Mostly I was told that my life was over. This was as good as I could ever hope to expect. It appeared that I would never receive an education, have a meaningful relationship, travel, buy a house, be employed in decent and fulfilling employment, gain a degree, I would never enter the housing market. I was making a decision to become a burden on society and it seemed that it was everyone’s entitlement to remind me of this. Medical professionals, teachers, strangers on the street. I was to be now and forever indebted to the self righteous taxpayers of Australia and it was their right to remind me. I had gone and fallen pregnant in less than ideal circumstances and that was my life done.
I went on to complete my HSC equivalency. I have managed to have meaningful relationships, I am currently studying creative writing and digital audio journalism at one of the best universities in Australia. I did manage to buy a house, have fulfilling employment and I even managed a little travel. I would like to attribute these successes to a drive to better myself and have the life I had always dreamt of, but if I am completely honest, and I usually am if nothing else, unashamedly and brutally honest, I have gained a lot of my achievements out of a burning desire to prove everyone wrong.
I wanted to prove to everyone that I was simply among the 1 in 3 Australian women who will experience an unplanned pregnancy before the age of 45. I also made the most common choice that women make when faced with this situation, which is to parent.
While completing my HSC, and university entrance, I began studying women’s equality. Or perhaps, women’s inequality would be a better choice of words.
I looked into unplanned pregnancy and eventually into teenage pregnancy.
I became fascinated by the stereotypes and social expectations placed on these young women. I learned that the outcome of teenage pregnancy and the outcome for my child was not a typical one.
These young women are experiencing poorer physical and mental health, limited education and employment opportunities, their children too were affected. This was not a problem experienced across the board for all unplanned pregnancies, but limited to women under the age of twenty.
I learned that there were a great many precursors, warning signs if you will, to teenage pregnancy. Exposure to domestic violence, and sexual abuse in childhood, interrupted schooling, regular conflict between family members, unstable housing arrangements in early teen years to name a mere few, and I was almost profoundly affected to discover I ticked a fair few of these boxes.
I began to question my circumstances, was I simply a statistic? Was I merely among the 1 in 3 women that are faced with an unplanned pregnancy in their lifetime? Or was there something we are missing? What was the reason for the large differences in outcomes for these women, dependant on maternal age? And so, the DandEm was born.
I am, hand on heart, privileged and filled with pride to have the opportunity to examine this in season one of the DandEm with Her Radio. I have been gifted with the opportunity to have candid and not always politically correct discussions with teenage parents, their children and their caregivers and the professionals that work with them. Their stories are as unique, profound and breathtaking as all Australian women’s stories are. I can’t wait for you to hear them.
- The D and Em Episode 2: Wendy Whore-Wisdom - February 17, 2017
- The D and Em Episode 1: Sheryl Steel-Fanny - January 31, 2017
- Deep and meaningful conversations vs stereotypes and social expectations - December 1, 2016