Age at interview: 18
Background: Alice and her partner Luke have a 1-year-old son. She lives in a large city. Alice is training to become a hairdresser and is from an Anglo-Australian background.
Alice met Luke at school, and when she was 17 they discovered they were expecting a baby. Alice experienced a long difficult labour and an emergency caesarean section. Early parenthood has been 'full on', but Alice is happy that she 'gave up everything' for her son.
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More about Alice
Alice met her partner Luke at school. They moved in together and were living a 'party life' until they were surprised to find out Alice was pregnant. Although they were not in the 'right frame of mind' to have a child, Alice wanted to have the baby. This caused tension with Luke who did not. After some time, Alice said Luke 'showed a different side' and they moved out of the caravan park they had been living in, and began preparing for parenthood.
Alice described experiencing judgement from health professionals for being a 'young mum'. At 38 weeks she was measuring five centimetres bigger than she should have and started to worry. Alice asked her midwife if she could be induced, but the doctor refused without even seeing her. She found this upsetting given her baby's weight and size (4.5kg and 52cm) which meant she had a 'rough birth'.
When Alice first started feeling contractions she went into hospital. The assessment procedure was painful and when Alice reacted, the midwife told her if she was 'old enough to have sex' she was 'old enough to go through labour'. Yet Alice described the labour and delivery as the 'scariest thing' she had ever gone through and felt that she had not been warned about the risks of giving birth.
Alice's labour was long and difficult, involving an episiotomy, attempted vacuum and forceps delivery as well as a mix of pethidine, gas and epidural. Towards the end Alice started haemorrhaging badly and had to have an emergency caesarean.
After the birth Alice felt frightened and in a lot of pain. She was nauseous, 'paralysed' from all the medication, and had a severe headache. She was given three blood transfusions and had an infection in the wall of her uterus, and her son had a large haematoma under his scalp and injured neck muscles from the forceps. He had to be transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for three days and Alice spent two weeks in hospital recovering, doing physiotherapy, and learning how to breastfeed.
Alice breastfed for three months. It was hard at first, but the 'best thing' she could have done. They then switched to formula, finding this expensive. Alice is studying hairdressing full-time, and is struggling to balance this with family. Parenting has been more 'full on' than she expected, but she says it has taught her she is stronger than she thought. She is happy that she 'gave up everything' for her son, and doesn't know where she would be today without him.
Alice says her experience has prevented her from wanting another child, and that she went into it 'blind'. It has put pressure on her and Luke's relationship although they are 'working it out'. Her advice to other young mothers is to never bring a child into a bad or violent relationship; give up drugs if you are using them; and study or work because 'you are your child's role model.'