Yes, I'm Pregnant. Yes, I'm 19. Yes, I'm still a person.

Being pregnant, at any age or stage of life, means that people perceptions of you and your body change. You suddenly appear to become public property and every Tom, Dick and Harry feels it is their right to touch your belly! Comments such as 'you're huge' 'are you sure its not twins' and 'you must be ready to drop' are now apparently, not only acceptable, but necessary in daily conversation.

However, being pregnant at 19 also opens you up to other forms of, often silent, judgement. Sly glances, whispered comments that you just catch, the loss of friends and, more recently, online trolls who think that, even if they don't know you, it is okay to send comments that they intend to be hurtful and that they wouldn't dare say to your face.

Phrases such as 'slut ' slag'  'couldn't keep her legs shut' are thrown around, without so much as a second thought for the damage that words like that can do.
I experienced this, especially once I started showing. Living in a very student filled city it was almost impossible to escape the judgement, and yes it was hard at that time and a horrible thing to go through, but most of the people making these comments didn't know me or my story so I quickly decided that as long as me, Ian and my beautiful baby were healthy and happy they could say what they want. One particular phrase that really helped me was one I remember hearing a lot in my childhood and it was:

'sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me'

Finding out that I was pregnant at 19 was most definitely not part of my plan, my son was not planned, at all, and he came as just as much of a surprise to me as to anybody I told. But surprisingly one of the things that I was most worried about wasn't how I would cope, because somehow I just knew I would, but about what people would think of me when they found out.

I was very lucky that the majority of my family were understanding, they knew we hadn't planned it, but they were also so supportive of my decision to keep him so I didn't suffer too much with family. But I know that some people do and are very scared to tell their parents. To those people I would say that I totally understand. Telling your parents something as big as that you're pregnant is a big thing and, especially for me, you're overwhelmed with the desire not to disappoint them. All you need to remember is that your parents love you, no matter what, and that won't change just because you're having a baby.
Some parents take more time than others to come round to the idea of their baby, having a baby, but as your pregnancy continues and they see scan photos and feel their new grandchild moving around, they will fall in love and come round. At the end of the day, all they want is for you to be happy and as long as they can see that, they rest will fall into place.

One of the more difficult experiences for me was telling my friends, both old and new, that I was pregnant. Being in my first year of university a lot of my friends were new ones and were the only friends I had in Leicester. I'm not going to lie, I did lose a lot of friends through becoming pregnant, both because of my decision to keep my baby and because our lives then started going in different directions. While they were preparing for second year, I was preparing a nursery!

However, some friends stuck around and for those people I am truly grateful. One little Geordie lady in particular kept me super sane throughout my pregnancy and was still there for me when Ollie was born, in fact she is Ollie's godmother (even though he isn't actually christened!)

One of my other friends from university found out that she was pregnant the month after me so having her to go through the experience with was nice. Just having someone of the same age range, experiencing the same things that you are was more of a help than I could have imagined, so one of my biggest tips is to get on Facebook, join some mum and mums to be groups in your area and find yourself some friends!!!

Honestly, having friends, even if they were older, who were going through the same things I was really made all the difference to how I coped with being pregnant and I promise you, it will help you too. There are also groups that you can start going to even before you have your babies and make friends. Ante-natal classes are another great way of meeting other pregnant ladies from your area, many of who will be due around the same time as you, so those friendships you forge there could continue when your babies are born and trust me, you'll appreciate that one friend who also turns up to playgroup with sick down their top and their hair in a messy bun, not a scrap of makeup on their face (in case you were wondering, yes, that was me!)

So all in all, being pregnant at 19 wasn't a walk in the park. It was tough, it was challenging and it was eye-opening. I think younger mums can have it hard as other people at that age can be cruel and aren't scared of telling you what they think, especially keyboard warriors.
But I am here to tell you that even with all of that, you will get through it. You have that wonderful life growing inside of you, a miracle that, unfortunately, some women don't get to experience. Enjoy the experience, every single second of it because one day you will look back and miss being pregnant and having that life inside of you that no-one else can feel. It's a special bond that no-one else will experience and pretty soon you will have your baby in your arms. And that is another amazing experience all in itself.

And once you're a mother no-one, not even those internet trolls that really dig at you and drag you down, will matter, because you have your baby and you'll experience a love like no other that will fulfil you and sustain you for the rest of your life.



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