Leading up to Christmas, I want to share with you FIVE GIFTS of LIFE. These are five real stories of local women who fell pregnant young, outside of their plans, and made good anyway. Each Friday between now and Christmas, I’ll publish another. First was Rachel. Here’s the second, Stacey:
In the space of a week, Launceston woman Stacey received a little feet pin in her letterbox and happened to be watching television when an Emily’s Voice ad aired – five times. It was the ad detailing Madeleine’s story of grief following her decision to abort her own baby at eight weeks.
Stacey was 16 years old, eight weeks pregnant and not a believer in consequences.
With Madeleine’s story on her mind, the pin in her hand – with feet the same size as a 10-week gestation baby – she knew that the wrestle in her head was over.
“I never thought abortion would ever cross my mind – I always thought it was wrong, but when it came to me finding out I was pregnant, I really thought about it… I was about eight weeks pregnant when this was all going through my head. I read too how one in three babies die in Africa – pretty crazy, and here I was thinking about getting rid of mine.”
As Stacey talks she casts furtive glances at the capsule beside her where, nestled within, a three-week-old Oliver sleeps. Stacey’s face is soft but proud – and the same look is mirrored in her own mother who hovers nearby.
She rocks Oliver gently as she recalls the person she was before he entered her life.
“I was pretty reckless. I was hanging with the wrong people, living in a homeless shelter, smoking weed every day, occasionally stealing stuff. I was a complete wreck; depressed, suicidal. I was in a pretty bad place.”
Stacey met Oliver’s dad at a party and they were together two and a half weeks when she fell pregnant. She remembers the weekend she discovered her pregnancy with clarity. After attending a Party in the Paddock event, drinking with abandon, she returned to the women’s shelter and checked the period tracker app on her phone to find she was two weeks late.
“I never thought it would happen to me. When I did the test that night, I just cried and cried. I’m 16, living in a shelter and have pretty much nothing to my name.”
The strains on Stacey’s relationship with her mum suddenly dimmed in comparison to what she was facing and they were able to make amends. Stacey moved in with her mum where she found immense support and the joy of a soon-to-be grandmother! She also found support from the team at Babymum Australia, a local service for mums and mums-to-be under the age of 21.
“As much as I hate to admit it, I was still smoking weed when I was pregnant with Oliver, which I feel terrible for. I grew up a lot throughout my pregnancy but there was still things there that I needed to get rid of,” Stacey shares.
She kept attending school until she was 30 weeks pregnant, despite morning sickness that stretched out to six months and saw her throwing up several times a day. School attendance during her pregnancy was actually better than it had ever been when she wasn’t pregnant.
“I wanted to be something more for him,” Stacey says, trying to explain her motivation. At the same time, she was finding it difficult to comprehend that another life was growing within her. There was a visual detachment that hindered her ability to properly embrace motherhood through the pregnancy stage.
“My belly’s growing. I’ve seen him in the ultrasound. I’ve heard his heartbeat, but I can’t see him,” Stacey explains.
“Part of me was trying to change things and the other was denying he was there.”
The pregnancy was excruciatingly difficult at times, but Stacey knows that it was a time of grace – to remove herself from the grip of harmful habits and patterns.
“Half the time I wanted to jump off a bridge or get the razors out again, but I knew that if I hurt myself, I hurt him. He hasn’t only changed my life, he’s saved it.”
Oliver was born on his due date, October 28 this year.
“The moment I saw him, that was it. It changed my life instantly. I can’t even explain how much love I have for him. I never knew I could love someone so much,” Stacey says.
Looking at Oliver, she is barefaced, heart-in-voice that expresses these things so unabashed. Her mum is beaming at her with such pride. Later, she says with an equally tell-the-world voice, “My daughter is a brilliant mother!”
Stacey continues, “I’ve only had him three weeks but now I look back and can say, it was worth every minute of the sickness and the pain and the sleepless nights. I wouldn’t change it.”
Stacey has upended her whole life and re-sorted it since Oliver was born. She has quit drugs, alcohol and smoking. She watches her spending and, with mum’s help, is moving into her own place soon. It’s a new level of responsibility and focus that the old Stacey would have baulked at. She even takes pride in keeping a clean house and plans to follow a career in midwifery or social work – but not before giving Oliver a good solid year of her undivided attention.
“I don’t go anywhere without him,” she laughs.
“He’s changed my life dramatically. It just feels like I was supposed to be a mum and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Are you facing an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy?
Before making a decision, why not check out some of these sites where you’ll find information, understanding and support.
Babymum Australia: for mothers under the age of 21.
Not Born Yet: for women grappling with a tough decision.