Sometimes I look in the mirror, and I wish what I saw was a normal teen girl's body and tummy. Clothes that didn't have to be three sizes bigger. A face that wasn't puffy from pregnancy fluid and eyes that weren't outlined with a bruised colour because of endless broken sleeps. I wish I didn't have to put up with a back that's constantly aching, feeling nauseous all day, having pinched nerves, needing to pee every five minutes, struggling to keep down food and breathe without getting puffed, just from sitting there watching TV.
Sometimes I wish I could open the cupboard, grab a slice of ham, chuck it on some bread and smother it in mayonnaise. Sometimes, I wish I was just a normal 15-year-old girl still learning how to be responsible for myself, and not for two people. I miss being able to sleep on my tummy, not worry about what I'm eating and whether it will put my child in danger. I miss sitting in a classroom, the sound of many pupils chatting. I miss wearing a uniform, the clunky black shoes, I miss having to get up at 6 o'clock in the morning and packing my bag, catching the bus with friends and gossiping. I miss teachers. I miss students. I miss homework. I miss being a teenager. I made the decision to grow up too quickly, but I thought it was okay because everybody else was doing it.
I did what the health teacher told me to do. I was with someone I loved more than words could explain; I spent every minute with him that I could. We shared a bond and connection that I had never had with anyone else before. We took a step into the unknown, and that was the day that my life changed forever.
I got used to the stares, the whispering, and the disgusted looks and so on. However, it doesn't make it any easier to deal with. To think that once upon a time, I would've been the person to look at a young girl with a mummy tummy and think: "Oh my God ... She must have a hard life".
No outsider will ever understand what a teen parent goes through until it happens to them. It's so easy to say that they've ruined their life. It's easy to say that their child is going to have an unstable life, she's going to lose all of her friends, she'll end up working in Countdown, she'll be one of those useless parents who send their child to school without shoes or a lunch, because she's too busy on Facebook and fussing over her makeup.
Next time you go to judge somebody
about their age and situation, I can tell
you with 100 per cent confidence they
know what they're missing out on and they
know how their life will never be the same
as yours and they do not need reminding.
Being a teen mum, you are still a teen but you're forced to grow up. It's a natural instinct. It's hard to grow up so quickly; this is the stage when we should be nervous about internals, studying maths books, eating healthy because you want to fit into that size 8 dress that reveals a little too much leg. But instead, myself — along with plenty of other teen mummies — are nervous because any day we can go into labour, which is said to be the most painful thing a woman could experience, we're studying birthing books and what a baby needs, ante-natal classes to learn about what things to expect. We're eating healthy because there seems to be a never-ending list of foods that can put our child in danger and possibly lead them to a future with problems and difficulties, or no future at all. We're wearing clothes that cover our bodies because we're insecure about the bright purple stretch marks and swollen body parts.
Most days it would be so much easier to give up, but the truth is there is another human being inside of you and you're their mummy. The person they need at 2 o'clock in the morning when they need a nappy change, the person they need cuddles and loving from, the person that they need to look into your eyes and you reassure them that everything will be okay.
It doesn't matter if your world is falling apart and you feel like every day that goes by is only getting worse. There is a life that is relying on you, and no matter who stares, who judges, who talks, the fact that you're staying strong for that child is success.
I do miss my old life sometimes, but my role in this world has changed and that's okay. It's no longer about me; it's about my gorgeous baby boy who I will be meeting in a few weeks.
When he needs changing, I'll be there. When he needs feeding, I'll be there. When he plays his first soccer game, I'll be there. When he gets a certificate for being a star, I'll be there. When he needs a hug, I will be there. As hard as this journey has been, Mason is what I have been living for these last nine months. He is the person I have stayed strong for and fought for, and I will continue to do so. My age no longer matters. He needs me and that's what matters.
Next time you go to judge somebody about their age and situation, I can tell you with 100 per cent confidence they know what they're missing out on and they know how their life will never be the same as yours and they do not need reminding. They need encouragement to look forward into the future at what they do have. The positives in life. The experiences that they're in line for! So many things that happen to us that break our hearts and leave us feeling empty or make us cry for joy. Love yourself, love your life and love what you're doing, because you are the only person that can make it count. Don't let the stares and whispers win, prove them wrong.
Fifteen-year-old Georgia Hageman, who lives at home with her parents Rob and Shelly and her two younger siblings, found out in November that she was pregnant.
Since then, the soon-to-be family-of-six have overcome a huge number of challenges related to their eldest daughter's unexpected pregnancy.
Now, at 35 weeks, Miss Hageman has decided to speak out about her experiences in the hope of helping other young women in her situation.
"I've been incredibly, incredibly fortunate to have my parents support me in the way they have. I don't know what I would have done without them," she told the Herald.
"A lot of girls that are in my position ... they don't have the support. That's why I want to offer as much support to them because I can understand and relate what feelings and emotions you go through."
Miss Hageman, who has chosen the name Mason for her unborn son, described her pregnancy as being "the biggest roller coaster" for her family. "But we've got over the peaks now which is a relief."
Leaving her old high school and friends to start at the Teen Parent Unit in Henderson, splitting up with her baby's father and being hospitalised at 30 weeks after going into pre-term labour were some of the things she dealt with during her pregnancy, Miss Hageman said.
Knowing Mason was relying on her had helped her overcome some of the doubts and challenges brought on by pregnancy — including growing apart from her high school friends "I keep in touch with them as much as I can but it gets a bit difficult with them having normal teenage lives.
"I'm just having to go on a different growth pattern and path to what they are so ... it's hard to relate as teenagers together now."