Real Life

Pregnant at 15: 'Why having a baby young DIDN'T ruin my life'

Contrary to what the naysayers said, falling pregnant as a teenager was the best thing to happen to Ebony Curtis…

Ebony Curtis was 15 years old and had been dating her boyfriend for three months when she missed her period. Secretly, she took a home pregnancy test that confirmed her worst fear – she was expecting.
Back then she was just a young Year 9 student attending Catholic school in Tasmania. Ebony admits she was naive and "uneducated" when it came to birth control. With an extremely strict upbringing, she was a bundle of nerves and worry when it came to breaking the news to her unsuspecting parents.
"Telling Mum and Dad was the scariest thing ever," Ebony, now 23, tells It's Your Day.
"My mum was in utter shock and disbelief, and I think my dad just walked right out of the room. They were both so angry and disappointed."
Feeling afraid and alone, Ebony listened when people said it was wrong to have a child out of wedlock and while termination was not supported, there was no other option. She was criticised for "ruining her life".
Ruby and Ebony now. Image: Exclusive/Supplied
Despite her relationship with her baby's father (he went to a different school) fizzling almost instantly, Ebony was strong and determined to prove naysayers wrong. She was going to keep her baby, make the most of her life and most importantly, be a great mum.
"I knew I would be OK and would be a good mum, and that my life wasn't ruined," she says.
And as her baby belly grew, word spread like wildfire through her school.
"People were constantly asking me if it was true," Ebony remembers.
"I got so much attention, people thought I was different and were fascinated by my circumstance."

Studies and support

Undeterred, Ebony knuckled down to her studies and continued to get good grades. Finally she gained her parents' support and understanding when Ebony's mum met another mother of a teen mum who was visiting the school to talk to students about birth control and being a young, single parent.
"She said having a baby so young hadn't held her daughter back, and that she'd gone on to be successful, achieve her dreams and be a wonderful mother as well," says Ebony.
"That was a game changer, and Mum and Dad had a different outlook."
Ebony's pregnancy was pretty smooth sailing and she stayed in school until just a few weeks before her due date.
At just 16, and with her mum by her side, she gave birth to a gorgeous baby girl called Ruby.
"I was in labour for 29 hours," Ebony recalls. "But when I held my baby girl in my arms, all I felt was immeasurable love."
Ebony at 16 with newborn Ruby. Image: Exclusive/Supplied
Little Ruby's dad visited the hospital a few days later and felt the exactly the same. He's since been a loving father and sees his daughter regularly.
Ebony took to motherhood naturally. When Ruby was six weeks old, Ebony was able to go back to school, and with the help of a scheme offering financial assistance for single parents, she could afford to send Ruby to day care.
Luckily, Ruby was a good baby – not the best feeder, but she slept well and for long periods, meaning Ebony could get her schoolwork done, though she acknowledges juggling motherhood with her studies was tough. Ebony missed being with her little girl, so she reduced attending school to three days a week.
"It was hard returning to school as I felt isolated," Ebony recalls. "All my friends were talking about homework and boys, and I had to take breaks to express my breast milk!"
WATCH: 12 things you thought you'd never do as a parent. Story continues after video...

One big, happy family

All the hard work and determination paid off – Ebony finished school and college. At 18, she met Shane at a touch football social gathering at the local pub. They knew of each other and Shane was aware Ebony was a mum.
"He wasn't put off," Ebony says with a smile. "He still asked for my number and we started dating."
All too soon Ebony knew Shane, now 26, was a keeper and introducing him to precious Ruby, they got on like a house on fire. But there was a surprise on the horizon when just a few months into their relationship Ebony fell pregnant with Archer.
"It was a real shock," Ebony recalls, "especially as we hadn't been dating for long but we were committed to each other and wanted to be a family."
Shane moved in with Ebony, they got in engaged and fast-forward time they have now further added to their happy brood with a little girl called Eden, who is just seven months old.
Ruby, seven, and four-year-old Archer adore their little sister, and at the age of 23, Ebony has certainly made something of her life.
She's studying law at university now and is a wonderful mother, loving nothing more than picnics and feeding the ducks in the park with her family.
Baby Eden: a most welcome addition. Image: Exclusive/Supplied
Despite life being busy, the mother-of-three says, "People said having a baby as a teenager would ruin my life. They couldn't have been more wrong. I have no regrets and wouldn't have it any other way."
For any other teens who find themselves in the same situation, Ebony has wise words of support and advice.
"The stigma around teen mums makes me sad," she says. "Do what you want to and never feel like you're a failure or you've ruined your life. That's simply not true. With the right support you can be a success and be a great mum. You just have to believe in yourself."

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