Motherhood came naturally to April, a mama of three boys from Christchurch New Zealand. She fell pregnant with her first at 17 and her second at 19-years-old. April believes social support is the key to empowering all mothers and that it really does take a village to raise our children.
What’s your name and who’s in your family? My name is April Muirson and I have three children – my oldest is 15, middle is 13 and youngest is 5 – all boys! My husband and I have been married for three years and we share our youngest. I also have a 15-year-old stepson.
How did you feel learning you were pregnant? I was nervous to tell my parents and my boss, as I was only one year into a hairdressing apprenticeship. But I honestly fell in love with my baby the moment I discovered I was pregnant, and my feelings never changed. I never considered an abortion as an option.
How old were you when you fell pregnant? Were you at school/working/studying? I was 17 when I fell pregnant. I had left school the year before and was very happy in my workplace – I had a great boss and loved my work as a hairdresser. When I told my boss, she was so supportive and caring and just weeks later she found out she was also pregnant, so we were able to share our experiences of both being pregnant with our first babies.
Did you feel supported during pregnancy by your family/partner/medical team? My experience with family and friends was all positive. My parents were and still are the most supportive and loving people I could have possibly asked for and if it wasn't for them and their support my boys wouldn't be who they are today.
It wasn't all positive in the medical field though. My first time heading off to see a midwife I was so happy and excited and couldn't wait to start this journey. I walked in and the very first thing she said to me was "had I considered an abortion” – she then rattled on about how hard young mums have it to discourage me. Safe to say I didn’t use her as my midwife! I did however find a fabulous midwife who happened to be my mum's midwife for my brother and sister, and for the most part, had a very good experience with her.
A few months into my pregnancy my son's dad went to jail and he was to be there until our baby was 1-year-old. Nevertheless, my parents supported me. I had great friends. I worked full-time and looked forward to giving birth.
How old were you when you gave birth? I gave birth via caesarean on the 5th of January 2006 to a wee boy Aurion. From the moment I first held him in my arms my motherly instincts kicked in.
What were the first few weeks of motherhood like for you? I was a fabulous young mum – my babies were everything to me. I had no trouble with breastfeeding, and he was a very “good baby.” I did however struggle with Plunket – they tried to put me in parent groups where I would sit and listen to other mums much older than I talk about how great their husbands were and all the rest. That's where I struggled – they seemed to make out that me being a young mum was a problem, when the reality was that my baby was perfectly well looked after. This frustrated me then and still does today.
All my friends were partying, and no one had a baby. I felt a little bit alone then, but my closest friends were great. We just fitted my baby into our lifestyle. We would take him everywhere with us. He was very loved by my friends.
You had your second baby at 19, what was that experience like? I went back to work about 4 months after giving birth to my first son. My mum would watch him while I went and did a few hours and then when my boyfriend at the time was out of jail, we got our first home not long after. I wanted and desperately craved for another baby, so I went off all my birth control and got pregnant with my second little boy.
I don't think it matters for a woman what age you are if you are maternal and have that instinct to have a baby. That was me at 19, and on the 29th of February, my second boy was born via caesarean. Both of my births were emergency caesareans – my firstborn was under general and for my second, I was awake with an epidural. My second baby was a little harder work as he had colic. My boyfriend and I were also not working out and times were a little tough, but my mental health was sharp, and I felt capable.
To be honest, having my third child when I was older was more challenging mentally than when I was younger. You're more carefree when you’re young and things don't seem to bother you as much. Also, 15 years ago social media wasn’t what it is now – you didn’t have to keep up with things and no one cared as much about other people’s lives as they do now.
Do you feel that you had a healthy support network? The best thing a young mum can have is support. The support that helped me most as I transitioned into motherhood was from my mother and father. My mother wasn't too soft on me – she wouldn't get up at night when he cried or anything, instead, she left me to work it out on my own but if I did need help or advice, she was always there for me. I had a great support base of good friends who are still my best mates today. They were there for me when I needed teenage talk or a night out. And I’ll always remember the people within the medical world and the community in general who were nice to me and didn’t judge or turn their nose up at me because I was young.
What do you wish people could understand more about being a young mother? I wish people would be more open to the fact that age doesn't matter if you are going to be a mother. Just because you are young does not mean you lack maternal instincts, and it doesn't mean that you are going to be selfish or that you don't love your baby as much because you're still a child yourself. Any woman at any age can suffer from postpartum mental health issues. Any mother at any age can also not be a good mother; age does not defy love for a baby. It’s important not to focus so much on a woman’s age, but instead, on the support network she has – we all need help, we all need a village to raise these babies.
What do you love most about being a mum? There is so many positive aspects to being a young mum, but one is that I have grown with my sons, and they have been through everything with me. They are fabulous boys and I am very, very proud of them – they have a big network of love and support around them. I am still young enough to understand their world yet be their mother. Now they are also old enough to babysit their younger brother which is also a very cool positive! They make amazing older brothers. I am a very lucky mum to have them and to have had them young – I wouldn't take it back for anything.
Thank you so much April for your vulnerability in sharing your story. Please feel free to leave some kind and supportive words for April below! For more stories of young mamas, click here. You can support The Young Mothers Collective with a small donation. Buying a virtual coffee helps me to continue sharing these stories, as well as offering free individualised and group support to young mums in need Australia wide. Want to share your story? If you gave birth before the age of 24 please reach out to email@example.com to be featured!