Many people who discover they’re expecting a child while still a pupil at school or busy with their studies end up dropping out.
Often discouraged, they give up on their education to look for jobs to support their babies. But this wasn’t the case for Natasha Duma*.
The second-year graphic design student tells us nothing was going to stop her from achieving her academic dreams.
This is her story
I was probably about two to three weeks pregnant when I started suspecting I was pregnant. I just needed a pregnancy test and a scan for confirmation, but I instinctively knew.
The funny thing is, about five months prior, my boyfriend and I had the “baby talk” and we fantasised about when we’d like to have a baby – but it was never this soon.
I did a pregnancy test when I was about six weeks pregnant and did a scan when I was 11 weeks pregnant because I had to wait to before I could see a doctor.
I was 23 at the time, so for me that was the perfect age and I knew I wanted to keep the baby. I started doing research on pregnancy and on being a mom right after I missed my period and that got me excited. The only thing that made me nervous was how my family was going to take it because I’m still in school, but other than that I was happy. It was something I wanted, even if I didn’t expect it to happen five months after discussing it with my partner.
'He thought I wouldn’t want to keep the baby'
During the period of uncertainty, I communicated everything I felt to my partner and he was extremely supportive. The first thing he asked after we found out about the pregnancy was whether I was okay, and what I wanted to do. He thought maybe I wouldn’t want to keep the baby because I’m still in school. But I told him that I wanted the baby.
He said he wanted the baby too and he was supportive throughout my pregnancy. He’d do my laundry, cook for me, and added to the allowance I received from home because I started eating more.
My partner and I decided to wait until after the first trimester before telling anyone else. But he got too excited and told his little sister before the first trimester was over. I wanted to prepare myself emotionally before telling my family. I only told my family when I was about five months pregnant.
I come from an extremely conservative family so I was scared to tell my mother. I asked someone in the family to tell her for me. I had to lie and say I had just found out because there would be too much chaos had I been honest.
My mother was really upset and didn’t speak to me for two days. A family meeting was called and I really thought it was called so that they could disown me. My partner and I had already planned and prepared for the worst, but all they wanted was to know more about my partner, his family and how I was going to cope with school. They wanted to start with the inhlawulo (damages paid in Zulu culture to the family of a woman who becomes pregnant out of wedlock) because I was already in my second trimester so they couldn’t wait any longer.
After the family meeting my mom was still a bit cold, but my uncle and her sister-in-law spoke to her and told her that if she didn’t sort herself out I wouldn’t communicate with her and this was the time I needed her the most. I was taken to the doctor by my family to confirm how far along I was so that we could all plan around the pregnancy.
I left the Monday morning to go back to Johannesburg and after that my family was supportive of myself and my baby.
Leaving my baby
I left my baby at home with my family to return to school when she was just two months old. Leaving an infant was the most painful thing ever for me. Emotionally I was not coping. I was always worried about her. I worried about how she was taken care of, not that something would happen to her, it’s just a motherly thing.
I really wish she lived with me 24/7 so that I can look after her myself but that’s not possible because of school, but I’m almost done so that gives me hope and helps me cope with everything. I got burned by hot water when I was a year old and I still have those scars, hence I have my own insecurities and trust issues.
I had to attend school until I was eight months pregnant. I had to miss a term so that I could recover and give my baby the time she needed with her mother.
At school they knew I was going to be away for a term, so when I got back I was able to catch up on everything and I passed my year.
Pregnancy was hard, and being a mom is hard too. But having the support of your partner, your family and his family is one of the best things that could happen to anyone. That helped me a lot and I’ll always appreciate it.
*Not her real name