out of prison and it made me think how much this life isn’t for me. The negative attitudes of the people around me were not the ones I wanted for myself and my daughter so I broke up with him which didn’t go down well with his family. I was putting my life on hold to support him through prison while also being a teen mum getting abuse in the street from strangers. He wasn’t my responsibility even though that isn’t how a lot of other people saw it. I still visited him even though we weren’t together for a little while but when we were sat opposite each other not talking for an hour it was clear that this arrangement wasn’t working I stopped visiting and just wrote to him instead. So many people told me becoming a single mother will be the worst decision of my life but honestly I regret nothing! It was the best decision I made and I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t have made the choices others were too scared to make.

I never wanted kids because I felt there were so many children out there without families why would I bring more into the world when I could help those that are already here and in need. I saw myself opening up a large house for displaced kids kinda like the dumping ground from Tracey Beaker but it was their permanent home where tutors would come in and help with subjects they were struggling with. We’d go on regular exploring trips to expand our minds and get to know the country and the rest of the world. Everyone would feel love and respected.

My experience of motherhood is two fold as I have been both a single teen mother (I split with my partner after a few months after giving birth). Then 16 years later in a relationship.

I did my best at the time but was met with many barriers. My mindset at the time was so limited I was very much a why me? This isn’t fair, the world is against me type of person I focused more on going out and getting away than I did in investing in myself. I was using distractions to keep me from feeling and thinking too much but it never worked really. Reality was always there to bite me in the butt and wake me up. Looking at me I guess nobody would have thought I was in the dark place I was but you really didn’t have to dig to deep to see how unhappy I was.

Being a single teen mother was tough! I definitely had postnatal depression and found it difficult bonding with my daughter, I was unable to breastfeed and was put under so much pressure to do so by the health visitor and midwives. I would have people come up to me in the street and hurl abuse at me about being a teen mum and even have black people tell me I’m a disgrace because I had a child with a white man instead of sticking to my race. Getting racist comments from white people about my “Mongrel child”. My postnatal depression turned into full blown depression but didn’t receive any help or support no matter how many times I went to the doctor and saw different GPs was told that I was disorganised, being silly and that there was nothing wrong with me It took years for me to be put forward for counselling and even then I was put on a wait list so waited more than six months before I even got a date to see a counsellor. I knew that if I waited until I got an appointment then I’d be dead.

I said to myself there must be more than this and I need to be the one to sort it out because nobody else is going to help me. I would read about positive mindset, good habits and really curate my vision board to have the goals I really wanted to achieve on there. I took each day as it came and tried not to beat myself up for having a bad day. Before I knew it the good steps turned into habits and a healthier lifestyle.

Moving forward through more challenges, dark times and health issues. I was very happy being single and doing my thing without the added stress of thinking about anyone else except my daughter and I.

Now I’m in a relationship for the first year he knew straight away I was a mother because being honest about these thing from the get go makes the time wasters and those with different intentions full away. He never met my daughter until we had been together a year then it was a slow introduction from there. It was great because he got to know me as me not as mum mode me. During our relationship I developed fibroids which are non cancerous tumours in the womb these little bastards caused me many a hospital stay due to extreme pain and internal bleeding. I was told I couldn’t have children because I wouldn’t be able to carry a child to term due to the sheer amounts of fibroids and the sizes of them. The consultant kept pushing for a hysterectomy which was something I really didn’t want unless really necessary. Turned out it wasn’t because I was pregnant with my boy. The pregnancy was difficult, painful and nothing how I expected as I was relatively fit and thought I’d be able to workout through my pregnancy but in fact I was bed bound a few times especially through the end.

Being a mum to a newborn again was a wake up call I guess I’d forgotten how much they don’t sleep and need constant care if it isn’t feeding, it’s changing a nappy, or cleaning up sick there is always something. This time around I have been much more chilled out I have been lucky enough to breastfeed and be involved with some breastfeeding campaigns.

Having my son was like a rocket up my butt to get clarity on what I really want and how I’m going to get it. I feel more dedicated and more conscious about the way I’m parenting I’m not just doing stuff because that’s what was done before. I’m parenting with intention and really feel confident in what I’m doing. I love spending time with my Bubba and we often go into London together or off on an adventure to explore a new place because I don’t want fear to stop us having fun and achieving things that we really want.

Cleo x

If you want to tell your motherhood story please get in touch at

Mummaandthebears@gmail.com

Or via Instagram @mummaandthebears

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