I am the youngest child of three, born to good parents who were financially comfortable and very much in love. My childhood years were idyllic, I enjoyed school, had great friends, a supportive family, was the captain of the football and gymnastics team and I couldn’t imagine life being anything other than easy and fun.
Then came the shock of my pre-teen and teen years. I still had great friends and enjoyed school but some of the other foundations in my life were disappearing.
At age 11 my maternal grandad died, followed by my dad and paternal nan. I can’t describe in words the impact this had on me. Six months after my dad died, a growth that eventually grew to the size of a small grapefruit, began to grow internally on my spine. My Doctor first diagnosed this as a figment of my imagination and a cry for attention. When I could no longer walk and lost feeling in various parts of my body, he reassessed his diagnosis and I was rushed in to hospital for an emergency operation. Hot on the heels of all this came an eating disorder that I struggled with for the next ten years.
At age 15 I met Marcus. At 16, whilst working as a PA’s Assistant in Fleet Street I became pregnant. At 9am, the day before my three month probation was due to end, I told my employers I was pregnant.Despite glowing reports throughout my time there, by midday I was unemployed.
At this time I was living with my nan who upon hearing the news, gently told me I could no longer live with her. My mum welcomed me back to my childhood home but circumstances were not ideal and me and Marcus moved into a homeless shelter. I was sixteen, homeless, unemployed and pregnant.
When we first shared with our families that I was pregnant, various family members encouraged us to have an abortion. From a position of love and care, they argued that having a baby at such a young age would stop us from having nice holidays, would put a strain on our relationship, would stop us enjoying ourselves through lack of funds and parental responsibility, would force us to grow up before our time and would ultimately ‘ruin our lives’.
As the years have gone by, there has been no need to revisit these conversations as once our families understood our determination, they supported us and our baby was born into an extended family that loved him wholeheartedly.
Because of love, I have never revisited these conversations with them as I know they would feel guilt. I have no anger towards those who promoted abortion to us as looking back and from the perspective of a parent, I don’t agree but I do understand the fear they felt on our behalf.
All of our children are aware of our early years and we have shared stories and discussed the implications of the choices we made as a couple. In relation to the first choice, to continue with the pregnancy, this is not a subject that any of us have wanted to linger on or explore in depth as the alternative is unthinkable.
At the time we made the decision to continue with the pregnancy (which was a very easy decision as we wanted this little life growing inside of me), I wasn’t a Christian and Marcus’ faith was lukewarm. I didn’t understand then that every human is made in the image of God, crafted by His hands and with a purpose that He has ordained.
Understanding that now and knowing the importance of every human life and the love that has been poured into us by our heavenly Father, makes me so delighted and relieved that we kept our baby.
I can remember Marcus and I chatting about how we suspected life would be hard, and it was incredibly hard. Looking back we did have extremely tough times and miss out on lots of ‘stuff’ that others take for granted, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
For both me and Marcus life took a different turn to what we had anticipated but that doesn’t make it bad. Despite money being scarce, at age 19 we had a big white wedding, followed by a well-attended Reception. At 20 our second child was born and we bought our first home. We have many amazing memories, most of them in those early years revolving around our gorgeous baby.
Over the years we have continued to work hard, build fulfilling careers, accomplish dreams, have fun filled holidays (when we could afford them) and do our utmost to provide a stable, encouraging home for our three children ensuring we all ‘have a life’. I have even shared our story to those having to make decisions of their own regarding a surprise or unwanted pregnancy.
As I sit and reflect on those early years, it is the day before our first baby Reece, turns 30. He has grown into a lovely, kind, successful business man that we are incredibly proud of and I can’t imagine our life, or family, without him.