What's it like to be a teen parent?
Airdate: 
Tuesday, August 1, 2017 - 20:30
Channel: 
SBS

Oscar was 13 when he met Mollie, 12.

“We fell in love ... we did.”

Not long after that, Mollie started to feel unwell.

“I just had an instinct, it’s so weird to explain. It’s just like I knew I was pregnant,” she says. She was 14 years-old when she gave birth to their first son, Theodore. Fourteen months later, a second baby is on the way.

This week on Insight, we hear from teenagers about what it’s like to become a parent before you planned to.

How do you decide what to do? What happens when your world finds out? And how are you treated when you become a parent?

Ebony was 15 years-old when she bought a pregnancy test for the first time and took it into her parents’ bathroom. She had started having sex with her boyfriend – who told her he couldn’t have kids - a few months earlier and her period was “nowhere to be seen.” Initially seeing a negative result, it was only in the morning did she see the fully-developed result: positive.

“I literally fell to the ground,” she remembers.

For Ebony, the challenge was telling her mother, and dealing with the rumour mill at her Catholic high school.

That high school gossip plagued Catie, now 24, who experienced intense bullying – something she says continues to this day  – after falling pregnant at 16.

“I was tormented by other people my age … saying things to my face like, ‘You’re a slut, you’re disgusting whore, I hope your baby dies’.”

Dealing with family and cultural differences can be difficult too.

At 17, Nikki discovered she was pregnant just two weeks after moving to Australia with her family from the Philippines.

Her mother, Bernadette, did not want her to keep the baby.

“I even had this silly thought that, I hoped she fell down the stairs and had a miscarriage.”

 

Credits

 

Transcript

VIDEO PLAYED.       

 

MOLLIE:  Ever since I fell pregnant with Theodore I knew I was pregnant, everything from then literally just changed. I feel like whenever I say my age it's like people like oh, my gosh, but it's so    different to me because I feel a lot older than my actual age.

I guess I'm so focused on trying to be mature and act older that I don't, I feel like I'm not a teenager in a way. I get a few dirty looks here and there but, and a few people mumbling under their breath but I've never had like confrontation where someone could come up to me and say you're   disgusting, it doesn't really phase me really.

As I say, judgmental people are unhappy people and I'm so focused on Theodore that the hate doesn't matter really.       

OSCAR:  I feel like everyone's sort of looking at me as if I'm not as equipped to do the job as everyone else.   

Now you've made the number 9.   

We're doing what everyone else is doing, we're just a family, we're just a normal family with the exception that I'm sixteen and Mollie's fifteen and we have one year old and another one on the way.

       

END OF VIDEO.  

 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Welcome everyone tonight, Mollie, how old were you when you found out you were pregnant?       

MOLLIE:  I was around about thirteen and eleven months, roughly.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Were you at school?       

MOLLIE:  I wasn't, I'd dropped out about six months prior.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Why did you drop out at school at thirteen?       

MOLLIE:  I had a lot of family issues.  So at home, me and my mum used to butt heads a lot. She was a single mum so I sort of took advantage of that being a teenager and I run away to Oscar's house in Melbourne.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how did you two know one another?        

MOLLIE:  Mutual friend, yeah.       

OSCAR:  Yeah, we had the mutual friends.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  So you ran away when you were what, thirteen?       

MOLLIE:  I would have been twelve I think.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Twelve?       

MOLLIE: Twelve and a half.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  So you ran away from home at twelve?       

MOLLIE:  Yeah.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  And you left school at that time?       

MOLLIE:  Yeah, I would have just about gone into year 8.       

OSCAR:  Yeah.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  So not long out of primary school?       

MOLLIE:  Yeah, yeah, not long at all.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you find out you were pregnant?       

MOLLIE:  Um I just, I had an instinct, it's so weird to explain, it's just like I knew I was pregnant, I had all the symptoms.

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you react when you found out?       

MOLLIE:  Um, it was sort of a relief because then I knew like why my body was.

JENNY BROCKIE:  A relief?       

MOLLIE:  Yeah.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  To be pregnant at thirteen was a relief?       

MOLLIE:  No, like a relief to find out officially that I was pregnant, because for a couple of weeks I knew that I was pregnant but I think we were too afraid to get the test done.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how did you react Oscar?       

OSCAR:  I guess I was sort of pulling my hair out a bit. I was, I was pretty, pretty scared to be honest. It was something that, I guess sounds weird to say but something that I felt like I wanted to do.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  What, at that age you wanted to be a parent?       

OSCAR:  No, not particularly at that age but it was something that I sort of felt like would probably come to me at an earlier age just because, just because of the mischief I was getting up to really.        

JENNY BROCKIE:  What about you Mollie, was it something you wanted?       

MOLLIE:  Not something that was idealistic, I guess I'd never wanted to be a teen parent and you know, get put into that category. But I knew that when I, when I knew I was pregnant that it was like what I wanted to do.

JENNY BROCKIE:  How long had you been both been having sex?       

MOLLIE:  Probably for about six months.       

OSCAR:  Yeah, probably a bit over six months.       

MOLLIE:  Yeah.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did your parents know that you were having sex?       

OSCAR:  After a little while. They did know after a little while.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Because you were living with your parents Oscar, yeah?       

OSCAR:  Yeah, they weren't really happy but they knew, they sort of, I guess, had a feeling that it was going on.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  So how did your parents react? Mollie, you were raised by a single mum, how did she react?       

MOLLIE:  Yes, my father isn't in the picture but my mum was, she's very overprotective so she was, screaming at me and you know, telling me to get an abortion which was never my choice, I never wanted to do that but…

JENNY BROCKIE:  But she wanted you to do that?       

MOLLIE:  Yeah, she felt like it was best for me and I sort of understand from her perspective because, you know, she's a single mum, she's got four kids and so I can understand where she came from but she never really understood my point of view.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  What about your family Oscar, how did they react?       

OSCAR:  My dad had a reaction that was calm but at the same time he did sort of try and nudge us in the direction of terminating the pregnancy just because at the time he felt that would probably be best for us.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how did you both react to that?       

MOLLIE:  We had each other which was…

OSCAR:  We sort of felt like we knew what we wanted.           

MOLLIE:  But we were too afraid to say it. I mean when you're that age you don't really feel like you have a choice in much things, I mean you don't but we knew it was such a life changing thing that we thought it was our decision and not everybody else's.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Had you been using contraception?       

MOLLIE:  I had been for about, um, a few months before I got pregnant but I'd stopped that and decided to change over to a different birth control and during that time period I fell pregnant.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  So did you think you might get pregnant during that time?        

MOLLIE:  We, we always thought, you know, it will never happen to us and it's such an unlikely chance of us getting pregnant, or me getting pregnant.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Why did you think that?       

MOLLIE:  I'm not sure, I just…      

OSCAR:  No reason really.        

MOLLIE:  Yeah.       

OSCAR: I guess we were just sort of wanted to, um…      

MOLLIE:  Do our own thing.       

OSCAR:  Put that thought in the back of our heads because you know, we thought it wasn't probably ideal to us, for us at the time.        

JENNY BROCKIE:  What about you Ebony, you were fifteen and in year 9 when you became pregnant, how did you find out?       

EBONY: I was, well I was having sex and I just missed my period so I kind of knew. I mean it was nowhere to be seen and I went and bought a pregnancy test and took it. But I actually didn't realise that I was pregnant because it came a back negative or what I thought was negative and the next morning I checked it and I hadn't waited long enough for it to develop so.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  So you'd put it away somewhere?       

EBONY: Yeah, I'd put it away somewhere for no one to see. I was look, phew, that was a close one.   So I'd gotten away with it and the next morning I'm putting my school uniform on and I'd just double    check before trying to dispose of it without my parents seeing.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  What was that moment like?       

EBONY: I literally fell to the ground and then my twin sister comes walking in to our shared bedroom and she's like what is going on with you and I was in disbelief.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  So who did you tell?       

EBONY: I told my sister immediately because we were very close and then I didn't really tell anyone apart from my best friends and another girl who I thought was also very supportive, but little did I know that was just gossip to her and she spread it like wild fire.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  So it went around pretty quickly?       

EBONY: Yeah, everyone knew.  I was in year 9 at a Catholic school and I was not turning up to my classes at a private school where you're supposed to be there and every child gets head counted.  The principal called me to the office and said what are you doing?  This is not like you and I came out with it and told my principal.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Before your parents?       

EBONY: Before my parents.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how did the principal react?       

EBONY: Well, being a Catholic school she straight up said to me it's okay but we don't support termination and we also don't support sex out of marriage so here you are pregnant, in front of me.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how were you feeling at this point?       

EBONY: Shocked, I was completely shocked. I thought the world was ending around me.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  What did you know about contraception when you started having sex?       

EBONY: Sex wasn't openly discussed in my house.  My mum didn't really want, I think she didn't really want to think about me and my twin sister were doing it.

JENNY BROCKIE:  So did you know about contraception?       

EBONY: Yeah.  I mean I did but we were taught abstinence, being at a Catholic school we were just told not to do it and there was a little bit of discussion around other options if you really felt the need that you had to have sex, but there wasn't a lot and not a lot at all. So I just relied on my boyfriend at the time because if I had told my mother I would have got punished.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  And you say you relied on your boyfriend. Was your boyfriend using contraception?        

EBONY: He really told me he didn't think he could have children so being fifteen at the time, I took his word and we did use contraception but it was on and off and there was a lot of the pull out method type of thing, thinking you can't get pregnant from that.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  So were you determined not to terminate the pregnancy?           

EBONY:  Absolutely. I had actually had a lot of people wanting me, a lot of people, the closest people to me wanting me to terminate the pregnancy.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  So there was a lot of pressure?       

EBONY: Yeah, absolutely.  There was, my mum, everyone was telling me you would not even graduate year 10, you've ruined your life because that's what they really believed, I guess.

JENNY BROCKIE:  You found a text that your mum had sent a friend of hers about your pregnancy.  What did it say?       

EBONY: She was hoping that God would change the situation and I suppose that means that I had a miscarriage or that I'd changed my mind and that I would terminate my pregnancy.  She didn't say    that in spite, she said that out of shock and she said that out of disbelief.

JENNY BROCKIE:  What was all that like for you, that time?       

EBONY: It was really hard being that young and feeling that much pressure. I was like no way, I'm not going to give everyone what they want for me. Where is my choice for me and where is my choice for my baby?

JENNY BROCKIE:  Catie, you were pregnant at sixteen.   What were your circumstances leading up to that? Did you have a boyfriend?       

CATIE:  No, I had been in previous relationships, teenage relationships, but I wasn't at the time. I slept with a friend just a one off and that never eventuated to anything else, we actually stopped    talking.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  You'd already left school?       

CATIE:  Yeah.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you react when you found out?       

CATIE:  I was weird. I didn't really freak out but I wasn't like happy about it. It was more of a numb feeling, yeah.       

JENNY BROCKIE:   What about your mum?       

CATIE:  Oh, my God. She freaked out.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you tell her and how did she react?      

CATIE:  I didn't mean to tell her. We'd been having an argument that day and it just sort of slipped out, just to spite her, just to make her angry.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  It's a hell of a thing to slip out to your mum?       

CATIE:  I know, I know, but I was just, I was just mad at her and I'm like F you, I'm pregnant and oh, my God. She flipped out, she was not impressed at all.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  What did she?  What was her immediate reaction?       

CATIE:  You need to have an abortion, yeah.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how did you react to that?       

CATIE:  I told her to F off in rage and told her I wasn't going to do it.   

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did your mum change over time?       

CATIE:  Yeah, yeah, after a couple of weeks she came around to it and I think that grandma excitement started sort of kicking in for her, especially when she found out that I was having a girl and that would be the first girl in our family for a little while.  So yeah, she became excited after a few weeks.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did you want to have kids?       

CATIE:  No.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Ever?       

CATIE:  Ever, no.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  So you're pregnant at sixteen and you never wanted kids?       

CATIE:  No.  The thought of it just, oh no.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  What was it like once other people found out you were pregnant?       

CATIE:  Horrible, really horrible.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  What happened?       

CATIE:  Um, oh, God. I was tormented by other people my age.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  How, what sort of things would they do?           

CATIE:  Oh, back then Facebook was starting to become really popular for my age group, so people would be bullying me on-line on Facebook, writing stuff about me.  Even to my face saying things to    my face like you're a slut, you're a disgusting whore, I hope your baby dies, all that sort of stuff, so.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  How long did that go on for?       

CATIE:  My entire pregnancy and beyond. I mean it still happens now, I hear things from people like oh, so and so said how's that slut doing these days?       

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how old are you now? How long ago was that?       

CATIE:  I'm 24 now and this was, this has been since I was sixteen.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  So eight years later?       

CATIE:  Yeah.       

MOLLIE:  It's all from the uneducated people, I feel like the judgment comes from.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Do you get that?       

MOLLIE:  Yeah, all the time.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Latoya, you had your first child at seventeen, what sort of reactions have you had?       

LATOYA: I had pretty good reactions apart, I'd have to say my dad was probably the worst.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did he react?       

LATOYA: Um, well I actually told him on Facebook.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  You told him on Facebook?       

LATOYA: Yeah.      

JENNY BROCKIE:  Why did you do that?        

LATOYA: I just messaged him and said you're going to be a pop and that was it and then I got a message back saying ring me right effing now, so I did.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Why did you tell him that way? Why didn't you tell him face-to-face?        

LATOYA: Because I was really scared.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  What were you scared of?       

LATOYA: Um, probably being punished.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  How?       

LATOYA: I probably would have got flogged.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Really?       

LATOYA: Yeah.  My dad is very protective of like the girls in our family so it probably would have been, yeah, I think I probably over thought it and it probably would have been okay, but to the seventeen year old.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  What about mum?        

LATOYA: Mum was pretty good. She wasn't angry or anything, she kept like tapping her forehead.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  So was it a shock to you that you were pregnant?       

LATOYA: I think so, yeah. Well yeah, because I got told that I pretty much couldn't have kids.  So I don't remember how we come to think that I was pregnant but when I did do the test I kind of like    looked at him and was like there's two lines and he kind of didn't believe me and I had to do more.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Daniel?       

DANIEL:   Yeah. I was more excited than, nervous and excited really.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Okay, but you weren't excited Latoya?       

LATOYA: No, I was really scared. I didn't want to have kids until after my 21st.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  How many kids in your family?       

LATOYA: Um, I'm the eldest of ten.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  And to what extent did you look after the other nine growing up?       

LATOYA: I did a lot, like to the point where when my youngest sister was a baby, I think I was about thirteen, she would sleep with me and I would get up and feed her and change her nappies.    In the mornings I would go and get her out of mum's room and help, plus feed the tribe breakfast.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  So with that sitting in the background as your childhood, what did you think about having a baby as a teenager?       

LATOYA: I always said that it had turned me off having kids, like helping so much with my siblings and what not, but yeah, I just, I never thought that I'd be a teen parent.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Nikki, you'd just moved to Australia from the Philippines when you found out you were pregnant when you were seventeen. How did you react?      

NIKKI: I was so shocked, very shocked.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Why were you shocked?           

NIKKI: Because I was so scared, I didn't like know like, how to tell my parents, yeah.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you tell your parents?       

NIKKI: I took the test and then I just kept the test with me for a few days because so scared to tell my mum. My dad was away at work and then my mum was sitting in the lounge and I was just like pacing back and forth like how do you tell her, how do I tell her? And then I brought the test with me and then I was like ma, and then she's like “don't tell me you're pregnant?”  Yes I am and then I showed her the test.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Mum, why did you think that was the question to ask?       

BERNADETTE:  I don't know, I think you know your child so well, you know they say mum in so many different ways, you know what their needs are.      

JENNY BROCKIE:  It was the way she said mum?       

BERNADETTE:  Yes, she was just like, all the strength came out of her body and she just flopped next to me and said ma, and so my maternal instinct I guess I said don't tell me you're pregnant and then she confirmed that she was.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how did you react?       

BERNADETTE:  I was very angry. I was very shocked. I actually resonated with Ebony when she said something about her mum praying to God that she would have a miscarriage. I was in denial. I was praying that everything is not happening, that it was a false test. And that I even had the silly thought that I hope she fell down the stairs and have a miscarriage. I was so bad like that because I was worried. We came from a culture where reputation is very big, like protect your family name.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And you'd just moved to Australia?       

BERNADETTE:  Yeah.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  For a new life?       

BERNADETTE:  Yes, yeah, so that was two weeks I think when we moved to Australia.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Two weeks after you arrived?       

BERNADETTE:  Yes.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  What did you want Nikki to do initially?       

BERNADETTE:  Um, so I said, you know what I think it's just all the stress of moving, you're probably just, it's probably just a delayed menstruation so let's go to the doctor but I know in my mind, I just    didn't want to say the word abortion because I came from a conservative background.  You know, don't have sex, sex is a taboo word, don't have sex before marriage.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Well there's a lot of that here tonight, people from those sort of backgrounds.       

BERNADETTE:  Yeah.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  And abortion coming up as a suggestion.       

BERNADETTE:  Yes I know. And of course I went to a Catholic school and I know that abortion, we've always been told that abortion is not a good thing, it's bad, it's murder, it's a sin, but I guess when you're in that situation then everything changes, you know your mind goes blank.    What do I do?  How do I protect my child from people's judgment?

So I asked the doctor is there something that you    can give her for the period to come? I said, I didn't want to say the word abortion.  So in my mind, her pregnancy was like a disease that needed to be cured.  So she asked Nikki if she wanted to go through abortion and I think I was coming across as yes please, give her something, do something, cure this, she's only seventeen.  She couldn't even keep her room clean, how was she going to raise a child on her own in a new country.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Nikki, what did you want?       

NIKKI: Abortion never really crossed my mind at first, like I really didn't want to do that but at that point I really like had no idea what I wanted to do or like what should I do?       

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you decide what to do?       

NIKKI: About the abortion, I actually did consider it. Like I was convinced that if the baby didn't have a heartbeat during the ultrasound then it's not alive yet so maybe abortion would be fine.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  And what happened at the ultrasound?       

NIKKI:  Baby had a heartbeat.       

BERNADETTE:  So the ultrasound was actually to determine what sort of method the doctor would do about the abortion. From my point of view I was so embarrassed to accompany her, so we went in there and then when they did the ultrasound, so on the monitor we saw the baby and the technician said to me grandma, there's your grandchild. And that really hit me and there was heartbeat and right then and there I thought there's no way I'm going to be part of killing this human being. There's a human being in there, so we walked out.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  If you hadn't had the ultrasound do you think you might have made a different decision?       

NIKKI: Um, maybe not because I just, actually I agreed to the abortion just so that my parents would not be disappointed in me.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did you want to be a mum?        

NIKKI: Not at a young age, no.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  And what about the father, was he in the picture?       

NIKKI: He's in the Philippines so not really.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how did he react?       

NIKKI: He was actually pretty excited, I guess, about the baby, yeah.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  But he hasn't been involved since?       

NIKKI: No, we're not together any more.           

JENNY BROCKIE:  Do you think he'll be involved though as a father?       

NIKKI: Um, we're not really on good terms but if one day my daughter would like to get to know her father, then I'd let her get to know him. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Catie, you had your daughter Bella when you were seventeen.  What was the first year like for you after you'd had her?       

CATIE:  Hard.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  How?       

CATIE:  Um, I ended up having really bad postnatal depression. So we didn't really bond like I thought we should have and I guess with all the bullying that was going on, I still wanted to be a    teenager and you know, have fun and I didn't want to the pressures of being a mum at such a young age. I didn't really spend a lot of time with her. My mum did, my mum helped me raise her.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  So what were you doing at that time?        

CATIE:  Partying, I wanted to do that but I also wanted to just be a mum and I kind of got torn between both worlds of being a teenager and being a mum. It didn't really last long though, one day I woke up and I was like what the hell am I doing and I ended up getting a lot of help from my    family.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  So during that time when you say you were partying, I mean how out of control were you do you think?       

CATIE: Very out of control.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  In what sort of ways?  What were you doing?       

CATIE: Drinking a lot, drugs.  Yeah, not my proudest moment at all, definitely massive, massive regret.  

JENNY BROCKIE:  And your mum was looking after the baby during this time?       

CATIE: Yeah, it was the best thing for her obviously, she wasn't around that sort of stuff. She was being cared for.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Why do you think you reacted that way?           

CATIE:  I think I just wanted to keep that fun teenage part of me alive because I had never really had that, like I was naughty and mischievous but not to that extent and it was so much fun and it just became addictive.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  How long did it last? 

CATIE:  A couple of months. 

JENNY BROCKIE:   You said you had postnatal depression. Did you talk to anyone about that?       

CATIE: No.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  At the time.       

CATIE: No.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Your mum?       

CATIE: No, I bottled it up.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Why?       

CATIE: I didn't want people to think that I'd failed because I was so set in my ways of no, I'm going to be a mum, I'm going to keep the baby, it will be fine and then I was struggling but, it was the shittest time, the best but shittest time of my life.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how much do you think you contributed to that and how much do you think it was, you know, the circumstances and external things?       

CATIE:  Um, you know, I have to take responsibility for my actions.    The way I've reacted to how I was being treated was appalling, obviously. I could have chosen not to party and just dealt with my    emotions and still be a mum.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  You were seventeen?       

CATIE:  Yeah, but the bullying and everything definitely contributed to my postnatal depression and my actions after that but ultimately it was my choice.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how are you managing now?       

CATIE:  Perfectly fine, yeah, life is a bit chaotic because I've got two kids now, I've got Bella and Bentley.   So I've definitely come a long way from where I was. I've just completed my nursing, my kids go to a private school, like I'm doing everything I wanted for them and we're happy.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Taylor, you were pregnant for the first time at sixteen?       

TAYLOR:  Yes.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did your parents react?       

TAYLOR:  My mum told me to have an abortion because I was really sick, I wasn't eating, drinking, nothing, so I ended up going through with the abortion.  Yes, I wasn't happy about it. I got depression, anxiety, all that, and I didn't cope.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Who made the decision about what to do, did you make that decision?       

TAYLOR:  Between me, my mum and the doctor.

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you react after you had the termination?       

TAYLOR:  How did I react? I was very, I had depression, I ended up going to the doctors and saying like I'm not myself, can we try and see what's wrong?   I locked myself away from everyone.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Had you had those problems before you'd been pregnant?        

TAYLOR:  No, I had nothing, I was fine, I was every day like you know, teenager and yeah, all of a sudden after I terminated my pregnancy I went, yeah, really bad depression.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Now you became pregnant again after that?       

TAYLOR:  Yes.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  To a different man.  How did you react when you found out you were pregnant the second time?       

TAYLOR: I was scared but happy and, yeah, I was a lot older.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  How much older?       

TAYLOR:   So I had my son when I was nineteen.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did you want to get pregnant that second time?       

TAYLOR:  No, I didn't want kids, I was horrified but I just continued it.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  So why did you, did you use contraception?        

TAYLOR:  Yes, I was on the rod and I was also on the pill with my second child. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  So how did you react then after the baby?       

TAYLOR:  Um, I didn't get a bond with him. My mum and my dad did because we lived at home with my parents and never had a bond, still to this day still trying to gain the bond but my mum and my dad babied him and he's still a baby basically.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  And have you had another child since then?       

TAYLOR:  Yes, I have had another child.        

JENNY BROCKIE:  Why did you have another one?       

TAYLOR: I was excited and joyful to have a second child very close to my son.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Even though you hadn't bonded with the son?       

TAYLOR:  Yeah.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Are the dads in the picture?       

TAYLOR: My daughter's father was in the scene recently but I've just stopped all contact with him and my son's father has had nothing to do with him since I was, ten weeks pregnant with him.    

JENNY BROCKIE:  Sophia, you gave birth a year ago when you were sixteen?       

SOPHIA:  A year ago almost to the day.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Yeah, how are you finding parenthood?       

SOPHIA:  Oh, so, so as I just said, it's his birthday, first birthday tomorrow and I still don't feel that I have bonded with him. I still feel there is a connection that's not there and I feel like a lot of the time I have to pretend to be a loving mum and it's not that I don't love him, I do love him and I care about him and I'd do anything for him, but at the same time I'm trying to think about my future. I'm trying to think about finishing college and going to university and getting a degree and getting a job.

For me, keeping it was my gut instinct but the only thought that kept going through my head is no, get rid of it, get rid of it, get rid of it, get rid of it, and I had to tell myself no, your gut instinct is what you want to do before you overthink everything. But even throughout my whole pregnancy it was constantly the thought of, you know, what if something went wrong?  What if this thing died? Like my life could be back to normal, it would just be fine, yeah.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  So you wanted it to not go ahead?       

SOPHIA:  Not necessarily.  I'd given up so much to just be pregnant, because I had depression really badly and it had just gotten better and I knew that terminating would have put me straight back into it again. But whilst keeping it, my anxiety picked up really badly.       

JENNY BROCKIE:    What sort of support do you have for the way you feel about being a parent?       

SOPHIA:  So in the early days I was seeing a perinatal psychologist and I managed to pull off the fact that I had bonded to him without actually bonding to him.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Why, why did you do that? Why did you try to pull that off?       

SOPHIA:  Because I had so many people whilst I was pregnant telling me that you're not going to be a good mum, you don't have what it takes yet, you don't have the life experience and if I'd let them see that I was failing and that I couldn't bond with my child, it would just put fuel to their fire.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  So were you telling anyone what was going on in your head or were you trying to keep up that front for everybody?       

SOPHIA:  I think it's only been recently that I've actually properly told people but people don't believe it. They're going you know, you've gotten this far, you've bonded, you know you can play together, you love him, you know, we can see it. But you don't feel it. Like when I started going back to school and they're going like I want to go and see him but at the same time this is so nice, like I'm just me, I don't have to worry about that mum stuff. Not that it was the mum stuff that was being all oh, it's too hard, it's really draining and everything, it's just, oh, okay, no baby, that's awesome, I can study I can do this, I can just continue on where I left off.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  It's incredibly honest of you to share how you're feeling about it I think. Is it hard to do that?       

SOPHIA:  It was really hard to begin with especially given the fact that I feel a lot of my struggle to feel for my son is because of the stigma that I've gotten, I feel it's really important for people to know that the way they act can seriously affect the relationship between a mother or a father and their child.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Ebony, you're agreeing with this, yeah?       

EBONY: Yeah, I think that the stigma is obviously a large part, I just think that it's already hard enough and there's just a misguided uneducated view I think a lot of people hold of what teenage parents are like.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Do you feel like you've had to give things up? Is there a sense that you've had to?       

SOPHIA:  Very much so. I…

JENNY BROCKIE:  What sort of things?        

SOPHIA:  When I fell pregnant I lost the majority of my friend. To be fair the majority of my friends were lesbians, they didn't understand it. I had to rethink everything, it's like okay, how am I going    to complete year 12? How am I going to get the job that I want? How am I going to reach my goals and I had to change everything.

JENNY BROCKIE:  How are you dealing with all of it now?        

SOPHIA:  I've got good support. My family are lovely, they love my son.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how are you coping financially?       

SOPHIA:  So I'm on CentreLink because I'm a full time student.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  What are you studying?       

SOPHIA:  I'm just doing year 11 at the moment, but I have been caught up in that stigma of dole bludger and it's made me feel really bad about myself so I'm actually dropping of two of my subjects to work part-time. So that I don't feel like I'm being such a drain, which I personally know was stupid, that I'm not draining anything, I actually need it.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Mollie and Oscar, do you think you were ready to become parents at 14 and 15?

MOLLIE:  I think my maternal instinct kicked in. I didn't know what to do, but I always knew we did a lot of research and read - Oscar read tonnes of books.

OSCAR: I think from the actual looking after a child point of view, you are as ready as anyone else in that sense because no-one really goes into it knowing completely what they are doing.

MOLLIE:  I don't think you can ever be ready for a baby.

JENNY BROCKIE:  But you can have done a lot more and had a lot of life experience going into it?

OSCAR:  We hadn't completed our education, we didn't have jobs. We weren't ready from that perspective, but…

MOLLIE:  That definitely motivated us to get jobs and to study.

OSCAR:  And to study.

MOLLIE:  And actually get a life pretty much.

OSCAR: Yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE:  How do you manage financially now?

OSCAR:  So, I am an apprentice carpenter, so I am first year which means I am getting peanuts. It is not much. So, we are receiving government benefits also, but...

MOLLIE: But we don't rely on, we don't want to get looked upon like we just are tax bludgers.

OSCAR: I think people will look down on us for that but the reality is that benefits are there for people that need them and there are systems in place to try and get those people out working and that is our goal.

MOLLIE:  And they are going to pay tax whether or not we are on benefits or not. I mean, we pay tax every time we go to the supermarket and buy something. Oscar, when he works, he pays tax.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Oscar, why are you pulling taxes while she is saying all of this?

OSCAR:  I don't know. I don't know if that is sort of true.

JENNY BROCKIE:  You don't think that is an argument?

OSCAR:  Look, I get people - people get annoyed because they think my tax dollars are going to teen parents and for instance Mollie being pregnant again, one of the comments I had was, "I bet you she wouldn't be having another child if there wasn't Centrelink on offer", which is absolute crap. We are having another child because we feel like we can deal with it and we want to.

JENNY BROCKIE:  So when people say that, I mean, would you be having another child if that wasn't available, do you think?

OSCAR: Yes. We would have to make it work, because we never even thought about that with our first.

MOLLIE:  We never considered it.

OSCAR:  It was just okay "What do we do? We will do whatever we have to do…

MOLLIE:  … to get by”

OSCAR:  to make a life with this child.

 

VIDEO PLAYED.

LUA:  I didn't finish school when I found out I was pregnant. I was doing my year 12 but I was a bit distracted at the time.  For me it was very much distressing.       

TAYLOR:  So I'm doing my maths, English and PE and I'm also doing cert 2 business at the moment.       

LUA:  CC Care is a place for young mums and it's a place where we can just come here with our kids and we can finish our studies.      

TAYLOR:  I normally come five days a week, Monday to Friday. Eugene and Isabella both cry every time we leave every morning because you settle them in, you have to say goodbye, say see you soon and you go back and do your school work.       

LUA:  It hits hard when she doesn't want to let you go. In a way it used to make me so sad but now it really encourages me to keep going for her. I learnt a lot, I learnt about breathing, I learnt about blow drying and customer service as well.       

TAYLOR:  The staff treat us as an individual student, they don't treat us as a teenager, they more treat us like an adult just like one of them. A loving family is where I want to provide them and to show them that I did go back to school when I dropped out to finish my year 12 and my year 10.       

LUA:  What I found you need to realise in this process of being a young mum, you can't meet other people's expectations but what you can do is disregard them and work on yourself and realise you'll start to exceed their expectations.  

    

END OF VIDEO.       

 

JENNY BROCKIE:   Lua, you're studying, you're finishing year 12 at CC Cares which is attached to Canberra College which is a public school in the ACT and it's specifically set up, isn't it, to help young    mums?        

LUA:  Yes it is.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  What are you hoping now for, for your future?       

LUA:  I really want to do fashion and, because I do sketches and I really want to start a legacy for Paulini because you know, who else is she going to look up to? I can't struggle like I used to when I was a teenager. I can't go …

JENNY BROCKIE:  You had her when you were eighteen?       

LUA:  Yeah.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Where would you be do you think if you hadn't had that place to go with that    support?           

LUA:  Um, to be honest, I think it would be very difficult to find in Canberra places to study and especially with child care rising.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Because that enables you to finish school?       

LUA:  Yes.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  And you've got child care on the premises?       

LUA:  Yes we do and that's such a big thing.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did anyone else have anything like that? Would it have made a difference?       

SOPHIA:  Hell yeah.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  How would it have made a difference do you think?       

EBONY: Well I went back to school five days a week when my daughter was six weeks old, she went into care, went to day care, and I was expected to like resume my life as normal really and there was no plan.  It was yep, go back into full time education, so I did until I got like so overwhelmed I could no longer be there. I mean I was still breast feeding at that point.       

MOLLIE:  Yeah, we definitely, I think we need a lot more, rather than getting manipulated sort of to go back to mainstream school, we need a lot more services and other schools for young mums who can take their kids to school because I've stopped now during my second pregnancy, but I go to a school where you can take your kids to school and there's a day care on the premises and yeah, it's amazing. It's flexible, it's three days a week and…

SOPHIE:  See the worst thing for me is what I know I'm the only young mother at my school. I'm surrounded by people who have no idea what I'm going through and I don't relate to them at all because I'm in a completely different version of life. I have to ditch one day of school to go to mothers group and actually feel normal because there's just nothing for me there to support me as a mother. I am just like everyone else when I'm not.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Do you think anything would make you feel different about that?       

SOPHIA: If the school actually supported me as a mum, yeah, if there were more young mums that felt comfortable enough to go to school. I know a lot of young mums aren't going to school because they're going but that means I have to put my kids into child care which is away from the campus, it's, you know, I can't still breast feed, et cetera.       

JENNY BROCKIE:   Education is so important to your futures as mothers, isn't it?      

SOPHIA: And to our kids' futures. I mean if you look at statistics and the reason that there ends up being this constant flux of teenage pregnancy is a teenage parent often doesn't finish education, their child sees that as a norm, they don't finish education, they don't end up with high paying jobs, they end up having this low socio economic family, it just becomes a massive cycle. Education is so important to getting off that road.       

MOLLIE: Especially because you're such big role models to your kid.    Your kids look up to you. If you don't finish school, you don't, you know, put money on the table then they think that's okay.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  So how do you think, how do you feel about that in relation to your kids then, having left school when you were what, thirteen?       

MOLLIE:  Exactly, I want them to learn from me that you know, you have to finish school to get somewhere in life and…

OSCAR:  And I think you've got plans to do that, you know?       

MOLLIE:  Yeah, big aspirations.       

OSCAR:  It's just obviously a little bit hard at the moment with a one year old.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  What are you aspirations Mollie?       

MOLLIE:  I don't really have a dream job. I don't necessarily know what I want to do but I know that I want to be in, you know, working with children or people or animals or you know, helping the planet in some way. Something like that, along the lines of that.

JENNY BROCKIE:  What motivates you Ebony now?  You're studying law, you're juggling a lot?       

EBONY: Mainly my children, of course, but a lot of it comes from when I was pregnant with Ruby and just the, I guess the doubt that everyone seemed to have in me. And yeah, just my determination is    driven off that to use it in a positive way.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  And you got married this year?       

EBONY: Yes, I did in January.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  So what do you want for your future now?       

EBONY: Just to finish my education, get a good job, build a house and be a family.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Sophia, what are you doing?       

SOPHIA:  I'm doing my year 11 at the moment. I want to eventually become a specialist nurse. I'd like to specialise in midwifery and if not midwifery, endocrinology, yeah.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Mollie, do you think you'll go back to school?        

MOLLIE:  I've always loved to study and you know, educate myself but I've been horrible in the school environment. So probably continue home school or distance ed, which is study at home,    which will be difficult with two kids but I'm sure I'll get by.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  And the second baby is due in December?       

MOLLIE:  Yeah.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did you want to get pregnant in a sense or…?

MOLLIE:  After Theodore I thought there's no way on earth I could deal with another child, but I always wanted, not a big family but I love kids and I love being a mum so when I fell pregnant I    knew that's what I wanted to do. But I knew that it probably wasn't what I wanted to do right now. Maybe waited another year or so.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  So having the first one hadn't made you more careful about contraception?        

MOLLIE:  It did definitely, I was about to get the marina and then I scared myself out of all this birth control because I sort of, not that I didn't want it but I didn't want it to ruin my body at such a young age.    I think putting extra hormones and stuff at fifteen, with a child, would just drive me insane. But I was on the pill for a while and that one didn't go to plan. That just wasn't suitable for me, it wasn't going well with my body, so I stopped that and about two months later I fell pregnant with this one.       

OSCAR:  In all honesty we were a bit slack and…       

MOLLIE:  Yeah.       

OSCAR:  And Mollie had had a few issues with her contraception and I guess we were kind of, we didn't really talk about it but I guess we were sort of on the same page when I say we just sort of knew if it did happen again, that we knew what we were in for and that we'd do this. We'll keep it and we'll make it work.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Where do you think you'd be now if you hadn't your child and one on the way?       

MOLLIE:  I don't think we'd be together or, sorry…       

OSCAR:  It's brought us together a lot.       

MOLLIE:  I don't know. Yes, it has definitely. It's made us stronger.    It's definitely made me stronger independently as well. I'd be, I couldn't imagine where I'd be now. I'd be on a road to hell pretty    much. I'd be homeless, most likely on drugs or something horrible.       

OSCAR:  Obviously for everyone it's different but I think for us we really saved ourselves in a way because I think we were sort of both on a path…       

MOLLIE:  Our kids saved us I think.       

OSCAR:  We were both on a path of self-destruction when we met. I was having issues with my    schooling and with having issues with, you know, with my parents and stuff. And I met a lot of people and I met Mollie in that time and we sort of came together and well we fell in love. We did, you know? And it's really done wonders for us, I think.       

JENNY BROCKIE:    What about some of the rest of?  Taylor, where    do you think you'd be if you hadn't…

TAYLOR: I'd be down the wrong track. I wouldn't, yeah, wouldn't  know where I'd be.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  And when you say the wrong track what do you mean?       

TAYLOR:  I'd most probably be down in a gully basically, down in the drug scene if I didn't have my children. I was hanging around the wrong crowd at a young age and after having my kids I pulled myself out and went no, I'm changing direction.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Latoya, what about you? 

LATOYA:  I probably have to say I think I would probably have a career set for myself because I was, like I loved going to school and you know, I was set on where I wanted to be at what age and what not.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  So you had plans?       

LATOYA: Yeah.  I always had my dream job which is working on the mines. Obviously I couldn't do that because I couldn't leave my daughter for that long. But now I'm studying and I'm kind of in two minds as to where…       

JENNY BROCKIE:  What are you studying?       

LATOYA: I'm studying community services, but in July I start my cert 4, I've just finished cert 3 so I'm like tossing up between disability and like youth.  

JENNY BROCKIE:  And if your kids become teenage parents, how will you react?       

MOLLIE:  I'd educate them, I'd give them what I never had which was I did have a choice but I'd give them options, I'd educate them, I'd let them know what they're actually in for.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Catie, how would you react do you think?       

CATIE:  I hope I would raise them better than that, but you know, I'd be supportive but…       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Would you be angry?       

CATIE:  Yeah, yeah, I would hate for my kids to have to go through what I did. It's not ideal. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What about the rest of you?       

OSCAR:  I wouldn't, I wouldn't want to sit here and say that teen, you know, what we've all experienced…       

MOLLIE:  It's all amazing.       

OSCAR:  It is amazing and it's great fun, but it's not, it's not ideal by any means. It's, you know, it would have been ideal to have a career and have a house and do all that before having children, but we've just sort of done it the other way around, we've had children first and then we're working on the education, the career, the house and while, when we're thirty we'll most likely be able to, you know, go out and do things many thirty year olds aren't doing because they're just starting their families.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And Ebony, what about you, how do you think you'd react?       

EBONY: Um, oh hopefully I'm not like a lot of people around me, hopefully I would handle it a bit better than that and be as supportive as I can and just educate. But I think also I'll do what I can to prevent it. I will make sure that sex is openly discussed and I know where my daughter is and make sure that I'm okay, that I know that she's having sex and prepare her with contraception and education.  But if it happens it happens and you know, we're not going to end teenage pregnancies so I don't think we should be so fearful, we should just be as supportive as we can.       

JENNY BROCKIE:  Thank you so much everyone for joining us tonight. Really important stories to tell I think and really good to hear from you all, and that is all we have time for here but let's keep talking on Twitter and on Facebook.