Catie was 16 when she fell pregnant with her daughter, Bella. After "relentless bullying", postnatal depression and another baby, she reflects on lessons learnt from motherhood.
My name is Catie, and I fell pregnant with my first child at 16 after a one-night stand.
Before I fell pregnant, I was just like any other teenage girl: I had a rebellious streak, but for the most part I was a good private school student and daughter. Things started to unravel for me after I found out I was pregnant. I was relentlessly bullied by people who I thought were my friends and those who I thought would support me and my decision to have a baby, despite being only 16 years-old.
My mum also didn’t take well to the news of my pregnancy, but eventually the shock wore off. She was my main support network along with my older sister.
After Bella was born, things got worse. The bullying intensified, my mental health deteriorated, and I was diagnosed with postnatal depression. It also hit me not long after I had Bella, that I was still so young. I wanted to be carefree living my life, not at home looking after a baby. Because of this, I started to resent her in some ways; mainly that I felt trapped by her. I was now the sole carer of a tiny little baby and I really didn’t know how to handle it.
It also hit me not long after I had Bella, that I was still so young. I wanted to be carefree living my life, not at home looking after a baby.
Due to my deteriorating mental health at the time, I started to leave Bella with my mum more and more and began hanging around a group of people who lived the lifestyle I so desperately thought I wanted. I started partying every weekend and neglecting my responsibilities as a mother, and in turn my depression continued to spiral out of control. I didn’t really want to be a mother, but I also didn’t like the lifestyle I was living without Bella either.
After a scary night out one weekend, I woke up and said to myself, 'What the fuck am I doing?' So I packed my stuff, got my sister to come pick me up and arrange to move me out to my dad’s property in Toowoomba, in the hopes of fixing not only my life, but also my relationship with my daughter. And that’s exactly what I did.
It wasn’t always easy, but as time went on I realised what I wanted to be doing, so I went back to study. During that time, I met someone new and amazing; I had my second child with him and created a new beautiful stable life for me and my children.
Today, I am happy and healthy and my mental health is stable. I have recently completed my Diploma of Nursing and my children are thriving and happy and our family unit is one I never could have ever imagined having. My older sister and mum, throughout everything, have never wavered with their support and they’re both still the ones I count on the most, even today. I now also have a wonderful group of friends who support my every decision.
Being a teen mum has given me a strength and resilience that I never believed I would ever be capable of.
Teen pregnancy was hard, but everything I have achieved today has been because of Bella, and as much as I regret my decisions and actions in those very early days, myself, Bella and my son wouldn’t be where we are today if I hadn’t made those mistaken and learned from them.
I do not advocate teen pregnancy. It’s hard and can blindside you, even when you think you’re ready and know what you’re doing. The one thing being a teen mum has given me is a strength and resilience that I never believed I would ever be capable of.