I was 17 when I fell pregnant with G1.
Scandalous I know.
Even more so considering the town I grew up in was pretty small and could be quite gossip mongering.
It was the summer of 99…..
I had graduated the December before, passing with flying colours, except Maths of course, which totally doesn’t count.
After much deliberation I had decided I wanted to be a tour guide in the Northern Territory and run camping tours (how awesome would that have been?), a far cry from my Marine Biology dream of years gone by (Science scrambled my brain). I applied and was accepted into a Sunshine Coast (Noosa) TAFE and that was that.
But then there was Dan.
I was head over heels for this boy, who I am sure felt the same, despite the fact that he stayed out on the booze with his crew on my last night in town (Golf with the Snakes), leaving me to drive laps in my Barina listening to eagle Eye Cherry’s, Save Tonight, and thinking about how much I would miss my town, my family, my friends, and what a tool my boyfriend was (clearly I forgave him).
We had our goodbyes the next morning with some of my closest friends coming along to wave me and Mum off.
It was all quite emotional.
As a memento I took along Dan’s banana pillow, which I cried into for the entire 10hour drive. Seriously, 10 hours. Proper, sobbing. I don’t know how mum could stand it.
We arrived at the Coast and instead of excitement I just felt wrong. Mum patiently took me to my first class at TAFE, then drove around Noosa finding me somewhere to live. Selfish me swung her over to renting a nicer apartment then we had intended and we even went to the shops to see about stuff to make me feel more at home.
I begged and I pleaded, take me home.
I knew the consequences would be severe. Mum was so mad at me, and she had every right, and middle sister was furious. My ticket out, and I turned it down.
Life resumed as normal, playing as hard as only 17 year olds can.
With no real plan at all with what to do with my life, I began applying for traineeships in town.
Mum went on holiday with my Grandparents to Norfolk Island and it was just middle sister and I at home (packet pasta and steak for tea every night).
After a particularly big night, where someone, (well lots of people, but only 1 girl!) skulled a jug of beer from a funnel helmet, and woke with a hangover that lasted 2 weeks.
That’s when stuff started adding up.
Crying for 10 hours is not normal. 2 Week hangovers are not normal. And when was my last period?
Middle sister joked one day, you’re not pregnant are you. And we laughed. Her with humour. Me with terror.
Now as I said, Tieri was a very difficult place to keep a secret. Particularly a health secret. Particularly when your Mum is a health worker.
I needed a pregnancy test and knew there was no way in hell I was buying one in town, so covering my tracks nicely, I teed up a lunch in Emerald with 2 of my wonderful friends.
The drive over was filled with tears and nervousness, and I kid you not, Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach played on the radio. (Thanks, the thing, why don’t you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice in it).
I made a side trip to one of their big, anonymous, stores and bought myself a darn pregnancy test.
I told Middle sister.
I told Dan.
Dan told his parents and then we waited, nervously for Mum to get home from her holiday and break the news.
In the mean time I passed an interview and received a traineeship at our local state school.
Mum fairly dragged me up by my ear to cower before them and tell them I was pregnant. To pass the job along if they wished.
They kept me on! Thank the heavens.
I had an all-female staff to work with, and to say they took me under their wing is an understatement! They were an amazing work family through the whole process, eventually lots of surrogate Aunties, and a surrogate Uncle or 2 for G1 to love.
Once the 12 week mark had safely passed, the truth came out and I braced myself for the tutting and judgment that never, ever came.
I had one bad comment, from someone who’s words never meant anything anyway, and my beautiful Tieri town embraced Dan and I in our teenage pregnancy adventure.
A 3rd year apprentice and an office trainee moved into a duplex on our own side of town, pulled together our bits and pieces, and started a life together.
I went to all my mates 18ths, middle sister or Dan by my side, usually being driven by me. With middle sister fiercely defending my swollen belly from drunken touches.
I did resent not being part of the parties, and just worked, stayed home (eating beef croquets and watching Days of our Lives and Young and the Restless with middle sister, hence why I put on 20kilos), and I had friendships drop by the wayside.
It was a harsh learning curve and I drank up every stereo type I was presented with. I stupidly tried to fit the mould, and it wasn’t until I fell pregnant with G2 that I realised how silly that was.
Dan and I fought, and I wondered what the hell I was getting myself into.
Then we moved into a house, and not long after, our little gremlin G1 was born.
Labour sucked, and was nothing like Tele-movies, or well-meaning advice givers had prepped me for. Middle sister threatened my Dr in the hospital hallway, who came and seen me the next day with my blood still on his glasses! Eeeeew. One of my most beautiful friends sat outside my room all night, while another, unknown to us at the time, fought for her life in the room next door. (Now with 3 beautiful boys of her own). I’ve never had such a flood of terrifying emotions.
And I think the whole “after” having a baby thing, is what really needs to be elaborated. That shit is awful. Tell your pregnant friends that that stuff happens, man. They need to know. Gross stuff.
We spent our first night together as a family, alternating dozing and staring at our princess, with Dan sleeping on the floor, in a swag he smuggled in over the veranda.
Visitors, flowers, and gifts filled our room during our stay, and continued once we were home.
Our baby girl was no scandal, but a much loved and welcomed part of our community.
I struggled with being a wife, and think it’s still the hardest part. But being a mum? Well that seemed to fit me like a glove.
G1 eased me into this new life. And I know she calls herself the experiment child, but you’re not my baby.
You made me the experiment. Everything I learn, I learn from you. Sometimes we win, sometimes we fail, but we do it together. G2 and G3 owe a lot to you.
So on your 16 birthday. Thankyou.
Thankyou for coming into my life when I needed you, even though I didn’t even know it at the time.
Thankyou for healing our family’s broken hearts, you have your Grandfather watching over you.
Thankyou for teaching me to be selfless, and to love with nothing held back.
Thankyou for growing into my friend, someone I can laugh with, share jokes with, and watch my favourite movies with!
Thankyou for forgiving me my rookie mistakes and my occasional hot temper.
Thankyou for making your Dad softer, and kinder.
Thankyou for making me beam with pride. Every. Single. Day. Just because your mine.
I love you.