Age at interview: 19
Background: Luke and his partner have a 1-year-old son. Luke lives in a large city and is about to start a TAFE course. He is from an Anglo-Australian background.
When Luke was 17, he and his partner discovered they were expecting a baby but could not agree on what to do about their situation. When his partner was six months pregnant, Luke accepted her decision to have the baby and prepared to become a father. Their son was born after a long labour and emergency caesarean section. Early parenthood has been challenging but rewarding, and Luke says it has turned his life around for the better.
More about Luke
Luke is the youngest in his family. After his parents divorced when he was five, he and his two older siblings went to live with different relatives or friends. Luke stayed with his mother and stepfather and saw his father on weekends. His mother died of cancer when he was nine, and Luke said things 'got rough' after that. After a period of living with his father and stepmother, Luke and his father moved into a caravan park on their own. Luke began using drugs and alcohol, built up a large debt, and left school after Year 10.
Around this time Luke met his partner, Alice. After a year together, they found out Alice was pregnant. As they were still young, Luke tried to persuade Alice to either have an abortion or give the baby up for adoption. However Alice wanted to keep the baby. Six months into the pregnancy, Luke had a 'change of heart' and decided they had three months to get ready for parenthood. He stopped his drug use and cut himself off from his drug-dependent friends and relatives. Luke and Alice also moved out of the caravan park and began buying everything they needed for a baby.
Luke and Alice's son was born via emergency caesarean after an extremely long and difficult labour. Luke described Alice as 'petite' and at 4.5kg their baby was very big. Despite an episiotomy and attempted forceps delivery, towards the end of her labour Alice lost 3 litres of blood within 30 minutes, which led to an emergency caesarean section. In shock, and fearful that either his partner or baby might not survive, Luke could not face going into theatre with Alice and asked his sister to go on his behalf. He followed just after their son's birth and said as soon as he held his baby he felt that 'everything else didn't matter' and that this was where he belonged.
As Luke and Alice's son was born with a large haematoma, he had to be transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for three days. Alice spent two weeks in hospital recovering and learning how to breastfeed. Their initial adjustment at home was made easier by the fact that their baby slept well, though they still found early parenthood tiring and stressful. Alice breastfed for three months, then decided to switch to formula. Luke is planning to return to TAFE, and he and Alice have just started their son in part-time childcare so they can resume work and education.
Luke described having his son as 'not easy but rewarding' and said the experience has turned his life around for a better. He is now determined to complete his TAFE qualification and find work, to fulfil his dream for his family of a 'white picket fence' life. Luke's advice to other young parents is to take things 'one step at a time' and follow a 'trial and error' approach.