At 32 with 3 kids, a husband and a good career, you would think that I have all my ducks in a row.
Like heck I do.
Even now, with all of that, things happen where you are thrust back to a time where shit got real, and your life changed forever.
Not so long ago, after a few minutes of snatched passion, a little accident happened and *HELLO* a call to the ol’ Family Planning Clinic (FPC) was needed for the emergency contraceptive pill. This is very much needed in this family, as basically we sniff it and end up pregnant. And as much as we love our babies, three is enough!
(P.S here in NZ you can actually get the emergency contraceptive pill via a pharmacist, but I know LOTS of them having worked there for many years #tooawkward.)
Having to call the FPC, I felt like I had been so bloody naughty. Of course, we all have a wee slip up now and then, and the nurse who looked after me was wonderful and thought it was hilarious that I needed to take a pregnancy test on my bloody birthday - that could be a unexpected 'gift' so to speak!!
Being back in the FPC clinic took me back to the last time I set foot in there - 14 years ago, when I got pregnant with my now 13 year old son at only 17.
I was alone and pregnant, with a part time hospitality job but no real prospects.
Too make matters more interesting, my mother had just got remarried and was pregnant too. Yup, we should have called Hollywood with our story.
I remember sitting outside a cafe after taking a pregnancy test thinking, “what the f**k have I done and what the f**k am I going to do?”. My mind was a blur. I do remember ringing my mum, but she didn't answer. I didn't talk to my friends, because I was embarrassed and ashamed.
I booked in to start the abortion process. It was, in my head, the best option. I had the psych evaluation and the meetings. But when I had to have a scan was when it all changed. I was 8 weeks and 6 days pregnant, and that little alien like creature on the screen was my child. Regardless that I was on my own, I knew that this happened for a reason and I just couldn’t go through with it.
That was when my life changed forever. Not only was I Jess, I was Jess "the solo mother teen parent with no job".
My son was born and it was a family affair. My mum, grandma, aunty and even my brother were there, and they were amazing. Yes, they were disappointed, but they saw the bigger picture and knew that it was not the end of the world, or the end of me. I think the disappointment stemmed from the fact I was raised by my mum alone. She knew what I would go through, because she’d been there and done that, and did not want that for me.
Society on the other hand was a whole other kettle of fish.
Signing up for the DBP (benefit) was probably the lowest point. I was made to feel like a piece of shit on the shoe of the woman who was interviewing me. She was not friendly or kind. The question that will remain burnt into my memory was, “were you raped? Is that why you chose not to name the father?”. At the time, I couldn’t speak. I was so embarrassed and ashamed at my situation, that I just sat there and shook my head. Now though, I reflect back and think, “how DARE she!”. She had absolutely no right to do that. My choice was not to name the father because he denied EVERYTHING!!
Hindsight, age and experience is a wonderful thing. I should of complained, I should have spoken up, but I didn’t and I just hope no-one else had to be made to feel as worthless as I did on that day.
So, there I was at 18, with a baby, claiming the benefit, while all my friends were at university or travelling the world. Was I jealous? Of course. Did I hold a grudge against the tiny wee person who was 100% my responsibility? I would be lying if I said I didn’t.
But I did the best I could and was so grateful for my family who supported me to get back into the workforce. I got a job in a pharmacy when he was 6 months old and I have never been so thankful to walk into that benefit office and say, “I need to cancel my benefit, I got a job!”.
By doing this I felt I was showing everyone that I was not a solo mother on the benefit - I was a mother giving her child the best I could, and I was worth way more then being slapped with the label society wanted to give me.
My son is now 13 and has started high school.
Has it been easy? Of course not.
My husband arrived on the scene when my son was 2, and I was fiercely opposed to them forming anything other than a friendship, just incase it didn’t work out. Basically, I was just protecting my son and me, just in case life (as it is notorious for doing), went tits up.
Fast forward 11 years.
I have completed a nursing degree and have been practising for almost 7 years. I married a wonderful man, who has also been the most wonderful father to my son. We've had two more children and we're buying our 1st home. Life is good. It’s not bloody perfect and of course it never will be, but at the moment, we are doing good. Was it hard? Oh f**k yes it was! But I am so proud of the person I have become, and the mother I am to my children.
Don’t ever let society label you or put you in a box. No matter what your circumstances, you are not worthless and you can be a catalyst for change.
Jess is a New Zealand blogger who loves food, fashion and family.
To find out more about Jess, you can stalk her here-
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