Young Moms are people too

My name is Chaneil and I am 22 years old and on the 13th of April, I’m due to give birth to my second daughter. My first, Gabrielle, is turning 5 years old this March. Yes, 5 years old. That means I had her when I was “only” 17 years old.

Imagine going to college pregnant and being labelled as a bad influence or “one of those” types of girls. It wasn’t pleasant. Not only did I have to deal with Morning Sickness, aches, pains and the like but I had to deal with the stares, the pointing and the laughing at my swollen features and my extra nappy hair (how mature right?).

When folks saw me in my College uniform with my bump, the comments were insufferable. I was asked why I made such a huge mistake; why I even bothered to continue my education; why did I have to act like such a whore. I often wondered if people realized that even though I was 17, that I had feelings too. I wondered if they only saw me as some “force-ripe likke gyal” who got knocked up and not as someone who was about to give birth to a beautiful baby. I was told that I was a disappointment and that my life was over. Well, that’s encouraging (said no one ever).

The most annoying comment was “make sure you don’t have anymore”. WHY? Isn’t it my body (not the word I really wanted to use here)? Why do you assume that because I had a child at 17 that I shouldn’t have more children in the future? The sad thing is, most of these erroneous comments came from other women. Women who were supposed to be supportive and encouraging. I guess at 17 I didn’t deserve your support. *shrugs*

Fast forward to present day. I’m just about 7 months pregnant, finished College and working as a freelancer. The gripe this time around is that I will have two children before I hit 25. So what? I’m more than comfortable with that because when I’m 40, I won’t be changing diapers. I will have an 18 year old and a 23 year old. How cool is that?

We live in a society where you are automatically taught to pass judgement on young women who decide to have children before a certain age. We shame them and make them feel as if they have committed a great injustice to society for deciding to procreate.

I just want people to know a few things to consider next time you think of accosting a young mom:

  • They experience the same symptoms as anyone else who is pregnant. So before you comment on how their body is “done for” remember that they are probably uncomfortable 24/7 and your rudeness is not very welcome.
  • Morning Sickness sucks! So does swollen feet and hands and not being able to sleep. So please don’t judge when we complain.
  • Young moms get complications too. I have severely low Blood Pressure and Tachycardia. A word of encouragement helps much more than saying “you’re young, deal with it”.
  • Not all young moms are dropouts. Some of us , despite the negativity and stigma, decided to finish school. Not just for us but for our babies.
  • All first time moms have no idea what they are doing for the first few months so cut them some slack if you see a baby without socks IN THE MIDDLE OF JULY. Being condescending is not cute.
  • Calling someone’s child a “mistake” or “disappointment” is rude and cruel. Don’t do it.
  • Don’t ever discourage a young mom from educating herself or label her as a bad influence. Do you think any of my friends have children yet? They saw the sickness, swelling, aches and pains first hand and they were NOT eager to jump someone’s bones and hop on the baby bandwagon.

In conclusion, I was a very happy and capable parent at 17 and and even happier now at 22. If you see me on the street and ask any rude questions or make any rude comments be prepared to be asked if I borrowed your vagina.