Pregnancy can be a challenging enough experience for even the most mature and settled of women struggling to come to terms with the hormonal and physical changes to your body.
But when you are a teenager, and the pregnancy wasn’t planned, and your GCSEs are looming - and you have to tell your mum - pregnancy can be completely terrifying.
Schoolgirl Nadine Melarkey knows exactly how challenging teen pregnancy can be - but she credits the “unending” support of her mum, and the support of a pioneering scheme run by the Western Trust to help young mothers - with helping her through all the ups and downs of her pregnancy and her first two years of motherhood.
Now an A Level student at St. Mary’s College, Nadine bravely addressed the Board of the Western Trust last Thursday to relay her experiences of teen pregnancy - and how she gave birth in the middle of her GCSES, and went on to pass them all.
“When I found out I was pregnant, the shock of it nearly brought me to my knees. I was going to be the only pregnant girl in a small school. My relationship was already breaking up.
“And I knew I would have to tell my mammy as well.”
Saying she was prepared to take “any helped that was offered” she signed up to the Family Nurse Partnership where she was assigned her own dedicated nurse Kathleen McDevitt who was able to offer her one to one support.
“I was so scared but knowing that Kathleen was on hand made things so much easier. I was able to feel more relaxed and was reassured that everything was going to be okay.
“Kathleen explained to me what to expect through my pregnancy - what feelings to expect surrounding my pregnancy and my relationship and what to expect in labour,” Nadine said.
Nadine said that while her mother took the news of her pregnancy badly to begin with the experience has left them closer than ever.
And she is determined that motherhood will not hold her back from achieving her dreams.
In fact she was able to schedule her labour and delivery around her GCSEs.
“I was due on Mary 20th and my exams were due to start a few days later. I sat one exam the day before I was induced - when I was three days overdue - and then went back to my exams when she was just three days old.”
And she is now an almost two year old bundle of joy called Ellie.
“She is a wee dote,” Nadine beamed.
Nadine is due to graduate the Family Nurse Partnership programme when Ellie turns two and has expressed an interest in becoming a volunteer for the scheme.
Since its inception in 2008, the programme has helped 128 young mums through their pregnancies.
“I would have been lost without them,” Nadine said.“