Being a mum in itself is a challenge. Being a teen mum however, is a different type of struggle that I cannot begin to fathom. I spoke with Deanna Webb, mother to 10-month-old Laniya-Rose about her life through teen pregnancy, motherhood and the obstacles she encountered on the way.
Deanna found out she was pregnant aged 18 when she began to experience the typical symptoms. She had just moved into a semi-independent when she took a test and it came back positive. “I never planned to be a ‘teen mum’, but it happened.”
Realising that her life was about to change for ever, she stepped up to her responsibilities and began buying baby accessories, preparing for her new life as a mother.
Speaking about her gender scan, Deanna says “I was convinced I was going to have a boy, even the first midwife I saw thought I was having a boy. I’d always wanted one, from before I even knew I was pregnant. When I found out I was having a girl I was upset at first, but I realised that I’d soon have my own mini-me running around the place and then I just couldn’t wait for her to be here.”
On criticisms she faced as a pregnant teenager, she recalled an incident that took place on the tube. “A man was sitting down in the priority seats when I got on. I stood opposite him and noticed that he kept looking at me then looking away. Then after a few minutes, he said “do you want me to get up?” I replied “yeah, that would be nice” and then he laughed and said “no, you’re too young to be pregnant. You can stand. You shouldn’t even be pregnant if you’re not married.” I was in so much shock, I didn’t know what to. I just stood there.”
“When I was pregnant, I got a lot of stares and people always told me that I was too young to have a child. I was even asked on several occasions whether or not I was sure that I even wanted to have her.”
Fast forward to January 2018, Deanna, aged 19, gave birth to her beautiful daughter Laniya-Rose via Caesarean. “I was originally going to call her Jasmine-Rose but I wanted something unique for her. There are too many Jasmine’s in the world.”
A few months after giving birth to their child, Deanna and her partner split. “He was so good with her for the first couple of months. Then he became abusive towards me both physically and mentally and I felt that the best thing for my daughter would have been for us to split up. It was hard because I didn’t want to be a single mum, I wanted a perfect little family but it didn’t work out like that.” Not only was she a teen mum, but now she had become a single parent too. “My best friend Jada was so supportive at that time, she helped me to get over him and showed me that I had the strength to do it all myself. She was there for me throughout all of it.”
“It was hard at first, and I’ll admit I cried a lot but with the support of my ex-foster carer and social services I began to settle into life as a new mum. As a care leaver, social services were still very much a part of my life and helped me out so much in terms of getting the essentials for my daughter and providing emotional support. My Ex foster carer Zenga is also such an important person in my life. She has stayed in my life since I left her care aged 16 and has been such a rock. I began to get the hang of things and get myself and my daughter into a routine.”
In September, Deanna decided to go to college. “Having my daughter made me want to be better myself and create a better life for her. The hardest part about it all was leaving her. I hadn’t been without her for that long before.”
“Now we’ve got into a proper little routine. On a typical day, my daughter normally wakes me up around 6:30 in the morning. I never really get more than 5 hours sleep but it’s what I’m used to now. I get myself ready, then my daughter and pack both of our bags while she’s drinking her bottle. Then I drop her off at nursery, and I head to college. It’s hard being a mum and being in education, especially with such a young baby. It’s hard to revise and do homework when you’re constantly running after them, making bottles and entertaining them so they don’t get bored.”
“It’s hard but I love it and I wouldn’t change it for the world. My advice to other young mums out there would be to know that it is okay to cry and it’s okay to ask for help. Also, it’s very helpful if you have a good support network around you. Don’t let anyone put you down and don’t listen to the criticism. You can do it if you put your mind to it!”