I found out I was pregnant 2 months into my third and final year of uni. No home of my own. No savings. I had been with my partner just short of two years. We had plans to travel, to kickstart our careers, but now a baby? It just wasn’t how it was supposed to be, not what I’d pictured for myself. What would be the happiest news for many, was the worst news for me.
I wasn’t jumping for joy when those two lines appeared. I cried. Out of fear. Out of disbelief. I am only being brutally honest about that because this was my reality, and it’s also the reality of many others. We see so much of how amazing people feel when they find out they are expecting their first child, but never about how terrified, and how miserable people can feel. I couldn’t help but think I’d been so stupid. We knew we both wanted to start a family in the future. But never this soon, never now.
We took the pregnancy test on Boxing Day, my partner’s birthday. We brought 3, and each time those lines appeared, it sunk in more and more. After the shock of it all, then came the conversation about abortion. We were both in our most crucial year of uni, we had worked really hard over the last two years, we were set to graduate. Why risk all of that? We could have had an abortion, I was only a few weeks gone. After going over and over it, round and round, weighing up all of our options, we decided to go through with it. We was going to be parents. The best decision of my life. But I’m only now able to say that. Of course at the time it wasn’t… if anything it was the hardest decision for a third year student to make, with not the faintest idea of how I was going to juggle preparing for motherhood, holding down a part time job and balancing my studies.
WHY I KEPT IT A SECRET
I was afraid. I was worried about what people would say, or what they would say behind my back. Would my lecturers think I was stupid, would students think I was making the right choice? As silly as it sounds, I was just so afraid and paranoid about what people would think.
I think this came from the pressures in society, what we are lead to believe is the “right way” of doing things in life- graduate, travel, career, get your own home, marry, then have kids. Essentially, by falling pregnant while still studying, we were about to start our lives at the wrong end- almost like we was about to lead a back-to-front life.
Now I can say that’s a load of rubbish. Of course there is no right or wrong way. Your life is your life, your own version, just exactly how you want and are meant to live it, but it’s not easy to keep reminding yourself of that when it’s happening to you.
I didn’t really start to show until I was around 5 months, but I used to wear baggy jumpers and loose tops to cover my bump. This made it really hard to know what to wear every day. There was no buying nice maternity clothes, I was all about the black baggy clothing. I used to think that luckily it was winter because I would have probably found it harder if it was summer.
Tiredness. I remember being so tired during lectures, especially the ones that lecturers just used to talk at you. I’d be just looking at the clock thinking, when is this going to end. I’d miss some days as well, due to tiredness, dizziness, sickness. If I am being honest most days it was a struggle to get myself in, especially on public transport. I wouldn’t wear my baby on board badge in the early days either just in case someone saw me so a lot of the time I’d be standing up on packed trains- yes all self inflicted I know!
Having to go to work after university was also a big struggle. 3 days a week after my lectures I’d have to go into work. All I’d want to do after uni was sleep but then travelling to my job when I probably should have been resting or researching the best cots to get took it’s toll. I was drained 24/7.
The workload. If you’ve done a degree you’ll know just how much work is expected of you in your final year – 210736 word essays were just never ending. Without my partner, I don’t know if I would have been able to get through it. We were both on the same course, and he really helped me get through it all. He motivated me and encouraged me to complete all my work and get it all in on time. He was my rock and my biggest supporter.
THEN CAME GRADUATION
I don’t know how I did it, but I did it. I was so nervous as although I’d announced my pregnancy on facebook by then, I was sure some of my peers didn’t have me on there, and of course lecturers too. There were a couple I had already told but there were many who were really surprised to see me waddle in about to pop. I was so scared walking on stage, but I felt really proud that I was about to graduate and my little boy was with me all the way.
If you’re at university and have found out you are expecting…
Once you have made your decision, try not to worry too much. Easier said than done I know but the stress and worry just isn’t good for either you or your baby. It doesn’t matter what people think.
I wish I would have told more people sooner, especially lecturers- I could have really done with the support. When I did eventually tell a couple of them it felt so good to be honest and they were so understanding. My advice would be to confide in a lecturer you feel comfortable with to start with, you’ll be grateful of the support.
After graduating we then had to think about where we were going to live. My partner jumped into his first graduate job quite quickly while I spent most of the first weeks after giving birth, finding my feet as a new mum, and thinking about how we were going to move into a home of our own.
With a degree behind me I did feel pretty thankful with how things turned out in the end, and I don’t have any regrets!
Would love to hear your experience if you have been through or going through studying while pregnant!