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Ashlee and her daughters, Nevaeh and Aliannah.

 

Dear childless me,

I hope you’re enjoying your independence and freedom.

When you turn 17, your life will change forever.

You’re 17, and you’ve just found out you’re pregnant. Your boyfriend broke up with you six days ago and you immediately assume your life is over. You cry. You’re scared, but then you’ll be excited.

Months pass by and everything will go okay, apart from the fact you’ve just turned 18 and you’re lying in bed crying because you feel like you can’t do anything, and your father? He hasn’t spoken to you much. He’s scared for his little girl. She’s grown up way too soon and it’ll make you feel like you’re a disappointment.

Your boyfriend’s back; and you’re happy, until one morning he isn’t there, he never came home last night, and with all the stress of the pregnancy and your relationship; you awoke with the most painful cramps in your stomach. It’s premature labour and you’re only 23 weeks!

You’ll spend 10 days in a hospital, hours away from home, and although your mother and boyfriend will be by your side, you’re still feeling alone. You’re scared.

You will find out your baby isn’t growing fast enough – you’re forced to take medication to keep the baby healthy, you’re jabbed in the backside with needles full of steroids, preparing for your baby to be delivered with a risk that she will be a stillborn.

You will be speechless, laying there in the hospital bed with three doctors standing at the end.

“If it comes to it, we will have to deliver your baby and there will be risks to you and your child.”

Those words will be unforgettable. You will spend your nights crying for hours hoping that your baby will be okay. It’s going to be the scariest time of your life. At night you’ll lie there in silence, tears running down your face and praying that tomorrow will be a better day.

By now you’re realising you’re not old enough to deal with this kind of stress. You’re put on home bed rest for the rest of your pregnancy. Although you’re excited to bring a new life into this world; a beautiful baby girl, you’re also frightened to death and more stressed than you’ve ever been before.

Weeks pass by and you realise you’re already eight and a half months.

It’s time for your midwife check-up. Bad news. Your baby girl has officially stopped growing, so the doctor immediately admits you into the hospital and prepares for an induction. You’ll spend nine days in the hospital before your induction date.

It’s 4pm and it’s time for the induction. Just 30 minutes into it and you’re contracting; this will go on for 11 hours until the doctor does the fifth internal in two hours. You look down and there’s blood in between your legs, and you’re told you’re 4cm dilated. Time to admit you into the labour ward. After four hours of actual labour, a shot of Pethidine, sucking on the gas and getting an epidural; your baby is born.

Weighing 5 pounds, 4 ounces. She’s so small, you’ll name her Nevaeh because it’s heaven spelt backwards. When you were 14, you lost your grandfather to alcoholism. He was your best friend and Nevaeh would have been his first great-grandchild. You believe he is an angel now, and he sent her to you from heaven.

Your family and friends will come to congratulate you. Your father who seemed so disappointed in you? He’s one of the first visitors and he will hug you, kiss you on the cheek and show the proudest smile. He will be proud of you, I promise.

It’s been two days since you’ve given birth and it’s time to go home. You will be the best mother you can be, but it’s going to be hard. Nevaeh will wake up every two hours, but you’ll get up each time with a smile. You’re going to be covered in vomit and milk most days, if you don’t express your milk you’re going to curl into a ball and cry that your boobs hurt, you’ll break down and cry every day, and that stress you felt while you were pregnant? Times that by 20. But it’s going to be worth it I swear!

When you’re 19, Nevaeh will turn two and you’ll have another daughter, Aliannah. Aliannah will be such an easy baby compared to Nevaeh, or maybe it’s just because you’ve done it before. Either way, you’re going to struggle. A lot. You’re going to hurt, but you’ll soon learn that you need to be strong for your daughters. You’ll feel like hell but you will get through it.

After some time of not studying you decide that you need to follow your dreams. Even though you’re a mother now, you know that you can do it all. Your daughters will be your strength to pursue those dreams. You’ll begin studying for your diploma in freelance journalism, but halfway through that course you’ll decide it’s not good enough – You’ll start freelance work as well. You are a young mother, but you are not a failure. You will feel like one sometimes, and some days you’ll even question where you’re at in your life, but if you hold on you will be more than okay. You’re going to be happy.

Profile: View Ashlee's profile here

Email: ashlee.long@theaustraliatimes.com.au